Desks, spaced at precise intervals.
And a trip to the school nurse’s office — if there’s even a hint of something wrong.
That’s what life will look like for students in Monongalia County Schools come Sept. 8.
If students can actually get in their schools, that is.
Sept. 8 is the tentative date for the first day of school in Mon and elsewhere in West Virginia.
Gov. Jim Justice pushed that date from Aug. 20, citing fears over a resurgence of cases of the coronavirus.
Mon’s district is ready in the meantime, and officials Friday released the first of what it says will be many editions of the re-entry document — that will serve as an operator’s manual of sorts, for back-to-school, pandemic style.
As it did while working from the original Aug. 20 start date, the district is still planning for a first week that will be a combination of in-school instruction and remote learning.
The idea is to get students reacclimated to life in a brick-and-mortar building with classrooms, lockers and morning bell.
The revised schedule:
Tuesday, Sept. 8: Grades 1, 5, 6, 12 report to schools for in-person learning.
Wednesday, Sept. 9: Grades 2, 4, 7, 11 report.
Thursday, Sept. 10: Kindergarten, grades 3, 8, 10 report.
Friday, Sept. 11: Kindergarten, grades 2, 6, 9 report.
Monday, Sept. 14: Pre-kindergarten, grades 5, 7, 9, 12 report.
Tuesday, Sept. 15: Pre-kindergarten, grades 4, 8, 10, 11 report.
Wednesday, Sept. 16: Grades 1, 3, plus grades from 6-12 report.
Barring no spikes in COVID-19 cases, all students, in all grades, will be in every school in the county that following day, Thursday, Sept. 17.
Got it covered
Every student, teacher and staffer will be required to wear masks, the district said.
The exception will be if a student has a documented medical condition that would impede breathing while wearing a facial covering.
Or, if a student has a disability that prevents him from removing his mask on his own.
Once in the classroom, all desks will be facing forward at one-meter intervals, or 3.2 feet.
That’s in keeping with guidelines by the American Pediatric Association.
Teachers, in turn, said Eddie Campbell Jr., Mon’s superintendent of schools, will keep a keen eye on their charges.
“If a kid has a pronounced cough, he’ll immediately be taken to see the school nurse,” the superintendent said.
“The same goes if he’s acting like he’s not feeling well, or if he’s complaining that he’s not feeling well.”
Campbell said the district has been working closely with the county health department and Dr. Clay Marsh, the WVU health administrator who most recently served as West Virginia’s COVID-19 czar as it considers the medical implications of it all.
The district, the superintendent said, won’t take temperatures of students getting on the bus or entering the building — at the advice of the above entities.
It’s an unwieldy exercise in logistics, Campbell said, and could lend itself to a daily host of inaccurate readings in the bustle to get to school.
Besides, the superintendent said, a normal temperature in the morning can be a fever-spike by lunch because of a dose of Tylenol or any other over-the-counter medication before school.
School nurses are medical professionals on the front lines, Campbell said.
“And who we want our kids to see.”
With as many COVID-eyes as possible, seconded Mon’s assistant superintendent of schools, Donna Talerico.
“Right now, the health and safety of our students come first,” she said.
“And face-to-face learning is second.”
The district will use that first staggered week, she said, to see how it all works: Hallways, the cafeteria and other communal places at school.
“We might have to have six lunch periods at Morgantown High,” she said, “and four or five at University.”
And all of the above, she allowed, ultimately has to come with the understanding that back-to-school still might not be back in the building — depending upon what turns COVID-19 takes.
“As a worst case, we’re ready to go total remote learning if we have to,” she said.
“We’ll be better at it this time.”
The state Department of Education will offer distance-learning to the students whose parents don’t feel comfortable sending them back into school buildings, Talerico said.
Visit https://boe.mono.k12.wv.us/ to view the Mon Schools document in its entirety.