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Vast majority of Bulldogs will return to classrooms Aug. 31

BRIDGEPORT — When the more than 800 students in the Bridgeport Exempted Village School District return to classes Aug. 31, just over 10 percent will be doing so online.

That figure was announced by Superintendent Brent Ripley during Wednesday night’s regular monthly board of education meeting held inside the administrative office under social distancing guidelines prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are 90 students who have chosen the online learning method. We had a couple of students who have since decided they want to return to the classroom, so that figure will be a little lower,” Ripley said. “They are going that route because they may have some medical issues and they are looking out for their health.”

Ripley said the respective principals have met with all the students and their parents to go over what online learning entails.

“Online learning is tough. It’s very difficult,” Ripley stressed. “Having lived through it myself, it’s very difficult.”

During the meeting, the five-member board of education unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding between the district and the East Central Ohio Educational Service Center for online licenses and an online advocate

“We have 44 students in kindergarten through fourth grade that are required to have online licenses,” Ripley added.

According to the superintendent, the cost for each license was just over $700 for a total cost of approximately $32,000.

“That is just for the first semester,” Ripley pointed out.

The online advocate will receive a salary of $45,000 and will be hired through the ECOESC. The candidate will serve multiple school districts in the area.

“We’ll have a tab to pick up on that cost, as well,” he noted.

Ripley said is was vital to keep the 90 students who have wished to learn online in the district.

“Even though a student is taking classes online, they can still take part in athletics or any extracurricular activity as a Bridgeport student. If they go online through another entity, that’s not the case then.”

If those 90 students would’ve went to another school district, Bridgeport would of lost nearly $200,000.

he added that as the start of the school year nears, staff members are busy putting the finishing touches on a few areas that were required by the Ohio Department of Education and the Belmont County Health Department.

“We’re getting there. There’s some things that are still being shipped in,” Ripley said. “We have sanitizers set up. We have things to take temperatures. Facemasks have been provided for kids. Some are still being made and some have been donated. We have some water bottle-fillers that are still enroute. They will be ready by the first day.”

He said bussing will be no issue.

“It’s good to go. A lot of our parents indicated on the survey that we sent out that they were able to assist us by getting their children to and from school,” he continued. “We will have masks for every kid on every bus. The students will be expected to bring them every day, take them home and clean them and then bring them back the next day. The students will also sanitize their hands when they get on the bus, so they should be good until they get to school.”

In other action, the board also unanimously approved the following matters:

∫ the contract for the school resource officer between the school district, the Belmont County Commissioners and the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office;

∫ a supplemental contract for Zach Winland as head baseball coach;

∫ a resolution authorizing installment payment or lease purchase agreement for the stadium improvement project shall not exceed $1.5M.

The next regular monthly board of education meeting will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m.

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