Members of the Joint Operating Committee of the Huntingdon County Career and Technology Center heard a health and safety report regarding COVID-19 cases so far this year at the regular monthly meeting Tuesday evening.

Before that, however, they took time to honor Andrew Ketner, who served on the board for 12 years, as he passed away Sept. 11.

Board chair Andrea Christoff encouraged JOC members to keep the Ketner family in their prayers.

Laura Hicks, who serves as adult education coordinator and pandemic coordinator, gave an outline on COVID-19 cases and the impact on HCCTC thus far.

“While we did have a little bit of a hiccup with the first day of (masking), we seem to be doing well with that so far,” she said. “Any mask exemption forms have to be shared by the home school and given medical clearance by a physician. We did have a couple of people try to turn in forms from the Heritage Family Practice, which had blanket documentation with the student’s name on top, but they aren’t the physician for any student in our area, so we’re not accepting those, unless it happens to be their primary physician.”

They also detailed what could constitute shutting down HCCTC for a day for deep cleaning.

“If 5% percent of population as a whole was infected, we would likely close,” she said. “So, for the building as a whole, if there are 376 individuals, 5% of that would be 18.8 students and staff members in a 14-day rolling window.

“We also took that a step further to look at AM classes versus PM classes, as we consider them to be isolated from each other,” Hicks added. “The population in the AM is 177, while the population in the PM is 225. If you did 5% of that, it would take 8.8 people to be positive for the CTC to close, and it would be 11.25 people in the PM.”

The other way they would close is if an outbreak occurs amongst students, and Hicks gave a detailed example of tracking students and staff members within that 14-day rolling window among AM students.

“In the first example, we had three students; however, one students has now fallen off the 14-day window, but in the second event, we had two people, connected to each other, which constitutes an event,” said Hicks, adding that a third event includes two students and one staff member in another program.”

They are also monitoring the PM classes and cases carefully.

“We’re at a disadvantage versus a sending school, because when a case breaks out in a sending school, it’s easier to make connections,” said Payne. “With us, with different sending schools, it’s difficult to make a connection unless it’s from the same school. In this case, it’s causing us to be closer to closing for a day for a deep clean of the schools, and this has me concerned, but we’re monitoring. But, when we can make connections from one particular thing, it helps to eliminate several outbreaks.”

Payne noted that universal masking seems to be going better than he thought it would.

“We’ve taken the stance that if you want to participate in these programs, you wear the mask,” he said, noting that he doesn’t like to take a hard line, but noted that it’s a privilege for students to be attending HCCTC.”

In other business, board members voted to pursue contract and lease agreements regarding billboards with SummitLocations LLC for practical nursing and Shirleysburg properties.

“We were contacted by this business based in Ohio, and they noticed the property we own across from practical nursing and gave us a proposal to put up a four-panel billboard, with two panels on each side. It will be 31 feet tall, and we would get 10-15% of the income from it, which is about $3,000-5,000 a year,” said Payne. “We wanted to have a final say on what goes on the billboards, which means no political advertisements and no alcohol advertisements.

“We also asked them to take a look at the property in Shirleysburg, and they said they could possibly do that as well,” Payne added. “We met with the superintendents, and we sent off what would be an agreement to solicitors, who have made suggestions on the agreement. We were also told the company would take care of zoning, permits and other stuff with municipalities.”

In other business, board members approved:

— the final reading of five policies.

— an amended 2021-22 school calendar.

— retainingElyse Worthy for up to 20 hours per month, as needed, as adult education confidential administrative assistant, to be paid with adult education funds, effective Sept. 30, at an hourly rate of $12.95, per union contract agreement.

Kylie can be reached at khawn@huntingdondailynews.com.

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