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Making Classroom Time Priority in Ohio County

The research is clear: getting children back in school full-time is essential for both their educational and emotional well-being. Ohio County Schools made the right call Thursday to bring students back into the classroom five days each week.

The change starts March 15. The two-week delay will allow the county to finalize plans to deal with remote learning students who continue to be taught by the same teachers handling the classroom work.

What’s interesting is that Thursday’s decision was an abrupt change from what Superintendent Kim Miller had told the Ohio County Board of Education on Monday, when she said the county could not return to full in-person learning this year because of the remote component.

“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 members.

Unlike other counties that have gone back to full in-person learning, Ohio County retained its remote platform that has the district’s teachers teaching both in the classroom setting and online. Other counties have required remote students to enroll in the West Virginia Virtual Academy or use a different platform.

“If that is something the board wants us to do, it’s going to take some time to prepare for that,” Miller said Monday of returning to five days. “… 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.”

However, it took only three days — and a mandate from the West Virginia Board of Education that all schools immediately resume five-day, in-person learning — for the “impossible” to become possible.

To accommodate remote learners, Miller said all schools will have a two-hour delay each Wednesday for teachers to prepare their lessons.

This school year has been anything but normal, but Miller made the right call here.

Having students in class, full-time, for the final 11 weeks of the year is a good step toward a return to full-time, in-seat learning in August.

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