Harrison County Board of Education plans ahead for students that will partake in virtual learning

Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 7:57 PM EDT
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CLARKSBURG, W.Va (WDTV) - During Gov. Jim Justice’s briefing today, he announced that the decision on how schools will proceed will be determined no later than September 1, but for the Harrison County Board of Education, they’re already planning ahead for students that will partake in virtual learning or if schools have to switch to remote learning.

However, with something so new, parents are questioning the set up and are concerned about keeping their children engaged.

“I know what everyone is going through is new and it’s challenging,” Valery Harper, the executive director of virtual schools in Kanawha County said.

Harper has been involved with virtual schooling ever since it began three years ago in Kanawha County. It started with 25 kids, and now with covid, it’s grown to over 1800 so far.

Harper explained what the virtual program consists of.

“Virtual learning through the West Virginia Department of Educations program, utilizes a platform that they lease from Florida Virtual School,” she said. “Florida Virtual School is a pioneer is course building and they’ve been in business since 1997, so in our eyes they are the best.”

In Kanawha County, they will be relying on the program to provide students with what they need.

“We use their courses that they provide to be able to give to our kids. They are aligned to West Virginia standards,” Harper said. “What happens then is with this course, teachers from West Virginia actually deliver the grading, the feedback, provide support for the parents as well as the schools,” she said.

Other counties across the state will be able to decide how they want it to work for their students, but as for Harrison County, the superintendent, Dora Stutler, said they are working to make the experience as close to a classroom as possible.

“Virtual is a curriculum that’s set up through the state department, it’s the virtual curriculum, and right now they’re allowing us to include within that virtual learning our own classroom teachers,” Stutler said.

How many teachers will be from the school district is still unknown. Stutler said that will be determined after they collect data from the start of registration on August 12 through September 1.

“It’s going to be coordinated county wide, so the expectations will be the same in our elementary schools, our middle schools and high schools,” she said.

Before the governor announced the Kid’s Connect program, the Harrison County School Board has been working on a plan to make sure kids don’t fall behind.

“We know that about 20 percent of our population is not connected,” Stutler said. “For those kids that do not have connectivity, they’ll be able to get their lessons on a flash drive,” she said.

That flash drive will be able to connect to the students’ iPad for them to work directly from their devices.

“That’s our goal, to keep everybody engaged until we can get back to some kind of normal,” Stutler said.

Until that normalcy returns, Stutler asks parents to bare with them.

"We're just asking that our parent's be patient, the stories keep changing and things keep happening and we're getting different directions from different people but be assured that we are doing all we can for the students."

Stutler also told me parents will be receive more information about the upcoming school year in the coming weeks, there’s also a FAQs page they’ve been working on for parents to help with the transition.

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