RALEIGH COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – Today marks the official return to school throughout the state of West Virginia.
Raleigh County announced its back-to-school plan on July 28th. Since then, its school employees and officials have been working towards today. Raleigh was fortunate enough to be able to start in-person, but those across the county know that the job is only just beginning.
“It’s the social environment that we’re going to have to make sure that’s in place here this year, along with the safety measures that we have in place,” said Beckley-Stratton Middle School Principal Yahon Smith. “Our primary concern this year is safety measures, the social-emotional learning and the rigorous curriculum that we’re going to provide our students to get the standards that they didn’t get from March 12th on.”
All employees weren’t 100% sure until this past Saturday that they would be able to start in person based off of the color coded system tracking COVID cases. They’ve spent the past few months preparing to adjust on the fly as needed.
“There’s always going to be some days where we come in and stuff is throw at us all of a sudden,” said Beckley-Stratton Middle School Sixth Grade Teacher Angela Houck. “Depending on the color coding system or whatever goes on that day. Absences of students, not just for COVID reasons, but because they’re sick. There’s a lot of things that we’re just going to have to kind of be waiting to change daily, and just be ok with it.”
While approximately 3,400 students across the county have opted for 100% virtual learning, Smith and Houck are confident that every student will be treated the same this year, regardless of their learning option.
“We had to work out our schedules and our lesson plans,” Houck said. “We teach less during the week and prepare stuff for the days that they go home so that they can take work home with them.”
With September 8th officially in the books, the next date to keep an eye out for is October 5th, when Raleigh is hoping to move into Phase 3, safely increasing the number of in-person days each week.
“Our teachers have worked extremely hard,” Smith said. “Not only at this school, but around the county to make sure that an adequate and responsible education is being given to our students.”
Phase 3 of Raleigh County’s back to school plan will hopefully include four in-person days and one online day each week for the students who have opted in.