Essential reporting in volatile times.

Not a Subscriber yet? Click here to take advantage of All access digital limited time offer $4.99 per month EZ Pay.

Interested in Donating? Click #ISupportLocal for more information on supporting local journalism.


HUNTINGTON — Cabell County Schools is surveying stakeholders, families and teachers to assist in developing a plan for students’ re-entry into schools this fall.

The survey came as a response to guidelines released from the West Virginia Department of Education last week, which outlined three possible options for the academic school year with help from health officials at state and local levels. They included in-person classes with an altered schedule, a blended learning model or reverting back to remote learning in the event of a second wave of the novel coronavirus.

Cabell County Superintendent Ryan Saxe said those who participate in the survey will be given several other hybrid scenarios to choose from aside from the framework released by the state.

The survey can be accessed at the district’s website at cabellschools.com.

“If we feel that something else would work better in our community, then we have the evidence to take to the department and the state to say ‘This is what our community feels that we need to do,’” Saxe said.

While keeping the health and well-being of students at the forefront of all decisions, Saxe said he and his team recognize that many families will be ready to resume school as normal as possible with necessary precautions.

“I think the most important thing is we are making sure we are prioritizing the health and wellbeing of our students,” Saxe said. “I know that there are concerns, and that’s why I think it’s important to survey our community, our stakeholders, to determine what their comfort zone is. I firmly believe we should be deep cleaning and sanitizing our schools every single day, not just once a day, and we have a phenomenal group of service personnel that are really dedicated to making sure our kids stay safe.”

Once the survey results have been analyzed, Saxe said collaboration with Local School Improvement Council (LSIC) representatives, teachers and a student advisory committee will work to make a decision about the return to school, hopefully by mid-July.

The survey can be found online at cabellschools.com as well as the district’s social media pages.

Putnam County district leaders also sent a questionnaire to families in the district beginning Monday to gain feedback on re-entry proposals, a response that Superintendent John Hudson described as extremely valuable. Those who received a survey must submit their responses by Friday, June 19.

Hudson released a statement following the reveal of the guidelines last week and said he will be communicating with the Department of Education, as well as health officials, to develop a plan to best serve the community.

“Our goal is for students to be physically in school buildings five days a week, 180 days next school year, if possible,” Hudson said. “However, as professional educators, we must rely on guidance from health officials as West Virginia is still operating under a State of Emergency.”

Hudson said he and his team will work to keep families and staff in the loop in the coming weeks.

“All decisions for re-entry will be made with the safety and well-being of students at the forefront,” he said. “We ask that you please continue to be patient as COVID-19 remains to be a fluid situation.”

In Wayne County, Superintendent Todd Alexander he will work with staff and members of the community to make sure proper protocol is in place should students return to classrooms in August.

“We are meeting with staff and we are going to have staff involved in the decision-making in all the key areas — food service, transportation, schedules at each of the individual levels, elementary, middle and high school,” Alexander said. “We are going to be looking at different types of bell schedules, class schedules, to ensure that kids are exposed to the least number of other students during the school days.”

Alexander said while the district is certainly keeping the state’s recommendations in mind, which call for shorter school weeks with at least one day of distance learning to allow deep-cleaning in facilities, he said the county won’t rule out the five-day week just yet.

“I think what we will do is look at it from the perspective of, ‘OK, if we are in school five days a week, what kind of safety protocols are necessary and what can we can put in place so we are as safe as possible?’” Alexander said. “We will have a draft plan in place, and when the state releases further recommendations, we’ll compare those with our draft plan.”

A full list of guidelines released by the WVDE can be found online at wvde.us/school-system-re-entry/.

Follow reporter Hanna Pennington via Twitter @hpennHD.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.