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East Palestine reviews plans for 2021-22 school year

EAST PALESTINE– Superintendent Chris Neifer introduced restart plans for the 2021- 22 school year Monday during the board of education meeting.

After meeting with both Mahoning and Columbiana County health departments as well as watching CDC guidelines Neifer established a plan regarding Covid recommendations. With school starting in less than threee weeks Neifer feels like it is important to release guidance to the community.

Masks will not be mandated inside the buildings. But due to federal mandates masks will be required on public transportation. Masks will be provided in school offices and classrooms for students who wish to utilize them. Neifer ordered wipes and hand sanitizer for all buildings. Digital thermometers will be used at the front door of buildings and an additional janitor will continue to work.

“We have plans to keep many of the mitigation strategies in place,” said Neifer.

Dividers will continue to be utilized in the elementary school.

“We learned a lot last year. We learned what worked and what didn’t work, we learned what may have been a little bit of overkill,” said Neifer.

Remote learning has been affected by House Bill 110. “Before the blending learning plan said it just had to be a blend of students in school and students at home instruction on the computer,” said Neifer.

Neifer explained students can no longer have a majority of blended teaching in the home. Attorneys and lawmakers are now attempting to determine what the word “majority” means.

Students who have an individual medical condition or a medical condition existing in the household can apply through the district website for at home learning.

“Our expectation is that we try to get everybody else that we can back into the district and get their bottoms in seats because we know that the best education takes place here face-to-face,” Neifer said.

Neifer is rolling out a strategic plan for the city school district. The plan is available via school district website and the plan will be distributed during the Back-to-School Bash Aug. 21. The plan includes six goal areas and strives to create greater transparency, implement cohesive communication between internal and external sources, advance diversity and global perspectives and audit customer service standards.

“We had between six to eight hundred data points that were used in developing this plan, so this was listening to our students, our staff, our community members, our business leaders,” Neifer said.

Another round of summer learning sessions is taking place from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. August 9 – 19 for elementary students and between August 16 – 19 for both middle and high school students. The learning sessions help students prepare for new grade levels, adjust to buildings and provide new opportunities.

“This is more of a front-loading and preparing for the grade level versus kind of reviewing and going over foundational pieces,” said Neifer.

Transportation and meals will be provided for students enrolled in the learning opportunity sessions.

dgarner@mojonews.com

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