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Ashland School Board discusses reopening plans

August 12, 2021
ASHLAND — At their Aug. 4 meeting, the Ashland School Board discussed the reopening of the school, learned of school activities and voted on a number of revised and new policies.

The School Board approved a plan for re-opening the school in June. Superintendent Mary Moriarty reported that the school's Covid committee will begin meeting on Aug. 13 to consider what to do for the coming school year. Board member Sandra Coleman pointed out that Covid cases are again on the rise, and was pleased that the Covid

committee would be meeting weekly. The Superintendent noted that state health officials are recommending that schools consider local (by town) Covid data, both the number of infections and of vaccinations, as well as the county data that was previously used, as an individual town can differ greatly from the surrounding region. The Covid

committee can adjust to the evolving Covid situation, changing, for example, mask use and social distancing standards as needed. Ashland teachers will no longer be offering remote learning in addition to in person classroom teaching. But, parents who do not wish to send their children back to school can enroll in VLAC remote learning. A new

staff member will help those students with their remote learning.

Principal Kelly Avery reported on school activities. As of Aug. 3, 171 students were enrolled in the school. Kindergarten registration, which is online, has seen 18 new students signed up. Summer Blast, the summer school, has finished, with an average daily attendance of 22 students. The maintenance crew has been working

diligently preparing the buildings and grounds for the coming school year. The Title I book giveaway has been popular, with some parents picking up the books, some being given out at the summer school and the Parks & Recreation summer camp, and the principal delivering some as well. Planning is underway for the back to school teacher workshops and for the cookout-open house that will probably be held on Thursday,

Sept. 2. (School will begin for students on Monday, Aug. 30.) The school is still looking for paraprofessionals to hire for the new school year.

The Policy Review Committee has been hard at work and presented no less than ten new or amended policies to the School Board for approval. Normally, policy changes go through three readings at three different Board meetings. But, the board agreed to hold just the first reading and vote immediately on adopting two amended policies, so they

could be included in the student handbook for the new school year. They then approved those amended policies on Use and Possession of Tobacco Products Banned In/on School Facilities and Grounds and on Notification of Rights Under FERPA. The first readings were then held on eight policies, five amended policies on Authorized Signatures, on Fixed Assets Management, on Video and Audio Recording in School and Classrooms, on Data/Records Retention and on Drug-Free Workplace and

three new policies on Payments, Checks and Manifests, on Video and Audio Surveillance on School Property, and on Electronic /Digital Records and Signatures. The School Board also voted to rescind two existing policies, on Review of Manifests and on Business Record Retention, as those policies will be superseded by newer policies. The Policy Review Committee also reported that they had reviewed five

other policies, but had no changes to propose to them.

The School Board ended its meeting with a non-public session. When they meet again on Sept. 7, the new school year will be underway.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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