Announcements / Events
Week of September 21-25
Attention Parents:If Mercer County is “GOLD” on the state’s metric map at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 19, 2020, ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY students will follow the Blended Model B schedule (50% of the students attend each day). Since middle and high schools were on this schedule already, we will follow the alphabetical break-down by the last names they are on so siblings can attend on the same days. On the days students remain home, their teachers will provide assignments via Schoology. The schedule will be as follows for both elementary and secondary students:Date: Last Name:Monday 9/21: L-ZTuesday 9/22: A-KWed. 9/23: L-ZThursday 9/24: A-KFriday 9/25: L-ZIn the GOLD category, students in grades 3-12 must wear masks at all times.PLEASE NOTE: If we remain in YELLOW, all elementary students will attend five days a week just as we did this week. Secondary students will still attend every other day starting with last names L-Z on Monday.
Mercer County Schools will send out a Messenger call on Saturday evening to confirm next week’s plan.
Important Dates on the Modified Calendar for 2020-2021 School Year
There are no 2-hour early dismissals this school year
*Social Studies Fair, Science Fair, Math Field Day, Spelling Bee, and other group events will be announced as we receive information.
- October 16, 2020: NT Day (Non-Traditional Day)-staff report, students stay home and complete remote assignments. This is considered an instructional day
- November 3, 2020: Election Day-No School
- November 11, 2020: Veteran’s Day-No School
- November 26-27: Fall Break-No School. November 25th has been converted to an instructional day
- December 23, 2020: NT Day-staff report, students stay home and complete remote assignments. This is considered an instructional day.
- December 24-January 1st: Winter Break-No School
- January 18, 2021: MLK Day-No School
- January 20, 2021: End of First Semester
- February 26, 2021: NT Day-staff report, students stay home and complete remote assignments. This is considered an instructional day.
- April 2nd & 5th: OS Days (may be taken for snow)
- April 23, 2021: NT Day-staff report, students stay home and complete remote assignments. This is considered an instructional day.
- May 21, 2021: NT Day-staff report, students stay home and complete remote assignments. This is considered an instructional day.
- May 28, 2021: Students’ Last Day
- May 31, 2021: Memorial Day-No School
- June 1, 2021: Teacher Workday-closing of school
- June 1-30, 2021: OS Days (if taken for snow)
Dis-enrolling from Virtual School
Attention Virtual Students/Parents: If after the first few days you have decided you do not want your child to participate in virtual school and wish to re-enroll them in in-person school, you may do so up until Friday, September 25, 2020. After that, your child must wait until the end of the grading period to re-enroll, and the school must be given a week's notice. The date schools must be notified in this instance is October 26, 2020.
Virtual School StudentsThe Mercer County Virtual Student Orientation is now available on the Mercer County Public Schools webpage. Please visit the following link to view the orientation: https://tinyurl.com/mcpsvirtualorientationA reminder that courses will not begin until September 8, 2020; however, students may begin learning to log-in to the computer and https://wvlearns.k12.wv.us/d2l/home with their school email and password to be ready for coursework.Your local school facilitators will be in touch soon!
School Re-opening FAQ’s
Q: Why are we going back to the school buildings?
A: Mercer County Schools has been charged with opening schools for the 2020-2021 school year. Health and safety guidelines from the WVDE and WVDHHR are throughout our reopening plan. Going 100% remote is not an option for Mercer County due to the number of students who do not have internet access at home, therefore a 100% remote model would be reserved for an uncontrolled outbreak of the pandemic in our area and a directive to do so from the governor.
Q: Why are the days shortened?
A: The first reason is so custodial staff have ample time to deep clean the buildings.
The second is bus transportation. There are limitations to the number of students who can ride a bus. The shortened days and staggered start and ending times between elementary, middle, and high schools allows for more bus runs which means buses aren’t as crowded.
The third reason is it allows us to have smaller class sizes in the school buildings. During a normal day, teachers have a planning period and a duty-free lunch period in between teaching students. In both models, teachers’ planning periods and duty-free lunches are outside of the students’ instructional day. Therefore, that gives us more teachers to put into the classes which reduces class size.
Q: Why is there such a limited drop off time in the mornings?
A: On a normal day, some buses drop students off over an hour before the instructional day begins. Students would congregate in cafeterias and gyms until it was time to go to the classroom. We can no longer have large groups of students congregating. When students arrive at school, they go directly to their classroom.
