Part 1, School Superintendent Beam Addresses School Reentry Plans
Every parent and student in Pocahontas County have to be wondering what the upcoming return to the schools will look like. While many parts of that re-entry plan such as the wearing of masks, have still not been decided, the picture is beginning to clarify. To learn as much as possible, we sat down with School Superintendent Terrence Beam and asked him to give us a hint about the upcoming re-entry plan.
“I want to talk about what, of course is the biggest issue facing us, which is our reentry plan” said Beam. “So, I want to tell you about this. I know a lot of your listeners know a little bit about it, but I want to try and explain, as much as I can, about how this process is being done. We’re given guidelines from the State Board of Education to follow as far as certain things we have to do. We are given latitude on certain things we can do, but most of it is pretty well documented for us. We have nine different areas that we have to focus on, everything from special Education, to CTE, to academic presentation, to transportation, technology, food service, finance. All these things we have to come up with a plan for. And we have to have two plans. We have to have one for face-to-face instruction with our students and also for distance learning, if they are learning from home.”
“We’ve come up with basically three plans that we are going to submit to the state. Our original plan was to put our students in the schools, face-to-face with their teachers, four days a week. That isn’t going to be possible because of the restrictions they have placed on us as far as transporting students on the bus. You have to separate those kids six feet apart, and so that really limits the number of kids you can put on a school bus. So, we are only going to be able to sent them two days a week. Half of our kids will come in on Mondays and Tuesdays, if their last name begins (with) A through L, they will come in on Mondays and Tuesdays. And if their last names begin with M through Z, they will come on Thursdays and Fridays. The students who come in on Mondays and Tuesdays, will be given their lessons for the rest of the week on Tuesday. And the students who come to school on Thursday and Friday, will get their lessons on Friday evening for their next three days of school, before they come back on the following Thursday. Nobody will be in our schools on Wednesdays, except for our employees for a deep cleaning of our buildings. And a little cavoite for this- we do understand that we have families that do have different last names living in the same household. We’ll work with those to keep those kids coming om the same days. There is going to be some flexibility with that part of it. So, that’s basically what we are going to be doing.”
“We have three different plans. One is called a ‘blended plan,’ which is what I just described. Two days a week they will get face-to-face instruction, three days a week they will get blended services, which means anything from homework packages sent home to technology assignments to do, or whatever it happens to be, The other one is ‘virtual instruction,’ Parents have the latitude to request their children be in virtual schools – West Virginia Virtual Schools in grades K through twelve. The only restriction we are going to place on that (is) if someone signs up for that, we are going to request that they stay in it for at least nine weeks before they would decide they want to go to the face-to-face, because with the scheduling we are trying to do, we can’t just shift gears in the middle of the week. So, if they signup for virtual schools, they can stay in it as long as they wish, but we want them to stay in for at least nine weeks until we can make any adjustments after that.”
“The third option is remote learning, and that is only going to take place if Governor Justice at some point has to close the school system down. Not the whole state necessarily, but even just our school system. If her were to say ‘Pocahontas County Schools will have to close,’ then that would be ‘remote learning’ and all the students would have to learn from home again. But there’ll be a couple of differences. First of all, this time the students’ work would count for something. They would be given specific assignments, and they would be given grades for their assignments, and the teachers would not be working from their homes, they would be working from their classrooms. So, that would be different from what was done back in the spring.”
“So, those are the three scenarios, and we sent a letter out to our parents, and they get to select-we’re not trying to dictate to them what they will do. We are giving them an option, if they want the blended schedule of two days of face-to-face and three days of distance learning, or if they want entirely virtual schools. So, that’s kind of where we are with that part of it.”
Be sure to listen to Allegheny Mountain Radio for part 2 of what School Superintendent Beam has to say about what the upcoming school year will probably look like.