Typically, this is a busy time of year when school staff and various departments are in full swing preparing for the start of the school year. However, we realize that this year is unique in planning for “back to school.”
Now we are faced with the unique phenomena called “RE-Entry.” We are fortunate in Marion County to have dedicated staff, community members and professional and service organizations that kept abreast of state and national issues surrounding RE-Entry for schools.
These groups met consistently during the last 3 months. The task force teams formed, addressed concerns related to: Transportation, Child Nutrition, Instruction and Learning, Special Education, Physical Social/Emotional Mental Health Wellness, Facilities/Safety, Finance, Career Technical Education and Alternative Education, Technology, Extracurricular & Extended Activities.
The “tasks lists” generated were long and challenging. The “bright side” may be that we learned the importance of every single facet of our educational system. Appreciating interdependence and collaboration was vital. In addition, the relationship between the school system and the Marion County Health Department has been crucial. We cannot thank Lloyd White enough for his consistent availability in answering our questions. Marion County Schools’ staff is busy completing these important tasks generated through these teams.
We recognize that families have an important decision to make regarding the manner in which they wish to approach RE-Entry. This pandemic impacts family life, school life and community life. Our goal as a school system, and my goal as the superintendent, has been to provide our students the best educational opportunity we can during such trying times. The educational scenarios for Re-Entry are outlined for families in our drafted Re-Entry Plan which is easily accessible at marionboe.com or the Marion County Schools, WV Facebook page.
For families, the decision tree starts with the choice and comfort level of participating in education face-to-face or from a distance (i.e home). Then parents can entertain which face-to-face or which distance model best suits their learner. Marion County School practices for face-to-face instruction align with the WVDE guidance, CDC. Therefore, school practices include wearing face coverings when social distancing is not possible, reducing school wide large group gatherings, sanitization efforts, encouraging handwashing, etc.
We will be dedicating initial school re-entry time to teaching our students these new but crucial routines for being safe at school. Marion County efforts for distance learning include technology, alignment with state educational standards and usage of adopted supplemental instructional materials. We want to ensure that ALL students, regardless of the educational scenario selected, have the opportunity for a successful learning experience.
The family survey is necessary to determine what our families believe fit their current needs for education. It is critical that we hear from each and every family in Marion County as they make decisions for each of their children. This gives us the information we need to start scheduling classes, securing and distributing instructional materials, and working with staff to make teacher assignments. Remember that safe practices are everyone’s responsibility and there are no absolutes.
Stay safe and be well.