BUCKHANNON — The Upshur County Board of Education held their regular meeting Tuesday evening, but in a different fashion. Community members joined the virtual meeting via teleconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although face-to-face instruction and meetings have come to a halt, collaborative and constructive things are still happening in the B-U school system.
A.F. Wendling’s Foodservice Owner Chris Wendling thanked Upshur County Schools for all that they are doing for the community. The Wendling family generously donated $5,000 to the Upshur BOE to help them continue their efforts of feeding children during the school closure. Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus expressed tremendous gratitude for the donation.
The technology team has been very busy, especially recently, as they created a Wi-Fi point that will be available to all of Upshur County students in the parking lot of all nine schools. “This provides equity and access for all of our students,” explained Dr. Stankus. Therefore, if someone within the school community does not have access at home, they can drive into the parking lot of any Upshur County School and get connected.
Next Tuesday, they will be making multi-day meal deliveries to Upshur Schools. The BOE is encouraging anyone who is a restaurant owner and makes pizzas, to assist them in making around 2,000 for their students. This is a community wide effort and any restaurant or community member interested should contact the BOE. They feel this is a way to engage the community and stimulate some of Upshur County’s small businesses.
Director of Curriculum and Maintenance Tim Derico explained there is a silver lining to the school closures, because maintenance has been able to finish some issues and projects that they would’ve typically had to wait until summer to complete. He also explained they are just trying to help with the food delivery piece and making that more efficient for the students.
Some things approved during the meeting was the continuation of the one-to-one technology partnership with Apple. This will provide each student with an iPad/tablet. This type of technology reportedly has the potential to replace textbooks, which in return has the opportunity to even save money for the school, George Carver explained. Board member Kristi Wilkerson expressed that they are paying close attention to what is best for their students and if they realize the students prefer textbooks over the iPad, or whatever the situation may be, that they will adjust accordingly.
The Future Leaders Program through the National Guard was also approved. This program was formerly JROTC, however, Future Leaders is a more innovative, leader driven program. Dr. Stankus expressed she has received a lot of positive feedback regarding the upcoming program.
In reference to utilizing teleconference for a meeting alternative one board member stated, “I’ve lived long enough to go from no computers, to computers, to now this.”
The BOE was thankful that Mr. Oldaker and Dr. Stankus facilitated getting them online to communicate, while also being safe. They also wanted to thank the community, school employees and administration for stepping up and for getting the students fed.
The next meeting will be held Tuesday, April 14 at the BOE office and will likely be teleconferenced again.