Friday was seemingly another pandemic day at the office for Monongalia County Schools, as the district continued to grapple with the coronavirus at the close of the week.
A staffer tested positive at Brookhaven Elementary, with no ensuing quarantines this time, Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said.
“Any time we don’t have to quarantine is good,” he said.
That’s because the district has had its share this week.
A handful of positive cases at Clay-Battelle, University High and the county Technical Education Center put 51 students and staffers into isolation for the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, teachers and other employees in the district queued up at Morgantown High on Friday morning for their first round of the Moderna vaccine.
“It went as smooth as can be,” said Susan Haslebacher, who supervises school health services for the district.
She reported that 150 shots went into 150 arms over the course of the day at MHS.
The district again partnered with Pierpont Landing Pharmacy/Key Pharmacy, which helped administer shots for the Moderna round there last month.
Most of Friday’s recipients were those employees 50 and older who didn’t receive the vaccine last month, the supervisor said.
A number of teachers and other staffers in the 40-year age range were also able to receive their first doses, she said, thanks to a surplus.
Like a household on a tight budget, she said, such leftovers are sacred.
“We weren’t able to get all of our 40-year-olds,” she said.
“But we were able to get some of them. And every shot brings us closer to the eradication of the virus.”
To date, 875 employees – roughly half of the district’s workforce – have received their first doses of the Moderna vaccine, Campbell said.
The 50-year recipients from last month get their all-important second dose this coming Friday at Morgantown High.
Who gets the coronavirus shot – and when, from here on out – made for some contention during Gov. Jim Justice’s COVID-19 press briefing Friday.
It came with the news that younger teachers and school workers would have to sign up for their inoculations through Everbridge, the company providing West Virginia’s statewide vaccination pre-registration portal.
Many in the education community have bristled at the above, fearing that their deemed status as essential employees would still put them to the back of the line, as per the new electronic infrastructure.
“The state has broken its promise in prioritizing public school employees in the vaccination rollout by stopping delivery of vaccines to schools,” West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said, in a statement.
“It is unclear how educators are a priority by checking the box on a website where the public registers for a waiting list for the vaccine,” the union leader continued.
“Educators were told they were being prioritized for vaccinations, and in fact that was a standard for reopening schools. Promises must be kept.”
The governor said school employees will keep their priority status and will receive their vaccines as the state receives more doses and as they pre-register at Everbridge.
“You will be treated as essential,” he said.