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Springfield BOE discusses plans for reopening school

Carolynn Mostyn
Suburbanite correspondent

SPRINGFIELD TWP. The Springfield Local Schools Board of Education presented its plan for reopening during the July 21 meeting, which was broadcast via Zoom.

Many parents and school staff members listened in and commented through the written comment section as the plan was presented by Director of Special Services Brad Beun.

The first day of school will be Aug. 24 with kindergarten beginning Aug. 27. Beun said all the questions cannot yet be answered but officials are working to keep up with the daily changes.

The district believes that five days a week in person attendance is the best for the children. The biggest question, at this time, is how many children will come to school and how many will decide to stay at home with online classes. Until the Board has thoes numbers, a plan cannot be completed. Questionnaires have gone out to families.

The complete plan, as it stands, will be posted online at www.springfieldspartans.org.

“We want students to be successful and going back and forth from online to in school is not a good way to learn,” Beun said.

Online classes will be taught by Springfield teachers and there will be times that students at home will be signing on the live classroom activities. If schools are shutdown, everyone will go to online learning.

Masks will be required for all staff members and all students that attend classes in the buildings.

Volunteers and visitors will not be permitted in the buildings.

Self-assessment health checks are to be done by parents at home and staff members. Anyone with a fever of 100 or higher, or showing any symptoms, should remain home or call their doctor.

The district has ordered more Chromebooks, working to provide each student with the use of one if they are doing online learning. Parents need to provide high speed internet. The district asks for those that own reliable devices to use them so Chromebooks can go to those students without one.

The district is asking if anyone has a device from last year to turn it in.

Extra in service days are being added for teachers for training about safety, protocol and allowing time for teachers to meet with other teachers to see where students need work to fill in the gaps to get everyone where they need to be.

Superintendent Chuck Sincere said the district is working on plans to get new students into their buildings ahead of time such as kindergarteners, fourth graders, seventh graders and new students to the district for orientation.

Other reopening notes:

• Board President Dave Hofer and Board Member Chad Lance read 19 pages of public comments during the 3 hour and 45-minute meeting. Comments and questions were from district staff members and community members.

• The Board is working with the Health Department to follow all guidelines and procedures to open the schools safely. Students will immediately go home if they have symptoms and the Health Department will be advised. They will do contact tracing and parents will be contacted by the Health Department.

• Parents are urged to continue to follow the updated plans on the district website. Sincere said there are so many potential scenarios and it is going to take patience on everyone’s part to get it where it needs to be. Teachers are going to be repositioned and at any moment COVID-19 numbers could change the plan.

• Sincere said officials are meeting with Akron area superintendents and are working to do similar things. Springfield, Green, Manchester and Coventry, which have students attending Portage Lakes Career Center, are all beginning school Aug. 24. Currently, most districts are planning to return face to face.

• The question of CARES money was addressed. The approximately $400,000 is being used ($200,000) plus grant monies to purchase 1,000 Chromebooks and $200,000 to reinstate teachers for music and art if in school classes take place. Treasure Chris Adams said that people ask what they are doing with the dollars, but they had more than what they received through CARES Act taken away through the cuts to education due to COVID.

In other action, the Board:

• Approved a reduction in force for classified positions including, skilled maintenance, high school junior high school secretary and a high school junior high school cook.

• Approved a one-year consortium agreement with the Summit ESC for the purpose of accessing Title III (Limited English Proficient) Funds.

• Approved a contract with Edmentum to provide educational differentiation support to students through the Exact Path program at no cost to the Springfield Board of Education.

• Approved a service contract with Koinonia Enterprises to provide transition-based services.

Announcements:

• Sincere recognized 17 staff members with perfect attendance for the past school year.

• Kindergarten registration is available online.

• Safety Town has been canceled this year. Sincere said they will work in other ways to get those items taught to kindergarteners.

The board went into executive session with no action to follow.

The next meeting is 6 p.m. Aug. 18.