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Jenkins schools hire officer; board hears COVID issues


Jenkins students will see a familiar face in a new role when school is back in session for in-person classes.

Alicia Congleton, a former Letcher County sheriff ’s deputy who works with students in Spanish language instruction and helps students keep up with online classes while serving as attendance secretary, has been hired as the district’s school resource officer.

The move comes as a result of the October meeting of the Jenkins Independent Schools Board of Education when Superintendent Damian Johnson announced that Jenkins Independent Schools would hire their resource officers directly, rather than through the Jenkins Police Department. Johnson announced the hiring at the in-person December board meeting.

At the October meeting, Johnson said the board would hire a sworn officer as the resource officer, and the officer’s focus would be on the school system. At the time of the announcement, Congleton was working as attendance secretary. She has extensive law enforcement experience, including her most recent service as a deputy under former Sheriff Danny Webb, where she held the rank of sergeant. Congleton also served in other police departments, including Whitesburg’s, before joining the sheriff ’s department.

Johnson said that the students at Jenkins are already familiar with Congleton from her work in the system. He added that she has served as a sworn police officer and already has the training necessary to be a school resource officer.

In other business, School Nurse Lisa Collins gave a COVID update to the board. Collins said that the school system had its first case on September 18, during the relatively short time when students were able to attend class in person in the schools. She said the student in question had been exposed by a family member.

Collins told the board that a total of 31 students had been quarantined or isolated. She added that the school system will offer any health-related service to students it can. Collins added that tracking contacts is an important step in dealing with the virus. She said Letcher County has a seven-day saturation of 82.2 on the state map and is in the red zone. In Kentucky, 118 counties are in the red zone, which means a county has a saturation rate of 25 or more. Letcher County’s relatively low population and high rate of infection is the reason for the high saturation rate.

The saturation incidence is calculated by taking the total number of cases in a county over the last seven days, and dividing it by seven to get a daily average. That number is then divided by the U.S. Census Bureau population number and multiplied by 100,000 to get the incidence rate per 100,000 people. Duplicate cases are removed before calculations are made.

Collins said that the rate may go higher if people ignore the Centers for Disease Control’s advice to refrain from traveling at Christmas. Johnson said the system is fortunate that all the positive cases came from outside the system rather than directly from the schools.

Athletics Director Ashley Addington told the board that presently the incident rate in sports is low and the Kentucky High School Athletics Association had authorized shortened practices which began December 14. Games can begin on January 4.This includes basketball, archery, and cheering, all of which have begun practice. Participation is voluntary and coaches are not required to have practices if they believe it will be harmful. Practices are focused on developing skills, conditioning, cardio, and weight training. Athletes who are not participating in drills must wear masks

Addington said coaches had to redo their entire game schedules to accommodate the changes and a lot of schools have said they will wait until they see how it develops. She said about 100 schools have said they will play schools in red zone counties. Addington said she hopes to see incident rates drop. Superintendent Johnson said it’s difficult to find middle ground in the pandemic, and he will err on the side of safety.

Johnson also told the board that bus drivers are delivering free lunches and instructional packets to students while in-person classes are suspended. Tutoring will be provided to students who ask for it. Family Resources and Youth Service Center Coordinator Angela Collins said that 30 whole meals were delivered for Thanksgiving to area families, including 10 provided by the Kentucky State Police. She said that the addition of 50 gift certificates fed 50 families.

Collins said this year FRYSC has been asked to help a lot of new families who have not requested aid in the past and that there are 73 new families on the roll. She said they have food, but they don’t have a lot of clothing to give away. Some coats have been coming in. Collins said she will be in her office until December 23 and is available at (606) 832-2183.

Johnson also featured Jenkins High School Librarian Taylor Newsome in the Staff/Student School Spotlight. He praised Newsome for her work both as librarian and as a middle school language teacher. Johnson said he presented Newsome with a Cavalier Star Award.

Several Jenkins Band members have been honored in the All-District Band. Arissa Mullins was named to Third Chair in Flute, Kaleigh Cook was named Second Chair Clarinet, Hannah Robbins was named Second Chair Saxophone. Hannah Robbins is a Band Captain and will attend Morehead State University next year where she will major in Music. Baileigh Roberts was chosen in Trumpet and Jacob Kelly and Kenneth Sexton were chosen for Percussion.

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