Fayette County students return to their schools for the first time since March

FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – After nearly two weeks of remote learning, some Fayette County students returned to the classroom on Thursday. 

Cynthia Hedrick, the principal at Oak Hill Middle, was helping usher her students into the building early as they came in with their masks on ready to have their temperature taken and then go straight to their classrooms.   

“We’re really glad to have our kids back. Really glad,” she said. “And we look forward to a great day.” 

Fayette County started the week in the “orange” category on the county alert system which means remote learning.

Governor Justice then added the color “gold” on Tuesday to break up the range between yellow and orange, and that’s where Fayette fell allowing them to do a blended model as soon as Thursday.

That’s when the Thursday and Friday start dates were set in Fayette County.

On Wednesday, the daily map with the DHHR had Fayette back in orange which made parents, community members and even teachers unions concerned about going back and if it would be the right call.

However, as long as the county was not in red, they were permitted to see what the county’s status is going to be on Saturday and still go to school on Thursday and Friday.

“There were a lot of discussions that went behind the scenes and really the key issue for us that made the final decision was we had so many children and families struggling with remote learning, and this was going to give us an opportunity to bring those devices in, work on the platform and help them to achieve what they need to achieve if we go back into another color,” Superintendent Gary Hough said. 

The first day back on Thursday was for students with last names A-L. Students with last names M-Z will attend on Friday.

The first days for both groups will be all about getting students acquainted with their new protocols and giving that in-person instruction with their new computers. 

For teachers and staff, it is also a way to check up on the well-being of their students. 

“As educators, we want to put eyes on the students because we’re mandated reporters and our kids miss us,’ Hedrick said. “You know, we’ve gone to practices and different things or you see families in Kroger or at Walmart, but it’s very crucial because we want them to know that we are here.”

Fayette County is still in orange, according to the DHHR’s daily map, but the final one that will determine next week’s school format will be published by the West Virginia Department of Education on Saturday night by 5 p.m.

Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.