By Bobby Bordelon\r\n\r\nThe Greenbrier County Board of Education got bleak, but expected, feedback of the first full semester of mixed remote and in-person learning for the county\u2019s middle and high schools on Thursday, February 25.\r\n\r\nThe Local School Improvement Council presentations showed a higher rate of class failure than in previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a mixed schedule. For example, 63 percent of all Greenbrier East High School freshmen are failing a class, with 87 students failing four classes.\r\n\r\nDespite this, as each school\u2019s principal noted, the county\u2019s middle and high schools are returning to a five-day-a-week schedule beginning March 1, per guidance from the West Virginia Department of Education. This offers some light at the end of the tunnel for the worried educators.\r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019m very proud of what all of our schools have gone through in the last year,\u201d said Board President Jeanie Wyatt. \u201cWe can see some failures going on, but hopefully with getting back we can take care of all of that and get our kids on the right track.\u201d\r\n\r\n---WGMS---\r\n\r\nWestern Greenbrier Middle School, explained Principal Marsha Podfiadlik, has 217 in-person and 72 remote students. As this school year has gone on, and the school has dealt with several COVID-19 shut downs, students seem to be struggling.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe trend was [that] the first nine weeks, they did really well with it,\u201d said Podfiadlik. \u201cThe second nine weeks was when the inconsistency started. That\u2019s when it started falling apart. \u2026 That was an overall trend for every content area.\u201d\r\n\r\nPodfiadlik explained that a common theme with in-person students is to have a majority either passing with flying colors or failing the class. For example, in sixth grade English grades, 41 percent of students have an A while 25 percent have an F. These rough numbers were consistent across grade levels.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s not a matter if they didn\u2019t understand it, they just simply did not turn it in,\u201d Podfiadlik said. \u201cThey work the two days they\u2019re in the building, we even took our time in flex to help students work on work they were missing, \u2026 in short of hitting that submit button for them, this was the result.\u201d\r\n\r\nHowever, in reaching out to parents of students with failing grades, many corrected quickly.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe parents are like \u2018I\u2019m so sorry, I\u2019ll take care of it,\u2019 then that student does turn in work the next week,\u201d Podfiadlik said. \u201cThere have been a lot of positives - just seeing the staff come together [has been encouraging].\u201d\r\n\r\n---EGMS---\r\n\r\nSimilar to WGMS, Eastern Greenbrier Middle School [EGMS] had difficulties in the first half of the year.\r\n\r\n\u201cOur failure rate is high, more than normal,\u201d said EGMS Principal Sue Lee. \u201cWe have contacted or attempted to contact every student, every remote student, that is failing a minimum of two classes, [both] parents and students, to work out ways to be successful. I\u2019m looking forward to this time because this will be their time to shine and turn it around for the school year.\u201d\r\n\r\nNoting that the school had approximately 600 in-person students, [Sue] hoped the third nine weeks, with more attvacation, would help student outcomes.\r\n\r\n\u201cI think sometimes the students really thought it was a vacation,\u201d Lee said. \u201cWe\u2019re looking forward to our students being back.\u201d\r\n\r\n---GWHS---\r\n\r\nAt Greenbrier West High School, Principal Amy Robertson explained the high schools faced an additional problem to the middle schools.\r\n\r\n\u201cI honestly think, unfortunately because of this pandemic, \u2026 school has been put on the backburner,\u201d said Robertson. \u201cMany of our older students have gotten jobs and so schoolwork is not important to them. I have told the staff this is going to be a monumental task to retrain their brains and not only get the students but the teachers to understand that education comes first.\u201d\r\n\r\nAlthough many students have failed classes in the first semester, GWHS offers credit recovery for a number of classes. A day was scheduled for counselors to meet with students and form a plan to graduate on time and sign up for these programs. Despite this, many of the students have not yet done so. This includes:\r\n\r\n- 64 students needing to recover a math credit, with 44 signed up for credit recovery.\r\n\r\n- 93 students needing to recover an English credit, with 44 signed up for credit recovery.\r\n\r\n- 102 students needing to recover a Science credit, with 51 signed up for credit recovery.\r\n\r\nThe possibility of larger classes sizes is also a concern, with [Luin] explaining the school has three core teachers for each core subject. The number of students needing to take specific classes again could pack classrooms.\r\n\r\nThere are success stories, however - seven GWHS students currently qualify for the PROMISE Scholarship. In addition, the return to school has [Luin] hopeful.\r\n\r\n\u201cOne of the things I\u2019m most proud of with our students is that we are all aware of how difficult this year has been and I have been overwhelmingly thrilled to death with how our students have been so resilient,\u201d Robertson said. \u201cWe have not had any issues with students not wearing their masks. They come to school, they want to be there. That has been very encouraging.\u201d\r\n\r\n---GEHS---\r\n\r\nFor the Greenbrier East High Schools\u2019s (GEHS) 330 remote and 368 in-person students, Principal Ben Routson explained \u201cthis presentation is definitely different than what we\u2019ve had in the past. I come to you today very concerned about our students.\u201d\r\n\r\n- Of the 239 seniors, 45 have failed a class needed to graduate. About half of those with an F are remote learners. Many of these students are entering credit recovery programs offered by GEHS. In addition, 55 students applied for the PROMISE Scholarship, with 14 that are eligible at this time. Russo explained that students who are not eligible could qualify if they improve their test scores.\r\n\r\n- In the junior class, 47 students have one F out of 226 total.\r\n\r\nThe numbers for sophomores and juniors look much bleaker:\r\n\r\n- Of the 256 sophomores, 77 have multiple failing grades. Of these, 32 are remote learners.\r\n\r\n- Approximately 63 percent of GEHS remote freshmen are failing a class, totaling 131 students, 47 of which are remote learners. In addition, 87 are failing \u201cat least\u201d four classes \u201ccurrently,\u201d 34 of which are remote learners.\r\n\r\nThe return to full-time in person classes offers some hope for improvement.\r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019ve been at Greenbrier East for a long time and it\u2019s a great school. It has been since I arrived,\u201d Routson said. \u201cI just can\u2019t say enough about the staff and the students.\u201d\r\n\r\nRoutson also noted the school\u2019s No Place for Hate pledge program, which has gathered over 800 signatures.\r\n\r\nThe presentations are expected to continue on March 4 with Greenbrier County Elementary Schools.