The coronavirus cast its lengthiest shadow yet across Monongalia’s school district Wednesday.
Four positive diagnoses were made at Cheat Lake Elementary, Ridgedale Elementary and Suncrest Middle — resulting in additional quarantines of 91 students and four employees from the three buildings.
“Well, it was busy,” Mon Schools Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said.
Seventy-four of the 91 students attend Suncrest Middle, he said. They were quarantined after a staffer there tested positive.
“This particular employee comes in contact with a lot of students on a daily basis,” Campbell said. “I can tell you this person is not a school administrator.”
Two students who are siblings tested positive at Cheat Lake Elementary, he said, with 11 more students and two other employees going into quarantine after trace testing.
The positive case of a student at Ridgedale Elementary resulted in six additional students and two staffers being told to isolate as a precaution.
Wednesday’s latest COVID spate comes a day after Campbell said the district was shifting to all-remote for two weeks, starting Monday.
The idea, he said, is take in all of Thanksgiving, from the lead-up to the holiday, to the days after.
Pandemic-watchers across the U.S. fear the holiday, with its tradition of family gatherings, could serve up more outbreaks after the table is cleared and everyone goes home.
Because of that same worry, WVU said Wednesday it will ride out the remainder of the fall semester by going online in Morgantown and at its branch campuses in Keyser and Beckley.
With positive cases — and the additional quarantining which has to ensue, especially — is there a benchmark whereby Mon County Schools would do the same?
“If we weren’t at this point in our schedule, we’d be having those discussions,” Campbell said.
“We’ve got two days left this week, and there probably won’t be a lot of people going on Friday,” he continued.
“So, really, we just have to worry about getting through Thursday. Then, hopefully, we’ll have a respite.”
The district will use the time to clean and disinfect every school building in the county, the superintendent said.
Earlier this week, Dale Lee of the West Virginia Education Association urged Gov. Jim Justice to shift all schools to remote learning until January.
Cases are mounting and the pandemic is too unpredictable, the president of the teacher’s union said.