Teachers react to in-person classes after holidays


KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – Thanksgiving is just around the corner – and a time that’s usually a relief for families is now a cause for concern.

Students and faculty had expected to return to the classroom after the holiday. But on Friday, Governor Jim Justice said students will be on remote learning until after Thanksgiving.

“We just think it would be safest for everybody if they made the call and we were remote until the beginning of January,” said Jay O’Neal, 8th-grade teacher at West Side Middle School.

Teachers at West Side Middle School said their main concern was that kids traveling would be potentially exposed to the virus, then bring it back and spread it to their classmates and faculty. They said coming back to in-person classes in the first place was never a good idea.

West Side Middle hasn’t had to close for contact tracing just yet, like many other schools in Kanawha County. But, living in fear of doing so has many on edge.

“There’s a lack of stability. There’s a lack of stability for staff and we don’t know what’s going to happen from day to day,” said 8th-grade teacher Kristy Peters.

O’Neal said there’s already concern before the Thanksgiving holiday even begins about the safety of the classroom.

“This is a list of kids that we have to disperse to other rooms because we don’t have enough subs. So, when we do that, it also raises the class size which means social distancing is more difficult. It’s just a real headache right now,” he said.

Teachers are hoping their plea will be heard by state leaders.

“We live in a state where a lot of our kids are raised by their grandparents, great aunts, and extended family members. We’re really putting lives in danger,” Peters exclaimed.

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