Pocahontas BOE Reopens Schools to Four-Day-a-Week Classes on October 26th
The Pocahontas County Board of Education met with the Pocahontas County High School’s (PCHS) Local School Improvement Council at the school prior to their regular October 13th meeting. Joe Riley, Principal of PCHS explained the problems he faces which have so far prevented him from being able to bring the high school students back into their classrooms for four days a week. He said that many of the classrooms and labs in the school are not large enough so that a full complement of students is able to maintain the six-foot social distancing required by the county school re-entry plan and that also includes a particularly bad bottleneck in the cafeteria for lunches, where the students cannot wear masks while eating. He said he is looking at using additional spaces and adding additional lunch periods. He asked the board to consider revising their re-entry plan requirements to allow three-foot social distancing while wearing masks, since that could allow him to open the school for four-day a week attendance sooner.
School Superintendent Terrence Beam said that he believed reducing social distancing from six-feet was an option. Beam said he has been in contact with the Governor’s Corona Virus Czar, Doctor Clay Marsh, who said there has been no evidence that the state’s schools have been super-spreaders of COVID-19.
Later during this meeting, the Board, citing numerous requests from parents and the need to provide better a learning situation, passed a motion to change their school re-entry plan to clarify that masks are an acceptable alternative to the six-foot distancing except for when students are eating a meal. This motion also clarified that this change will be effective on Monday, October 26th. This will enable most students to be back into their classrooms for four days a week as of that day, yet allow schools a couple of weeks to solve the meal situations. The board included in its action leaving the option of allowing parents to keep their kids in the two-day-a-week blended program or the virtual option. Look for part two of this meeting story where Superintendent Beam clarifies for us the effects of this action
Other topics discussed at this meeting included:
- The board approved financial reports and matters.
- They met with PCHS staff members who discussed re-entry ideas with the board.
- They approved a memorandum of understanding with Youth Health Services for that organization to continue to provide emotional and mental health services to the students at the county schools. Peggy Stall of Youth Health Services addressed the board about those services.
- They approved the addition of two combined courses at PCHS. Those are Physical Education & Health and Agriculture, Natural Resources & Horticulture.
- The board approved a mutual agreement with the teachers to compensate them for providing additional coverage during their scheduled planning periods.
- They approved the following Faculty/Senate allocations to each school for this school year:
- Hillsboro Elementary School -$3,789.20
- Green Bank Elementary-Middle School -$8,705.61
- Marlinton Elementary School -$7,140.78
- Marlinton Middle School -$5,678.20 and
- Pocahontas County High School -$12,006.21
In addition, the board approved a list of proposed professional and service personnel actions, which can be found below.
Personnel Agenda as Approved at the 10/13/20 BOE Meeting
The Requested Transfer of TESSE M. HIMELRICK from Itinerant Teacher of Special Education assigned to PCHS to the same position, but assigned to Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective October 5, 2020 for the remainder of the school year.
The Resignation of KEVIN A. THOMPSON as Evening Custodian III, extracurricular at Hillsboro, Elementary School, effective October 10, 2020.
The employment of Sandra Fowler as Evening Custodian III, extracurricular at Hillsboro, Elementary School, at $14.00 per hour, one day per week (Friday) effective September 11, 2020. This is an “as needed” extracurricular position and is contingent on COVID-19 restrictions and school closures.