Upshur County Board of Education submits a waiver to the state for four-day instruction

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UPDATE: 2/24/21 6:15 p.m.: Upshur County school officials are asking for a waiver from the state to have students return to school for only 4 days week next month.

In its decision to send students back early, the state board allowed for counties using their own teachers for remote learning to apply for such a waiver.

Both Superintendent Sara Stankus and teachers in the county say they’re looking forward to classes coming back in person.

“We are on Cloud 9 to have all of our students back, to be face-to-face with them, and be able to instruct them. So we are ready to go. We’re having a meeting here in just a few minutes to make some plans, and we’re ready to go Monday morning,” said Hodgesville Elementary School Principal Janet Phillips.

Stankus expects to have a final answer from the state sometime this week.

BUCKHANNON, W.Va. – Upshur County Board of Education held its meeting Tuesday evening to discuss its school re-entry plan.

In the meeting, the board voted to waive five full-day instruction and commit to four days of in-person learning with one remote day.

According to board members, grades K-8 will have four days a week of in-person learning, with 9-12 grade in-person learning be based on the school color map. That schedule will go into effect on March 1, 2021.

“Our building level individuals have been working now for several weeks on revising re-entry plans that they originally started working on last fall,” explained Upshur County Director of Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Jeffery Harvey. “It will give us three extra days; now we know kind of what’s going on to tie up some loose ends there and really see what big-ticket items we need to try to address before we welcome our students back.”

Harvey also stated the greatest thing they’ve realized during this process is the collaborative spirit everyone has had.

“We’ve had a lot of attendance at board meetings, we’ve had a lot of interactions with our families outside of board meetings, and that’s what really been helping us get to the point where we’re at today,” described Harvey.

According to the motion set by the State BOE, counties that are utilizing classroom teachers to teach both in-person students and full-time students participating in locally designed virtual programs may submit a waiver request to the State Superintendent to request the ability to conduct in-person instruction four (4) days per week to allow sufficient time to support full-time virtual students.

Upshur County Board of Education officials explained they’re asking the state for the waiver to be four days of in-person learning due to having so many students in the county virtual. Officials explained that more than 900 Upshur County students are on the remote track.

Upshur County School Superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus explained in the meeting that families will still have the option for remote learning.

“We are happy our kids are going back four days a week,” said parent Brittany Westfall. “I think our biggest concern as parents is how much is it going to put on the teachers.”

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