Part Two – Pocahontas School Superintendent’s Update About Schools’ COVID Status
Here is the conclusion of our interview with Pocahontas School Superintendent Terrence Beam. In this portion, Beam tells us about the effects of this pandemic on the upcoming winter and spring athletics; about how the students are faring now that they are back in school; about a possible option for students to attend a June summer session to help them catch up on their pandemic challenged educations as well as about an exciting future educational project they are developing.
Mr. Beam, what other issues have you run into with the opening of the high school?
“The other big issues that we’ve run into with the high school was about the (sports) practicing, and also that we are using the gymnasium, and now we are using the Wellness Center, to hold our community vaccinations” Beam replied. “and so, trying to balance that around when the students are there. We’ve been doing it on Wednesday afternoons, because students leave at 12:15 (p.m.) on Wednesdays, so that has worked really well, but at some point, we’re going to be recommending to the Board (of Education) to move to five full days of instruction. So, we may have to change the location of our community vaccination points, if we do indeed do that. We are going to talk about doing that at the Board meeting on the 16th. I am going to to make the recommendation that on March 1st, we return to five full days of instruction. And that little half-day every Wednesday doesn’t sound like much, but when you carry it over the rest of the year, that’s eight full days of school we can regain. And the Board may or may not approve that, but that’s just going to be my recommendation -at least it is today, I mean, who knows what will happen in the next week.”
How about basketball?
“Yea, actually Mrs. Tritapoe sent me an updated schedule just this morning. As far as sports go, we did make a decision that I’ll be sharing with the board also. We are going to be limiting attendance at the high school and middle school games to cheerleaders and basketball players to two tickets. That way they can have mom and dad come to one game and grandma and grandpa come the next day or their brothers or sisters. But I did follow up on the question about when we are red, what about the middle school game. Well. Middle school games can be held when it is red and they can have practices when it is red. So, when we turn red, the only thing that’s going to be affected is out high school classes and athletic contests.”
Is there anything else you would like to add?
“The only thing I want to add is something I brought up at (the last) Board meeting, and I will be bringing it up again, is that we are really pursuing the opportunity for summer school during the month of June for students. We’ll have to limit the numbers because I am not sure how many employees that we have willing to work summer school. But we are creating a survey right now for parents and for employees to see how much interest there is. So, that’s one thing we’re working on and be working on all spring is trying to plan a summer school for the month of June only.”
“And the second thing -that Mrs. Bostic will be talking about at the board meeting- is we are in the beginning stages of creating our own virtual school programs. and what I am really excited about -and this is not going to be happening overnight, it’s probably not going to happen in a year, probably won’t happen in two because it takes a long time to build a program when you are talking about elementary, middle and high school. If we can create our own virtual school programs, and we have parents out there that are home-schooling their children because they don’t want them coming to school for various reasons. But if we can enroll them in our virtual classes, then they can come and do some CTE courses if they want to; they can be in any extra-curricular activities they want to. And it might make it easier for some of the parents who really struggle with the home-schooling aspects of it. Now we have some really strong home-school parents -I’d like to have them working for the school system, they are really really good. But then others struggle with it, but if they had this option and be able to participate in some of the other things without sending them to school every day, then I think that would be a win-win for them. Some other counties already have that, but we are working on a model that works for our sized county and our number of students. Hopefully that will be something that will be a future project.”