Bridgeport schools prepare to reopen

BRIDGEPORT — The Bridgeport Exempted Village School District, like many across the Buckeye State, has a plan to open for the 2020-21 school year after the 2019-20 academic year was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Superintendent Brent Ripley, the plan, –which is actually a day-to-day process — was unanimously approved during last week’s board of education meeting.

“We’re excited with what we’ve come up with. It all started with the (Belmont County) superintendents talking together. It then went to our administrative team and myself. We then met with the teachers’ union and the classified union for them to be involved in the process and to get more feedback in trying to cover every area of the initial plan as we could so that it was clear for parents.”

He said the administrators will be meeting again in the near future to discuss more specifics of the plan.

“We want to decide how the students will move around in the hallways when we resume back to school learning, but we are also going to meet with the teachers in case we have to start the year with at-home learning,” he added. “We want to know how we can be better than we were at the end of last year as far as the at-home learning goes.”

The district’s plan, which is 22 pages, will mirror that implemented by other schools within Belmont County, with a couple of tweaks.

“The big difference being, in some cases, is that our entire district is housed under one roof while most of the other districts in the county have multiple buildings,” he said. “Should we have to shut down because of the virus, we would have to shut down the entire building.”

The other change is that all students from kindergarten to 12th grade will be required to wear masks during the school day, as mandated by the state on Tuesday. Preschoolers won’t have to wear masks during their class time.

“Our teachers will be able to give the students mask breaks during the day in their classrooms,” Ripley continued. “I know, as an adult, there are times when I just have to take it off and take a break. Then I put it back on. These breaks will be at the teachers’ discretion when they think the breaks are needed.”

The Belmont County plan calls for students to attend school five days a week while the county is under a Level 1 (yellow) or a Level 2 (orange) risk, according to the state’s color-coded alert system. Should the county go into a Level 3 (red) risk the districts would then go into a Hybrid Plan, where the students would be divided into two groups with one group having in-person attendance on Tuesday and Wednesday and instruction from Bridgeport faculty while remaining at home on Monday, Thursday and Friday. The second group would do the exact opposite, he said.

Should a Level 4 (purple) emergency occur, all students will transition to receiving instruction from a faculty member while learning from home.

“We will also be working with the Belmont County Health Department. They can actually look at a certain zip code in the county and see how a certain community might be affected. Bridgeport could be in a yellow risk while St. Clairsville could be in a red,” Ripley acknowledged.

The superintendent said he is not aware of any student being affected over the summer.

IN OTHER news, the board unanimously approved the following matters:

∫ the purchase of fruits and vegetables for the food service program through Jebbia’s Market for the 2020-2021 school year as they deliver the products;

∫ the resignation of Jennifer Fillipovich as high school intervention specialist, effective with the start of the upcoming school year;

∫ confirming the assignment of Joann Vincenzo as Cross Categorical MH teaching position, effective at the start of the 2020-2021 school year;

∫ a 1-year contract for Jeff Thrash as bus driver, starting with the 2020-2021 school year;

∫ the hiring of Doug Heaton as a substitute bus driver at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year;

∫ confirming the assignment of Karen Dugan as a Kindergarten Aide at the start of the 2020-2021 school year;

∫ the resignation of Jeff Herink as golf coach and the hiring of Steve Dulesky to a supplemental contract as the new coach;

∫ the hiring of Lynette Ehrmantraut as high school english teacher to a 1-year contract;

∫ approving Samantha Harrison for a 1-year contract as middle school intervention specialist;

∫ supplemental contracts for the following individuals: Brittany Hicks (assistant athletic director/assistant girls basketball coach); Robert Newhart (head cross country coach); Brooke Syrylo (early childhood grant director); Heidi Terek (Bridgettes); Jim Murad (assistant boys basketball coach); Eric Meininger (volunteer assistant boys basketball coach); Jay Sommer (assistant volleyball coach); Jarret Deaton (volunteer Jr. High football coach); and Elliott Dean (computer tech, 10 extended days).

A special meeting will be held Thursday at 4 p.m. to announce the winning bid for bleachers and press box work at Jobko Stadium in Brookside. The next regular monthly meeting is set for Wednesday, Aug. 19 at 6 p.m.


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