Mercer County considers options for reopening in the Fall

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PRINCETON, WV (WVNS) — The Mercer County School Board released information about how the school year will be conducted in 2020-2021. The first day of school is planned for Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. Students will go into schools once that first week for orientation. Schools will operate on a 25 percent capacity that first week.

According to a release on their Facebook page, schools could operate on any of three schedules.

  • Blended Model A – Students attend school five days per week on an amended schedule. Out of school homework/practice will be a requirement each day.
  • Blended Model B – Students attend school alternate days on an amended schedule. Students are divided alphabetically. Students complete work/assignments at home on days they are not in school. Teacher communicates regularly with assignments and activities are graded.
  • Remote learning – Students attend school remotely five days per week with teacher communicating regularly with assignments and activities are graded. This option is only if the governor closes schools, or if a particular school must close because of an outbreak.

Deborah Akers, Superintendent for Mercer County Public Schools, said they are looking at considering both Models A or B for in-person education. Akers said they do plan to consider models for different grades.

“Those options may be K-12 with the same model, or we have in the plan that we could make the decision that we would use, for example, model 1 for the elementary and model 2 for the secondary schools,” Akers said.

Akers told 59 News the board will make the final decision two weeks prior to the September 8, 2020 start date. She said they will be monitoring COVID-19 cases in the area.

“Numbers are constantly changing in the number of cases that we have. We don’t want to make a firm decision now because those numbers could be higher and hopefully they will be much lower,” Akers said.

A 100-percent virtual option is available for parents. It is offered for all Mercer County students from Kindergarten to 12th Grade. Instruction will be handled through West Virginia Virtual School (WVVS). Teachers will be assigned through WVVS and may not be a teacher at the district school; however, the district school will still handle report cards, scheduling and school related services.

To be eligible for virtual school, students must be enrolled as a student in Mercer County or be home-schooled. They must also have reliable internet access at home. Virtual students will be provided with a device to access their assignments. This could be an iPad, tablet, laptop or another device. Questions should be directed to mercercountyvirtualschool@groups.k12.wv.us.

The Virtual Education policy is available at the Mercer County schools website. Parents must fill out an application by Aug. 7, 2020 if they want to use this option.

Transfers to virtual schooling are possible at any time during the school year. Going from virtual to traditional is also possible with one week notice before the grading period ends.

Comcast/Xfinity has extended an offer for 60 days of free home Internet for new eligible customers (800-266-2278). Additionally, Comcast is extending free access to their public Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots to anyone who needs them, including non-customers, through the end of 2020.

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