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Mason County schools reverse decision to send in-person students back four days a week

Published: Nov. 11, 2020 at 3:27 AM EST
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MASON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Switching to an almost a full week in the classroom, or some would say getting back to some normalcy, was less than a week away for Mason County students. However, the school board decided at Tuesday night’s meeting that the county just isn’t quite ready to make that jump yet.

“Very difficult decisions, different things had to be considered and the board is thinking how can we educate our students the best that we can and still try to keep our students and staff safe that’s pretty much why they made the change,” Superintendent Jack Cullen said.

It was roughly two weeks ago when the board voted to have in-person students return to the classroom four days a week which was set to start this coming Monday. But during the meeting on Tuesday, the the board reversed that decision and decided to keep the in-person county students in the classroom two days a week with three days virtual.

“Four (days in-person) and one (virtual day) would create problems in the classroom,” Cullen said.

Cullen said after the board made that decision, the health department told him that they can’t have more than 25 people inside one classroom at a time. That number includes both staff and students.

He said if the schools did follow through with the four days a week in class, over 60 classrooms would have over 25 people in them.

“With that number, we had to look at safety for those students if we stayed two (days in-person), three (days virtual) which is what the board voted (Tuesday). By keeping it that way, we can social distance and keep less than 25 in the classroom.”

Another item on the agenda Tuesday was to potentially eliminate Mason County Virtual school. Cullen said if the county did away with Mason County Virtual school then that would free up more teachers to teach in-person classes so they could abide by the 25 rule and potentially send students back more days per week.

If the board did eliminate the county-lead virtual school, then students who still wanted virtual learning would have to switch over to the statewide West Virginia Virtual school. The difference between the statewide virtual school and county virtual school is the county is ran by Mason County teachers and students are almost completely on track with in-person students.

The board voted unanimously against eliminating Mason County virtual school, so that will continue to be an option for students.

Cullen said everything will remain the same at least until the end of the semester which is January 22, 2021.

The next board meeting is at 6 p.m. on November 19.

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