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Hancock schools preparing to return

NEW CUMBERLAND — Hancock County Schools officials are preparing for the return of in-classroom education, next week, with many teachers and staff receiving their first round of COVID-19 vaccine.

The county’s Board of Education met Monday night, with attendance both in person and by teleconference. Superintendent Dawn Petrovich explained the state has provided doses of the Moderna vaccine, and school employees began to receive their first dose last week in preparation of returning to school Jan. 19.

“We started the vaccine rollout on Thursday,” she said, explaining the vaccinations are all voluntary, and teachers and staff must fill out a survey before they can receive it.

The first round was for those teachers aged 50 and up, with plans for those teachers under 50 able to receive their first vaccine dose this week. Petrovich said 170 teachers received the vaccine as part of last week’s clinic.

A third clinic would be scheduled for all other county school employees, with the process beginning again for the second dose of vaccine sometime in early February.

Petrovich said Hancock County Schools has 550 employees.

Officials took time, Monday, to express appreciation for the work of the district’s school nurses, who have worked both as part of the district’s vaccine clinics, but also assisted with county clinics.

“Our school nurses have gone above and beyond,” board President Dan Kaser said. “They have been in the middle of all of this.”

Kaser also touched on some concerns received from teachers and parents about the school reopening schedule.

“We’ve been criticized a little bit because we haven’t put a plan out yet,” he said, noting between 25 and 30 comments received by the board.

The issue, he said, is while the county has been told schools are to reopen Jan. 19, the board can only plan within the guidance of the state board of education.

“We have authority to make decisions within their guidelines,” he said, adding the state school board is supposed to meet today and local officials are hoping for more information. “That is what we’re working with.”

Petrovich explained, once guidance from the state has been established, any plan drafted by the local school board still needs approval from the state board. She also noted the school district has received supplies of sanitizer and masks for use in the classrooms.

Also, during Monday’s meeting, the school board approved several personnel moves, including:

¯ Upaid days for Angela Myers and Jennifer Loveland

¯ The resignation of Phil Rujak as a teacher at Weir High

¯ Michael Gurskey as a countywide substitute teacher, pending favorable fingerprints

¯ The resignation of Kip Shenton as Oak Glen High head girls tennis coach; Michael Moran as Oak Glen High head cross country coach; and Timothy Miller as Weir High head baseball coach.

¯ The transfer of Jolynn Mark from Secretary III at Weirton Elementary to Secretary III at the board office; and Brenda Sayre from bus operator No. 138 to bus operator No. 105

¯ Cody Hixenbaugh as Custodian II at Allison Elementary School.

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