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Superintendent Kim Miller: Ohio County Schools Not Ready For Five-Day, In-Person Classes

Photo by Joselyn King Superintendent Kim Miller, left, and Assistant Superintendent Rick Jones discuss the potential for a return to a five-day school week in Ohio County Schools during a Monday meeting.

WHEELING — Ohio County Schools just isn’t ready to send students back to school five days a week while nearly a third of students continue to learn at home, Superintendent Kim Miller said Monday.

Last week, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice issued an executive order allowing for full-time in-person instruction to resume in grades pre-kindergarten through eighth grade in the state’s schools.

But it isn’t a mandate, according to Miller. What is a mandate is that school districts continue to offer a remote learning option to students.

Students in Ohio County Schools presently attend in-person classes on Mondays and Tuesdays and Thursday and Fridays, with Wednesdays designated as a day for school cleaning and teacher planning time.

Meanwhile, 30 percent of Ohio County students continue classes at home through the remote option, according to Miller. Additional students have had to be quarantined, and had the need to use the remote school option.

She said the four-day model has been “very beneficial” to those students learning at home, as it allows their own teachers on Wednesdays to prepare online lessons for them.

“If we were to go to a five-day model, that remote piece of personalized instruction by the homeroom teacher has to go away,” Miller told board of education members Monday night. “I’m not sure of what that would look like in the middle of the nine weeks, and what kind of changes that would look like for the kids who are in their last nine weeks with Ohio County Schools — especially seniors.

“If that is something the board wants us to do, it’s going to take some time to prepare for that. … Right now, that would be an impossible task for us to move from the four-day model to the five-day model, and offer students that remote piece.”

Board member Christine Carder suggested administration survey the families of remote learners to determine whether they wish to return to in-person for the last nine week period. The current period ends March 26.

Board member Grace Norton was not present at Monday’s meeting, but participated by phone. She praised the administration for their efforts so far at getting students back in the classroom and moving toward a five-day week.

Board member Molly Aderholt supported the idea of surveying the families of remote learners, and having a goal of moving toward a five-day school week.

Board president David Croft said he hopes Justice soon removes his executive order mandating that school districts offer a remote learning. Then all students can return to the classrooms five days a week for the last nine week period of the school year.

“I don’t think anyone in this room would disagree that five days is best,” board president David Croft said. “But as long as the governor’s executive order is in place, we have to have that remote option available.

“It just creates conflict to do both. Hopefully, the COVID numbers will continue to decline, vaccinations will continue to increase, and parents will feel comfortable sending their kids back to school.”

In another matter, Croft said a prevention resource officers contract passed by the board earlier this month and approved last week by Ohio County commissioners does not need to come again before the board of education.

That contract stipulates the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department will provide five deputies to the school district through the end of the current school year, and school administrators will have authority in extreme circumstances to move PROS to a different school when needed if they first contact the sheriff.

Commissioners added a clause to the contract giving the board of education the opportunity to interview PROs before they are assigned to school. Croft said since this was of benefit to the school district, the contract needn’t come again before the board of education.

The PRO contract with the county already has been signed, according to Miller.

The Ohio County Board of Education next meets at 6 p.m. on March 8 at the board office, 2203 National Road, Elm Grove.

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