Many are aware the school system focused on “re-entry” during the first semester. As we begin the second semester our precision intensifies towards “recovery”. We recognize that our students, families, teachers, school staff and administration have had their lives, learning, and social emotional security impacted during the last 11 months. COVID-19 recovery efforts center around illuminating and addressing the regression or loss of skill experienced by some students due to missed or disrupted instructional opportunities. Interrupted instruction, interrupted attendance, interrupted engagement are all realities for our school population during this pandemic.
The Curriculum and Instruction Department has been working in collaboration with the Title 1 and Special Services Departments to plan instructional supports currently and for the summer that will help heal some of the learning gaps and regression concerns. The Curriculum and Instruction Department continues to offer homework help on Tuesday. Forty-six of our students are taking advantage of the Science Class CLUB Invention on Thursdays with Mrs. Suder. These afterschool opportunities have been popular and afford our students supports and enrichment outside of the school day.
Marion County learners have traditionally been attracted to academic competition opportunities. We are proud that this pandemic situation has not dampened our students desire to strive for academic excellence and engage in friendly competition. The WV Golden Horseshoe competition starts in February. Marion County 8th grade students in Cohort A and distance students will begin the competition on February 16, 2021. Cohort B is initiate the competition on February 18, 2021. The WV Young Writers Contest for grades 1-12 is also going on this month. Marion County students continue to display academic excellence in both of these competitions.
February is a month of exciting events. Marion County Schools proudly supports The American Heart Association for a “Healthy Heart” campaign during the month of February. Laura Laratta, a graduate of East Fairmont High School, and Tina Shaw, Marion County Chamber of Commerce presented a compassionate appeal to the Marion County Board of Education this month. Marion County Schools is participating in “Paint Marion County RED” in efforts to spread the word about heart healthy practices.
February is Black History Month. Creative and dedicated teachers across the county recognize this annual celebration of accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout history. Lessons from various content areas i.e. Music, Art, English, History reflect the many ways contributions of Black Americans are highlighted in classrooms across Marion County.
National School Counseling Week was February 1-5, 2021. Marion County Schools recognizes the valuable role our school counselors play in supporting students, families and school staff. School counselors are using various data pieces to assess needs in their own buildings. Physical mental health spaces are offered in most buildings, and many counselors also offer virtual calming spaces. In addition to addressing individual counseling needs, counselors are offering groups and guidance lessons through in-person classroom visits and through Google Classroom for distance learners. They are planning transition activities for students moving to the next programmatic level. High School counselors are trying to reach seniors to ensure opportunities for the Promise Scholarship and other scholarships and awards are possible by FAFSA completion. Counselors use letters, phone calls, LiveGrades and other means to reach out to students and families who are struggling or at-risk. They participate in Student Assistance Team meetings to problem-solve and make referrals to community agencies and resources. They support families by communicating topics such as how to talk to their child, stress relief, and anxiety. Counselors are providing support and resources for staff to address compassion fatigue and self-care. They coordinate with principals to train teachers in crisis response and provide training on mandatory reporting.
We continue to appreciate the collaborative efforts between Marion County Schools and Marion County Health Department. Our school nurses and LPN Aides have stepped up to the challenge of contact tracing, and providing a necessary presence at each school during this most challenging time. Our school nurses and LPN Aides have assisted in operating vaccine clinics throughout the community. Improved communication between our nursing staff, school staff and administration is certainly a positive outgrowth of this pandemic situation and has a significant role in recovery efforts.
School athletics have been impacted by cancellations. We recognize that our athletes use sports to help reduce stress, control anxiety and depression, earn college scholarships and build social connections. These losses should not be minimalized. Both winter and spring sports begin their return this month with the first day of practice for both high school and middle school starting February 8. The first date for the girls winter sports both from high school and middle school is March 3 and the boys follow with a start date of March 5. The start of spring sports practice for high school begins on March 15 with middle school starting March 22. The WVSSAC protocol for attendance is limited to parents, grandparents and immediate household members. The WVSSAC also reminds us that if our county is remote learning due to Covid related matters there can be no practices or contests until face to face and/or blended model resumes.
In-person instruction limited to the blended model continues to be implemented on a consistent basis while following the six key mitigations strategies: consistent and correct use of masks, hand hygiene and coughing /sneezing etiquette, social distancing to the largest extent, cleaning & disinfection, elimination of large gatherings, contact tracing in collaboration w/local health department. The entire community following the mitigation strategies will continue to support the reduction of the risks we face. Stay well, be safe.
Marion County Board of Education
1516 Mary Lou Retton Drive
Fairmont, WV 26554