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Preston County BOE holds discussion on “filling the gap” in learning caused by COVID-19

KINGWOOD — The Preston County Board of Education held a discussion this week on “filling the gap” in learning caused by students being away from schools during the COVID-19 crisis and plans for the next school year.

It’s not just Preston County but the whole nation that is behind, Board Member Pam Feathers noted Monday.

“Do you see any adjustment in curriculum?” she asked Superintendent Steve Wotring.

“I guess my concern is for those struggling students who were struggling on March 13, then you try to fill in the gap on their own, how’s that going to play out?” Feathers asked.

Packets will be sent home with students, when they pick up report cards and turn in books and laptops, Wotring said. Each student will have books to read over the summer.

The packets are to hone classic skills, he said. “But the learning gap, the achievement gap that we are going to be facing, is going to be wider than ever.”

Four plans are being looked at for this fall, he said:

-Teachers return to school Aug. 17 “with as normal a beginning as we can possibly have.”

-[Staff and students come back to school in August but then are forced to go back out again. “Which is a very real possibility.”

-Schools are allowed to start but with restrictions, such as only half a third-grade class meeting every other day.

-Schools start the year virtually.

“Now with that, and with these learning gaps that we have, what we have been working on also is prioritizing the standards that we have to teach,” Wotring said.

Some students won’t have been able to keep up while off from school, he said. The classes won’t be able to get through every state standard. So educators are prioritizing pre-requisite standards — called power standards — that students must learn in order to advance to the next level of learning.

“We know with those gaps that we have to start with where they are,” Wotring said.

Through Preston County’s participation in the one-year Bill Daggett training program, he is able to talk with superintendents from across the nation. The state is also working on this, Wotring said. Many of the requirements being looked at are based in code, he noted, and may require legislative action.

Assistant Superintendent Brad Martin said a request for proposals has been put out for 1,350 HP Stream Pro11 G5 laptop computers and 700 Belkin Air Protect Sleeve or 700 Targus Vertical Chromebook Sleeve cases.

Once those are put into the schools, Wotring said, the 1-1 initiative to provide every student with an electronic device will be complete.

Students in kindergarten through second grade will have iPads that are intended to be left at school. Students in all other grades will have laptops.

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