The Fulton Public Schools Board of Education met Wednesday evening to discuss programs, virtual learning and calendars.
The board voted unanimously to approve the 2021-22 calendar. Highlights of the calendar include Aug. 16 as the first day for new teachers, Aug. 19 as the returning faculty return date, Aug. 25 as the first day for students and a two-week winter break.
"Before we shut down, I had a feeling it was coming," Fulton Middle School librarian Jessica Lairmore said. "So at the beginning of the year, I passed out library card applications for the public library so that the kids could have access to free books through the Hoopla app."
Lairmore said 50 middle school students signed up for library cards at the public library.
In addition to hardcover and paperback books, the Callaway County Public Library also offers ebooks and audiobooks readers can access online.
At the elementary schools, the libraries are also going to be helping students sign up for library cards.
"I'm going to be starting this next week with a library card promotion," McIntire Elementary School librarian Brenda Johnson said. "I'm going to be doing some videos of how you can get a library card and how we can use that library card online to access some of those things."
All district buildings except for the Futlon Early Childhood Center currently have students learning from home. Before the students were sent home, Johnson said the elementary librarians worked to make sure everyone had a book to take home with them over the closure.
"Delora (Vaugh, Bartley Elementary School librarian) and I, yesterday we were talking over there and we weren't sure kids had books in their hands," Johnson said. "And so we cycled every kid in our building through there yesterday."
Librarians have also been helping make sure students are ready for virtual learning.
"I started with the littles in kindergarten getting them on Chromebooks immediately because they need that literacy and being able to use that," Johnson said. "I do keyboarding second through fifth grade and I'm in the process of creating one for kindergarten and first grade doing TypingClub Jungle Junior."
FECC director Jen Meyerhoff updated the board on the Parents as Teachers program. Through Parents as Teachers, a trained parent educator helps promote early learning and understanding of important developmental milestones for families with children under the age of kindergarten entry.
"We are doing virtual home visits for the safety of our families and our educators," Meyerhoff said.
The program is also having virtual group meetings and delivering books and diapers to families.
"We've enjoyed having our preschooler Zoom Meet or Google Meet with Emily (Knipe)," board member Joe Davis said. "It's been a good way to connect. Keep doing a great job."
At the tail end of the meeting, the board discussed clarifying a board policy related to school closures.
Under the existing board policy, the board has the final decision on closures lasting longer than a week. Superintendent Ty Crain asked whether a pivot to distance learning, like what the district has done this week, counts as a closure.
Board member Emily Omohundro said the language of the policy was confusing — in pandemic circumstances, students are still learning even if they are not in the classroom.
"I don't think that whenever we adopted this policy, it was our intention that the board would have to meet in order to approve a pivot to distance learning," Omohundro said.
The board voted unanimously to allow the superintendent to make distance learning decision. In the future, the board's policy committee will look at the policy and suggest alternative language.