CHARLES TOWN — The Jefferson County Board of Education decided Monday to keep its schools closed to continue remote learning for the rest of the school year as West Virginia attempts to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
The school system will continue its online instruction for students at home that began after Gov. Jim Justice closed schools statewide starting March 16. The school system will replace in-person interactions with staff, students and parents with online meetings and phone conference calls.
Superintendent Bondy Shay Gibson said the school system will continue a “nearly 100 percent virtual learning environment” the system implemented during the past two weeks during the coronavirus containment measures leaving students and teachers at home.
Students will continue to access lessons and communicate with their teachers over several remote channels and software platforms. “Staff will continue to conduct phone wellness checks, online tutoring sessions, and other services,” Gibson wrote. “That is the model we will maintain for the remainder of the semester.”
June 2 is the last day of instruction scheduled for students this school year.
The school board’s decision to keep the county’s physical school facilities closed follows a “stay-home” order Justice issued Monday that closes all “non-essential” businesses and activities indefinitely.
Gibson announced facilities closure in a written statement issued after a closed-door conference call with the school board. The building shutdown will affect nearly 9,000 students and more than 1,100 employees.
“We are hopeful that all the bold steps taken so far will save lives and shorten the time until we can get back to normal,” the superintendent offered.
Gibson acknowledged that school administrators were still working out details ranging from student graduations and academic credits to tutoring services and sports programs.
The National Guard will take over the distribution of free government meals to students during the classroom shutdown, Gibson said.
On Monday, the school system passed out 10,000 meals, enough to provide families receiving breakfasts and lunches for an additional week as the state military service members work out a food distribution plan for the rest of the year, she wrote.
The school system plans to post more information on its website about its next steps forward.
“There are many unanswered questions,” the superintendent added. “We know we don’t have all the answers right now and we thank you for your patience as we figure them out.”