CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — In the same county where the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the state, schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year.
Jefferson County Schools announced their “Stage III” closure following Gov. Jim Justice’s Stay at Home order.
“As fellow Jefferson citizens, we are committed to weathering this crisis together under that order,” said Superintendent Dr. Bondy Shay Gibson in a letter to families. “We will continue to provide the educational and wellness services remotely that we have been providing throughout this ordeal such as tutoring, online meetings, and phone conferences. However, at this time we will no longer be able to provide any face to face services.”
Dr. Gibson added that the school system will move their more than 1,100 employees and over 9,000 students to virtual learning for the remainder of the semester.
“Obviously everyone wants to be safe,” said Jefferson County Schools Public Information Officer Hans Fogle. “Everyone wants to keep our students safe, keep our families safe and our staff safe. At the same time, it’s really hard right now for teachers because they miss their students. It’s a very strange circumstance.”
Earlier this week, volunteers distributed 10,000 meals to Jefferson County families. Students were able to pick up those meals at various locations, including bus stops.
“Right now we’re working out some details for how that’s going to continue,” said Fogle. “The first week we had volunteers step up and used our transportation facility as essentially an assembly line to pack all of the meals. Next week, we don’t know that we’re going to be able to sustain that number of sites.”
Fogle said the school system is currently in talks with the National Guard for assistance distributing food.
“We’re going to need help. I know Kanawha County has discontinued their meal delivery service and they’re going to be needing some help that way. So as other counties start to figure out the best way to serve their most at-need families, we’re going to take that into consideration and figure out what best fits Jefferson County and serves our families and students.”
Teachers have been attending training on virtual classroom tools to help navigate the new teaching process.