That sigh of relief you heard Tuesday afternoon came from the offices of the Monongalia County Board of Education.
Make that, an inevitable sigh of relief, Mon Schools Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr., said.
“I wasn’t surprised to hear it,” Campbell said of Gov. Jim Justice’s announcement to keep school buildings shuttered for the remainder of the year.
“Really, it takes the pressure off,” Campbell said.
“Now, we can move on to fall and the first day of school,” he continued.
“And we can keep focusing on what we’re doing now.”
Which, thanks to technology, the superintendent said, is the continuing education, via Chromebook, of Mon’s 11,000 students.
“We’ve had a contingency plan in place since the beginning,” he said.
That goes back to last month, March 13, when the first decision came down to send students home as COVID-19 was looming in the Mountain State.
Campbell praised teachers and other academic professionals for maintaining an intellectual spark during a pandemic that snuffed out classroom interaction, sporting events and the traditions of senior year.
There are the volunteers, he said, who deliver meals to those households whose children had relied on the cafeteria for breakfast and lunch.
And the special education teachers taking great care with that segment of the student population, he said.
“Every student learns differently,” the superintendent said.
Other students, such as the ones in Ron Lytle’s household, are having their instruction augmented on-site by a different kind of teacher: Their dad.
“We’re working on an assignment for English class right now,” he said.
Lytle gave good marks to the governor’s decision Tuesday.
Especially, he said, since household dynamics vary widely in Mon County.
In some of those households, he said, pandemic-vulnerable grandparents are the principal caregivers.
Schools were set to reopen at the end of this month.
Justice’s announcement, the BOE president said, means his district won’t have to pull rank now.
“This is about safety,” he said.
That, and salvage.
As in senior year.
Lytle said while he appreciates everyone’s hard work, he’s still disappointed for seniors who have missed out on sports, prom and all the other milestones.
“We’re trying to salvage their year,” he said.
Part of that salvaging operation may have commenced with the governor’s announcement.
He requested that districts host traditional graduation ceremonies this summer, after the coronavirus has moved on.