By Liz Beavers

Tribune Managing Editor

KEYSER - Schools in West Virginia may not be scheduled to open until Sept. 8 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but if that start date remains in effect, Mineral County students may still be able to finish up at the regular time in 2021.

Superintendent of schools Troy Ravenscroft presented a revised 2020-2021 calendar to the board of education Tuesday, explaining that the current unique COVID-related circumstances have resulted in the counties having more flexibility with the calendar.

"The state has allowed us to be extremely creative with how we formulate the calendar," he said.

Originally, teachers were to return to school on AUg. 17 and students were to be back in the classroom on Aug. 21.

Gov. Jim Justice, however, has pushed the first day for students back to Sept. 8 due to ongoing concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the current revised edition, teachers would start two weeks earlier than the students so they would have time "to train and get ready for Sept. 8," Ravenscroft said.

Students would still have Thanksgiving Week off, but they would be designated "OS," or "Out of School" days.

Students would, however, lose their spring break, previously scheduled as OS days April 2-9.

As for snow days, Ravenscroft said the county is now prepared to "turn any snow day into a virtual learning day" for the students.

"Graduation dates will not change, and students should still get out around June 2," he said.

"I tried as much as I could to make it the same" as the previously approved calendar, he added.

One thing he was not able to do, however, was keep the semester break at Christmas - a new arrangement which had previously been approved by the board.

"We worked so hard to make the semester change at Christmas, but we just could not do it," he said, adding that the updated calendar is "pretty much a traditional calendar" with the exception of the late start date.

Of course, what form instruction might take once school starts back up is still unknown. Last week Ravenscroft posted a survey asking parents which type of schooling they would prefer for their children - in-person in a classroom setting, virtually at home, or a combination of the two.

The results of that survey, which was also extended to staff members, should be available soon.