TAYLOR COUNTY— On Wednesday, June 10, the members of the West Virginia Board of Education discussed the guidelines and possible scenarios for the reopening of schools this fall.
At the conclusion of their meeting, three possible scenarios for what the upcoming school year might look like were released, and parents immediately began responding.
According to the new guidelines, which are a direct result of the COVID-19, the first of the three scenarios selected for elementary school students, would have those schools operating on a four-day school week.
Under this scenario students would be kept in core groups, and would eat their meals in the classroom rather than congregating in a cafeteria, as common areas would be off limits, and outdoor classes would be utilized whenever possible.
The second suggested scenario, which is designed more for high schools and possibly middle schools would be a mixture of in-person instruction and virtual learning. With this scenario, students would only report to their physical classrooms two days a week, and the remainder of the week would be conducted virtually.
However, the guidelines note that smaller middle and high schools would be able to operate on a four day a week in-person schedule, with larger institutions operating on the two day a week schedule.
The third scenario, which seems to be the least popular among parents of Taylor County students, would consist of virtual learning only. It was however clarified that this last situation would only be utilized in the event that the Governor issues a state of emergency.
In addition to shortened school weeks and virtual learning, student may also be required to wear masks while riding school busses, and there has been discussion by the WV BOE on having an extra adult present on the busses to conduct temperature checks.
With the new guidelines, field trips are unlikely to be approved and visitor access to schools will be very limited, if permitted at all.
While no official decisions have been made, at the release of these possible plans many turned to social media platforms to voice their opinions on the matter, some believing there has to be another way while others are beginning to consider homeschooling.
West Virginia Delegate for District 49, Amy Summers, addressed some of the concerns that she had received, revealing that she had reached out to the attorney for the WV Department of Education.
“She made it clear that each school board and superintendent will decide how to reopen and operate, because a one size fits all approach will not work,” shared Summers via social media.
While questions and concerns continued flowing, the Taylor County Superintendent of Schools, Christy Miller formed a statement of her own to better inform the community, and let them know that their voices will be heard, and they will have some say in what the 2020-2021 school year will look like.
“While we understand the enormity in the task that lies ahead, I want to assure our employees, community, families and students, the work that is taking place now will ensure a safe return no matter how it looks,” she began. “Safety will remain our number one priority as we look to the opening of school in the fall of 2020.”
Miller further noted that throughout this reentry process, herself and the Taylor County Board of Education will continue to work with and consult with the Grafton-Taylor Health Department, as well as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia Department of Education for instruction and leaving in the development of a plan that is specific to Taylor County schools.
Furthermore, she said that they will be turning to the WVSSA for matter regarding athletics and band.
“A small group has been formed to begin the task of wading through guidance documents and lessons learned. A draft plan will be put together and the community will be given the opportunity to weigh in on and give suggestions,” Miller shared.
She stressed her desire for the community, families, students and staff to understand this process will be thoughtful and well calculated, saying that they are taking into consideration the needs of all who have an interest in the outcomes.
“The plan will be equitable and provide essential supports with the ability to change based on concerns for safety,” she voiced.
Miller also extended her deepest gratitude to school employees, community members, families and students for their unwavering commitment to the importance of education within the community.
“Caregivers, parents and siblings became the educators as our school buildings remained closed. It looked different in each of these settings, but provided the means to keep learning going in uncertain times,’ she expressed.
Miller’s statement closed with the reassurance that Taylor County Schools will continue to support their staff, communities, families and students as they move forward in these unprecedented times and into a new future.
“This future looks bright as the county and its citizens continue to embrace the possibilities that lie ahead,” she concluded. “The partnerships formed will be essential as we embark on the next phase of education in an environment impacted by COVID-19.”
To voice your thoughts, concerns and opinions on the matter, please contact the Taylor County Board of Education at 304-265-2497.