UPDATE: Monongalia County turned green on Saturday, the lowest designation possible for in-person schooling and athletics. Positive cases were just below the 3% threshold at 2.80. Mon County is now labeled as following incidence rate rather than percent positivity as its metric.
Further, Morgantown Athletic Director John Bowers confirmed that the Mohigans’ game scheduled for Friday against Musselman (3-1) is a go.
“We are tickled for our students to return to school as for our student-athletes to the field,” he said. “We are so thrilled for our band students, too. The negative impact of this has been big. This good news is like a heavy weight off the chest of our kids and families.”
Mon County hasn’t been green since prior to WVU’s fall move-in when a spike of cases sent the county into the orange and, eventually, red designation.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – After another change to the state color-coded system, Monongalia County fell two columns into the yellow at 3.88 cases. On Thursday, the county was orange with 18.53.
One look at a nearly 15-point drop should raise eyebrows, but the implementation of a new system is the reason behind the new numbers. This new method is based on a 7-day rolling average based on percent positivity which takes into account the infection rate per number of residents tested for COVID-19, as opposed to the infection rate per 100,000 residents, which has led state officials in charge of the health crisis to believe that it is a more accurate representation of the spread of the virus in certain counties. Counties not using percent positivity are being counted by incidence rate. Both breakdowns, as well as the updated map, can be found here: https://dhhr.wv.gov/COVID-19/Pages/default.aspx
Further, the new system notes that there are exclusions to total numbers, including nursing home residents, state college and university students who are identified as COVID-positive and are monitored and quarantined in one place – such as Arnold Hall on the WVU Downtown Campus – and inmates in state-run facilities.
While many are elated Mon County is back in a threshold that allows sports since the beginning of September, school athletic department officials are still waiting on the Saturday numbers to come out to fully celebrate.
“I’m tickled to death, I’ve advocated for our kids the whole time that they’ve done everything right all summer long, everything that was asked in the guidelines and payday is that they get to play,” Morgantown Athletics Director John Bowers said. “I’m excited that there is some light at the end of the tunnel for our kids.
Bowers is already ahead of the game when it comes to scheduling – one of his duties as AD – working ahead a week and a half to let teams know that the Mohigans may not be eligible to play this upcoming week. Bowers wasn’t expecting the county to dip into the yellow, though, so he now will be contacting teams to make sure they’re still open and if not try to fill those holes. Some things, like Monday’s junior varsity football game against rival University and a volleyball event, are still canceled.
“I don’t ever want to take an opportunity away from another school,” Bowers said. “The majority of our schedule is we’ll play what was already scheduled, but some games [will be canceled]. Our kids haven’t tackled for almost a month. We still can’t tackle today, the first day we could tackle would be maybe Monday, so we can’t play a football game Monday. We’re still going to go scramble and pick up some games, but the most important thing is that our kids will get to play.”
A major game slated for this week is the Mohigans’ home game against No. 6 Musselman (2-1). A concern of new coach Sean Biser to open the season with a team that has four games under its belt, Musselman isn’t an exception. Before going toe-to-toe with Class AA’s No. 14 Fairmont Senior (1-1) Friday night, the Applemen have secured wins against No. 14 Jefferson and Hollidaysburg (Pa.) High. Their lone loss is to 2019 state champion and rival big-brother No. 9 Martinsburg. But should Mon County’s cases rise by Saturday’s deadline and teams find themselves staring at a gold designation, Bowers notes they have a backup plan: University.
“No matter what color we are, [UHS and us] will be the same,” Bowers said. “You know how everyone has that friend that they had that agreement for the prom, that if no one goes to the prom [with you] you’ll go with them? Well, that’s us and U High. We always have that in our hip pocket that we can play those guys and they want their kids to play as badly as we want our kids to play.”
But for now, Mon County schools will wait and local athletic directors will do what they have to do.
“I’ve heard that the Thursday night numbers are your Saturday night number, so there’s a good possibility we’re yellow,” Bowers said. “We have a scheduled in place with Clay-Battelle, Trinity and University for next week if we are gold, but if we’re yellow we’re reconfirming a lot of those games for next week. That’s what we’re doing now.”
Logan County, which dropped to gold, has decided to continue with virtual learning. In an unusual move, sports teams were given the green light to still play. Historically, per WVSSAC rules, if a school is not in session the day of the game, teams from that school are not allowed to compete, but this rule has been washed. No other information is available to answer whether this will be the case for counties that face a similar situation moving forward.
If Mon stays yellow…
If Mon County stays yellow, the football matchups for next week are:
- University vs. Albert Gallatin, Pa.; Friday at 7:30 p.m.
- Clay-Battelle at Calhoun County, Friday at 7 p.m.
- Trinity Christian at Madonna, Saturday at noon
According to prior reports, should the county move to gold, C-B and TCS are in talks to play but it has not been confirmed that the rivals are scheduled to do so.