Officials release additional details
ELKINS — On Wednesday, the Randolph County Board of Education released the following press statement:
“At the beginning of the school year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents in Randolph County were given three choices by Randolph County Schools. Students could attend in-person. Students could apply to be part of distance learning and attend classes online taught by Randolph County teachers. Or finally, students could apply to attend classes that are offered by West Virginia Virtual School.
“As Randolph County Schools moves into the second nine weeks grading period, county administrators are seeing some unfortunate trends. Over 1,000 students opted to participate in distance learning.
“‘The success rate for students in distance learning is low. While there are families who have embraced this option, the large majority of students are failing at least one class and many are failing more than one class,'” according to John Lawson, Randolph County School’s attendance and virtual school director.
“Students who failed classes after the first nine weeks grading period are required to return to in-person instruction.
“Elkins High School Principal Carla Lambert stated, ‘After the most recent grading period, Elkins High School, unfortunately, has several students who are expected to return to the in-person learning model after unsatisfactory report cards. Those students who fail a core course will have to be enrolled in the same course second semester to receive a credit, which will overload some of our second semester classes.’
“At their Nov. 17, 2020 meeting, the Randolph County Board of Education voted to end the distance learning program at the end of the first semester on Jan. 22, 2021. Students will only have the choice of attending school in-person or applying for West Virginia Virtual School.
“Another issue that is affecting student academic progress is the delay in delivery of purchased Chromebooks.
“In July, 2020 Randolph County Schools purchased a Chromebook for every student, as did many other school districts through the United States.
“‘An already limited supply of Chromebooks was hit with a major increase in demand,’ stated Randolph County Schools Technology Director Hilary Ramsey.
“Randolph County Schools has been told to expect their Chromebooks in January 2021. In the meantime, there are still opportunities for failing students to improve their grades.
“Superintendent Debra Schmidlen emphasized the importance of Wednesdays for all learners.
“‘Since school began, learning packets have been made available for pickup on Wednesdays for those distance learning students who do not have internet or a computer. Schools would also accept completed packets at this time.’
“In hopes of getting more completed packets turned in well before the end of the semester, and in hopes that some students can bring up their failing grades, Schmidlen said that all Randolph County Schools will be doing a learning packet drop off/pick up every Wednesday before Christmas break.
“‘In fact, we encourage all families to take advantage of every Wednesday and contact teachers for any assistance students may need on their assignments.’
“She also strongly encouraged parents to monitor their children’s grades and assignments.
“‘Assignments, projects, activities that are assigned by teachers have due dates, are graded and count toward final grades,’ says Schmidlen.”