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Security, school sale before Brooke board

SECURITY QUESTIONED — The Brooke County Board of Education was questioned Monday about security measures about Brooke High School and tabled plans to seek bids for the former Colliers Primary School. -- Warren Scott

WELLSBURG — The Brooke County Board of Education was questioned Monday about security measures at Brooke High School and tabled plans to sell the former Colliers Primary School building.

The board heard from Martin Wood, a parent who said he recently visited the high school wearing a mask and a hat, which he felt helped to conceal his identity, but went unquestioned by a security guard there.

Wood said he was there to visit the school-based health center operated by C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc. for a COVID-19 test and questioned if visitors to the building should be permitted inside when they could pose a health risk to students.

Deputy Superintendent Corey Murphy told Wood he will meet with John White, a former sheriff’s deputy serving as prevention resource officer at the school, to discuss safety protocols being followed there.

Following the meeting, Murphy said he’s confident adequate measures are being taken but will ensure that’s the case.

He confirmed all visitors to the school must first present a driver’s license to the security guard in a locked vestibule at the front entrance.

White noted each license is run through a computer system that can alert the guard of a guest who may pose a threat, such as a convicted sex offender or parent embroiled in a custody battle.

Murphy said there is a side entrance, with an intercom, for visitors to the health center, but that should be used only when students aren’t in the building so all guests undergo the security check.

White said staff from the health center have escorted non-school patients to their facilities.

Wood acknowledged he’s been opposed to the school district’s mask mandate while understanding the motive behind it.

When he spoke out against it at a previous board meeting, Superintendent Jeffrey Crook said the state health department doesn’t require quarantine of those in the school district who were masked at the time of exposure to someone with COVID-19.

Crook said with that in mind, masking allows more students to remain in school, which he believes is better for them educationally.

On Monday, Stephanie Blundon, director of student services and chair of the school board’s COVID task force, said currently 18 students or staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 and another 56 have been ordered to quarantine.

Blundon applauded the efforts of school nurses in tracing potential contacts for those who have tested positive.

Under state guidelines, students and staff found to have had contact with a positive case must remain at home for 10 to 14 days, during which their teachers send students’ work to their homes.

The board also tabled plans to put the sale of the former Colliers Primary School out for bid so a Realtor can be enlisted to appraise the property.

Constructed in the 1980s, the building is the second school to have operated near the intersection of Harmon Creek and Mechling Hill roads.

If a public auction is approved for the former school, it will be the fifth Brooke County school property to go up for bid in recent years.

Sale of Follansbee Middle School, L.B. Millsop and Beech Bottom primary schools and a doublewide trailer once used by the Alternative Learning Center, and their adjacent properties, netted $647,000 for the school district.

In other business, the board:

– Approved the $184,458 purchase of routes and other materials needed to enable students to access the Internet while on school buses.

Murphy said the measure will allow students without the Internet at home additional time to use it for school assignments.

He said it will be funded with state money made available after the pandemic spurred the need for virtual instruction.

– Accepted a bid of $13,245 from BSN Sports for bleachers for the high school’s tennis courts.

– Accepted a bid from ATM Solutions to install and maintain automated teller machines at the high school and its football stadium.

Crook had suggested the machines, saying they would ease sales of food and memorabilia during athletic events.

Murphy confirmed the machines will be available to students, who said ATM use will be covered in their business courses.

He said a small portion of fees charged to the ATM users will go to the school district.

– Approved an agreement with Woodland Hills Assisted Living in Weirton allowing students in the certified nursing assistant program to gain experience there.

– Approved a contract with Absolute Assurance Drug Testing to provide drug testing of Brooke High School students in its career technical courses, a condition established several years ago as part of its simulated workplace approach.

– Authorized the Wellsburg Lions Club to arrange free vision screenings for pupils at Brooke Primary North and Brooke Primary South.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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