KAMIAH— At the Dec. 21st Kamiah Joint School District 304 board meeting Superintendent Dr. Ben Merrill reported meeting with Kamiah’s new fire chief, Bill Arsenault, to walk through the schools together. Merrill has asked Arsenault to attend fire drills in the schools to observe how they are conducted and to give principals ideas to improve the drills.

“I look forward to a great partnership with the fire district,” Merrill said.

High school principal McFall reported they donated 3,000 cans of food and $192 to the food bank following the Upriver Rampage. KMS principal, Mrs. Flerchinger, said that volleyball and wrestling are scheduled to begin in January. They continue to have virtual assemblies each month to present student of the month and other awards, posting the event on the school website afterwards. Mrs. Engledow, KES head teacher, reported that the kids now have their own touch screen (computer) devices and are learning how to use them. Board member Jesse Hunt thanked teachers and all staff for the extra work they have been doing as a result of COVID.

Stella Sammaripa, chairperson of the Indian Parent Committee, discussed its Dec. 17 meeting. She said they have sent out an indigenous parents survey and are working on getting more responses. The group hopes to work with school leadership to address current district policies: “How can we make it better for the parents experience and the children’s experience.” Several board members asked if the committee would share the survey results with the board and if board members could attend future meetings. Sammaripa said she would share the information “with anyone and everyone,” and welcomed attendance by board members and staff.

The board approved Musgrove Engineering’s analysis and plans for the high school gymnasium’s HVAC system upgrades. They also approved putting out for bid the assurance of the structural integrity.

Merrill discussed the continual review of district policies. Although some policies have been updated in recent years, many have not been updated since the 1990s. For example, “sexual harassment is a critical issue in our district, a liability issue,” he said. Merrill said that often the old policies are “not relevant, timely and outdated” as laws change over time. The board approved purchasing from the Idaho School Board Association (ISBA) rewrites of policy and updates that will be legally defensible.

Merrill reported the current rule for sports is “one ticket per student athlete.” The district provides streaming of games when they can. Merrill acknowledges that these limits are unpopular but continuing to follow them means the kids can still play sports. The governor is reviewing a new plan for school sports with fewer limitations on attendance at sporting events. He will wait to see if we have a spike in COVID cases after the holidays before deciding on the plan.

The board approved keeping the existing mask policy in place until the January meeting when they will discuss it again. School administrators said they are generally getting good compliance from the students on wearing masks, with a few students needing daily reminders and some issues with mask cleanliness.

Merrill stressed that the policy is working well, saying, “We are not interrupting the continuity of learning.” He explained with everyone social distancing and/or wearing masks, “We don’t need to contact trace and quarantine. We can keep kids in school and keep sports.”

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