Putting More and More Students into the Classroom Four Days-a-Week
Pocahontas School Superintendent Terrence Beam updates us about next week’s special Board of Education meeting at which the public will have the opportunity to comment about the Consolidated Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP). Then, Beam then briefs us on the efforts to get more and more kids back into their classrooms four days a week.
“On Tuesday, October 6th at 6:00 p.m., we will be holding a public forum on CEFP, 2020-2030 ten-year cycle” said Beam. “And that CEFP is the Consolidated Educational Facilities Plan. Every school system has to do it every ten years. We will have very limited space because of the social distancing requirements and the mask requirements, and all those things. But, we still will have the meeting, and we’ll also offer it through Zoom. So, we will send the link out for this special meeting. That will be on our website in the next couple of days, so people can call-in and voice their opinions on our CEFP. Again, that will be October 6th, at six o’clock here at the Central Office.”
“The second thing we are going to talk about is our re-entry, and how things are going”, Beam said. “Yesterday, Hillsboro Elementary School brought back all their students. When I was there, they actually had one more student whose parents called in and wanted to send them back too. I was in all the classrooms, and it was really good to see all our kids in classes. And, they were social distanced -they were six feet apart. Some of them had their masks on and some of them didn’t, but they have the prerogative. We are green, as long as they are six feet apart, they can be without their masks in that congruent group. Which they did, but some of them wore their masks. Some of the kids, it don’t seems like it even bothers them one way or the other, wear it or not wear it. So, the ones who want to keep them on can do that. But, it was really good to see them all back.”
“And, some of the other schools are working on trying to bring more students back”, Beam added. “Our sixth grade at Marlinton Middle School all came back yesterday. I did not make it to that school yesterday, but I am going to go today. And, I know the high school and Marlinton Elementary School and Marlinton Middle School are all currently working on plans to bring back more students. We anticipate that on next Monday (October 5th) that Marlinton Elementary School to bring a significant number of their students back for four-day instruction. Now, let me reiterate a very important part of this. Parents are not being forced to bring their children back to school, they are given the option to come four days instead of two. And a lot of them have asked us for permission to do that, so, we are still trying to leave the decision making up to the parents. I know in a lot of other counties are telling parents it is this way or that way, you don’t have any other option. We are trying not to get to that point. At some point are we going to have to make a decision that’s going to require a final decision on something? We might, but right now we are trying to gradually see what the comfort level is of our students and parents as far as bringing more students back. And so, Marlinton Elementary School, I know will be bringing some of their students back full time. Mr. Anderson has worked with us at the office to try to increase that number, and we are trying to help him find spaces to make that safe for our kids. At Marlinton Middle School, I know that Mrs. Scotchie is trying to get her seventh grade in next. Her eighth grade is a larger class, and it is a little more difficult for her to bring all those kids back at once, but I know she’s doing everything she can to try and make that happen. Lynne Bostic, our new Director, is actually at the high school this morning (September 29) trying to help Mr. Riley to look through his building and try to find a way to bring back more students, possibly the freshmen to begin with -it may not be the freshmen, it might be another group. I haven’t heard anything else from Green Bank as far as their intent on bringing more students back, but they all have that latitude. The board passes at their last meeting to allow any school, or any classroom that feels like they can socially distance their students, to be able to bring back their students four days a week if they choose. It’s all in the hands of those schools, which is, I think, where it should be.”
“Things are going well; we still haven’t had any problems” Beam said. “We haven’t had any problems; we haven’t had any students come up with any symptoms, any more then just a common cold and those kinds of things, nothing major. Nobody has set off the red light yet as they enter our schools. We are just continuing to try to find ways to get more students in as long as we can, because we know that Flu season will eventually set in on us, and with Flu season comes a lot of concern about if it is Flu or it is COVID, or whatever. And so we know we will have more battles to fight down the road. But right now, things are going as well as we could have possibly have expected it to.”