KAMIAH — The Feb. 22 Kamiah Joint School District 304 board meeting had the minimum of three trustees present for a quorum. Rikki Simler, Jesse Hunt and Don Skinner attended the meeting, while vice chair Brandaan DeGroot and Damon Keen were absent, although Keen participated remotely in the executive session prior to the public meeting.

During the monthly review of district COVID protocols, the board voted to remove the requirement for students and staff to wear masks in the school buildings after hearing from building principals and KES head teacher They will continue to require students and staff to wear masks covering their nose and mouth on school buses, as well as continuing the conducting temperature checks at doors, as they have all school year.

Superintendent Ben Merrill reported that in the past 30 days four staff and zero students tested positive, adding that teachers could receive their 2nd COVID shots this week.

“The masks have done their job and kept us in school,” Simler said. High school principal Bill McFall spoke in favor of continuing the temperature checks saying, “they maintain the idea that we are in a pandemic and remind parents to keep sick kids home.”

The board approved makeup days for three recent school closures for Fridays March 12, March 19 and April 16.

The board approved the continuation of Superintendent Merrill’s contract for the 2021/22 school year and accepted the resignation of Kamiah Middle School principal, Peggy Flerchinger. Action on Principal McFall’s 2021/22 contract was deferred until information is available to complete his evaluation.

The board approved hiring a halftime social-emotional counselor for the district on a 2-1 vote with Simler and Skinner in favor and Hunt opposed. Prior to the vote KES head teacher Shannon Engledow, as well as principals McFall and Flerchinger, spoke passionately of the need to support the students with this counseling service.

“It’s been needed for a long time,” Engledow said.

Jeanette Wilcox, the only counselor for the district, spends most of her time with high school students, according to McFall. The need has increased this year with the challenges with COVID-19. Flerchinger added, “We have a high needs population.” Merrill said that ESSER money is available for next year, adding, “this is one of our best investments in directly helping kids with these funds.”