CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Teachers will be returning to schools in parts of West Virginia on Thursday as public education moves into a new, uncharted phase in the age of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Overwhelming” was how Jenny Harden, principal of Greenbrier County’s Rupert Elementary School, described the unprecedented situation her school workers, including teachers, were in with educators across the U.S.
“They’ve (teachers) been working from home and they’re encouraged to figure out some distance learning — whether it be packets, whether we mail them, email them or whether they have called parents to see if they have internet access,” she said.
Harden said such alternative teaching could be in place “for a while.”
By Thursday, March 19, every county school system was required to have a plan implemented to provide some form of distance learning or instruction.
“This does not mean everyone must report to the building,” information from the state Department of Education indicated.
County superintendents were asked to be flexible with staff and “capitalize on alternate ways staff can contribute.”
“If individuals do not feel safe, allow them to work from home. Strongly encourage anyone feeling ill to stay at home,” the state DOE said.
In Wayne County, guidance for schools said social distancing was to be employed to “provide some level of isolation” for staff members with immunodeficiency disorders or other serious health concerns.
Essential school, including administrators, bus drivers and cooks, have been working at schools on cleaning and food distributions all week.
As of now, the school closures were scheduled to continue statewide until at least next Friday, March 27.
“We absolutely are creating contingency plans for both feeding children as well as continuing to engage our children in some type of learning and what it looks like beyond the 27th,” Clayton Burch, state superintendent of schools, said on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”