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More COVID on MHS girls basketball team: BOE discusses return-to-school

The girls basketball team at Morgantown High School fouled out Tuesday due to the coronavirus.

Twelve players and three coaches now must quarantine for 14 days following the positive diagnosis of a team mate that day, the district said.

This is the second time in two weeks a COVID case has resulted in multiple benchings on the team, Monongalia Schools Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said.

Five players are currently sitting out from a case last week involving another player who tested positive.

The two cases aren’t related, he said.

Still, Campbell said, there is now even more uncertainty related to a season already clouded by the coronavirus.

“I’m not sure how this is going to impact their schedule,” the superintendent said.

Tuesday’s COVID run in the county also affected Suncrest Elementary, Campbell said.

An employee tested positive and another co-worker is in isolation as a precaution.

While the district’s specially designated coronavirus disinfecting crew was doing its work at the two schools Tuesday evening, Board of Education members were meeting to discuss the full, five-day-a-week return to school March 8.

The West Virginia Board of Education basically made that a moot point earlier in the day for any county wavering about going back.

Meeting in Charleston, the state board passed a motion requiring such a return for students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade by March 3.

That call replaced last month’s motion that county districts offer a blended-learning option.

However, it doesn’t apply to high schools, as per the state board.

Grades 9-12 across the Mountain State will revert to the blended model such infection rates in their respective counties trend upward.

That was after its members conferred with Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s COVID-19 czar.

“The decisions we are making are based on data,” said Miller Hall, who is president of the state board.

“Children don’t have equal access to technology, and it is very important to restore the support of the school system in the lives of our children. It’s time to return.”

Either way, not everyone in the Mountain State hailed the mandate.

Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said the state board is disrespecting every educator in the county – in potentially lethal ways.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic barreled into our lives, our driving concern has been and continues to be the safety of our students, their families and educators,” Lee told Associated Press.

“West Virginia educators have done the impossible to reach each student even with the lack of technology and broadband, all the while caring for their own families.”

In the meantime, Mon’s BOE hosted Dr. Lee B. Smith, the county’s health officer, who urged families to stay vigilant in the face of the coronavirus – especially while people are waiting to be vaccinated.

And vigilance, he said, means maintaining the three W’s: Wearing masks, washing hands and watching a (social) distance.

“We know what works,” he said, “and we need to continue to do it.”

With Mon Schools poised for a return, BOE President Nancy Walker offered a pointed question to the doctor.

If he didn’t think it was safe to back, Walker asked, the health officer would convey that to the county … correct?

“Absolutely,” Smith said.