Meals program, distance learning, graduation all top of mind for WVDE

Published: Apr. 21, 2020 at 11:16 PM EDT
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A task force has been put together to ensure that West Virginia’s class of 2020 gets a proper send-off from high school, when the time is right.

On Tuesday, Gov. Jim Justice said in-person school is out for the summer. Virtual classes will continue through the end of the year.

The last day of school will be determined by individual counties.

Justice and State Superintendent Clayton Burch said the governor’s office and the state Department of Education will work with counties to create graduation ceremonies when and if it is safe to do so.

A news release from the WVDE says, “a Graduation Taskforce, which consists of West Virginia Board of Education members, county administrators, state PTA members, educators and WVDE staff, continues to address issues surrounding high school graduation and creating a smooth transition for graduates moving toward the next phases of their lives. Issues include dual credit and Advanced Placement credit, free virtual schools, and CTE credentials as well as developing meaningful, end-of-year recognitions and celebrations for high school seniors. Counties will work with their boards of education and local health departments to determine details around graduation ceremonies which may look very different than in years past. The WVDE will post updated school calendar information this week at”

"I think it's also important that he (Gov. Justice) mentioned graduations. Our West Virginia board of Education actually has a task force that's going to tackle this. They also want to join in the Governor's response on graduation. It's really important that we acknowledge and do everything we can for the senior class of 2020. I'm really appreciative of those that came to the forefront to really care for the graduates of 2020," West Virginia State Superintendent Clayton Burch said.

“I can’t imagine just the excitement of the kids going back and seeing their friends and teachers and all the goodness that would come of that the ability to bring closure to something that has really puzzled a lot of our kids in a lot of different ways,” Gov. Justice said Tuesday of his decision to cancel in-person classes.

"You've got to trust me in this situation. If we aren't going to be able to have everybody back, and by everyone back I mean all of our state workers back and everything how could I put you in a building where you're all crowded together. I can't do that and feel in good conscience that it's the safe and right thing to do. Because you're going to go home, you've got grandparents and it could be not good.”

Justice was criticized by lawmakers earlier this month for not making the call to cancel school sooner.

Distance learning will continue and so will the school meal program that is providing 1.4 million meals a week to students in all 55 of the state’s counties.

Superintendent Burch said that he realizes there are challenges with distance/virtual learning as far as internet and broadband connectivity are concerned. He said Tuesday that this situation will reveal the inequities. He went on to say that the teachers are making sure that students in the farthest corners are being reached.

As far as grades are concerned, Burch said that those decisions are best made at the local level because teachers know their students far better than the state knows them from Charleston.

“We do have a remote learning guidance document on our website. We really do trust all 55 district superintendents to make those decisions. They were in concert with us, we want to make sure there's an equitable process for all of our children. I put a lot of trust in those 55 county superintendents,” Burch said.