While school officials had originally intended to have children inside of the new Bluefield Primary School on January 4, it now looks like students won’t begin their classes inside of the $12.2 million facility until Jan. 19.

Although the situation remains fluid with the ongoing pandemic, that’s the tentative back-to-school date that Gov. Jim Justice has set for all elementary and middle school students who are expected to be in the classroom five days a week regardless of the state’s color code, a controversial decision that is generating a mixed reaction from some parents on social media.

Still — assuming nothing else changes — students will be able to get their first look at their new state-of-the-art school on Tuesday, Jan. 19. When they do they will be greeted by teachers eager to see them, classrooms with new furniture, up-to-date technology, colorful settings and a separate cafeteria and gymnasium.

The new school is located on Cumberland Road, near Bluefield High School. It will serve students who previously attended Whitethorn Elementary School and Memorial Primary School.

Mercer County Schools had a public dedication and open house ceremony last year when the new Mountain Valley Elementary School was completed and school officials had hoped to do the same for the new Bluefield Primary facility. However, with the pandemic still raging locally, School Superintendent Dr. Deborah Akers decided to hold a virtual dedication ceremony and online open house event instead. It was all prerecorded, so it can be viewed whenever future students and visitors want to watch it on the school system’s website and Facebook pages.

According to Bluefield Primary Principal Brittany Anderson, one of the first features students and visitors will see inside of the new school is a lobby rotunda that’s similar to the one at Memorial School. Some of the school’s windows are similar to the ones seen at Whitethorn School, and there are even some windows modeled after the ones at the neighboring Bluefield High School. The rotunda was illuminated with a blue light, but Anderson said its color can be changed with a switch in the main office. She says security cameras also are stationed throughout the new school. And like Mountain Valley School, Bluefield Primary School will have up-to-date education technology for its students.

While the pandemic is still making things difficult for everyone, we are hopeful that students will be able to begin classes in their new school on Jan. 19. Having a modern school facility with state-of-the-art technology and an environment that is conducive to learning will help these youngsters as they progress through their school years during these difficult times.

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