State Board of Education President talks school reopening plans

WEST VIRGINIA (WOAY) – This week, the West Virginia State Board of Education announced their recommendations for reopening schools.

“I think it’s very important as we said to know that this wasn’t made in isolation,” State Board President Dave Perry said. “I think it’s very important that we made it in the interest of students and student health and faculty and staff’s health.”

The Department of Education released three recommendations. One is called “Safer at School/Safer at Home” which is a 4-day week with one day of remote learning, and on that one day off, the school will be cleaned.

There is also the blended learning model which means one day in and one day off or two days at a time combining classroom and online learning.

Counties will have the freedom to pick what will work for them.

“We have some counties who feel like they would rather open school as it’s been done normal. There is no normal now. There’s a new normal and of course what they would consider has to come in congruence with these plans simply because of the health department requirements,” Perry said. 

If counties do see an uptick in cases, they will have an option to move solely to remote learning. Perry says this experience has proven that broadband internet must become a priority for the department. 

“Forty to fifty percent of the students in the state of West Virginia don’t have access and that broadband has to be expanded and that will become a priority of the department this coming year. In the interim, as you said, they’re looking at other means and other venues or avenues as far as providing the online learning.” 

In terms of masks and social distancing in classrooms and halls, that will be on a county by county basis as we expect county plans to be released in the coming weeks. 

The School Superintendents Association estimates that it will cost districts about $1.7 million to reopen taking into consideration PPE, sanitizing and staffing costs. 

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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.