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More Marshall County Students Back in the Classroom

MOUNDSVILLE – Hundreds of Marshall County students who began the school year working from their homes have returned to their classrooms halfway through the first semester.

Director of Student Services Karen Klamut and Gateway Achievement Center Principal Amy Trowbridge presented statistics on online attendance numbers to the Marshall County Board of Education on Tuesday evening. Klamut said that of students from kindergarten to fifth grade, 100 who began the year as distance learners have now returned to their classrooms, with the online learning number dropping from 327 to 227. Trowbridge said that of students from grades six to 12, a total of 371 had returned, with John Marshall High School seeing the largest return of 179 students.

Klamut said that among lower grades, with 73 teachers among eight schools, the ratio of students to teachers has gone from somewhat overwhelming to more manageable.

“They started out with most of the teachers having seven or eight kids, which is a lot, to monitor after school,” Klamut said. “Now, they’re down to an average of about five, which is a much more manageable number for those who are checking in on those students, corresponding with both the student and parents, checking their progress, and there’s some grading involved.”

Klamut added that although there were some parents who needed help to overcome technical difficulties associated with distance learning, the number of issues had decreased “considerably” over the last two weeks.

Board President John Miller asked if the feedback Klamut had received from parents and students had been positive. She answered that the different approach to remote learning compared to the emergency end of in-person classes in the springtime had resulted in some turbulence on re-entry, but that it had been worked out.

“It was very frustrating, I think, for a lot of people whose expectations were similar to what we had done in spring,” she added. “Being that it is completely technology-based, that has been a learning curve for both parents and their children, so they’re working through that.

“I’m not sure all of them would say it was positive right from the start, but the majority of them — which is evident in the number of lessons (being uploaded) — once the parents got a hold on that, we did not have any more complaints after getting the tech issues worked out.”

Trowbridge added that a trend among students returning to in-person learning was that they had not completed as many tasks as their in-person peers had.

“Those that are returning to school, right now, most of them had been that they were not doing tasks, completing activities. Their pace was not on, nor was their academic level; they weren’t meeting the progress they needed to have at this time. They went in being behind in class, from the teachers.”

Superintendent Shelby Haines commended Klamut and Trowbridge for their significant work to learn all aspects of the remote learning softwares, Edmentum and Calvert Learning, from all perspectives — teachers, students, parents and administrators.

“That’s important to realize — it’s not like they just had to go in and see how to monitor it. They had to figure out the teacher side so they could teach the teachers, and the parent side so they could teach the parents,” Haines said. “They really have stepped up and done amazing things.”

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