Two weeks after West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced that all students would be returning to a five-day per week in-person schedule as of Jan. 19, Greenbrier County Schools have released additional details and provided further clarification regarding what their education-model will be going forward.
Greenbrier County School’s plan does differ from what Justice announced in several key areas.
On Wednesday, Jan. 13, the Greenbrier County Board of Education met in an emergency session to finalize re-entry plans in order to remain compliant with the state’s Jan. 19 target date.
“The health and safety of our students and staff are our number one priority,” said Jeanie Wyatt, Greenbrier County School Board president, in a statement released on Wednesday. “We have done our best to adjust our plan to address those concerns within the parameters set forth by the Department of Education. Our board continues to be grateful for the dedication to students demonstrated by Greenbrier County school families and our employees during these turbulent times.”
The statement goes on to read, “Beginning Tuesday, January 19, Greenbrier County Schools (GCS) will operate based on the color-coded WVDHHR County Alert Map posted each Saturday at 10 a.m. Any necessary changes in the instruction plan will be implemented the following Monday. However, if the county moves to RED, high school students transition to Plan C the following day.
PLAN A will be implemented the following Monday if the WVDHHR Alert Map indicates Greenbrier County is Green, Yellow or Gold on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Elementary Students attend five-days/week (PreK = 4 days/week) with a 90-minute early release each day to allow for disinfecting and remote learning duties. Safety protocols remain in place.
Middle and high school students attend at 50% capacity (2 days in-person/3 days remote), reporting for in-person instruction on the days previously designated for their assigned group. Students learn remotely on the days their group is not in school. The 90-minute early release and safety protocols remain in place.
Remote and virtual students learn from home following the assigned curriculum.
PLAN B – all schools at 50% Capacity will be implemented the following Monday if the WVDHHR Alert Map indicates Greenbrier County is Orange on Saturday at 10 a.m. Students attend on a Group A & B schedule as assigned by each school. Wednesdays — except for Jan. 20 — will be a remote learning day for all students. Remote and virtual students learn from home following the curriculum assigned.
PLAN C will be activated the day after turning Red on the WVDHHR Alert Map.
Elementary and middle at 50% capacity with a 90-minute early release each day. Elementary and middle students attend on a Group A & B schedule as assigned by each school. Wednesdays — except for Jan. 20 — will be a remote learning day for all students.
High school students transition to fully remote learning for the day after turning red on the map.
Remote and virtual students learn from home following the curriculum assigned.”
The statement concludes with words of gratitude from County Superintendent Jeff Bryant.
“We appreciate the ongoing support from our students, families and staff as we continue to make scheduling adjustments,” Bryant said. “It has been a lot for families to keep up with and we appreciate their patience, flexibility and dedication to supporting their children during this challenging time.”
Since making the announcement on Dec. 30, Justice has received significant criticism over opting for a unilateral return to in-person learning.
Through a social media post, dated Wednesday, Dec. 30, Fred Albert, president of the the West Virginia Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers said, “AFT-WV is disappointed that Governor Justice made such a sweeping proclamation on in-person school attendance at a time when community spread is at its most unchecked during the whole pandemic. Furthermore, he did so without getting any input from those on the ground doing the work.”
In another post, dated Wednesday, Jan. 13, the AFT West Virginia stated, “Many county BOEs have already voted to use blended or remote models of instruction until all willing school staff can be fully vaccinated. AFT-WV requests the WV BOE to implement AFT-WV’s list of recommendations to protect the health and safety of staff, students and the community.”
During the governor’s Monday, Jan. 11 coronavirus response media-briefing, it was asked what “medical or scientific” information led state health experts to recommend Jan. 19 as the appropriate day to return to in-person education.
State Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad fielded the question.
“January 19 was actually picked by the Department of Education,” Amjad said. [ ] “I believe they spoke to their county superintendents about the date. And we also started with the vaccination rollout before that date, as well. But the Department of Education selected that date with their county superintendents after several meetings.”
According to the State Department of Education, a letter was sent by the West Virginia Association of School Administrators and some individual conversations were had. However, no meeting involving all county superintendents was held to discuss re-entry plans for 2021.
The West Virginia Daily News will provide updates on this developing story as additional details become available.