Lewis BOE Votes 4-1 to Send Students to School 4 Days a Week

Joe Derico, Section Editor

The Lewis County Board of Education voted in a 4-1 decision on November 2 to send students to school 4-days a week. Board members Phyllis Hinterer, Mike Holden, Kenny Lowther, and Dave Bush voted to send students 4-days a week, with board member Jim Flesher dissenting.

Students at the elementary level returned to a four-day week last month, but RLBMS and LCHS were still operating on a 2-day school week.

Courtesy of LCBOE

The decision was made after board members heard discussion from staff members at Lewis County High School as well as Robert L. Bland Middle School and the elementary schools. Board members also heard presentations from parents, the transportation department, secretaries, aides, custodians, administrators, and cooks.

The meeting was conducted at RLBMS, but citizens could call in to hear or address the board remotely.

Those presenting cited the struggles of distance learning. Some offered data, research, and personal testimonials.

The consensus was that everyone wanted what was best for the students and staff.  Parents and school employees differed some on their concerns based on their perspective.

Most who spoke cited frustration from the pandemic.

Prior to the vote call, LCHS  Sophomore Wyatt Burns asked the BOE for permission to speak.

He told the BOE members that he was representing students and that they had not been represented in the meetings’ discussion. He encouraged the board to allow students to return to four-day a week instruction, noting that his teachers were doing their best, but that in-person instruction was more valuable than what could be provided virtually.

Burns said he wanted to make sure students had a voice in the decision.

“I wanted to speak up for the students who were not made aware of the important decision on their future, and most importantly the lack of student input to our elected officials. In our republic we need to use our voice or lose our voice,” Burns told The Blue & Grey following the meeting.

Dr. Robin Lewis, superintendent of schools, apologized for not having students represented and asked if any other students in attendance wanted an opportunity to speak.

Most who presented on behalf  of the schools urged the board to stay the current path, citing rising cases of COVID-19 in Lewis County and across the nation, inability to social distance with larger numbers, potential spread within the system with class changes, safety of students, parents, grandparents, and the community, and success of the current two-day schedule. Each person offered concerns based on his or her area of expertise. Most agreed that they wanted more in-person contact time, but when it could be implemented safely.

The parent delegations offered concerns about the 1:30 dismissal, lack of in-person teaching and consistency, need for more contact time/instruction 4-days a week, students falling behind, multiple distance learning forums for work submission, and technical difficulties.

The changes will take effect on Monday, November 16, and affect both Lewis County High School students and Robert L. Bland Middle School students.

Virtual students choosing to return for the second nine-weeks could start attending school Monday, November 9.