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Jersey Shore schools seek reopening opinions from parents

The Jersey Shore Area School District continues to monitor the latest guidance that was released by Gov. Tom Wolf Monday to help districts determine plans to reopen classrooms for the fall, Dr. Brian Ulmer, superintendent, told the board during its livestreamed meeting Monday.

Under the latest guidelines, the state Department of Education ranks counties as low, moderate and high transmission of COVID-19 rates, Ulmer said.

He noted the district will send communication out regarding the new guidance. Families will also be asked if they would like to change their mind about what they indicated on the first survey as their preference for reopening schools. He urged parents who have not taken the survey yet to do so on the second round.

“Because we’re giving parents the option, we feel strongly that we’re meeting the guidance and allowing people to be able to make the best choice…the safest choice for them,” Ulmer said.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, one resident questioned whether the county was above the incidence rate of cases of COVID-19, which would warrant the district pivoting from the plan that had been chosen of opening for classes in-person on Aug. 27. As is the policy of the board, questions during the public comment section of the meeting are not addressed at that time.

Early in the meeting, Ulmer explained why the meeting was conducted virtually with each board member signing on from a remote location due to two rules recently issued by the governor.

“We can only have 25 people at a gathering inside and 250 people at a gathering outside,” Ulmer said.“They specifically excluded academics, so in a school setting, if you are instructing, you’re not bound by those two requirements,” he said.

“They clarified that board meetings, staff meetings, athletic events and extracurricular activities are all bound by those requirements,” he added.

In other business, the board approved by a 5-4 vote authorizing a feasibility study to be done in the district. In conjunction with this, they also approved Hunt Architect, Engineers and Surveyors to do the study at a cost of $40,470.

Voting in favor of both items were: David Becker, Harry Brungard, Wayne Kinley, Michelle Stemler and Craig Allen. Voting against were: Patrice Doebler, Angel Grant, Nancy Petrosky and Mary Thomas.

Those voting against the district authorizing the study had noted that they felt that this was not a good time to commission the study.

Under personnel, the board approved the following appointments and rates of pay:

* Nancy Rodabaugh, middle school teacher as a mentor at a stipend of $500. This is in addition to her regular teaching position.

• Amber Eck, full-time assistant cook at $15.76 per hour.

• Jody Paulhamus, full-time cook, $16.84 per hour.

• Shelly Smith, full-time assistant cook, $15.76 per hour.

• Jordan Bower, part-time food service position, $10.20 per hour.

• Ann Knipe, first grade level leader and Nicole Allison, fifth grade level leader, $1,000 stipend per each.

The board also approved several policies that had been introduced at last month’s meetings as well as minor changes to the district’s reopening health and safety plan. Ulmer noted that the changes included a typographical error and a section regarding virtual open houses.

The next board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 24.

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