Some schools will not start the instructional day exactly on time due to the sheer numbers of students and staff having to monitor hallways to keep kids moving, and that is understood. Some slight adjustments may be made after the school year starts.
Parents and buses may not drop students off until the documented time because we must ensure all teachers are present to receive their students and, in some cases, state mandated planning periods and duty-free lunches are at the beginning of the day.
Q: What about working parents who have students at multiple schools with different drop off times?
A: We understand this is a hardship for many. Mercer County Schools are bound to the guidelines provided by the WVDE and WVDHHR. We must try to keep class sizes smaller, create less crowding on buses, and follow rigorous cleaning protocol. As soon as the risk of Covid-19 is at a level where public health officials and the WVDE feel is manageable, we will go back to a normal schedule.
If your children are attending in-district schools, our school buses are always an option.
Q: I have a child in elementary and a child in middle school. How will they get to school on the bus since the start times are different?
A: Your elementary child will need to be at the bus stop earlier, and your middle school child later. Again, this is to maintain social distancing as much as possible on the bus.
Q: Why does my child have to wear a mask or face covering?
A: The CDC says one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of Covid-19 is the wearing of face coverings. The CDC and WVDE requirement is that masks or face coverings are required when social distancing cannot be maintained or if students are outside their regular classroom and/or cohort. In elementary school, students will be with their class and teacher the entire day. Resource teachers will either come to them or conduct class via video conferencing. In middle and high school, student schedules are being arranged to keep groups together as much as possible. While students are in their own classrooms, they will not have to wear a mask. However, if they are not in their cohort group, they will be required to wear a mask. If they are moving throughout hallways or in the restrooms, they will be required to wear a mask. Masks will also be required on school buses. If there is a documented medical reason why a student cannot wear a mask, they will be exempt.
Q: Is there a virtual option?
A: Yes. The West Virginia Virtual School is available through the WVDE. Students who choose this option will be assigned to a teacher hired by the WVDE. There may be some instances that a student’s virtual teacher is a Mercer County teacher, but sufficient enrollment for a full class would be necessary first. Students of the West Virginia Virtual School are still considered public school students and can participate in extra-curricular activities within their district school. Students may return to the regular school setting with a one week notice before a grading period ends (9 weeks). The link to sign up for virtual school is: https://tinyurl.com/virtualschoolapplication
Q: Will the school bus drop my child off at daycare after school?
A: We are continuing to work on arranging transportation to daycares that are within the school’s attendance area. We will not be able to complete the process until we get firm numbers on the occupancy of the buses.
Information on Virtual School Option
The school year will begin for students on September 8, 2020. Mercer County Schools could operate on any of the three following schedules. The model chosen will depend on the metrics provided by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services regarding Covid-19 and will be communicated prior to September 8, 2020.
- Blended Model A – Students attend school 5 days per week on an amended schedule. Out of school homework/practice will be a requirement each day.
- Blended Model B – Students attend school alternate days on an amended schedule. Students are divided alphabetically. Students complete work/assignments at home on days they are not in school. Teacher communicates regularly with assignments and activities are graded.
- Remote learning – Students attend school remotely 5 days per week with teacher communicating regularly with assignments and activities are graded. This option is only if the governor closes schools, or if a particular school must close because of an outbreak.
A 100% Virtual Option:
Mercer County Schools understands that some parents may feel apprehensive about sending their children back to school while there is no vaccine for Covid-19. Many students and family members have underlying medical conditions that make physically attending traditional school impossible at this time. In order to accommodate these students and their families, Mercer County Schools offers a virtual option through West Virginia Virtual Schools (WVVS). This option is available for all Mercer County students in grades kindergarten through 12. Teachers will be assigned through the West Virginia Virtual School and may not be a teacher at the district school; however, the district school remains a point of contact for report cards, scheduling, and school-related services.
For a student to be eligible for the virtual option, the student must be enrolled as a Mercer County Schools student in grades kindergarten through 12, or they are homeschooled/non-public school students in the same grades, and must have reliable Internet access at home. Mercer County Schools will provide virtual students with a device (iPad, tablet, laptop, etc.) to access their assignments. Students may transfer to the virtual education program at any time during the school year. Students may also transition back to the traditional school setting with one (1) week notice before the grading period ends. The Mercer County Schools Virtual Education Program policy (Policy I-15) may be viewed on the Mercer County School’s website. Any parent choosing this option must fill out an application by August 7, 2020.
