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Educators and parents calling for school reopening plan

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia parents and educators from across the Mountain State have joined together to present a plan they want to get their children back to school this fall.

“That’s one thing Superintendent Burch has said – is we need to look at what’s best for our kids. Not Ohio’s kids, not Kentucky’s kids,” said Jenny Anderson, one of the key organizers of “Our Students First – West Virginia.”

Our Students First” is a new organization made up of both educators and parents discussing concerns and solutions to reopening school this fall.

“Right now, parents and teachers are more aligned than they ever have been,” Anderson said.

In a virtual workshop held Friday night, educators and teachers from different counties across the Mountain State brain-stormed what they think is the best plan.

“These are the top things that both educators and parents want to see happen,” Anderson said. “We are really concerned about starting in person at all. We feel that is not the best strategy. And we’re okay with it being a county by county decision but we know the Governor is the only one that can mandate total remote or virtual learning.”

There is a difference between “virtual” and “remote” learning.

To put it simply: “virtual” is an already created course with a West Virginia teacher. “Remote” is still online – but you have your teacher.

“If you were scheduled to have Mrs. Smith in the 2020-2021 school year, you would have Mrs. Smith in that remote situation. You won’t have that with virtual,” Anderson said.

In addition to working remotely, the group is urging education boards in every county to think outside the box when it comes to helping kids who might not have access to resources other children have.

“Look at libraries and community centers and places like that,” she said. “They could use substitute teachers or retired teachers to really educate the kids that are the most vulnerable and don’t have internet … in those buildings … and it would be groups of 10 or less, instead of 20 or less.”

The group’s mission is to work with education boards to create the best upcoming school year for West Virginia kids.

“Instead of just what happened last year,” Anderson said. “I mean the teachers did a great job. The counties did a great job. But that was an emergency situation. Now, we have the opportunity to not make it an emergency, but to make it something well thought out.”

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