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Joyce Endee

Ashland School Board reviews fall opening plans


July 29, 2021
ASHLAND — At a short special July 20 meeting, the Ashland School Board approved the hiring of two new teachers, a Fun Run Club for intermediate students, and the donation of retired monitors. They also discussed the opening plan for the next school year and school activities.

Superintendent Mary Moriarty nominated two new teachers Courtney Busnach as a Primary teacher and Erin Guinan for the new position of Academic Interventionist for the coming school year. Moriarty said that it was a difficult year to find new teachers and was very pleased with the quality of the two candidates. The board unanimously approved the hiring of both teachers. Principal Kelly Avery noted that the school was still looking to hire three paraprofessionals for the fall.

Intermediate Teacher Sarah Lindberg, a running enthusiast who ran in high school and college, proposed a Fun Run Club for intermediate students (grades 3 to 5). The Club would meet for an hour two days a week in the fall. Intermediate students are too young to take part in formal school sports, so this would give them something athletic to

do. When asked about CPR training for the staff involved, the Principal explained that many staff members, including custodians, receive CPR training. The Board approved the Fun Run Club as a new Co-Curricular Program.

With the advances in technology, the school has about 30 smaller monitors that are no longer needed in the classrooms. The Superintendent proposed, based on school policy, to offer those monitors first to staff members for use at home, which might come in handy if the school ever has to return to remote learning. Next in line for the monitors would be the Town departments and then private charitable groups. The Board voted to approve the monitor donation plan.

The Superintendent explained that the school's opening plan for the next school year had been reviewed and would need some changes to comply with federal rules, including adding health protocols for screening and testing of students who might have Covid, promoting vaccinations, assuring that special education needs are met, and

providing social and emotional support for students and staff. Those changes will be made to the plan. The Board and administrators discussed the conflicting guidance from state health officials and the CDC on mask wearing. Currently, in the summer school, where masks are the parents' choice, most students are not wearing masks while at the

school, but the bus company is requiring them to mask up on the school buses, with their more confined quarters. The school's Covid team will begin meeting in August to prepare for the coming school year. School Board Chair and Fire Chief Steve Heath, who serves on that team, stressed the need for constant monitoring of the pandemic situation and for flexibility to respond as needed.

Principal Avery said that the summer school program was averaging 25 students daily. Kindergarten registration is underway, with 17 children already registered. The Title I book giveaway to all students was scheduled for the following week. Back to school teacher training is being planned. The maintenance staff is hard at work getting the

buildings and grounds ready for the fall. Avery is planning a cookout and open house during the first week of school, and asked the school board members if they would work on the cookout while the teachers were in their classrooms for the open house.

Superintendent Moriarty reported that an electrical failure in the rooftop unit of the school's new freezer resulted in the loss of some $2,700 worth of food. The freezer was still under warranty, so the repairs were made at no cost to the District. The school's insurance company will be asked to cover the cost of the lost food, but there is a $1,000 deductible. Sensors have since been installed to warn if there is a loss of electric power or if the temperature rises in the freezer.

The School Board ended its meeting with a non public session on the new ventilation systems planned for the school buildings.

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