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W.Va. School Board Nixes Full-Time Remote Learning

Photo by Alan Olson - Students in a John Marshall High School art class in September are separated by several feet of space and a plastic divider. The West Virginia Board of Education voted Wednesday to end full-time remote learning for state students.

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to prevent county school systems from opting for remote learning after Jan. 19, adopted in-person instruction for West Virginia schools.

Virtual learning through West Virginia Virtual Academy or local county online-only programs will remain. State Superintendent Clayton Burch said those programs suit the needs of students outside the regular classroom.

The platform was originally designed for students in AP courses or credit recovery program.

Burch said students in West Virginia Virtual Academy or the counties’ online programs can complete the assignment on their own time and engage with a live teacher via computer if they need any help.

Some students, however, can’t access assignments due to not having a computer or wi-fi capabilities to get in touch with a teacher.

Burch said students need to interact with fellow classmates and teachers, even if only done in virtual settings.

“When we had to move to remote settings, many times children are not being engaged,” Burch said. “We know that there’s going to be folks that say, ‘our remote platform is working well.’ We’re not the same as the whole state. We just know that the data is not matching up, children are getting left off the grid.”

“Remote learning cannot be in the same sentence as education. We can’t say remote learning and handing a packet of papers to a child on Monday is any form of education.”

The state board also adopted new in-person instruction for West Virginia schools.

Starting on Jan. 19, PreK-8 students will attend in person regardless of their county’s color on the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources County Alert System map.

Counties do not have the option to implement full countywide remote learning for PreK-8 students. However, county boards of education retain the authority to work with local health officials to close individual classrooms or schools when a specific health need is identified.

Such closures shall be limited in duration and related to the specific health need of the school or classroom. Teachers and staff will continue to provide essential student support services including meals, student engagement, all special education services, and support to at-risk students.

Counties are encouraged to resume in-person instruction four or five days per week on Jan 19.

Counties have the option to utilize blended instruction models beginning on the same date and blended models must provide each student with in-person instruction at least two days per week.

High-school students will attend school in person unless their county is red on the DHHR map. In-person instruction may consist of blended learning models for students grades 9-12.

Consistent with the practice in place since the start of the 2020-21 school year, high schools will move to remote learning the day after the county turns red on the DHHR map. They may stay in remote learning until the following Monday.

If the county is not red on the DHHR daily map on Saturday, in-person instruction will resume the following Monday.

A county superintendent may direct that a county resumes in-person learning without waiting until the following Monday. However, if the county is still in red status on Saturday or Sunday, remote learning will continue for another week unless the county superintendent directs the resumption of in-person instruction earlier.

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