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Preston County Schools releases back-to-school plan

KINGWOOD — On Tuesday Preston Schools Superintendent Steve Wotring detailed the county’s re-entry plan for this fall.

The schools consulted with the Preston County Health Department and the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines when planning.

Preston County Schools’ entire re-entry plan, as well as the planned pysical distancing measures, can be seen at or on its Facebook page.

Here are some of the plan highlights:

Masks and more

Students must wear masks, but not necessarily every minute. Schools hope to provide each child with one new face mask a week. Others can be provided by parents. All staff will be provided face shields and other PPE.

It’s not always possible to maintain six feet of social distancing in classrooms, but the AAP said particularly if a student is masked and asymptomatic, three feet may do. Classroom seats will be assigned.

Hallways will be one-way and floors will be marked with directional arrows, just like stores. Desks will be six feet apart where possible.

Students will stay in their core groups (class) as much as possible. They will go outside for recess and some lessons, and to other subjects, like music, for example.

“Kids are very resilient. They’ll adjust faster than the adults probably,” Wotring said.

Parents are being asked to help survey students’ health and not send them to school if they are sick.

Mon Health Preston Memorial has offered to provide rapid testing if a possible COVID-19 case arises at school.


Students 9 and older will be required to wear masks on the bus. Parents are also being asked to consider bringing their children to school, to lower the number on the bus.

The first child on the bus each morning will go to the rear, then it is filled from there. Depending on the number of kids on a bus, those from each bus stop may be seated together.

Students will exit beginning with those in front. Exits will be done in an orderly fashion, so there’s no log jam of students. As much as possible, bus windows will be left down.

After every bus run, a sprayer will be used to totally disinfect the bus. Hand sanitizer will be available on each bus.

Students must ride their assigned buses only.


With the exception of Preston High, schools will follow their usual schedule. PHS will dismiss students at 1:30 p.m., while teachers will stay on to get their duty-free lunch and planning period.

Plans are being made to allow athletes who have after school practices — which can’t begin until teachers finish their day — to stay at the school.

PHS will go to a four-period day, with classes alternating every other day.


All students kindergarten through 12th grade will be issued devices at the beginning of school. Kindergarten through second graders will receive iPads. Third through 12th graders will get laptops.

These will be pre-loaded with textbooks, and internet isn’t required to access the texts or other work that will be downloaded during the year.

All devices will be able to connect to hot spots in any Preston school parking lot. That means a PHS student can connect to the school in his or her home community, for example, rather than being required to come to Kingwood.

The devices will block inappropriate material.

Wotring and his staff are also working with local internet providers to try and provide families with low-cost internet access.
Students will use the devices daily. There will not be paper packets.

“To say in this day and age that a kid does not need to utilize technology is absurd,” Wotring said.

”No matter what type of education they pursue in the future … there’s going to be an online component.”

Student testing

Students K-12 will take a diagnostic exam soon after they return to school to assess their skills. The county bought new software, iReady, which includes tests on students’ reading language arts and math skills, along with lessons of about 45 minutes per week that can be used to bring the student up to grade level.


Cafeterias will operate at 50% capacity. Breakfast will be “grab and go,” picked up on arrival at school and taken to the classroom. Some grade levels will eat lunch in their classrooms.

Meals will be sent home with students a day prior to a remote learning day. Meal options will be available to virtual education students.

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