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Day 1 deemed a success in Randolph

Submitted photo French Creek Elementary School staff sends a welcoming message to returning students as schools across the state reopened for the 2020-2021 school year Tuesday, after the 2019-2020 school year was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ELKINS — Randolph County public school students returned to the classroom Tuesday and despite facing new challenges from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, officials said the first day of school was a success.

“We reached out to some of the schools and there hasn’t been any hiccups,” Randolph County Superintendent of Schools Debbie Schmidlen said Tuesday afternoon. “We are so glad to have the kids back in school.”

She said all the principals she spoke with said the day went extremely well and the teachers “seemed good to go.”

Returning students did face some new rules upon returning to the classrooms. Schmidlen said all students are required to wear a mask while on the bus and in school, and temperature checks were performed on all students as they entered into the buildings.

“We have masks on the school buses for the drivers to give to students without a mask,” she said. “We are providing students the opportunity to learn to navigate the schools while social distancing.”

The Inter-Mountain photo by Edgar Kelley A row of Randolph County Schools buses at Elkins High School wait for students Tuesday afternoon, as schools reopened across the state Tuesday.

Schmidlen said there are several signs placed throughout the buildings along with floor markings to help students maintain proper social distancing. Tables in the lunchrooms have also been separated. Hand sanitzer stations have been placed in the buildings. She said there was no push back from students or parents on the new measures.

“There have been no calls or complaints about the safety precautions,” she said.

Tygart Valley Middle/High School Principal Steve Wamsley said Tuesday went “really, really well.” He said the school made alterations to label the hallways as all “one way” passages, and adjusted student schedules to maintain social distancing in the hallways. The school also increased its lunch periods from two to four.

“Kids all wore masks,” he said. “Everyone was respectful and maintained their social distance. We were pleased how it all went.”

Wamsley said he spoke to the students as they went to lunch and told them, “The virus is the opponent and we are going to win this battle.’

He said there was no push back from students or parents on the new safety precautions.

“We did not have one student tell us they were not wearing a mask,” he said. “We are lucky to live in an area where students and parents are willing to come together to overcome something like this.”

Wamsley said at the end of the school day short staff meetings were held, and he noted there will be some minor tweaks to the schedule to allow for more cleaning after the lunch periods. He said the school has 460 students, with 100 of them partaking in distance learning.

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