INWOOD, W.Va. — While coronavirus numbers continue to improve in West Virginia, some counties remain in the red category on the state Department of Health and Human Resources’ coronavirus map. High schools in those counties cannot have in-person instruction, and even when schools can reopen, the effects of students being out of the classroom may be overwhelming.

Musselman High School Principal Holly Kleppner said in places like Berkeley County, which moved down to the orange category this week, high school students have barely been in the classroom this academic year. She told MetroNews affiliate WEPM/WCST some students have stopped reporting to online classes, and it will take years for students to make up the lost academic progress.

“Our first semester grades just went out,” she said. “Thirty-five percent of our students had one ‘F’ or more. Parents are calling hourly, kids are calling hourly crying, wanting to come back.”
Kleppner noted one call, in which a parent expressed concerns about their student receiving two “D’s” on their report card.

“She said, ‘I just sat down and sobbed because we’ve never dealt with this before,’” Kleppner recalled. “He’s shutting down, and she can see that happening.”

Students are unhappy about not being classroom; Kleppner said students have taken full-time jobs because they have little hope about having in-person lessons.

Kleppner says with a hospital, the Martinsburg VA Medical Center, and the Eastern Regional Jail all within the county, there are outside factors that have been driving the county into the red designation week after week. She says she would prefer allowing students to come back to school and dealing with outbreaks on a school-by-school basis.

In-person lessons were supposed to begin Jan. 19 across the state. High schools located in counties that are red on the state coronavirus map cannot have face-to-face instruction. Berkeley County has more than 5,500 high school students.

You can hear the full interview with Principal Kleppner in a story posted on our WEPM&WCST The Panhandle Network Facebook page.