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Kanawha County gets early jump on school year

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The school bells are ringing in Kanawha County as Monday marks the first day of classes for the 2021-22 academic year.

Like the other 54 county school systems in the state, Kanawha County Schools has plans to have five-day a week classes in a physical building all year long, something that could not be done last school year due to COVID-19.

Kanawha County School Superintendent Tom Williams
Tom Williams

Dr. Tom Williams, the Kanawha County Schools Superintendent told 580-WCHS that many virus protocols will remain in place. Last week, the school board of education voted to require masks for schools preK-5 and a choice for students and staff in schools grades 6-12.

“We are still doing the cleaning. We are trying to social distance as much as possible. We’re requiring masks on the school buses for all students because they sit right next to each other. Even if they have been vaccinated, even if they are in middle or high schools,” Williams said.

Students 12 years of age and older are eligible to get the Pfizer vaccine and that’s where the decision to split the mask mandate came from, according to those on the board.

Last school year, the school system held vaccination clinics inside high schools. Williams says that remains a possibility this year as the school system is encouraging students to get the shot.

“We give information where those are. They can go to any drug store or pharmacy, which are giving vaccinations. They need to make sure to call and make sure they give the Pfizer, which is what they are eligible for.

“Make an appointment and get their shots done. If we need to have vaccination clinics in our schools then we will,” Williams said.

Williams noted it was a busy summer for the school system, finishing up the HVAC projects funded by the levy. According to the school system, completed projects for this year include Capital, GWHS, Dunbar Middle, SAHS & Lakewood Elementary. Riverside High School HVAC has begun but will be multi-year.

Williams said the issue found at West Side Middle last week should be fixed by Monday. He also said the federal relief money for the school systems should allow the county to work on more buildings.

Students will have the week of Thanksgiving off, two weeks at the end of 2021 off as Christmas Day and New Years Day fall on Saturdays. Williams noted there will be a spring break this year, something that did not occur in 2020-21.

The last day of school is scheduled to be June 2.

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