Parents, students offered support during teacher strike

by Kate Evans
As schools entered their eighth day of closure Monday over a work stoppage by teachers and service personnel, school administrators and social workers discussed efforts to provide academic, emotional and other support for students.
Intermediate school
Warm Springs Intermediate School Principal Dudley Cable said that when they prepare for inclement weather school closings there are usually paper snow day packets sent home with students to cover a day or two of lessons.  During an extended school closure of this magnitude, kids are encouraged to log onto their school accounts and work on whatever lessons their teachers have assigned or to work on different subjects online.
When kids return to school after the strike ends, school officials, social workers and counselors will be watching for individual students that may have more difficulties getting re-acclimated to school, Cable said.
Widmyer Elementary
Widmyer Elementary Principal Rhett Beckman said some teachers have posted videos and lessons on social media and apps to keep kids engaged.  Teachers have also been sending e-mails and contacting parents to let kids and families know they miss them and giving ideas of things that parents can be working on with their children to keep kids engaged.
All Widmyer students have access to Dreambox internet-based programs for math and Lexia reading that they can also log into onto their computers, phones or tablets at home, Beckman said.  Parents are  being encouraged to continue reading with their kids.
Beckman noted that there will be a huge push once school is back in session to recoup those lost instructional days and to get students ready for spring testing. Widmyer’s testing is closer to the end of school so they’re not under the same deadline as other schools to get students ready for exams.
High school
Berkeley Springs High School Principal Mitch Nida was looking at online credit recovery work and online course work on Monday to make sure students were keeping up with the course work.
Nida said he’s also contacted  Advanced Placement (AP) course teachers and dual credit course teachers who have messaged their students to make sure they stay on course as those AP and college test dates don’t change.  The high school also posted on their website and Facebook page for students to check their e-mail and Engrade for messages about class work.
The high school has IXL Math and Khan Academy for students to continue their lessons while school is out, he said.  Khan Academy is used to prepare juniors for the online SAT test. The school leadership team that consists of administrators and counselors is reviewing plans for school to resume and to address any individual students needing special help.
Social workers
Hannah Stewart, lead Morgan County Schools social worker, said school social workers met Monday morning to gather a list of students to call and check on. Social workers did some home visits and are contacting and checking on kids.
School social workers also delivered food bags to students and families and gathered more than $600 in donations to provide scholarships for the Boys and Girls Club’s Morgan County unit to help kids have food and a safe place to go during
the work stoppage, Stewart said.
School social workers Heather Klockmann and Jami Cross said they delivered food bags and checked on around 10 students and families in Paw Paw last Thursday during home visits.
Klockmann said they also reached out to high school alternative education coordinator Mike Wilder to see if any of his students needed a visit or food.  The Morgan County Backpack Program Facebook page has also been arranging food pickups every day or every other day for students that receive food bags.
Cross said they’ve received a lot of positive feedback from the families visited who depend on schools for food and support for their kids.  Kids said they were looking forward to coming back to school and being with their friends.
Klockmann said they’ve been working together with other community agencies and resources to help children and families during the strike. They felt fortunate that they know the community well enough to ask if they could just drop off food to a family or tell parents they could take their kids to the Boys and Girls Club.
Boys & Girls Club
Sandy Mellott, Boys and Girls Club Education Program Coordinator, said the Boys and Girls Club has been open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. so far during the strike.  They’ve served an average of 20 kids each day but had had only 12 children on Monday.  Mellott said several teachers from Berkeley County volunteered last week at the club.
The $600 in donations the club received came mostly from teachers and school staff and is being used for limited scholarships for needy families so they can bring their kids to the club, Mellott said.  The club can be reached at 304-258-6741 for more information.
Their staff is unsure how long the Boys and Girls Club can continue to remain open the extended hours if the strike continues. It depends on the number of kids that attend and continued donations, Mellott noted.