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COVID-19 and upbeat news highlight LOA board meeting

January 08, 2021 - 00:00
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    LOA CEO Dr. Otho Tucker decided to Zoom in to Monday night’s meeting of the LOA Board of Governors. He was quick to emphasize he does not have COVID-19 but was near a person who is still waiting for results of their COVID test. MARK ENGEL/Staff

On the eve of students returning to Lake Oconee Academy from winter break, the LOA Board of Governors breezed through its monthly meeting with reports on good things happening at the school.

The meeting Monday night was a Zoom event with about half of the board calling in remotely. That included CEO Dr. Otho Tucker who appeared, via video, from his home office.

“I do not have COVID, I have been potentially exposed at a late enough date that I thought it was inappropriate to come to school today and the board meeting,” Tucker said.

Tucker added that he is waiting for the results of a test from the person who might have COVID.

In its last week of school, Dec. 12-18, LOA reported that one student and two faculty/ staff members on campus were known to have tested positive for COVID. It resulted in 17 students and three faculty/ staff members being required to quarantine at home. The number of cases have varied each week since school opened in early August.

“Most of our issues came from parents travelling or from the adults back to the kids, not the kids going to the adults,” Tucker said.

At last report, Tucker said that more than 90-percent of the students have opted for in-class learning with the remainder taking courses online. Asked Monday night if he thought with the continuing increase in COVID cases statewide, would more students choose to stay home. He said he does not think so and that’s a testament to the rigorous protocols put in place by his staff at the school.

“I think we have proven our case that we can do this and do it well,” Tucker said. “I have tried to make the point that students are probably better off coming to school in a small population, going home to that population, confining themselves to a population rather than being out around the community.

In some cases we may not have made people real happy but when they look back, I think we have made people as safe as we possibly can and still have that quality of face-to-face instruction.”

In other news, Tucker said that last year’s enrollment waiting list closed at the end of the year with 335 people who did not get in. The new list for next year opened on Jan. 1 and, he said, the school had already received 129 applications in the first four days.

Of those, 29 are on the priority list because they are siblings of currently enrolled students or children of staff o faculty members. The enrollment lottery for the 2021-22 school year is scheduled to be held in April.

LOA recently announced the construction of a new building dedicated to arts programs and an expansion of sports facilities to include a soccer and football field.

Monday night, the board approved funding for a study of the layout of the new field. Exact measurements are needed to make sure a nearby underground sewer line will not be impacted.

“We think we’re going to miss it,” Board Chairman Mark Lipscomb said.

If not, it might increase the anticipated cost of the project.

Board attorney Richard Schmidt said the school will use a Request For Proposals (RFP) bidding process for construction of the projects. In that method, the school lists general requirements for the facilities and contractors submit their own detailed proposed designs along with the bids.

Also, at Monday’s meeting, the board heard that:

- so far, 88.5-percent of this year’s seniors have applied to colleges and 60.6 percent have already been accepted.

- with wins over the holidays, the LOA women’s basketball team is ranked No. 4 statewide in the 1A Division.

- the LOA Foundation’s fundraising efforts have suffered due to restrictions on events during the COVID pandemic. There will be no golf tournament this year. The annual Denim and Diamonds event has also been canceled.