Coach who tested positive associated with WVU
The Clay-Battelle High School football team was already boarding the bus last Friday afternoon for its away game in Calhoun County when the players were told to hold up.
A coach, they were informed, had tested positive for COVID-19.
The game was immediately canceled. A two-week quarantine was immediately imposed for any player who had practiced three days prior.
And the diagnosis was immediately added to the ongoing debate of just how Monongalia County is squaring coronavirus cases in the school district, the community and WVU, the state’s flagship university that calls Morgantown home.
Or, not squaring the cases, as it were.
That’s because the coach whose diagnosis benched the Cee-Bees is associated with the university, spokeswoman April Kaull said.
Kaull said she couldn’t disclose the coach’s name, or exact association, even, citing mandates of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
The university’s College of Physical Activities and Sport Sciences, though, has been associated with Monongalia County Schools over the years, offering internship opportunities for graduate students wanting to go into coaching.
“WVU and the Monongalia County school system [have] had a long-standing relationship to provide nationally certified strength and conditioning coaches to county high schools,” Kaull said in an email.
“This person was assigned solely to Clay-Battelle High School and did not have interaction with other schools as part of the program,” she added.
WVU, though, generally speaking, does have interaction in Morgantown and Mon, said Chuck Arnett, whose son plays football for Clay-Battelle.
Which is why he’s frustrated.
Down for the count?
“I don’t have any complaints with Clay-Battelle at all,” he said.
“The teachers, the coaches, the administration, have all been great to my son.”
He would, however, like to throw a flag on the state’s County Alert Map.
Frequent tweaks by Gov. Jim Justice and other officials may have made the map too adaptable, he said.
The person who was diagnosed, he said, is a WVU graduate student being paid by the county district to do strength and conditioning for prep teams.
“I’m not faulting him, either,” Arnett said.
But he does fault the way COVID cases within WVU are charted by the county and state now, he said.
For weeks, Mon County was squarely in the red on the map, which is the worst designation, meaning no in-person school or extracurricular activities, such as Friday night football games.
The unfavorable hue was attributed to university students returning to campus this fall.
Recently, officials have generated a new way positive cases within the university community are chronicled.
Under the new metric, WVU students who are COVID-positive, but are housed in a building that provides 24-hour security, such as Arnold Apartments downtown, are considered to be in congregate housing, the same as a nursing home or corrections facility.
Because the students at Arnold are isolated and monitored, they don’t pose a risk of spreading the virus into the community, Justice and others said.
Which also means the 70 or so infected students residing at Arnold as of last month were counted collectively as one COVID case on the rolls.
Pandemic math, Arnett said, doesn’t add up.
That’s because, as he reiterated, downtown Morgantown isn’t just the province of WVU students, such as the case of the infected strength and conditioning coach — who may have caused a breakout-to-be at Clay-Battelle.
Which means, he and other critics say, that the governor has gotten it wrong.
Contact tracing, and other trajectories
The West Virginia Education Association, a leading union for teachers, said the same here last month.
Its president, Dale Lee, came to Morgantown and made an offer for the school district to join in the injunction it filed Tuesday challenging the state map and its validity — particularly in Mon, with its WVU COVID cases that are separate, but not.
Pandemic protocol, in the meantime, is the school rule now, Kaull said in her email.
“The university is following its normal protocol in working with the Monongalia County Health Department on contact tracing,” she wrote, “as well as communicating with the Monongalia County Board of Education, which instituted the quarantine at CBHS.”
The person who tested positive, said Kaull, hasn’t had any involvement this fall in strength and conditioning activities with WVU’s football program.