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Students Return

Mon County Schools welcome in-person classroom learning

No, you weren’t  regarding  a big, yellow, COVID-induced mirage  through your windshield Thursday morning.

That really was a Monongalia County school bus at the traffic light.

And it was really was delivering students to school.

The occupants of that bus on this morning saw the interiors of their schools for the first time since March, following the statewide shutdown prompted by the looming pandemic.

Students had been learning remotely since Sept. 8, when schools opened across West Virginia after an extended summer break which owed itself to the virus.

Mon Schools Deputy Superintendent Donna Talerico called Thursday the “second” first of school here, and Tony Harris, the district’s transportation director, agreed.

“Just a normal first day, really,” he said, before catching himself to chuckle on the word, “normal.”

All 122 buses in the fleet were on the road, he said, and students did a good job of social distancing, once they boarded.

That includes the 15 buses that had been enlisted for mobile Wi-Fi units across the county when Mon was doing distance learning exclusively.

“We’re going to put nine or 10 of them back to that use,” Harris said.

“I’m meeting with the tech people for directions on where they’ll need to go.”

Things went surprisingly well, Talerico said, once students got to where they needed to be.

“They were very compliant,” she said.

“Especially the younger ones.”

Maybe a handful showed up without masks, she said, but schools had ready supplies in that event.

Thursday was part of a modified buffer week, of sorts, for the district.

Superintendent Eddie Campbell initially proposed that schools stay out until this coming Monday, following predictions then that Mon might crack gold on the metric.

Talerico said two days of in-school learning this week will give the district a quick template of what will work (and what won’t) as the district forges ahead.

“Today was a win for the county,” she said.

The district, she said, will take its official count of students next week.

Mon has nearly 12,000 students in schools, and more than 70% of them have registered for in-person learning this term.

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