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2020 0723 highlawn 01.jpg

A worker heads into the cafeteria of the new Highlawn Elementary School as work continues on July 22, 2020, in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — Face-to-face instruction at Highlawn Elementary School will be postponed until Sept. 28 because of several final projects that will likely take longer than Sept. 8, the first day of school, to complete.

Cabell County Superintendent Ryan Saxe told board members Tuesday at their regularly scheduled meeting that since students and staff are already prepared for virtual learning, the district made the decision to postpone in-person classes at Highlawn.

“We have been pushing the contractors very hard to give us a heads-up to whether or not we were going to meet the deadlines as needed, and to give us a fair assessment as to where we were in the timeline. By all accounts, they have continued to tell us that they think they will be able to meet the Sept. 8 deadline,” Saxe said. “I’ve held out hope, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. There’s a lot of ‘what ifs.’”

Saxe said some exterior projects that are weather permitting, like the completion of the bus loop, could still be facing a longer timeline, as well as several indoor final touches.

“It will give the construction crews a more manageable timeline to get things done so students are not in the building when they’re trying to finish things up,” he said.

In turn, all Highlawn Elementary students will still begin classes Sept. 8, but virtually, and Apple devices for students at the school will be distributed Thursday and Friday of this week.

Saxe said an official announcement will be sent to families regarding the change.

Across the district, staff at other schools are making final plans to welcome students back in person, and officials gave updates to the board on work being done to prepare for the first day.

Assistant Superintendent Kim Cooper said maintenance employees are working around the clock to ensure every classroom is prepared with necessary supplies.

“Our maintenance guys have been working every night for the last two weeks just so they can get all of our masks, shields, disinfectant, everything they will need,” Cooper said. “It’s in the process, but we’re getting it out this week and we will have it ready for them on Tuesday morning.”

Saxe said the schools have completed their back-to-school checklists and his team will be reviewing those and providing feedback.

In addition, master schedules for each school are being completed and Apple devices continue to be deployed. Saxe said about 650 devices were homed to high school students at Huntington and Cabell Midland high schools on Tuesday alone.

Members of the district leadership team will also be assisting at various schools next week to ensure students and staff have the resources they need to stay safe and are following proper protocols.

The board was set to vote on an order to issue $87.5 million in school bonds Tuesday after gaining approval from voters Aug. 22, but the agenda item was pushed to a special meeting at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4, pending approval from the state.

Follow reporter Hanna Pennington via Twitter @hpennHD.

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