Jefferson County Schools have entered a Stage 3 closure as of Monday, March 23, meaning a total shutdown of school campuses and no staff are to report to work. The county’s superintendent made the announcement on their website last week.
Officials say the decision for a total shutdown is, in large part, due to Jefferson County being the first county in West Virginia to see a confirmed case of coronavirus.
“We take the safety of our students, our staff and our community very seriously,” said Joyce White, Jefferson County Schools deputy superintendent for operations and acting director of safety. “So the fact that the first confirmed case was in fact in Jefferson County, we wanted to practice social distancing at its very highest level.”
But despite the total shutdown, White said they’ll still be doing everything they can to feed the district’s 9,000 enrolled students.
“We will use volunteers, and we still have the volunteers that will be able to see us through … [and] we want to reassure our families that we will be communicating with them,” she said.
White said, with the help from a community feeding program called Kidz Power Pacs, Jefferson County provided 500 families enough meals to last at least two and a half weeks during this closure.
White said meals will still be provided to any who stop by their pick up locations. They will also be delivering some meals.
“We’re doing everything we can to keep going for as long as we can safely do so. After that, we will partner with other local agencies, such as Homeland Security here in Jefferson County, in order to continue to make sure people get fed,” she said.
According to White, Jefferson County staff are still being paid during the Stage 3, total shutdown and have been offered telecommuting options to work from home.