MASON COUNTY — Another day, another update for Mason County Schools, its administration, staff, students and their families.
As of Tuesday evening, here is the latest information:
On Wednesday, March 18, school buses will be delivering food (bagged breakfasts and lunches) for the rest of the week. Buses will be leaving their schools at 10 a.m. If you are unsure of what time the food will be delivered, contact the bus driver. Children who wish to pick up meals for the rest of the week may do so at their buildings from 10 a.m. – noon on Wednesday, March 18, according to Superintendent Jack Cullen. No deliveries or pickups of food will be made on Thursday or Friday, as meals for the rest of the week are to go out Wednesday, March 18. In terms of delivery, any food that’s left, will be given to whichever food pantry is closest – for example Crosslight of Hope in Ashton, Point Pleasant Homeless Shelter and the Bend Area Food Pantry.
Requested paper copies of instructional packets will be delivered on Thursday, March 19 with the bus drivers. Buses will leave at 10 a.m. for deliveries. To make those delivery requests, call your child’s school ASAP. Homework assignments will also be available for pickup on Thursday at the schools from 10 a.m. to noon. No deliveries or pickup of assignments will be made on Friday.
Spring break remains set for March 30 – April 3. Volunteers will likely be needed this week to assist in the delivery of meals.
On Tuesday, superintendents were informed West Virginia will suspend statewide summative assessment (general, alternate, and English language proficiency), reporting, and accountability calculations until next year. Spring testing is canceled. W. Clayton Burch, state superintendent of schools, on behalf of the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE), in a letter dated March 17, to Betsy DeVos, secretary of education, United States Department of Education Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, requested a waiver to the federal testing and accountability requirements for the 2019-20 school year. The letter read, in part, “….because of the extraordinary circumstances our nation is now facing with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are compelled to act in the interest of protecting our students and keeping them healthy given the high-risk health factors affecting many of our state’s citizens.”
According to information from Tuesday’s conference call with superintendents, March 27 is still the targeted return date but that date is fluid and will be continually reevaluated. The WVDE will be working with the National Guard to deploy needed logistical support to meet long-term county needs related to these plans. Superintendents were asked to return a survey to assist in this planning.
Cullen shared information from WVDE regarding its various levels of school closure during this State of Emergency declared by Gov. Jim Justice.
– Stage 1 Closure: Students dismissed and student activities cancelled, staff still reporting in various degrees to maintain services and instructional supports.
– Stage 2 Closure: Limited staff reporting on a voluntary basis for specific functions. Instructional support provided through remote capabilities.
– Stage 3 Closure: Complete closure with no staff reporting.
In relation to a feeding plan, according to information from WVDE, West Virginia public schools are currently in a Stage 1 Closure. According to WVDE, in the event that the schools increase to a Stage 2 Closure, officials have been asked to prepare plans to continue delivery of meals to children as an essential function.
“Ideally, we will have the expertise of our child nutrition service personnel and other school personnel leading this effort because they know the work, the children and the families better than anyone,” the WVDE update read. “However, we know that many school employees are at high-risk and will be advised to remain home. During the State of Emergency, we have access to additional logistical support from the West Virginia National Guard to fulfill this mission. We also know that community volunteers are ready to serve in this capacity as well.”
As county school systems plan for this type of meal delivery, the following should be considered:
1. Operating from central preparation sites to lessen staffing needs;
2. Staffing sites with any and all employees able and willing to continue to report to work;
3. Filling staffing needs with National Guard and community volunteers; and
4. Ordering food supplies that can be prepared in multi-day meal packs.
Resources for information
Parents can use the Mason County School’s website, Facebook page and Twitter account for updates. Updates can also be found by downloading and using the Mason County Schools App.
The Point Pleasant Register will provide information on the response of Mason County Schools as it becomes available here, on its website at https://www.mydailyregister.com/ and on its Facebook page.
Additional information on COVID-19 can be found on the WVDE website at https://wvde.us/covid19/
Superintendent Cullen and his colleagues across the state have been sitting in on daily conference calls from WVDE about the closure, any updates to stay informed and to communicate the needs of county schools.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.