BOE discusses options for school re-entry

Suzette Lowe
Blaine Hess and Bobbi Ferrell presented Carol Burch (center) with a plaque for her 43 years as executive secretary to the Assistant Superintendent.

The Jackson County Board of Education is one step closer to finalizing the plan for school re-entry on Sept. 8.

At the July 23 meeting, board members Bobbi Ferrell, Dan Barnette, Ben Mize, and Steve Chancey, with Jim Frazier appearing by phone, were presented four scenarios to consider. At its next meeting, the board hopes to make a final decision after consideration of feedback from parents and educators.

“The ultimate goal is for students to be in the classroom five days a week,” Jackson Superintendent Blaine Hess said. “But we realize that this health crisis is one that is unpredictable. We need to have contingency plans in place to best serve our students.”

In addition, a more detailed draft of re-entry protocols for the school year was presented. It focuses on health and wellness, instructional delivery, virtual school instruction, opening of school schedule and procedures for the cafeteria, busses, classrooms and other situations. This draft is subject to revision. (See infobox for specifics).

Hess has been working with various groups including administrative staff, principals, teachers, and parents to offer the best options.

With every scenario, virtual school is a possible choice for parents. An application for virtual school enrollment is posted on the board of education’s website. An IEP meeting will be conducted for special education students to discuss virtual school placement.

Hess said that two things must be strongly considered before a parent chooses virtual school.

“They must have reliable internet service,” he said. “That is a requirement. Secondly, they must realize that these courses are rigorous and require a lot of work and personal responsibility on the part of the student. Also, the parents and students who enroll must meet with our virtual school coordinator to discuss requirements and expectations.”

The enrollment deadline for virtual school is Aug. 31. Once school starts, the virtual students will have 14 days to decide to opt-out and return to the traditional classroom. After that 14-day deadline, the student must continue until the end of the semester.

The four re-entry models include:

• Five Day Physical Attendance - This is the traditional school setting with students attending five days a week.

• Two Day Physical Attendance - Students will be assigned a color based on the first letter of the last name. Each color will attend school on days designated for that color. If children in the same home have different last names, parents should contact their child’s principal to request that all their children attend on the same day. Remote learning will be provided by teachers on days students are not in attendance.

• One Day Physical Attendance - Students will be assigned a color based on the first letter of the last name. Each color will be assigned a day to attend school in person. The same suggestion as outlined in two-day attendance for children with different names in the same family should be followed. Remote learning will be provided.

• Zero Days Physical Attendance/Fully Remote Learning - This can only be enacted by a mandate from the governor requiring remote learning for all students.

The board also adopted a revised 2020-2021 school calendar. Due to a date set by the governor, teacher and other 20-day contract employees will return to work on Aug. 24 with the opening day for students being Sept. 8. The last day for students is targeted for June 8, 2021.

Board members also added five non-traditional instructional days to the calendar. These include Nov. 23-25 and Dec. 21-22. Students will be given assignments to complete but will not physically be in the classroom. Teachers will be required to work during those days.

The proposed calendar will be submitted to the State Superintendent of Schools for review and approval.

While the start of school and the year’s calendar were the main topics of the board’s nearly two-hour meeting, several employees and students were recognized at the beginning of the session.

Retirees who were honored included Carol Burch, executive secretary to the Assistant Superintendent with 43 years of service; Sally Laine, Kenna Elementary with 37 years; Ginger Mullins from Fairplain Elementary with 32 years; Rosalie Casto of Kenna Elementary with 41 years; and Pam Moore, speech-language pathologist at Ripley Elementary with 31 years.

Members of the state champion robotics team were also recognized for their achievements. Presented with certificates were Gabe Zuniga, Matt Bowlby, Colby Ferrell, Garrison Phillips, and Jarrett Lough (see page A5).

In other business, board members approved:

• Revised quote for 170 Ipads at a cost of $66,980 for second-grade students

• Bid by Coplin Health Systems and Reliant Drug Test Solutions for Federal DOT driver physicals and on-site collection of bus operator drug and alcohol testing respectively at a cost of $60 per test


• Retirements: Rebecca A. Sharp, itinerant physical education teacher, effective Aug. 31, 2020; Renee Swisher, special education teacher Ravenswood Middle, effective Dec. 21, 2020; Sherri A. Casto custodian IV Ripley High effective Sept. 30, 2020; Denise Blandford, kindergarten teacher Ripley Elementary effective Aug. 1, 2020; George H. Smith Jr., bus operator, effective Aug. 11, 2020

• Resignations: Jenna Schindler, fifth-grade teacher Ravenswood Grade; Chery Miller, early entrance testing; Daniel Shamblin, substitute bus operator; Jenna D. Inman-Bustle, substitute teacher

• Employments: Melissa Runion, cook III half-time Ripley Elementary; Patricia Ellison, custodian III Evans Elementary/Ripley Elementary; Matthew Smith, wrestling coach Ripley High; Hannah Lane, Title I teacher Ravenswood Grade; Christina M. Barker, Tammy Castle, Rebecca Davis, Barbara Donohew, Kristen Greene, Laura Hunter, Amanda Kerns, Catherine Nelson, Tammy Webb, Jessica West, substitute cooks

• Transfers: Joanna McKown, technology integration specialist to virtual school coordinator; Kristy D. Chambers, third-grade teacher Ravenswood Grade to principal Henry J. Kaiser; Jennifer Chapman, counselor Ripley High to Communities in Schools student specialist; Robin Corbin, itinerant counselor elementary to Communities in Schools student specialist

• Other: Student teachers from Aug. 31 to Dec. 10, 2020, from WVUP: Michael A. Hupp and Alexis Adkins (Gilmore Elementary), Victoria Allinder (Cottageville Elementary); Western Governors University: Cara Miller (Ravenswood Grade); Jason A. Arthur, Christopher J. Hughart, Andrew J. Rood, termination of employment substitute bus operators; Lisa S. Carnell, medical leave of absence through Jan. 31, 2021; Mary E. Hunt, change in transfer date to assistant principal Ravenswood High from July 15 to July 20, 2020; Extension of the summer maintenance program for us to five days through Aug. 7, 2020; extension of summer meal program through Aug. 28, 2020

Visit to access the proposed school calendar, virtual school enrollment form and re-entry protocol draft document.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Aug. 6 at the administration office.

Blaine Hess and Bobbi Ferrell presented Ginger Mullins (center) with a plaque honoring her 32 years of service as a teacher at Fairplain Elementary.