The Kenston Local School District is set to begin school on Aug. 31 with most children heading back to classrooms where safety precautions will be in place due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, officials said during a Monday board of education meeting.

“We are very fortunate that we have a talented team of dedicated educators and administrators who have been working tirelessly to prepare for the upcoming school year,” Superintendent Nancy Santilli said during the BOE meeting. “Our plan is to begin in-person instruction and virtual learning on Aug. 31 with nearly 400 of our students who will be participating in virtual learning for the first semester.” Kenston has about 2,634 students districtwide.

After months of collaborative decision making in coordination with adhering to national, state and local authorities, the superintendent and school principals on Monday presented the district’s formal Responsible Restart Plan for all students to be back in the buildings full-time with a fully remote choice taught by the Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Along with social distancing of 6 feet and mask-wearing, the school district has added an additional layer of protection for students. The district will be utilizing flexible tri-fold plastic desk shields which are easy to sanitize, Mrs. Santilli said. The shields will be labeled with students’ names and grade and carried to each class. Students will have the option to clean their desk shields at any time during the school day, and the shields will remain at school at all times.

In other business, the board updated its standards-based teacher evaluation policy which would adopt the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System 2.0 model as approved by the Ohio Board of Education.

The board passed a resolution providing for the issuance and sale of bonds in the maximum principal amount of $11.4 million for the purpose of refunding for debt charges savings related to the school district’s outstanding school improvement refund bonds of Dec. 29, 2011.

Under business operations, the board approved Mrs. Santilli’s recommendation for a Memorandum of Understanding with Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 501 related to Auburn Career Center transportation. The board also voted to approve a contract with Precious Cargo for transportation services at a cost not to exceed $65,000 for the 2020-2021 school year.

Under teaching and learning, the board approved an addendum with the Education Service Center of the Western Reserve to include vision services and homeschool coordinator services. In addition, the board approved the Ohio Department of Education Remote Learning Plan and a Memorandum of Understanding with Kenston Education Association regarding back to school models.

The board also approved several one-student special education service contracts for the 2020-2021 school year with the Beachwood and Mayfield city school districts as well as Mentor Public Schools, Applewood Center/Gerson School, PSI Solutions and Education Service Center of Northeast Ohio.

Board members said that they continue to take appropriate measures to suspend in-person participation during the COVID-19 pandemic to protect the health of residents, yet they value community input. Residents with concerns or those who would like a statement read prior to a meeting can contact Mrs. Santilli at Nancy.santilli@kenstonapps.org or fill out a speaker’s card prior to each BOE session.

The next regular school board meeting will be held Sept. 21 at 7 p.m.

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