POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Board of Education voted on Tuesday night to keep the current blended learning model, despite previous actions to increase in-person learning.
The meeting was partially streamed online, but due to technical difficulties, the meeting was cut off at the beginning of the discussion on the re-entry plan.
At the board meeting at the end of October, the board voted to amend the plan to attend in-person classes for four days and remote learning for one day. In that motion, students were supposed to begin four days of in-person learning next week. The motion passed 4-1, with Dale Shobe voting against the motion.
Students in the blended module will continue the “2:3 model,” which includes two days in-person and three days remote, through the end of the first semester, which ends Jan. 22.
Melissa VanMeter, principal at Wahama High School, spoke to the board to voice her concerns about increasing in-person days. VanMeter said the concerns she and her teachers had included large class sizes, no social distancing and students facing the same direction.
Also during the meeting, the board discussed the possibility of transferring all Mason County Teacher-Led Virtual students to West Virginia Virtual.
Many parents spoke to the board about the topic. Some parents said if they were forced to choice, they would pull their children out of public school before participating in the state virtual program. Parents said their students were doing well with the current program and they do not think it will benefit the children to change the programs.
One parent has a relative in another county participating in the state virtual program. The parent said there is not much communication between the teacher and student. Also, many of the teachers are not working in the state.
Another parent said that for many virtual students, the interaction online with their teacher is the only interaction they have, except for family members.
VanMeter also spoke to the board about the virtual school topic. VanMeter said every teacher in her building is teaching both sets of blended students and also the virtual students. She said it is overwhelming the teachers and many of them are taking about leaving.
Adam Watson, principal at Beale Elementary, said there are many anxious teachers that are “working themselves to death” because of all the classes they have to teach.
All five board members voted against transferring the students. The Mason County Teacher-Led Virtual will continue as of now. The board members said they understood why the topic was on the agenda for consideration and they understand that teachers are struggling, but felt this was best for the students.
All five board members — Dale Shobe, Rhonda Tennant, Jared Billings, Meagan Bonecutter and Ashley Cossin — were in attendance.
More on the Mason County Board of Education will appear in upcoming editions of the Register.
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Kayla (Hawthorne) Dunham is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.