Suzanne Stewart\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\u00a0\r\nAt the July 21 Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting, superintendent Terrence Beam gave the board a preliminary glimpse at what the 2020-2021 school year will look like.\r\n\r\nBeam explained that the re-entry committee has met to discuss how students and employees will return to the schools this fall and how instruction will be provided during the COVID-19 pandemic.\r\n\r\nAround 84 individuals \u2013 school employees, healthcare providers and board members \u2013\u00a0serve on the committee to create a comprehensive plan on academics, transportation, food services, health and wellness, technology, Career and Technical Education programs, maintenance and sanitation and financial stability.\r\n\r\n\u201cThis morning we discussed some of the issues,\u201d Beam said. \u201cI want to point out these are just a few of the issues. We talked about masks versus shields for our students and our employees; where to place students when they get sick and we call parents to come get them; the options for parents to choose whether they want blending learning or virtual learning.\u201d\r\n\r\nBeam added that the following\u00a0\u00a0issues were discussed:\r\n\r\n\u2013\u00a0Social distancing, both in the schools and on buses.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u2013\u00a0Food service for students on days they are learning virtually.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u2013\u00a0Cleaning the facilities throughout the day.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u2013\u00a0Monitoring visitors entering the building.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u2013\u00a0Delivering CTE instruction virtually.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u2013 Providing personal protective equipment [PPE] for all students and employees.\r\n\r\nWhile the committee was hopeful that students would be able to attend school, in person, at least four days a week, Beam said it will be too difficult to follow social distancing guidelines to make that happen.\r\n\r\n\u201cI think at this point \u2013 and obviously, it can always change \u2013 but right now, we\u2019re looking at half the students coming in Monday and Tuesday,\u201d he said. \u201cThen Tuesday evening when those kids leave, we send their lessons home for the rest of the week. Wednesday would be a planning day for the teachers and we\u2019d clean the buildings. Then the other half of the students would come in on Thursday and Friday. When those students leave, they will be given lessons to bring back on the following Thursday.\u201d\r\n\r\nDue to the social distancing requirements, Beam explained that there are not enough buses to safely carry students to school four days a week because the students need to be seated further apart. That is why the aforementioned plan came into play.\u00a0\r\n\r\nAll parents will receive a letter with a returnable postcard to let the board know how they want their children to be educated next year. They have the option of sending them to school or doing virtual learning in which the student would attend classes online.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u201cWe\u2019ll get those responses back by the thirty-first of July so we can move forward, because we don\u2019t know how many people are going to opt into the virtual instruction,\u201d Beam said.\u00a0\r\n\r\nOnce the re-entry plan is completed, Beam said the committee will present it to the board at the August 11 meeting for approval. Once approved, the plan will be submitted to the West Virginia Department of Education.\r\n\r\nOn top of planning the unique school year, Beam said he had to redesign the 2020-2021 school calendar, which was approved earlier this year. After Governor Jim Justice declared that West Virginia schools West Virginia schools would return September 8, the calendar was no longer correct.\r\n\r\nBeam said the state department gave the requirement that school should end as close to June 1 as possible and so the calendar had to be retooled to include as many instructional days as possible. Instruction will begin on September 8 and the last day of school for students will be June 3.\r\n\r\nThanksgiving and Christmas breaks will stay intact, but Spring Break will be reduced to two-and-a-half days.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIn updates:\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u2022\u00a0Director of curriculum, instruction and federal programs Lynne Bostic provided information on the Community in Schools Program which she hopes to implement this year in Pocahontas County Schools.\r\n\r\n\u201cThey provide mentors for students who are at risk,\u201d Bostic explained. \u201cThey provide tutoring for students who are behind in their studies and it\u2019s just a wonderful program, too, for a child who may just need [help with school supplies] or is just having a bad day.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe program works on a three-tier process \u2013\u00a0school-wide services; targeted programs; and individualized support.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u2022\u00a0Director of special education, student services, transportation and testing Ruth Bland gave an update on the technology and transportation departments.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIn technology, Bland said she has created a student device loaner program policy for the devices students will use during virtual learning and social distancing. At this time, the board has purchased Microsoft SurfaceGo2 devices which will be distributed to the juniors and seniors.\u00a0\r\n\r\nBland said the students are required to sign an agreement concerning the devices and there will be a cost to the students if the devices are damaged or destroyed.\u00a0\r\n\r\nBland added that there is a requirement students must reach in order to be approved for virtual learning, and she presented a copy of that information to the board.