Teachers, parents, students speak out about school reopening plans

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Some teachers, parents, and students are voicing their concerns about schools reopening in just a few short weeks.

A couple dozen gathered outside the education buildings on the capitol lawn while the West Virginia Board of Education met to discuss re-entry plans.

Members of the Our Students First Coalition met outside because they were not allowed inside because of the 25-person limit social distancing rules.

They stood six feet apart and pretended to be desks to visually show people how difficult it will be to social distance in small classrooms. 

“That’s 30 desks, 6 feet apart, I teach middle school, unless it’s choir or band or gym, none of our rooms are that big,” teacher Jay O’Neal said.

The group is pushing to get a message to Gov. Jim Justice and other representatives to start school remotely and then slowly phase in re-entry into school buildings as the virus begins to diminish.

“I know that there is a 25-person limit, and yet we will be reopening schools under inherently unsafe conditions and I’m deeply, deeply troubled by that,” teacher Amy Haden said.

Parents say there are ways to come up with remote learning techniques to accommodate all students.

“The counties really need to be creative, think harder, think out of the box and provide these services whether they are home services, whether they’re study groups,” parent Jenny Anderson said.

Advocates say the plans made up by Justice have not included teachers and parents.

Justice says he and the state superintendent of public schools have been listening to both.

Members have sent more than 1,700 emails and messages to the Justice and the board. They’re hoping Justice will change his mind about in-person classes.

Justice is supposed to make a final decision on Sept. 1 on whether school will open on Sept. 8.

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