The school year is now just one-week old, yet students across the state are reminded just how fluid the line between remote and in-person learning remains. At 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 12, the West Virginia Department of Education updated the color-coded county map system, and currently designates Monroe County as orange, Greenbrier County as green, and Pocahontas County as yellow.
Much has been discussed about the color-coding system in recent days. And at his Monday coronavirus media-briefing, Gov, Jim Justice suggested the possibility of adding a fifth color to the chart, gold.
A meeting between Gov. Justice, West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch, WVDHHR Cabinet Secretary Bill Crouch, as well as other members of state leadership, was scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday evening to determine whether adding another color to the system is appropriate. The Gov. said that an announcement would be made immediately following the meeting. In the meantime, area schools must continue to do the best they can with the information that they currently have.
For Pocahontas County Schools, things seem to be moving in a positive direction.
“We had a pretty good week last week,” Pocahontas County Superintendent Terrence Beam told the WV Daily News on Monday. “We expect we will have a good week this week, as well.”
Pocahontas County was downgraded from orange to yellow on Saturday with the update of the color-coded county map.
“We were expecting to go back to yellow,” Superintendent Beam said. “We knew that several cases were probably coming off.”
The Superintendent contacted the state Health Department earlier in the morning on Monday, and received their reassurance that Pocahontas County was not trending back towards orange. However, Superintendent Beam reiterated that schools are prepared to address any challenges that may present themselves. All faculty participated in an additional eight-days of training prior to the start of the school year, and are ready to ensure students can continue learning as the school-year progresses. Although the Superintendent did find one positive takeaway from last week: with the county being designated orange, students, parents and faculty all saw first hand just how quickly this situation can change.
The first week of school in Greenbrier County also went well. In fact, Greenbrier County Superintendent Jeff Bryant said it went “exceptionally well for week one. The parents all did a great job with checking the wellness of the children. I really need to applaud our parents.”
Greenbrier County Schools began week-one in the yellow, and they’ve now begun week-two the same. However, schools haven’t settled into a rhythm just yet. Due to the county’s staggered start schedule, Monday marked the first day that all elementary students were in school at the same time.
According to Superintendent Bryant, schools will use this week for “wrapping up virtual needs,” by completing distribution of Chromebooks to all students. The Superintendent also stated that work-packets had already been prepared and sent home with younger students for use in the event that the county should need to shift to a remote-learning model.
However, Superintendent Bryant remains optimistic, saying: “I’d really like to thank all the citizens of Greenbrier County for doing whatever is needed to keep our county green or yellow.”