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Wood County BOE maintains current re-entry plan

Wood County Schools Superintendent Will Hosaflook speaks Wednesday during a special meeting of the Wood County Schools Board of Education. (Photo by Tyler Bennett)

PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Schools Board of Education held a special meeting Wednesday to discuss the re-entry plan for Wood County schools.

The board voted 4-1 to make no changes in the current plan but will revisit it at the board’s meeting on Oct. 27.

The vote followed a previous motion to allow Wood County elementary schools to move to four days in-person, while still allowing parents to keep their students on a blended model.

The elementary schools currently use the cohorts system, which means they can have lunch in their classroom or go outside with their class because their classmates and teachers are the only people they would interact with for most of the day. The system is unable to work at the high school level due to students going to different classrooms and going to the cafeteria.

“I think that if that would have passed maybe there would have been more motions for the secondary, but for elementary schools, we are fully capable of handling the cohorts to properly social distance and follow the CDC guidelines,” Hosaflook said. “So that was the vote tonight. It was a four-day model. It was going to give the parents a choice of a two-day schedule or all four days and the teachers would have remote learning,” he said. “I take my directives from the board like I was given tonight and I’ll have some metrics. We’ll put some metrics together and at the next board meeting and of course, they can make motions and make a decision at that.”

With over 300 watching the meeting on Zoom, the board heard 14 speakers from both sides give their case, from Wood County teachers to parents.

Parkersburg High School math teacher Bret Powner said current classrooms in the school are too small to fully follow the guidelines with a full return. Powner gave an example to the board stating that if the board’s meeting room was cut in half and had full capacity, that’s what a normal classroom looks like and that students will be all over each other.

PHS junior Ryan Province said while some students are struggling with using the blended format program, she stated that the struggle is similar to what she and her classmates went through going from each grade.

“These are all huge adjustments and of course it’s going to be hard to make that adjustment at first but we have not been going through that transition process for a long enough time to say that it will be completely detrimental to our education at large or in the long run,” Province said.

Comments from the side that wants a return to a four- or five-day model included some from former Wood County teachers and parents of current students. Among those were Kasey Brookover and Lisa Eckel. Eckel believes that return is best not only for learning but for social gain as well.

“Please help our children get the education that they deserve. Let’s set a good example for these students. Let’s all help each other out and prove to these students. This virus has already taken so much of them who can’t give up on them, they need an education.”

The board also heard from Eric Walker, director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, who stated that a return can be done, but he advised the board to stay with the current plan.

You can contact Tyler Bennett at tbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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