Superintendent: Uncertainty in Wise County Schools spring semester continues

Mike Still • Mar 20, 2020 at 8:30 AM

 WISE — Wise County’s school system is sharing in the uncertainty tied to almost daily changes in Virginia’s COVID-19 state of emergency.

That was the message to the county School Board from School Superintendent Greg Mullins at the board’s Tuesday meeting.

Mullins told board members that, while the state has not yet extended its two-week K-12 public school closing beyond March 27, division staff are still trying to plan for a range of contingencies with the state Department of Education.

Part of that planning includes the possibility of waiving the state Standards of Learning tests in the spring semester, Mullins said.

“We feel the possibility is high,” Mullions said, adding that state education officials are planning a federal waiver request for the tests because of the current health emergency.

Making up missed days under the school closings ordered last week by Gov. Ralph Northam is also being discussed between school districts and the state, Mullins said, adding that he expects the education department would be “very flexible” about waivers for making up days missed under the emergency declaration.

After information from the education department, Mullins said divisions are being advised to focus on review and retention of material covered in classes before Northam’s closing order.

While Northam’s order includes that school divisions use alternate methods to continue instruction while students remain home, Mullins said the board should be prepared in case the closing is extended. In that case, he said, state officials are also looking in flexibility on how to graduate seniors.

Mullins said that the county’s three high schools are expected to hold graduation exercises at the David J. Prior Convocation Center at UVA Wise on May 22-23. That could be affected depending on what college officials decide regarding on-campus public events then.

UVA Wise officials on Wednesday said that all on-campus public events through May 15 have been cancelled or postponed.

Mullins also recommended a moratorium on scheduled or requested field trips at least through March 27, and the board later denied several field trip requests for March.

“We are hopeful things will improve, but understand that these are real possibilities,” Mullins said. “There’s so much information coming in, it’s overwhelming.”

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