A special Mingo County Board of Education meeting to decide on a school reentry plan was held on Thursday, July 9.

Three hours of information and debate later, the board voted 3-2 to opt for a plan that would have students attending classes in-school for the first four days of the week and receiving their fifth day of instructional time virtually on Fridays.

Per the governor's announcement on Wednesday, July 8, all school systems across the state  are set to begin the 2020-21 school year on Sept. 8, and are required to have a plan for instruction time that includes all possible safety measures be in place before that date.

The board also considered another option that would have students attending school in person five days, with early dismissal each day to allow for teachers' lunch period and planning time, as well as to provide ample time for custodians to clean and sanitize both common areas and individual classrooms.

An additional option the board considered was to have a two-day rotation which would have some students attending the first two days, the remaining students the second two days, with virtual instruction being conducted three days for all students.

Due to the governor's mandate taking five-day virtual instruction only off the board, when asked what his recommendation would be for the other choices, Superintendent Don Spence said he would recommend the option of having students to attend in person four days with the one day of virtual instruction.

"Right now we really only have three choices ... I really think the four-day schedule gives the kids an opportunity to have more face-to-face learning and it also affords us an opportunity thoroughly clean the buildings, and, something I think is really important, is if we at some point have to go to complete virtual learning, that one day will allow our teachers to use their skills to effectively teach the virtual curriculum."

During his report, Transportation Director Joe Howard said, much like the buildings themselves, although adjustments will likely have to made to transporting students to and from school, plans for preventing the overcrowding of students on buses as well as ensuring the buses are cleaned and disinfected between runs have been put into place.

"The drivers are aware they are required to wear masks," he said. "So as far as I know right now we have things covered, but everybody also knows things can change from day to day and they need to be aware of that."

Pertaining to the cleaning and disinfecting of schools and buses, Maintenance Director William Hensley said 60 cordless 30 ounce disinfecting dispensers were purchased and will be used on the buses, with 60, 9 gallon corded dispensers having been purchased for use by custodians in the schools.

He said bottle dispensers were also purchased and will be available for teachers' use in every classroom.

Board member Sabrina Grace asked if the custodians will receive training on both the intensified cleaning procedures as well as on the use of the disinfecting agents being used in the dispensers.

Assistant Superintendent Johnny Branch said both the custodians and bus drivers will receive training.

"There are a lot of questions out there...I mean the public wants to know how are you going to clean and how are you going to disinfect," he said. "What we're planning to do is make a video available demonstrating the cleaning and disinfecting ... we want people to be as comfortable as possible with all the steps being taken to make everything as safe for everyone as we can."

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