The pandemic poses new challenges for brick and mortar model for schools


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — After months of struggling with online technology in the classroom, an eastern panhandle parent is taking the lead in helping Berkeley County schools step up their game.

Margaret Fox-Zeigler is the parent of two honors students in Berkeley County schools. When the pandemic hit she understood the need for virtual learning, knowing that classes like woodshop and activities like band could not necessarily be conducted effectively online. Her daughter is in band and her son is a student of robotics. After the first few months, her patience grew thin with the challenges of online instruction. As a systems engineer in the financial services industry herself, she took a leadership role to get the school system to step up its game.

“Sitting there and putting your head in the sand and saying we’re always going to go back to brick and mortar, it’s not possible,” says Fox-Zeigler. “You have to embrace technology.”

And with her leadership role as an information system professional in the private sector, Fox-Zeigler wants Berkeley County schools to come out of its shell and bridge relationships with private industry that can benefit from a partnership with schools.

“We have to embrace technology and we have to go out to the companies that are out there and using technology and we can say ‘help us,'” says Fox-Zeigler. “Let’s create virtual learning.'”

Enter eastern panhandle State Senator John Unger (D – Berkeley, Jefferson). He echoes the message of his constituent.

“Instead of trying to constantly look at the in-person aspect of our education,” says Unger, “what we really need to do is be focusing on the more online, remote, virtual aspects. We need to build that infrastructure.” And Senator Unger says if there was ever a case for investing in broadband, this is it.

And next-door Jefferson County schools reported a confirmed case of COVID-19, and Grant County schools has closed for two weeks because of multiple cases of the infection.

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