CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Monday was the first day of school for students in Harrison County and some of them are experiencing a change they may not have expected.

While this may be a regular day for many returning students, today will be an adjustment for students that attended Norwood Elementary School, which experienced a last-minute shutdown over the summer.

According to the Superintendent of Harrison County schools, Dora Stutler, it was discovered on the last day of July that the elementary school “was going to have some structural issues.” Once this was brought to the Board of Education’s attention, the superintendent worked with the State Superintendent of Schools to do an emergency closure of Norwood Elementary.

As a result of this closure, students were reassigned to receiving schools Nutter Fort Primary and Intermediate schools, as well as Simpson Elementary.

To help prepare for this transition, the Harrison County Board of Education reached out to the families of the students affected, placing over 250 personal calls to inform them about the issue.

Stutler said that the goal was to make sure they got the students placed and transitioned as seamlessly as possible. “That’s why we made personal phone calls and then worked to get the kids placed together, so they would have a peer group or kids from their school in their same classes. So, we were trying to be very thoughtful on making sure that the kids were together in their new environments,” Stutler said.

About 70 of the students affected were assigned to Simpson Elementary School, while all the rest of the students were sent to Nutter Fort Intermediate and Primary schools.

Stutler said that Norwood was considered a small community school, so the majority of the concerns the Board of Education initially received were “just heartache that we were losing a community school.” But, she said she felt that many parents understood the rationale behind the closure.

To see how smoothly the transition took place, Stutler made a visit to the Nutter Fort Elementary schools early in the morning. She said that she wanted to ensure that “everything was flowing,” that traffic was working well, and that the teachers placed there had everything in order.

“They just really stepped up. The staff resolved issues quickly and the kids came in, it was just a typical first day really. You would’ve never known that we just placed 170 kids in that building,” she added.

Throughout the current academic year, the Harrison County Board of Education is planning to enforce its cell phone usage and attendance policies more strictly. Stutler said she feels that there’s currently a “good policy in place” for cell phones to not be out during class, but that the enforcement of this policy may be more of an adjustment for secondary schools in the county.

“We don’t wanna take them away, but they definitely can’t be out during instructional time,” Stutler commented. Regarding attendance, she also wants to stress the fact to parents that children need to be in school.

“We’ve made some gains from the pandemic and we’re going in the right trajectory, but we really need to have our kids in school so they can learn and get where they need to be,” she said. So far, Stutler said that she is pleased with how the new school year has started. She said that she’s very appreciative of both the staff and the parents because “it takes everyone working together” for a successful school year.