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Falls schools to use CARES Act money for changes

NEWTON FALLS — Newton Falls school officials said changes and adjustments will need to be made in the event schools are allowed to reopen to students and staff for 2020-21.

The CARES Act — Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security — provides funding to institutions to provide emergency financial aid to students whose lives have been disrupted, and many of whom are facing financial challenges.

Treasurer Terry Armstrong said the district will receive $264,000 in CARES Act funds to be used for anything COVID-19 related such as technology for remote learning next school year, signs in hallways for showing directions, having hot spots in area of the community allowing for internet access for students, having cameras on computers and hand-sanitizing stations.

Schools Superintendent Paul Woodard told the board of education last week that Gov. Mike DeWine is scheduled to discuss the reopening of schools this week — which will help direct districts on what they may need to do.

“The administrators have been discussing what next school year might look like. We have to have a regular schedule in place in case a vaccine is found, but we also will have to look at some kind of a hybrid schedule with students coming to school on certain days or online or a combination of both,” Woodard said.

“What I am hearing from the CDC and other agencies is they expect schools to start in the fall with social distancing being part of the day, and students and staff wearing masks, and changes in the way we do things.”

He said changes being discussed could include one-way hallways, students eating lunch at their desks, and no recess or physical education with large groups.

“We will wait and see what comes down from the governor about next year,” Woodard said.

A survey will be sent to students and families to see what technology and computers students have available to them in their homes, which will help administrators when planning for next year, to see what percent of students will be able to do online learning.

Armstrong said there will be recommendations coming from the state regarding busing students. It could be one student per seat at the window side and a limit of how many students can be in a room.

“Every day there is something new, something proposed and something changed. We are not sure what the fall will be like,” Amie Crowder, board vice president, said.

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