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Ohio County Schools Superintendent Kim Miller: Students Will Wear Masks To Stay In School

Photo Provided Ohio County Schools Superintendent Kim Miller and Assistant Superintendent Rick Jones have been holding forums with students throughout the district, talking to them about their concerns.

WHEELING — Students in Ohio County Schools say they really like being in school and not learning at home, and they aren’t opposed to wearing masks if it keeps them in the classroom, according to Superintendent Kim Miller.

Miller and Assistant Superintendent Rick Jones have been meeting with students as part of their ongoing “superintendent forums” at each of the school buildings.

“They talked about how they do not mind wearing masks in schools,” she said. “They like being in school, and they said they will wear masks if it means they can be there.

“They value in-person learning, and they value their teachers.”

Miller said the students’ feelings were “about equal” when it came to wanting to stay in school for academics, or being there for extracurricular activities.

“I was very surprised about the discussion of wearing masks,” she said. “I thought maybe we were to the point where they would not want to not wear them. But they think it’s more important to be in school and wear a mask.

“They know there’s less of a chance of them having to be in quarantine.”

Miller and Jones have been convening with students for the superintendent forums since they took on their jobs six years ago.

“It’s my favorite part of the job,” Miller said. “Rick and I have always said the kids come first. If we don’t include them in our decisions, it’s an oversight.

“It’s definitely beneficial listening to the students. They are our clients — and our kids. Listening to what we can do to improve their lives is important.”

In the beginning, conversations often centered on bullying, or the quality of the toilet paper in the school’s bathrooms, she explained.

“Now it’s all about, ‘Who do you go to? And who do you trust,” Miller said.

She said she and Jones ask the students to give examples of people they trust in the school. They ask them if they have one adult they feel they can talk to, and if they believe there are people who care about them.

The students also relish being able to give their opinions on such matters as food in the cafeteria, and they like having their voices heard, according to Miller.

“There’s no negative dialogue,” she said. “They’re just happy to be in school and have everything normal.”

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