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Kanawha County public school students enrolled for in-person instruction will now be in classrooms March 8-12, alongside their teachers.

Those days were previously scheduled to be spring break.

The county school system announced the change late Friday afternoon.

Students who are still enrolled in online-only instruction will be staying online only for the rest of the school year anyway.

Despite the change, the school system has expressed openness to making individual exceptions for students and employees during this previously scheduled spring break period.

The Kanawha Board of Education had, before this school year began, scheduled March 8-12 as spring break, when neither in-person nor online learning would occur for any kids.

But then, amid the ongoing pandemic, Gov. Jim Justice ordered all counties to move their school start date back to Sept. 8. Kanawha had planned to start Aug. 10.

The school board then unanimously revised its calendar in a way that seemed to try to preserve the holiday breaks.

The revised calendar replaced out-of-school weekdays around Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring break with new, “non-traditional instruction” remote learning days.

On Friday, Kanawha said the state Department of Education said this was no longer allowed.

“The direction was provided directly to [Kanawha Superintendent Dr. Tom] Williams after he sought guidance and clarification for those non-traditional instruction days,” said Kanawha schools spokeswoman Briana Warner.

When asked about its directive to Kanawha, the state Department of Education pointed to the state Board of Education’s January order banning countywide remote learning.

“Our in-person students have been out of school more days than they have been in school this school year,” Warner said, “and we have seen this negatively affect many students academically, socially and emotionally.

“In order to best help our students return to a normal routine, it is vital that we meet in person as much as possible. We realize that some may have already scheduled appointments or made plans in good faith and we’ve encouraged all schools to work with individuals. We believe that this decision is doing what is best for our students.”

Kanawha said that if you have a question about leave or absences March 8-12, contact your supervisor (if you’re an employee) or school (if you’re a parent or guardian).

More information is on the school system’s website at https://kcs.kana.k12.wv.us.