New school in Huntington not opening on time

Cabell County Schools officials say the new Highlawn Elementary School in Huntington will not be ready to open as expected.
Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 10:45 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - One school in Cabell County will not be opening on time next Tuesday, but the delay is not related to COVID-19.

School officials say the new Highlawn Elementary School in Huntington will not be ready to open due to shortages in building materials and unexpected bad weather.

“Could we do it? Yes we could, but it’s not in an ideal situation,” Superintendent Ryan Saxe said at the Cabell County Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.

Heather James lives just down from the new building and says she’d been suspecting the facility wouldn’t be ready by the first day of school.

“Being here every day, we can see there’s a lot of work that needs to be done on the outside,” she said. “It’s disappointing, because everyone is so excited to see the new school, but it’s also something we were kind of expecting,” James said.

James’s son Oliver will be going into fourth grade in the new school at the site of the former Enslow Middle along 3rd Avenue.

She says considering they’d already been mentally preparing for the possibility of doing remote learning this fall, this delay really isn’t coming at the worst time.

“I think any other year, this would’ve been a huge ordeal,” James said, “and they would’ve been scrambling, but considering all the remote learning and everything we’ve already had to do, it’s not going to be a big deal at all.”

The plan is for the school to open Sept. 28 for students who selected the blended learning model. Starting Sept. 8, all Highlawn students will be doing remote or virtual learning until the building opens.

James can’t help but wonder how much could change before then, and if her son will step foot in the new school at all this fall.

“I feel like we’re going to end up going remote at some point,” she said, “and I wish we were better prepared for that. I feel like we could’ve spent the last four months preparing for remote learning and improving on it and correcting all the mistakes we made in the spring.”

The school will still be deploying student devices from 9 to 11 a.m. this Thursday and Friday at the former Highlawn building.

In other news, the Cabell County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to join a mass litigation action lawsuit against e-cigarette company Juul.

If Cabell County wins any funds, they would be used for anti-vaping education and for items like vaping detectors in restrooms, school spokesman Jedd Flowers tells WSAZ.

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