Part 2, Effects on Students and Staff of the Pocahontas Schools Virus Shutdown
In this second and final part of out interview with Pocahontas School Superintendent Terrence Beam about the effects of the virus shutdown of our schools, Beam answers more of our questions about those effects.
Especially if this goes on for a while, will the teachers have enough work to do in the schools, since the students aren’t there?
“They may disagree with me, but I think there is plenty we can do” Beam answered. “The problem that we run into is the idea of the social distancing. I would love to bring our staff in and have them work on things together, but that’s what we are trying to avoid, so this is a very fluid situation. There’s a lot of things they can work on individually. Grade cards are due to come out, so that’s one thing they can work on. They can begin working on other lessons, and I strongly suggest that we don’t just send home worksheets all the time for kids to work on. This would be a great time for kids to do research papers or read library books, or do a report on the coronavirus -see what they can find out. I see it as an opportunity for them to do things that they usually don’t have the time to do, and now it looks like they are going to have nothing but time. Ans so we are trying to impress upon the teachers that maybe some different types of assignments that might be more valuable to the students might be better used at this point. Of course. We’ll be doing some things online too and open it up to some things for the ones who have that access.
On Thursday (March 19) we are going to have another superintendents’ meeting; it’s going to be just virtually on computer. They are going to let us know just where the governor or State Board of Education is right now. This could all change by Friday. We don’t know how long going down the road we’re going down right now is going to last until they switch gears into something else.”
If the worse case situation happens and the schools don’t open at all this year, how would that affect promotions between grades and even graduation?
“Well, we’ve completed three 9 weeks of school” said Beam. “I can’t imagine any scenario where seniors, for example, wouldn’t be able to graduate. I am sure that there would be some type of availability for students to complete the bare necessities that they would need to get a completer, for instance, in our vocational schools or to get their diploma and the credits they need. The same way for all grade levels. The most immediate thing you think of is your seniors, you’ll make sure they are ready to move on to the next portion of their life. This is a discussion that has not taken place -and I’ve been at every superintendents’ meeting we’ve had this month. This topic has not come up because we are so unsure of the future. Now, if it becomes apparent that it’s going to turn into something like that, I am sure we will get the State Superintendent’s Office to make those decisions. They are not going to leave each county out on a limb by themselves to try to fend for themselves. They’re going to give some direction on this. I know the other fifty-four superintendents very well and I don’t think we would sit idly by and see our kids get harmed by this. It’s not their fault, they are just a victim of this and we just simply need to stay the course, don’t believe all the rumors you hear out there, don’t read all the stuff that’s posted on Facebook that just amazes me sometimes when I see some of the stuff that’s listed, and just wait for us to correspond. We are going to try and communicate very often about this. I hope it’s only a couple of weeks before we can come back, but they said right now that March 27th is the earliest we could possibly come back, and actually it would be the following Monday. I’ll be really really surprised if it happens then. But I was surprised that we went out when we did. I’m not saying it was a bad thing that we did, and I’m certainly not critical of the Governor on this, they are trying to be pro-active. In the meetings I sat in. it literally changed hour by hour. From Thursday night when I was in Charleston getting ready to watch our girls play until Friday morning at eleven o’clock, it changed three or four times, because I kept getting updates and emails and phone calls from our state people. And they would say ‘hold om, don’t send this out yet.’ I know my principals got real frustrated with me because they kept sending me emails that I couldn’t respond to because by the time I could respond to them, something else changed.” “This is uncharted territory. Nobody has ever been down this road before. I just want people to know, we’re out there, we are doing the best we can with what information we are given. K am so proud of our staff members for working so hard and dedicated to their job, and volunteering their time. Our teachers didn’t have to come out the last three days, but a lot of them have chosen to do that. The ones that haven’t, I certainly don’t hold that against them, but I have just been very proud of the ones that’s come out to make sure we’re getting our students fed and helping each other out in the best wat possible. Yea, there have been a couple of little bumps along the road, but you’re going to have that. People are stressed, people are worried, people are scared in some aspects. Like I said, it’s uncharted territory and we’re just trying to do the best we can.