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u201cAs students enter into virtual school, there is a semblance of some skill that must be in place before they can be successful in a virtual environment,\u201d she said. \u201cWe must inform the parents of everything that may be affecting their child if they come into a virtual environment. One of the expectations of children coming into virtual school is that they are functioning at grade level.\u201d\u00a0\r\n\r\nAlso, if the student is participating in virtual learning and there is an internet outage, the board of education will have to find a way to ensure the student has alternative access to internet to continue their studies.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u201cWe have to be able to assist these children,\u201d Bland said. \u201cAt the high school level, when they go in the virtual school, we have a teacher that is stationed at the high school all day long and works with those kids as they are moving through their virtual courses.\u201d\u00a0\r\n\r\nIn addition to the devices, Bland said she recently purchased 100 webcams on tripods which teachers can use in the classroom for students attending virtually. The cameras will allow teachers to share information they provide on the WhiteBoard, as well as any handouts given in class.\r\n\r\nThe technology was all purchased with CARES Act funding from the government which is earmarked for state and local governments to alleviate the strain the pandemic has caused.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIn transportation, Bland informed the board that bus drivers are aware that the buses will have to be disinfected more often and they are coming up with ways to ensure the buses are sanitized daily.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u201cThe filters in the buses \u2013\u00a0they are going to have to be taken out every week, every month,\u201d Bland said. \u201cThey are going to have to be cleaned. Usually, we do it on our preventative maintenance schedule which is six weeks. We cannot do that any longer. It has to be done more often.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u201cThe buses will have to be cleaned after each run,\u201d she continued. \u201cThey will have to be sanitized and disinfected before the next run. It is my duty to provide them with the tools that will be efficient and will be safe. We\u2019ll have electrostatic cleaners, which we have already ordered. We are also looking at a different way to mop the floor of the buses.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u00a0In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:\r\n\r\n\u2022 Mr. H. Samuel Gibson as the Pocahontas County Board of Education representative on the West Virginia Extension Office Committee, retroactive to July 6, for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u2022 Mr. Morgan McComb to represent Pocahontas County Board of Education on the Day Report Committee for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.\r\n\r\n\u2022 The updated Policy 3120.12 \u2013\u00a0Substitutes in Area of Critical Need and Shortage.\r\n\r\n\u2022 Agreement between Pocahontas County Board of Education and Pocahontas County Park and Recreation regarding the use and funding of the Wellness Center, retroactive to July 1, continuing until June 30, 3021.\r\n\r\n\u2022 Pocahontas County Schools COVID-19 waiver for students to participate in extracurricular activities as sanctioned by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission [WVSSAC].\r\n\r\n\u2022\u00a0Andrea J. Sharp, a resident of Randolph County, to enroll her child in Pocahontas County Schools for the 2020-2021 school year.\r\n\u00a0\r\nIn personnel management, the board approved the following:\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u2022\u00a0Assignment transfer of Janesa Henderson from counselor at Hillsboro Elementary School and Marlinton Elementary School, to counselor at Marlinton Elementary School, effective for the 2020-2021 school year. Term of employment shall remain 200 days.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u2022 Consent to change Felicia Smith from itinerant special education classroom aide\/bus aide at Marlinton Middle School and Hillsboro Elementary School, to itinerant special education classroom aide\/bus aide at Marlinton Middle School, effective for the 2020-2021 school year. Term of employment shall remain 200 days.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u2022\u00a0Employment of Kevin A. Thompson as half-time itinerant supervisory special education classroom aide\/bus aide and half-time custodian III at Hillsboro Elementary School, at state basic salary, effective for the 2020-2021 school year. Term of employment is 210 days. 200 days as an aide\/custodian and 10 days as a custodian.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u2022 Contract extension for extended summer feeding program by an additional three days, August 12 through 14, six hours per day, in order to implement new WVDE guidelines due to the changes in the 2020-2021 school calendar start date, stemming from COVID-19 restrictions, for the following individuals: Sherri Howe, Lora Sue Miller, Kevin Thompson and Emmet Doolittle.\r\n\r\n\u2022 Resignation of Callie Cronin Sams as teacher of science\/biology at Pocahontas County High School.\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u2022\u00a0Creation of position site coordinator of the Community in Schools Program at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, at state minimum salary based on degree and experience, for the 2020-2021 school year. Term of employment is 200 days. Salary to be paid by grant funding.\r\n\r\n\u2022\u00a0Creation of position site coordinator of the Community in Schools Program at Pocahontas County High School, at state minimum salary based on degree and experience, for the 2020-2021 school year. Term of employment is 200 days. Salary to be paid by grant funding.\r\n\u00a0\r\nThe next board meeting will be Tuesday, August 11, at 6 p.m. at the board of education conference room.