If you have any questions about virtual school, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The online virtual school application can be accessed at: https://tinyurl.com/virtualschoolapplication.
Please review recently asked questions and answers concerning Virtual Learning
Q: Does my child actually have a teacher?
A: Yes, a teacher is assigned through the West Virginia Virtual School, and you may contact this teacher with questions and concerns with the course.
Q: Will this teacher be a Mercer County Teacher?
A: At this time, we do not have Mercer County Teachers assigned to the West Virginia Virtual School platform.
Q: Do I need to pick a virtual school provider?
A: West Virginia Virtual School encompasses many providers. You do not need to select a provider listed on their website.
Q: Where can I see the West Virginia Virtual School course catalog?
A: The catalog can be viewed at https://wveis.k12.wv.us/vschool/courses/coursecatalog.cfm. Please be aware that courses for Grades K-2 are being updated, and complete offerings may not be listed this time.
Q: My child is in elementary school. What do I list for courses?
A: Elementary students will take a prescribed schedule of courses. For students who will be full-time virtual students in grades K-5, you can list “grade level courses”.
Q: What is meant by IEP and 504?
A: IEP stands for Individualized Education Program and means that your child currently receives services through special education. A 504 plan is a plan developed between the parents/guardians and the school to ensure that students with disabilities receive accommodations. If you are unsure, your child’s academic record will indicate that an IEP or 504 is in place.
Q: What are some challenges my student may have in a virtual program?
A: Students may need support staying organized or maintaining a schedule to complete assignments. Time management is essential. Course guides and timelines will be available in each course, and parents/learning coaches will need to help students check and maintain progress. Teachers will also communicate concerns with the family.
Q: What are some positive changes I may see as a result of my child being involved in the virtual program?
A: Students have an opportunity to develop organization and time-management skills, develop a sense of responsibility, and take charge of their own learning.
Q: What happens if we have technical issues?
A: Mercer County Schools will provide a device for each student. Internet service is the responsibility of the family. The assigned teacher will be available for initial support and issues within the platform. For device issues, you will have access to support from the district school and Mercer County Schools Technology Department.
Q: What if I do not know my student’s email address?
A: You can place the parent’s email address in this section for now. The student email/password can be obtained when employees are back in the school buildings.
Q: What about special education students?
A: The teacher will be made aware of the accommodations that your child currently receives and be made aware of IEP updates. The IEP team will still be involved at the district level.
Q: What if my child begins the virtual education program and we discover that this option is not suitable for them?
A: Students will have the option to transition back to the traditional form of school at the start of a new grading period. We ask that parents/guardians contact the school one (1) week prior to the start of a new grading period to make the necessary schedule changes to transition back to the traditional form of school.
Q: Does my child have to log in at a specific time?
A: No, there is not a specific time or day that your child must be online. However, it is important that you and your child communicate often with your child’s teachers.
Q: Can my child work on the weekends?
A: Yes. One of the benefits of taking online classes is that students can work during non-traditional school hours such as evenings and weekends.
Q: What is the difference between virtual school and homeschool?
A: Virtual school provides the curriculum, access to a licensed teacher, and device. Virtual school also preserves a student’s special education status or 504 plan. Parents have the option to homeschool by providing a notice of intent with the student’s name, grade, physical address, assurance of assessment, and a credential of at minimum a high school diploma/GED. When homeschool is the selected option, parents must facilitate or create a curriculum, and students do not receive special education services/maintain their 504 plan. It is the parent’s responsibility to maintain the assessment requirements set forth in West Virginia Code §18-8-1 and Mercer County Schools Policy J-03.
Comcast/Xfinity has extended an offer for 60 days of free home Internet for new eligible customers (800-266-2278). Additionally, Comcast is extending free access to their public Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots to anyone who needs them, including non-customers, through the end of 2020. A map of their hotspots can be found at https://wifi.xfinity.com/.
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM LSIC Meeting (High Schools) 6:00/BOE Meeting 7:00 MCTEC
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM Public Hearing on CEFP 10 year Plan MCTEC 6:00
September 29, 2020
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM LSIC Meeting (Middle Schools) 6:00 MCTEC
October 6, 2020
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM LSIC Meeting (Grades 3-5) 6:00 pm MCTEC (via Teams)
October 12, 2020
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM New Teacher Seminar, MCTEC Seminar Center (possibly via Teams)
October 13, 2020
October 27, 2020
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM BOE Meeting, 7:00 pm, MCTEC