Preble County Educational Service Center outlines return plans

By Braden Moles -

EATON — The Preble County Educational Service Center (ESC) discussed some of the challenges they will face as they prepare for opening during their regular meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 19.

Superintendent Mike Gray began his report by thanking Preble County Public Health for the work they have done.

“Talking to Shawn [Hoff], the health director here is the great guy and is doing a good job with our county,” he said. “Without their guidance, I don’t know where we could be.”

Gray said that in 44 years of education, he has never seen anything like this before.

“So, we’re doing the best we can,” he said.

Assistant to the Superintendent Shawn Hoff then provided his update and outlined some of the steps the ESC will take.

One of the biggest steps taken will be taking the temperature of every student, excluding preschoolers, before they are allowed on the bus, which Hoff said is how 99 percent of ESC’s students are transported.

“We felt we could do that safely because we have an aid on every one of our buses. We can’t put the driver in that position,” he said. “We felt we can bring our aids to the front of us. We purchased thermometers for every bus. That aid will stand at the bottom of the set, take the student’s temperature.”

If a student’s temperature is below 100 degrees, they will be allowed to board the bus. If it is at or above 100 degrees, they will have to stay home and likely the next day, according to Hoff, because they have to be fever-free for 24 hours.

Temperature checks will also take place in other schools districts such as Twin Valley South where ESC houses some classrooms.

Regarding masks, Hoff said that masks should be worn, however, the majority of students at the ESC fall under exemptions laid out in the governor’s mask mandate. Therefore, the staff will wear clear facial shields allowing for facial expressions to help the children with communication.

“By [requiring masks], we eliminate that communication happening for our students and our staff,” Hoff said. “So, we provided the clear facial shields for our staff, so the students can see facial expressions and read the lips and things that they need to be able to do.”

As part of the ESC’s remote learning plan that was approved by the board Wednesday, an application has been submitted for a Broadband Connectivity Grant to help in case ESC does have to participate in remote learning.

“We have to provide equitable access to all students for remote learning. As you all know, we live in Preble County. There are areas of this county in which internet service is not very strong or there at all, and some of our students do not have any devices,” Hoff said. “Some of them do not have internet service.”

The application will request $81,550 for the purchase of Chromebooks, iPads and hot spots as well as the state to pay for the service of said hot spots.

Additionally, the board approved contracts for certified Substitute Para-Teachers who will assist teachers in providing students with academic instruction and intervention when needed for the following schools:

  • Five for the Eaton Community School District (one contract at $22,375.41, one contract at $29,498.12, one contract for three teachers at $29,344.80, all paid by district).
  • Five for the National Trail School District (one contract for five teachers at $123,067.50, paid by district).
  • Eight for Tri-County North (one contract for five teachers at $103,929.50, one contract for three teachers at $80,831.70, all paid by district.)

In other business:

  • The Preble ESC approved a contract to provide Edmentum online digital curriculum seat licenses for students in kindergarten through 12th grade for the 2020-21 school year for National Trail and Twin Valley South. The districts will pay $250.00 per student per month that each student is enrolled in the program.
  • An Independent Contractor Agreement was approved with Gebhart Counseling Solutions, LLC to provide mental health services at the ESC at no cost between Aug. 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021.

The next regular Preble ESC meeting will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at the Preble ESC building.

By Braden Moles

Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles

Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles