Members of the Marshall County Council failed to pass a motion to allow Faith Freed, Administrator for the County Health Department to apply for a Crisis Co Ag and Supplemental Workforce in School Grant.
Freed told the council, “This will employ a contract person to work with the schools on COVID numbers, COVID testing, vaccines and report back to the state.”
Councilmember Mandy Campbell asked if the County Health Department currently has someone doing this job and Freed said yes but this will give us more, more people at the test and vaccination site out on Miller Drive.
Councilmember Heath Thornton clarified, the grant would allow two contract people and Freed said yes.
Council President Tim Harman asked, “Are there strings, any guidelines, because I didn’t see anything.” Freed said there weren’t any strings or guidelines if they kept reporting the number to the state. She said the contract employee is only guaranteed for a year and is full time.
Campbell asked what the duties would be and Freed said they would test students who need to be tested and then start the contact tracing to see who needs to be tested or taken out of class. They would also work with the schools to set up vaccination clinics in the various schools, making it easier on the parents to get their children vaccinated. She assured members that parents would have to permit vaccination.
Councilman Jesse Bohannon asked where the ultimate source fund for the grant was from and if it was COVID funds that have been passed through from the CDC to the State of Indiana and on to the counties. He then said, “Looking at the CDC’s website, it says, the recipient of the grant for a cooperative agreement awarded by the Department of Health and Human Services …. Shall comply with existing or future directives and guidance from the Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding the spread of COVID-19.” He continued, “So as I read it, if we receive these funds we are agreeing to cooperate with future directives of the Secretary of Human Services.”
Freed said, “Correct but we are already following those guidelines. We are not going to impose any more guidelines.”
Bohannon questioned the “future” part and said, “We don’t know what those guidelines might be. That sounds like strings attached.” He said he would not be able to support the request.
Campbell asked when the contact tracing would end and Freed said, “I can’t answer that. Our numbers are going up weekly as we speak.”
Councilman Jim Masterson asked if the Health Department is going by what the schools are doing rather than the Health Department setting the goals?”
Freed said, “We all work together. The superintendents and the Health Department meet weekly, and we discuss what’s out there. We discuss what’s best for the school system and the kids. It’s not just what we say, we all work together and follow what the state and CDC say.”
Councilman Bohannon said, “My sense is a lot of parents in the county are very frustrated and don’t feel like the school boards are representing them on this issue. For us to increase this program in the face of public opinion makes us tone deaf.”
Councilman Thornton said the future directives is what gives him cause to reject the request.
Councilman Jon VanVactor made a motion to approve the request to apply for the grant but his motion never received a second so it died.