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School board discusses new year

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ASHLAND – The Ashland-Greenwood Board of Education heard plans for the upcoming school year at its meeting Monday night at the high school.

The district is preparing for the upcoming school year by creating a required Return to School Plan, even though they were in school last year.

Curriculum Director Jill Finkey said the COVID-19 pandemic has lessened, but is still a factor as they get ready to welcome staff and students back next month.

The federal government mandated all school districts create a plan for the upcoming school year, even if the students were in school in the 2020-21 school year.

“We never left school, but we still have to have a Return to School Plan,” she said.

The administration also was required to solicit input from the public for the plan. They developed an online survey and sent information out to all parents in the district, but only about 20 responded, Finkey said.

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The responses indicated some concern about students wearing masks in the upcoming school year, Finkey said, but remarks were on both sides of the issue.

However, most parents said were thankful to the district for all efforts during the pandemic.

“The majority of parents who responded expressed appreciation for giving parents the choice to decide to wear masks or not,” Finkey said.

There has been recent information published regarding information on masks for unvaccinated children, Finkey said. In addition, there is conflicting information from federal and local health departments at this time, Superintendent Jason Libal added. Still, the district has no plans to mandate mask wearing for students.

“At this point, we’re not going to be requiring them unless something significant changes,” Finkey said.

The Return to School Plan is part of the requirements the district must do to receive federal COVID funds. Finkey said the district is applying for the third round of federal funds, called the American Rescue Plan (ARP) ESSER III (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) fund. She did not say how much the district would receive, but indicated it could be a significant amount.

Suzi Nelson is the managing editor of The Ashland Gazette. Reach her via email at suzi.nelson@ashland-gazette.com.

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