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School Board to vote on proposal for reopening schools amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Stock Photo - Aiken School District Logo (copy) (copy)

The Aiken County School Board is expected to vote on a local task force's proposal for how to safely reopen schools this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Aiken County's Back to School Task Force is expected to present its finalized recommendations for how schools should reopen in August at the Aiken County School Board meeting this week.

The task force, which is comprised of employees from various departments across the school district, has been crafting the guidelines since S.C. State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman's task force, AccelerateED, published flexible protocols for how schools should reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Aiken County's task force presented preliminary suggestions to the school board at a special called meeting earlier this month.

Though the board will be voting on the guidelines proposed by the task force during Tuesday's meeting, board members and task force members have previously stated some recommendations may change closer to August depending on how the ongoing threat to public health evolves.

The first day of school is set for Aug. 17.

Public participation, which has been halted due to coronavirus concerns, will resume during Tuesday's school board meeting. 

However, due to social distancing concerns, Board Chair Keith Liner stated during a previous meeting that in-person public participation will be limited. 

Liner advised anyone who wishes to speak in person arrive early before the room fills to maximum capacity. Concerned parents, guardians and other stakeholders can also send questions or concerns to their board representatives.

Aside from schools reopening, the upcoming school board meeting at Brookhaven Drive will also review numerous construction status reports for ongoing projects at various Aiken County schools. 

Consent items, which will be voted on as a group by the board, include an application from Freedman Early Learning Center for a $10,000 grant in CARES Act funding. The grant is designed to assist childcare providers with remaining open or reopening safely amid low enrollment due to the pandemic, according to school board agenda documents.

The board will also review a request from the school district to submit an application for a $45,000 grant under the McKinney-Veto Education for Homeless Children and Youths program. The grant will assist students identified as homeless with school supplies, transportation costs and other needs for the 2020-2021 school year, according to agenda documents.

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