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story.lead_photo.caption FILE: COVID-19 cases at Fulton Public Schools were down after winter break.

Since students returned from winter break, there have been less COVID-19 cases and quarantines in Fulton schools.

The Fulton Public Schools Board of Education met Wednesday evening, hearing from district administrators and Health Services director Lauren Jacobs.

Jacobs said less students have come into nurses offices this year, due to less in-person students and periods of distance learning.

Jacobs' report outlined the regular health service activities, as well as information about the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The big takeaway at this point is since returning from winter break, we're seeing a steady decline and a hold-steady in our numbers," Jacobs said. "That seems to be reflective of what is being seen across the state of Missouri."

This has meant less positive cases and less students and staff in quarantine.

"The next big thing that we're looking at as far as COVID is getting our staff and our community immunized," Jacobs said.

The district has about 200 staff members who have said they are interested in getting the vaccine. Currently, those older than 65 and high-risk adults suffering from certain health conditions are eligible to receive the vaccine.

"We're encouraging our staff, if you're able to get the vaccine, go ahead and get it — don't wait for us to have it here," Jacobs said. "We've been happy to see that so many of our staff are taking those opportunities when they become available."

Education workers are next on the state's vaccine priority list, along with essential workers in communications, infrastructure, energy, food and agriculture, government, information technology, the nuclear reactor sector, transportation, and water and wastewater systems.

The district is currently working on construction projects across the district funded by a $27.5 million bond issue approved by voters in June.

Last week, the board's facilities committee met to discuss the scope of work at Fulton High School. The committee weighed the size of a new competition gym, eventually settling on 1,500 seats. That information has been passed on to architects.

Much of the work at the elementary schools, including secure entrances, is expected to be completed this summer.

For another Proposition S project, the board approved an upgrade to district video surveillance systems.

The district will contract with Tech Electronics for $113,895 to add security cameras and install software.

In other business, the board approved a $14,950 quote from Transfinder to move the software used by the transportation department for routing to the cloud for increased security.

The board also voted to approve the renewal of a depository agreement with Callaway Bank with a 3 percent fixed interest rate.

Currently, two seats on the board are up for re-election in April. Three people, current members Jacqueline "Jackie" Pritchett and Leah Baker and newcomer Tyler Steffens, will appear on the ballot.

New members Joe Davis and Connie Epperson and returning member Emily Omohundro were elected in 2020.

On Wednesday, board President Andy Bonderer said board member Verdis Lee Sr. will be stepping down from the board this summer. Bonderer and Lee were last re-elected to the board in 2019.

According to board policies, once Lee officially presents a letter of resignation, the remaining board members will be tasked with appointing someone to serve until the next school board election. After, the elected member will serve out the remainder of Lee's three-year term.

Bonderer said Lee has been a valued member who helped resolve issues and a good sense for the feelings of the community.

"The thing that I will always remember about Verdis is if you needed a real pulse on what does the community think about a particular issue, his contacts at the coffee shop gave you a pretty good recognition of what was going on," Bonderer said.

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