Education, Latest News

Digital first day: Mon goes back to school remotely

It takes a (technological) village.

Tuesday’s first day of school in Monongalia County was met by a series of digital hiccups, freezes and seizes that Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said will be remedied – as the county moves forward in an academic year clouded by the coronavirus.

Said virus is the reason why students here reported to school electronically instead of in-person.

Mon is currently showing red on the map the state Department of Health and Human Resources uses to chart the presence of the virus in all 55 counties.

If you’re red, or the slightly lesser orange, your school district goes to remote learning, until the diagnosed numbers go back down.

Campbell told Board of Education members who met later that evening that the first day was about what worked – and what didn’t – as teachers, students and parents dealt with the delivery system required by the state in Mon.

“I’ll be the first to say there were definite glitches,” the superintendent reported.

“The important thing is that we able to identify what they are and what we need to do to fix them.”

Cara Gump, whose twin daughters, Caroline and Claire, started their first year at Suncrest Middle School, said it was just as much a communication issue – as it was the computer.

“It’s like we’ve been on a scavenger hunt,” she said.

“We were looking for schedules, Google codes, teacher info. It seems like there could have been clearer information put out to parents and students.”

Parts of the above were on display during the BOE meeting.

People viewing electronically – meetings have been closed to the public past several months due to the pandemic – were greeted to a full-screen Zoom login page during a presentation by a counselor in the district.

That was while they were supposed to be seeing graphs and other information detailing how the counselor and his colleagues will help students maintain emotional health while coexisting with COVID-19.

Another video was slow in loading on the web page of a math teacher showing her catalogue of interactive lesson plans for her students stuck, remotely.

That’s technology, though, Campbell said – and technology can be tailored to the product.

Mon’s true delivery system, he said, comes in the form of its teachers ready and able to advance the learning, no matter the format.

Gump agreed.

“My kids’ teachers are great,” she said. “They’re just dealing with the same things we are right now.”

Those things aren’t going away any time soon, Gov. Jim Justice said Tuesday.

Justice reported that positive coronavirus cases were found in employees of six schools in Kanawha County, two in Brooke County and one apiece in Lincoln, Mason and Mingo.

Both Mingo’s superintendent of schools and the principal of that county’s Mingo Central High School reported last week they tested positive for the virus.

For Mon County, Justice said blue and gold can’t be help apart from red.

Referring to ongoing discussion on whether to keep WVU’s positive cases separate from Mon’s at large, the governor said, “They are part of the county and therefore they have counted within the county.

“To isolate them out, I think really and truly, would be a bad move,” she said.

The best way to keep numbers down, State Schools Superintendent Clayton Burch, is to listen to the lessons delivered by the health professionals on social distancing and wearing a mask in public.

“We celebrated 46 counties being able to reopen in person,” he said. “We’ve said from the beginning our children need to be in school. Nobody argues that point.”

Including a certain set of twin sisters in Morgantown.

“It was fun, seeing my friends and my teachers and doing the assignments,” Claire said.

“I’ll be glad when we get to really go back,” Caroline seconded.