Charleston, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) will work with a network of partners as part of the state’s School Re-entry Advisory Council to assist the school system to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The council consists of state and national stakeholders who will develop resources and offer expertise critical to the recovery effort.
When Governor Jim Justice announced the initial closing of schools for in-person instruction on March 13, 2020, due to the pandemic, and for the duration of the school year on April 21, the WVDE and education leaders statewide knew that there would be substantial work ahead that would have to be done methodically, succinctly and quickly. The coming days and weeks will require not only developing guidance on how to open schools in the fall, but to also address the extenuating needs of children caused by or heightened by the pandemic.
“We are at a critical stage in the pandemic as we come to the close of the current school year, while also looking ahead to prepare for the re-entry and recovery of our schools,” said West Virginia Board of Education President Dave Perry. “The unprecedented circumstances require us to address the challenges, both known and unknown, because the pandemic has disrupted our lives and our institutions. Now we must focus on restoration and stabilization of public education as it is vital to our families, communities and to the state’s infrastructure.”
The Advisory Council will focus on nine key areas including instruction and learning; school finance; social/emotional wellness; career technical education; child nutrition; special education; school safety and facilities; extracurricular/extended activities; and technology. Partners will vet, review and inform the process that will be developed over the next three to six weeks.
“Our goal is to have resources for counties as they reopen and deal with the fallout of the school closure caused by the pandemic,” said State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “This crisis has revealed vulnerabilities in our system and created new challenges that cannot be ignored. Working with a network of diverse stakeholders provides a depth of critical understanding of the issues our schools will face. I value each perspective that these partners bring, and their involvement will ensure a robust plan.”
A brief orientation was held via teleconference on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. Future meetings will be held remotely as the council produces components of the comprehensive framework that will guide the culmination of resources for education leaders, teachers, school personnel, families and students. The re-entry plan will be the mechanism that not only drives and directs the effort, but it will also provide a direct and consistent approach for school system support next fall and into 2021.
To view the re-entry orientation document visit wvde.us/COVID19.
For more information and updates on the coronavirus in West Virginia, please visit coronavirus.wv.gov.