CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Families in Kanawha County are split on what to do when sending their children back to school this fall, according to Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Tom Williams.
Tuesday was the deadline for parents in the county to register a child into one of two plans put together by the state’s largest school district.
Parents and guardians had to log onto the Kanawha County Schools website and select an in-person model that begins with a staggered return to the classroom or an online model that will either be a Kanawha County Schools’ Schoology option or West Virginia Department of Education virtual option.
“There are more in-person students right now but there is just a little less than half saying e-learning or virtual,” Williams told MetroNews on Tuesday.
Williams said there is a great debate amongst parents in the school system as the first day of class, September 8, is quickly approaching.
Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin, who has a child in the school system, said as a parent it’s a tough decision.
“As a parent, am I concerned? Yeah, I am concerned not only about my college kid but I am also concerned about my high school kid and making sure we are doing the right things,” she said.
The in-person plan for the school system consists of a staggered return September 8-11, blended learning model from September 14-25 and the in-person 5-day option beginning September 28.
The staggered return includes grades first, third, sixth, eighth, and eleventh going to the classroom on September 8. Pre-K, second, fourth, seventh, and tenth grades return to the classroom on September 9 while kindergarten, fifth, ninth, and twelfth grades go to school on September 10. Students online learning through Schoology will take place on September 11.
Williams said the staggered return allows the school system to gather data on safety procedures ahead of the 5-day, in-person return. He said it also allows the school to teach students about procedures such as bathroom breaks, lunch seating and walking the halls.
The blended learning model includes in-person classes for two or three days a week and online classes for two or three days a week. Students would be divided on schedules based on alphabetical order.
Williams said the parents selecting the all-online option should understand there are two choices within that one, virtual or e-learning.
“The difference between virtual will be a teacher outside of Kanawha County. E-learning will be a teacher inside Kanawha County that the child would have probably had anyway,” Williams said.
So what’s next for the school system after the responses are counted? Williams said planning for every school leader in the county.
“Once we get out numbers, principals are going to have to redo their schedules in the school and they are going to have to determine how many teachers they need for in-person and how many teachers they need to e-learning so that we can have everything ready for September 8,” he said.
“They will be getting procedures down, working on schedules for e-learning, it will be a busy next three weeks.”