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County school system adjusts to changes

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

Superintendent of Schools Terrence Beam gave an update Monday on the progress of the county’s school system in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Beam reiterated that students will continue to get meals by the week, and the school system has partnered with a new program to ensure students are fed.

“We contracted with Compass, which is a food preparation/delivery company that a lot of the other counties have decided to contract with,” he said. “They will deliver food through the National Guard to us on Mondays.”

Compass will make stops at Hillsboro Elementary and Marlinton Elementary schools to bring a week’s worth of food for the students.

“Those were the only two drop off spots they’re giving us, but we are then delivering food from there to Green Bank, and we’re doing an additional delivery to Linwood Library to serve that area,” Beam said.

Now that the school system is certain students will continue to receive meals, Beam said they are continuing to work on providing educational material to students.

“That’s causing a lot of the angst among the parents,” he said. “They’re getting inundated with too much work, especially at the secondary level. We’re trying to work with the principals, and the principals are working with the parents to try to alleviate some of their concern about too much being piled on the kids at one time.”

With the latest report that President Donald Trump has extended the social distancing order to April 30, Beam said the school system will have to re-evaluate when it is possible to go back to school. Prior to Trump’s order, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice set a return to school date for April 20.

“I expect they’ll move that to the end of April,” Beam said. “When that call comes, I know the first question will be ‘can we still have a graduation ceremony of some sort for our students?’” Prom is one thing, and I hate for them to miss their prom, but I really hate for them to miss their graduation.”

Beam explained that while the schools have reached the 135-day threshold, which allows for the year to count as a full academic year, he still hopes that students will get to return to finish this year.

“At the high school, with their CTE and all this, trying to make sure they have all the requirements to become a completer or to graduate from high school, that’s what we’re working on right now,” he said. “I’m hoping they aren’t going to shut us down for the rest of the year. Even if we get back the first of May, the kids can still have their prom; they can still have their graduation and that would be a big deal.”

Beam will provide a weekly update in The Pocahontas Times.

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