School re-entry forum proves popular among teachers and parents

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KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – You’ve heard of Ted Talks — but what about WV Ed talks?
“WV-Ed Talks” was established earlier this year as a new platform to get information, input and feedback from West Virginia teachers and parents.

There are more questions than answers when it comes to heading back to the classroom this fall.
Gov. Jim Justice has set a target start date of Sept. 8. As the question of a start date continues to create anxiety for both parents and teachers, they’re hoping to rely on each other to navigate a new type of learning.

On Monday, “WV-Ed Talks” and the West Virginia United Caucus hosted a school re-entry forum via Zoom for parents and teachers. This is the first of multiple forums and online workshops planned as interest in the initial forum surged on social media. In fact, more than 4,000 people marked that they were interested in the event on Facebook. The date for future sessions has not been decided yet.

“There is a lot of panic and a lot of anxiety from both parents and teachers,” Jenny Anderson with WV-Ed Talks said.

Panic on both sides, centered on questions about safety and social distancing inside of a classroom. As well as technology and internet connection if remote learning.

“We thought let’s bring those two groups together,” Anderson said. “We want to show that we are really unified, we really want the same thing — we want our kids to be safe and we also want them to have the best education possible right now during the pandemic.”

“There is still not really a clear plan,” Kanawha County teacher Jay O’Neal said. “The Department of Ed has released guidelines but it is really up to each county … So I think there are a lot of teachers and parents and students are just really unsure of what is going to happen and we’d feel a lot better if we had something more concrete.”

The goal for Monday’s forum is to get a better understanding of concerns and questions shared by both parents and teachers. They then hope to bring that list to state leaders in the coming weeks.

“I think we get pitted against each other a lot, but I think we all want the same thing,” O’Neal said. “We want their kids, our students to be safe.”

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