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State wants to override decision

W.Va. BOE says no to districts that want remote learning for now

On Tuesday evening, Monongalia County Board of Education members decreed the district would stay remote though Feb. 12, for a multitude of reasons related to the pandemic.

On Wednesday afternoon, West Virginia Board of Education members said no, to Mon and the state’s 54 other districts wanting to do the same — for a multitude of reasons related to the pandemic.

The state board ordered all districts to send students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade to their actual classrooms, in front of their actual teachers, beginning Jan. 19th.

And that’s no matter the coronavirus infection rate in their respective counties.

High school students will base their attendance on the colors of the County Alert Map maintained by the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

The reason for the override? Miller Hall, the state Board of Education president, said students aren’t being engaged intellectually this term.

They’re failing core classes, he said.

They’re floundering like drowning victims in households where environments aren’t always safe, he said.

“As a State Board of Education, we have to do everything in our power to bring our children back to school in person,” Hall said in a statement following the meeting.

“I believe what our health experts are telling us, and I know our schools are the safest place for many of our children who are a part of vulnerable populations.” 

What Monongalia Schools Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. is telling the state board this morning is that next Tuesday is too soon for his district.

“This is really going to put us at the brink,” he said.

That’s why he’s electronically sending a request for a waiver to the state BOE first thing.

Vaccines, the superintendent said, have yet to be administered for all of Mon’s teaching personnel and other staffers who work with children.

Mon’s health experts, in fact, are saying they don’t feel comfortable fully putting students in classrooms and buildings here until March — after most of the shots have gone in most of those arms.

And that’s still with masking and all the other protocols, he said.

The superintendent said he doesn’t like the coronavirus-convergence implications.

Especially, he said, with WVU students set to return to campus that same day.

Most of the public sentiment in Mon, as shown in the form of letters presented mainly by teachers and read during Tuesday’s meeting, is that the district should lay back and wait: Both for the vaccine and for any post-holiday surges to abate.

Mon’s BOE, in the meantime, will convene for an as-yet-announced special meeting, the superintendent said, once the district hears back from the state.

“I think we’ve got a pretty good argument.” 

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