New Kanawha County Superintendent looks at how to re-open schools

Education

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK-TV) — Once a student himself in the Kanawha County School District, and after 36 years of working in Kanawha county schools, Tom Williams now sits in the superintendent’s office.

“I’ve been a teacher, a high school counselor, a vice-principal, principal, deputy superintendent — I’ve worked my way up,” Williams said.

Wednesday was his first-day leading Kanawha county’s 68 schools and 25,000 students as he replaces former superintendent Ron Duerring who retired.

On his mind is how to re-open schools in the fall amidst the pandemic.

“School this fall won’t be the same just because of the pandemic, we’re looking at several different scenarios to safely bring our kids and staff back safe into the building,” he said.

The Kanawha County School District released a public survey, seeking the community’s input to assist them in preparation for re-entry.

Williams says the main concerns they’ve seen involve childcare and small children.

“With the spike in cases that we’ve seen, when things like that happen, then we have to readjust our plans so it’s been a little difficult coming up with,” he said.

He said he needs to be upfront and admit trying to socially distance 25,000 kids will be difficult. Still, Williams says the students need to be back in school this fall to get on with their lives.

“We’re thankful that we get to open in the fall,” he said. “Our kids need to be in school, our little ones need to learn how to read and do math, our older ones are getting ready to move on to two-year, four-year (colleges), military or right to work.”

Other priorities Williams says he will focus on during his tenure as superintendent include the Clendenin project and the Hoover project.

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