August 11, 2021
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) approved a limited waiver to WVBE Policy 2436.10 during its August meeting in Charleston today. The waiver of the 2.0 grade point average (GPA) eligibility requirement allows all students to practice with athletic teams, the band and club activities for the first nine weeks of the fall 2021 semester. The Board action provides children who may have faced increased challenges during COVID-19 interruptions last school year additional time to improve their academic standing.
Over the past 18 months, many students experienced school delays and inconsistent access to in-person instruction because of the pandemic. From the onset of the 2020-2021 school year, many counties struggled to offer consistent, in-person instruction because the state relied on transmission rates to determine if students could return physically to the school building. Likewise, students had limited access to athletics and extracurriculars for the same reason. Upon the return to full, five-day in-person learning in the spring, interruptions continued due to exposure to the virus and contact tracing. These unprecedented occurrences led many students to not only face academic losses but also social-emotional struggles as well.
“We do not see this limited waiver as an excuse for low academic performance, but instead an avenue for students to re-establish consistent engagement with their schools and benefit from the social-emotional, academic and extracurricular supports schools offer,” said WVBE President Miller Hall. “These children have had so much taken away from them, and it is important that we look for ways to keep them connected so they can learn and thrive.”
The limited waiver provides the following:
- All students’ grades will be evaluated after six weeks from the start of school. If the student has obtained a 2.0 GPA, and thus achieved academic eligibility, the student will then be permitted to participate in contests, performances and competitions. Students who have not obtained a 2.0 GPA will continue to be permitted to practice under this limited waiver until the nine-week evaluation.
- Additionally, students’ grades will be evaluated after nine weeks from the start of school. If the student has obtained a 2.0 GPA, and thus achieved academic eligibility, the student will then be permitted to participate in contests, performances and competitions. Students gaining full eligibility at six weeks must also maintain academic eligibility at the nine-week evaluation.
- The limited waiver does not extend past the nine-week evaluation point. Students who fail to become academically eligible at the nine-week evaluation point will not be permitted to continue practicing, and academic eligibility will thereafter be determined under the existing provisions of Policy 2436.10.During the summer months, county school leaders recounted the impact COVID-19 disruptions caused for students and families as schools had to move to remote learning depending on the color of the School Alert System Map. Wayne County, for example, reported only 12 in-person days during the first semester of school last year. This caused a significant void for many children.
“Our students and teachers are working hard to recover from the loss of instruction, engagement and time because it is all reflected in those indicators of child success that we watch so closely,” said State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “Returning to school this year will require we move forward collectively, cautiously and compassionately because the needs of our children will be significant as we address learning, social-emotional well-being and the need to acclimate to the ever-changing face of COVID-19.”
For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications at 304-558-2699 or by emailing Christy.firstname.lastname@example.org.