BUCKHANNON, W.Va. – All Upshur County Schools will make a complete shift to remote learning, effective immediately, until January 4, 2021, according to a press release from the Upshur County Board of Education.
The release stated that the transition to fully remote instruction is necessary for a variety of reasons, which include the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Upshur County and the difficulty in staffing school buildings due to a large number of staff who have been quarantined or are at home for related reasons.
Earlier this week, Buckhannon-Upshur High School and Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School were moved to fully remote learning due to a lack of substitute teachers available. “We do not want to cross cohorts and ultimately, on some days in the past weeks, it has not been possible to find sufficient numbers of substitutes and some of our schools have had to close,” Upshur County BOE officials said in the release.
“The decision to go remote was “extremely difficult,” but it is the best and safest course for Upshur County Schools at this point,” said Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus. “With an increase in positive cases, our ability to safely keep our schools open and adequately staffed has been affected.”
The release stated that Dr. Jeffery Harvey noted that the schools were not only impacted by positive cases resulting from community spread, but also necessary precautionary quarantines of those exposed to positive cases. Harvey is the district’s Director of Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and he coordinates frequently with the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department to track cases in schools, according to the release.
“This is a difficult time for everyone. Decisions like this are not easy. The health of our students and employees is of the utmost importance,” said Upshur County Board of Education President Dr. Tammy Samples. “We continue to have substitute shortages, making in-person learning difficult. This also provides parents adequate time to plan ahead. I am hopeful that this extended break will calm the elevated numbers that we are experiencing in Upshur County at this time and we can get back to the business of learning with children in our schools.”
The release stated that all Upshur County teachers and staff will report to the schools during the time of remote learning and be readily available to support and feed students.
Upshur County Schools is planning a special curbside Thanksgiving food box option for all Upshur County families at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School on Tuesday, November 24 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. This will be the only location from which Upshur County Schools will serve during the holiday break, the release stated.
“Thank you again for your patience as we work to keep our students, staff, and community safe,” BOE officials wrote in the release. “We are grateful for our community and your continued support and look forward to the time when our students can return safely to the classroom.”