Free swine flu vaccine clinics OK'd by board

Columbia County school officials decided Tuesday to offer free clinics to administer the H1N1 vaccine next month in each public school.

Officials are unsure when the vaccine will become available or when the clinics will be held. The shots or nasal sprays will be offered free to adults and to pupils with parental consent.

"The system is making every attempt to be proactive as we're working through this," Assistant Superintendent Robert Jarrell said.

Seasonal flu clinics will be held next month in each county middle school. Those shots cost $25, and the FluMist nasal spray $30.

Earlier this year, pupils and workers were banned from attending school if they had a temperature of 100 degrees or higher.

Also at Tuesday's meeting, the board deleted a policy requiring random drug tests of pupils at the county's alternative school.

The policy hasn't been enforced since 2002, Superintendent Charles Nagle told the board.

Instead, students at the alternative school must undergo regular classes on drug and alcohol education. Previously, those classes were required only for students caught violating the drug and alcohol policy.

Though random testing is banned, school officials still can insist a student submit to a drug test if they have just cause.

Another board decision Tuesday means two Grovetown elementary schools will receive a new batch of pupils next school year.

The board approved starting a new pre-kindergarten program at Brookwood and Euchee Creek elementary. The system will receive $300,000 to operate the lottery-funded program and intends to hire two teachers and two paraprofessionals.

There are a "number of students that are not being served in that area" because there are not enough nearby day cares, Mr. Nagle said in an e-mail Tuesday.

Funds for the classes are coming from Bright From the Start, a division of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, which administers the pre-kindergarten program.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.