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Preston students to return four days a week

Green means go.

The halls and classrooms of Preston County’s school buildings are about to get a little noisier and a little more bustling.

That’s because all students are returning to school four days a week, beginning Monday.

Board of Education members met Friday morning in a special meeting to unanimously approve the call, which was applauded by Superintendent Steve Wotring.

“It’s just time,” the superintendent said, and COVID-19, it would appear, is in agreement.

Preston County was showing green Friday morning on the County Alert Map maintained by the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

And the DHHR numbers from the day before listed a positivity rate of 2.57% for the county, along with a 9.83% infection rate.

“I monitor those numbers every single day,” Wotring said.

Meanwhile, he said, a total of 227 of the district’s 600 or so teachers and other employees have rolled up their sleeves to receive both vaccines for the virus.

“And we’ll get 49 more next Friday,” he said.

School personnel who haven’t gone through the county or registered through the state have also outside of the district for the vaccine, as well, Wotring said.

The district, he said, is solid with the pandemic protocols of masking, hand-washing and keeping a social distance.

Students will attend in-person Monday through Thursday, Wotring said. Fridays will be given to online learning, as the district does its virtual component in-house and not through the state Department of Education.

With all of the above in place, he said, Preston Schools can now focus on regaining academic health.

“We’re really thinking about our CTE students,” he said, referring to those in career and technical education programs.

“They have hours of instruction and experience they have to complete,” he continued, “and they can’t do that if they aren’t in the building.”

And not being in the building, he said, has been the school rule in Preston for the last past several months, be it by two-day-a-week in-person learning, or bad weather – which is a snowy hallmark of the mountainous county in the winter.

BOE President Jack Keim said he was satisfied with the 5-0 vote to return.

“I feel it needs to be done,” he said. The district, he said, can’t afford to keep losing its book-learning purchase.

Preston’s teachers and principals agree, Wotring said.

He met with both groups earlier this week, he said, and they gave their unanimous vote in advance.

For Wotring, Monday will be an in-touch, but hands-off, kind of day.

“It will be my job to stay out of the way,” he said.

“So everyone can going with the business of education.”