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Hall school board offers update on renovations, COVID response

Hall County school board members in attendance Monday approved $5.97 million in renovations at five schools. 

Board members Nath Morris and Sam Chapman were absent. 

Just over $3 million in ESPLOST V funds were approved for Wauka Mountain Elementary renovations, including restrooms, fire alarm and intercom replacements and car rider canopy improvements. 

A little more than $2.96 million in bond funds were approved for restroom renovations at Flowery Branch Elementary, North Hall Middle, Howard E. Ivester Early College and Lanier School for Inquiry, Investigation and Innovation. 

Matt Cox, executive director of facilities and construction, also provided updates on construction projects at the Johnson High School Performing Arts Center, additions and renovations at East Hall High School and the district’s new middle school, Cherokee Bluff Middle. He said all three projects “are running very well on schedule.” 

Construction at East Hall High is in phase three. Superintendent Will Schofield said the renovations will “completely rejuvenate that campus with so much new instructional space.” 

Cox said they are getting closer to completing Cherokee Bluff Middle, adding that construction is on schedule to be completed in April. Board member Mark Pettitt said it is a “beautiful building” and described it as “very large, open and modern.” 

COVID response

The district has also ordered about 100 new ultraviolet-light air filtration units in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. The units will be installed in cafeterias and band rooms across the district. 

“There’s an awful lot we don’t know about COVID,” Schofield said. “There's an awful lot we don't know about airborne viruses, but what we do know is that ultraviolet light makes an incredible difference.” 

There are currently about 2 units in each school with the exception of Chestnut Mountain Elementary and East Hall High, which each have about a dozen units. Schofield said those schools have seen “significant decreases in COVID cases,” perhaps as a result of the units. 

“It certainly is not a scientific study, but it's about as scientific as most of them I see coming out every other day,” he said. “After those dozen units in each school were put in place, we saw significant decreases in the number of COVID cases in those two schools. So, once again, I'm not saying that that was cause and effect, but it is another piece of quantitative information that supports the fact that these machines are supposed to make a difference.”