On Behalf of the Marshall County Board of Education Members and Superintendent:
On Friday, March 13, 2020, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice closed schools for an indefinite length of time as officials monitored the COVID-19 cases within the state and across the nation. On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, the Governor Justice announced his decision to close schools for the remainder of the school year to ensure the safety of our staff, students and community.
Although many of us knew this announcement was inevitable, it was still difficult to process. The emotions of students, staff and parents seem to run through waves as we mourn the loss of yearly school events, missing our students and the cancellation of the multiple rites of passage that occur through every child’s educational years.
We must remember school is not cancelled. The building doors are merely closed. Instead of being sad over the cancellation of an event, brainstorm ways to make it occur in some modified fashion. We are fortunate in Marshall County to have access to technology that can be used to process virtual celebrations, book studies, transition meetings, IEP meetings, video celebrations and slideshow awards days. Marshall County employees have displayed some very creative ways to maintain a connection to students including online story hours, zoom class science experiments, social distance parades, no contact porch deliveries and school tribute videos.
Teaching and learning will continue through the close of the school year; the school calendar will remain the same. Celebrations and transition meetings will continue.
They will just look a bit different than the face-to-face meetings we have had in the past.
As a community, we need to not be consumed with our loss of things we cannot control, and begin to think of ways we can create and modify. We need to come together to support our teachers who are working harder than ever to put lessons online. We need to support our parents who are trying to be teacher, parent and stay-at-home employee all at once. We need to support our service personnel who are taking online continuing education classes by using learning platforms that are new to them. We need to support our administrators who are making tough calls to maneuver through uncharted waters.
Throughout the past seven weeks, I have seen employees and community members step up to assist in ways that truly make me proud to be part of this school community. I often think of the words of Mr. Fred Rogers, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” In Marshall County we are surrounded by helpers and we need to continue to help one another as we continue through this journey of remote teaching and learning. Remember, school is not closed, just the building is closed.
Dr. Shelby Haines