Doddridge, Roane counties mulling new school year

WEST UNION — As the middle of summer break arrives, school districts are coming up with a re-entry plan for students to start their fall semesters.

Officials in Doddridge and Roane counties are hoping to get as close to a five-day model as possible.

Adam Cheeseman, superintendent for Doddridge County, said he wanted to focus efforts on their seniors before they discussed the next school year but after seniors held their gradation ceremony last weekend, he’s been discussing their options with other faculty members.

Before a decision is made, Cheeseman wants to hear the voices of parents and the board members as the decision will pend their approval.

“We are going to do it together. We’re going to get everyone together. Right now, we’re just gathering input and we’ll release our official plan,” he said.

The goal is a five-day week with cleaning scheduled for evenings and weekends but it could also be a four-day week with a cleaning day in the middle of the week.

“This is a moving target. It’s going to be difficult for us to pinpoint this and get the ‘right answer.’ Right now, we’re doing the best we can,” Cheeseman said.

Cheeseman will hold a Facebook live session Wednesday at 5 p.m. to discuss the school year with parents.

With Doddridge County being a smaller district, Cheeseman said they have that to their advantage in this situation because they don’t have as much of a space issue as other districts.

Students should be able to eat in the cafeteria since they have doors to separate one half of the room from the other. Classes will still eat together, the times will just be staggered, Cheeseman said.

With transportation, the buses aren’t crowded to begin with so Cheeseman doesn’t believe that will be an issue.

“We may have a bus or two that we have to tweak,” he said.

In Roane County, they also are looking at a five-day week mainly due to the lack of child care in the county, superintendent Richard Duncan said.

“The motivation is almost 100 percent concerns about child care and being able to (work with) parent’s schedules. We have a child care issue under normal circumstances,” he said.

Once school is back in session Duncan said they have the technology and the space they need to take temperatures and spread everybody out but the main concern is transportation.

“We’re a system where about 77 percent of our students ride a bus. We don’t know we can do social distancing at full capacity on buses. We can’t operate our schools without running our buses at full capacity. That’s our main focus now,” Duncan said.

Most students will eat lunch in their classrooms except for the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes.

For the older students who change classes, Duncan said they’re going to look at the schedule and see how they can change classes as little as possible which might mean transitioning to block scheduling for the high school.

“High school is a little bit harder. The further you go into high school, the less your schedule looks like others. We could probably group our ninth graders together,” he said.

No matter what the fall semester will look like in Roane County, Duncan said they will follow all guidelines from the health department.

Candice Black can be reached at cblack@newsandsentinel.com.


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