JCS to Include Virtual Learning this Fall

JCS to Include Virtual Learning this Fall
Posted on 05/11/2020
CHARLES TOWN, W.Va.– The Jefferson County Board of Education received an update during their regular meeting Monday regarding the safe reopening of schools in the fall. Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Dr. Bondy Shay Gibson highlighted the progress on the board’s initiative to continuously update the school system's technological infrastructure. Dr. Gibson said that initiative means families will have choices for how students receive instruction during the 2020-2021 school year. She said that those choices will include a full virtual learning option.
“It is important that the families of Jefferson County know that we have the technology and infrastructure to continue educating their children remotely if that’s what serves their families best,” Dr. Gibson said. “We will continue to follow the guidelines set forth by the CDC and WV DHHR. However, even should those change to allow on site education, we want our families to understand full time virtual learning will still be an option for Jefferson families to choose if that meets their needs.”
Dr. Gibson said the JCS Technology Department has enhanced the school system’s network and acquired additional equipment that makes virtual learning effective for anyone who chooses that as an option.
Jefferson County Board of Education Member Dr. Wendy Whitehair-Lochner, who works as an adjunct professor at Shepherd University in Teacher Preparation, said making virtual learning an option was a board priority even before the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“We were already looking at one-to-one devices, we were already looking at best practices like blended learning, so this is not a big stretch for the school system,” she said. “It [the pandemic] might have expedited it, but we are a nimble school system that has responded proactively to continue services for our students.”
All students in Jefferson County shifted to a remote learning model in March after West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced the closure of school buildings and facilities. JCS also piloted a virtual school program for middle school students two years ago. Dr. Whitehair-Lochner said these experiences have given JCS a firm foundation to meet future needs.   
“We expect each family will have a different level of comfort when schools reopen in the fall, and we have to honor that it will not be one-size-fits-all. That’s why it's so important that we work now to make sure everyone has access to quality instruction no matter what format they choose."
JCS uses Google Classrooms across all classes and grade levels to keep learning and instruction uniform and consistent. Teachers are also continuing to train on the best practices and tools available for virtual instruction. Instructional videos for families have also been created and archived on the JCS website. Administrators will continue to monitor the situation as plans are made for the coming school year, continuing to prioritize the safety of students and staff.

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