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Marshall County’s Return To School a Positive One

Students, teachers adjusting

Photo by Alan Olson Small groups of students navigate the halls of Glen Dale Elementary School during last week’s return to in-person schooling. Marshall County Schools officials said the students’ return has been smooth and positive.

MOUNDSVILLE — A cautious return to school in Marshall County has led to a good first week back for elementary and middle school students, school administrators said.

Assistant superintendent Woody Yoder said the week has consisted of central office staff visiting numerous schools in the county. They’ve reported back that the mindset across the school district has been a positive one.

“I’ve seen very positive things happening, and I see people who are very much happy to have students back in school,” Yoder said.

Last Tuesday, elementary and middle school students returned to school on a hybrid, two-day-on, three-days-remote schedule; high school students are undergoing fully remote learning until Marshall County falls below red on the Department of Health and Human Resources COVID-19 map. Yoder said the district was now familiar with the hybrid schedule, which made the return fairly simple.

“It’s a repeat of what we’ve done before, so the adjustments to student groups and those things were already in place,” he said. “The significant thing is that we were able to reduce the class sizes so we could still maintain all the protocols.”

“The one thing that has been a little confusing is that there’s a different set of rules for high schools, as per the governor’s orders and state (education) department’s mandates,” added superintendent Shelby Haines. “If we are in red, the high schoolers have to be remote; if we’re any color but red, the high schoolers can come back and follow the same schedule as the rest of the county. That’s a little confusing for people sometimes.”

Karen Klamut, director of pupil services, said more teachers than ever are conducting live classes, allowing students at home to connect to the classes remotely via webcam.

Klamut said the teachers held a webcam use session, and that hundreds of classrooms across the district were equipped with the cameras to better enable them to do so.

“Even with the students in the younger grades who are in school right now, even though half of them are at home, some of them are remoting in so they’re getting four days of live instruction instead of just the two,” Klamut said.

Yoder said some students in distance learning, who weren’t necessarily connected to individual teachers for instruction, struggled, and some were asked to return in-person classes. Remote learners were always connected whether in their classroom seats or not.

“Our teachers are really doing a much better job, improving on how they connect with students,” he said. “Some of that has been … doing a direct video link to the classroom, as if they’re sitting in class. It’s all about staying connected.”

Yoder said the district continues to analyze its options weekly to return students to school as much as they can under the COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“What can we do?” he said. “Can we go to four days? Must we stay in the hybrid? Do we have the personnel, bus drivers, everybody we need, to do what we need to do every day for the students? All of that is weighed as factors as we determine our next steps in Marshall County.”

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