Monongalia County Schools is going to five-day-a-week instruction next month for those families who feel comfortable sending their children back to their classrooms on that schedule.
Under the new calendar, students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade – again from the families opting for such a return – would be in their actual classrooms, five days a week, beginning March 8.
Board of Education members voted 3-2 for the return, after a lengthy discussion that also included a motion for a return March 1, which died for lack of a second.
Mon Schools Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr., who initially recommended the March 1 date, said he felt comfortable about sending students back.
That was after talking extensively with county officials, he said, while following the fact more and more teachers and other school personnel are being vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The district is set to put needles into more arms of employees this Friday at Morgantown High School.
Plus, he said, county principals told him, “We’re ready,” when he discussed that date in an earlier online meeting.
Not every BOE member felt comfortable with March 1, though.
Campbell and district administrators had also asked the board to consider March 15 as a possible date.
Melanie Rogers said she preferred an “easing in” akin to testing the waters of a swimming pool.
Sara Anderson said she’s still wary of the current, more infectious variants of COVID-19 that are causing more people to present themselves in emergency rooms across the country.
Five days a week, the superintendent said, still comes out 58% attendance of the county’s current attendance level – based on the numbers of students in distance-learning programs whose families may want to keep it that way.
It’s the ones who don’t that he’s thinking of, he said.
“We’re trying to respect the families that are telling us they want and need five days,” the superintendent said.
As always, though, the BOE president said, the plan is still subject to pandemic winds.
COVID-19, Nancy Walker reminded the room, speaking through her facemask, has a way of getting the last word in every conversation.
“If the numbers go the wrong way, we can’t implement this.”
Implementation is the key, Deputy Superintendent Donna Talerico said.
Especially, the administrator said, with a committed school board.
“The plan is to absolutely return in March,” she said.
In the meantime, Mason Dixon Elementary School remains on full remote learning for the next two weeks due to coronavirus cases affecting three of its grade levels.
*This story has been updated from a previous report which contained incorrect information on the BOE vote.