Murray County Schools utilizing more interventions to aid student learning

File/Daily Citizen-News

Leslie Bowen, a second-grade teacher, walks students in her class around Eton Elementary School in September 2019. As is the case in many other school systems, the number of Murray County Schools' COVID-19 cases and quarantines are decreasing after peaking early in this school year, said Superintendent Steve Loughridge.

CHATSWORTH — More than 900 Murray County Schools students are participating in corrective interventions in the first year of their system-wide use, and administrators hope more students will rise to grade level in reading and math because of the interventions.

The 920 students in kindergarten-grade eight deemed in need of these interventions have them every day of the week for 45 minutes a day, and 17 interventions are offered, so "it's not just one big blanket intervention," said Kelly Rogers, Murray County Schools' director of elementary and early learning. The school system is dedicating 18 adults to the interventions.

Murray County Schools is better able to target students in need of all manner of interventions through formative iReads assessments, taken by students in grades kindergarten-eight each fall, winter and spring, said Spencer Gazaway, director of secondary education. Based on iReads assessments, students can receive extra lessons, as well as individualized goals.

They do those lessons, which average eight-10 minutes for the youngest of students and 20-25 minutes for older students, twice each week, Gazaway said: "This is a tool that is going to help our students."

Students "understand their responsibility on completing lessons and their goals," he said. "Principals understand this and review" progress regularly, too.

Substitutes

Like many other school systems, Murray County Schools is struggling to find substitute teachers this school year, so, like both Dalton Public Schools and Whitfield County Schools did recently, the school system raised pay for substitutes, Mike Tuck, the school system's director of human resources, said during Thursday's Murray County Board of Education work session. Pay for non-certified workers is up to $85 a day, while it's up to $120 a day for certified substitutes.

Dalton Public Schools recently upgraded its substitute pay by $10. The daily rate for substitute teachers is now $85, the daily rate for long-term substitute teachers is now $120, and the daily rate for long-term substitutes with teaching certification is now $135.

In Whitfield County Schools, the daily rate for substitutes moved from $65 to $85, and the daily rate for long-term substitutes (11-21 days) increased from $100 to $120, while the daily rate for those substituting 22 days or more rose from $110 to $135.

Through the first 23 days of school, the "absentee rate is 8%" for teachers, Tuck said. "Under the circumstances" with the COVID-19 pandemic, "that's not terrible."

COVID-19

As is the case in many other school systems, the number of cases of COVID-19 and quarantines due to possible exposure in Murray County Schools are decreasing after peaking early in this school year, said Superintendent Steve Loughridge.

"They've been going down the last couple of weeks," but masks remain mandated for staff members when unable to social distance and "recommended" for students.

For the week that ended Oct. 1, Murray County Schools reported 80 new cases of COVID-19 among students, which is roughly 1% of the school system's student population, and three new staff cases, which is less than 0.5% of the school system's staff members.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Murray County had had 6,107 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — 42nd most among Georgia's 159 counties — with 338 hospitalizations attributed to COVID-19, 121 confirmed deaths and eight probable deaths, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Murray County's rate of 15,169 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents was 12th highest among the state's counties.

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