On its website Monday afternoon, Monongalia County Schools reported positive coronavirus cases among 17 of its students, citing numbers from last week.
Three employees also tested positive.
Add that to the 259 students who have had to go into quarantine as a result, with seven more district employees doing the same.
As a teacher at Morgantown High School, Sam Brunett, who gets his second Moderna dose Friday, knows what it’s like to have to quarantine because of possible exposure to the coronavirus.
He’s had to quarantine a couple of times in recent months, meaning his two young sons and his wife, who also has a career, have also had to quarantine.
“I can tell you it’s tense and not much fun,” he said.
It’s a mix of upheaval and uncertainty that won’t be going anytime soon, he said, until more shots go into more arms.
Meanwhile, as president of Monongalia County’s chapter of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, Brunett also knows what it’s like to talk on that level to colleagues who worry aloud over the uncertainty of it all.
While he appreciates all the mitigation measures the local board has taken on since the pandemic, he said he’d like to see the bridging of one more information gap.
He’d like the cases listed school-by-school.
Especially, he continued, after the in-person mandate from Charleston that now puts younger students – kindergarten through eighth grade – back in their classrooms for blended-learning.
And that’s no matter what the County Alert Map through the state Department of Health and Human Resources says.
The medical rationale is that students in the aforementioned age group aren’t pronounced carriers of the lethal virus.
Or, they don’t always appear to be.
For Brunett, though, the intent of that call is akin to an authoritarian punch in the face of science.
“This is really about the community now,” he said, meaning attendance areas and neighborhoods.
He’d like to see daily reports, not weekly, he said.
Plus, the numbers of positive cases by grade level and the numbers of school personnel vaccinated.
“We’re no longer following any matrix of the DHHR map. Red means, ‘Go, K-8.’”
Mon Schools Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr., though, said it’s also about privacy.
It might be relatively easy to “drill down,” he said, to make a good (and deductive) guess of who just got sent home with COVID-19.
Campbell said the community of teachers, classmates and parents need alerted first.
“Alerting the people who need to be alerted,” he said.
Plus, naming buildings by name, the superintendent added, also runs the risk of stigmatizing a school.
The union president, though, disagreed.
“It’s not really ‘stigmatizing,’ when it’s a matter of public safety.”