To go, or not to go. That is the question.
No, the above isn’t a variant of Shakespeare.
It’s the drama of COVID-19 in Monongalia County, particularly for the students, teachers and parents trying to learn their lines from a script that changes daily, and even hourly.
And the big ponderable related to the above might hit at 5 p.m. Saturday – when the state’s coronavirus alert map is updated for the coming week.
The question: If Monongalia County presents with a color of gold on said map, will that mean an automatic return to school buildings come Monday for the more than 70% of students whose parents favor in-person learning?
The answer: Not necessarily.
That’s what Mon Schools Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. told Board of Education members Tuesday night as everyone discussed the coronavirus currently directing the proceedings from behind a curtain of data.
The county right now is showing orange on the maps employed by the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources and the Department of Education to track the virus.
Orange on the map means remote-learning only, with no extracurricular activities, including football games.
And that statute is in black-and-white.
If Mon were to show gold Saturday, Campbell said he still favors an additional transitional week to allow for positive case numbers and to get students, in particular, ready for just what their new pandemic lives will mean in the main hallway and their classrooms.
Even, he said, if means another week of darkened lights and empty bleachers at the football fields of the county’s three high schools.
“I would like to be able to make that decision,” he said in response to BOE member Ron Lytle, who asked.
Even though in-person lesson plans in the staging position and the school buses are fueled up, it will still be different, Deputy Superintendent Donna Talerico seconded.
She encourages students right to wear their masks more at home, just to get acclimated.
And there’s also the matter of self-reporting, she said.
Teachers and staffers have been taking their temperature and filling out an online questionnaire every morning before leaving work – and students, even though they’re learning from home, have been expected to do the same.
But there’s the still the inevitability of the virus, no matter what.
To date, two people associated with the district have tested positive for COVID-19: A employee of Morgantown High School and a student taking limited classes at Mountaineer Middle.
The student is among 75 who started back up their actual schools last week.
Their cognitive and physical challenges were deemed too pronounced for remote learning to be effective, so the county opened the doors of its buildings. The students are attending classes across 17 of Mon’s 18 schools.
Campbell, meanwhile, said he plans on meeting today with Dr. Lee B. Smith, the executive director of the Monongalia County Health Department and county’s health officer, to talk positive cases and whether a mathematical predication can be made before Saturday.
To test, or not to test for COVID-19, is no question for Lytle.
“The only way we’re gonna beat this thing is by getting tested,” he said.