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State board of education set to discuss districts not offering in-person learning option despite motion

GRAFTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Board of Education is set to hold an emergency session Wednesday morning to discuss county school systems that are not offering in-person learning to students due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The board unanimously passed a motion on January 13 that was meant to prevent county school systems from opting for remote learning after Tuesday, requiring school systems to have at least a blended schedule for elementary and middle school students.

The decision countermanded decisions that had already been made by several local boards. Some school systems have adjusted and began offering blended learning Tuesday but seven school systems remain all remote.

The state Department of Education included Berkeley County, Marion County, Gilmer County, Monongalia County, Harrison County, Taylor County, and Jefferson County in a report.

The board issued a statement Tuesday about its meeting, “The West Virginia Board of Education will meet in emergency session to consider a report from the State Superintendent regarding counties that have not complied with the WVBE’s motion of January 13 and are not currently offering in-person learning options to all families. The meeting will take place at noon on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, in Capitol Building 6, Room 353, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East, Charleston, West Virginia.”

Christy Miller, Taylor County Schools Superintendent appeared on Tuesday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline’ to discuss the county’s decision to remain all-remote through January.

She said through discussion with local health officials, it’s the best decision for right now but is hoping to reevaluate the decision on January 29.

“Over the last week, we had an infection rate that started at 75.3 and dropped to 49.43. Our positivity rate continues to decline as well,” she said.

“I am hopeful the next decision we make will at least be able to bring us back to a blended model where we have our students divided in half by alphabet.”

She described the first semester of learning with in-person and virtual as stressful and interesting but everything has been about the student’s and staff’s safety.

“Our teachers have set up scheduled face-to-face time periods with their students,” Miller said of the next two weeks with Taylor County Schools. “They are providing it through the Teams platform to each of our students with the schedule of Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, Friday.”

Jackson County Schools went back to the physical classroom Tuesday with all schools as the county was not red on the COVID-19 alert map.

Luke Swiney, Principal at Ravenswood High School, told MetroNews affiliate WMOV Radio that all guidelines must be followed to make it a safe and healthy return. He said students have done well with the rules.

“It’s very important to do the social distancing, wear the masks. As staff members, we model that and we see kids wearing theirs,” he said.

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