Nederland school board members question need for desk shields

Published 12:30 pm Thursday, October 21, 2021

NEDERLAND — Micah Mosley wants to know if it is time to take down the protective shields that sit on the desks of Nederland Independent School District students.

The school board vice president broached the subject this week with fellow board of trustee members, describing the shields as a distraction.

The Nederland ISD announced in August it would be adding protective shields to students’ desks to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

The district continues to operate under the protocol that face coverings are optional for employees, students and visitors; but at the start of the school year, district leaders highly encouraged face coverings.

Mosley said it was worth revisiting with the latest COVID wave on the “downtrend.”

School Board member Tonya Mitchell voiced support for the suggestion, saying “the science behind (desk shields) is not very strong. I know teachers talk about it, especially with the little ones a lot of times, they have to take it down to be able to function.”

Mitchell also questioned the time and cost of extra cleaning in maintaining the desk shields.

“If they are not wiped down, they are useless,” Mitchell said.

School Board member Roya Scott seemed to push back on the suggestion, saying a great expense of time and money was used in securing and setting up the desk shields that would be nullified if they were taken down district-wide.

Superintendent Dr. Stuart Kieschnick said Nederland ISD has “just about opened up fully with everything except the patricians.”

“At this time, I would personally like to keep them awhile and at least see what the flu is going to do,” Kieschnick said. “I know it doesn’t do a whole lot for kids but it may do something. Right now our attendance is at 91 percent.”

Kieschnick stressed that maintaining a high attendance is important for what it equals in state funding,

“I think it is something we leave in place right now, but we can look at it month-by-month,” Kieschnick said, adding the patricians would have better served the district if they were a foot or two taller.

The school board did not take any official action on the desk shield topic during Monday’s meeting.

On Wednesday, the City of Port Arthur Health Department reported three COVID-19 related deaths in residents in Nederland.

The individuals include two White females between the age ranges of 55-60 and 70-75 and a Hispanic female between 35 and 40 years old.

It has not been determined whether the deceased had underlying health conditions. From the onset of the pandemic, there have been a total of 47 COVID-19 related deaths reported for the city of Nederland.

From Oct. 16-19, the City of Port Arthur Health Department is reporting 10 new COVID-19 positive individuals for residents of Nederland.