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Unvaccinated Mon educators worry about safety, while COVID cases and quarantines continue

Another COVID case in Monongalia County’s school district has put six students and a teacher at Suncrest Middle into quarantine for the next two weeks.

Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said a student contracted the virus from outside of school.

“That’s what I keep going back to,” Campbell said.

“We haven’t had one case of COVID being picked up in our buildings,” the superintendent said Wednesday. “It’s all been from community spread.”

While that pandemic particular might look good on paper, it’s still concerning for obvious reasons, Kathryn Alam told Mon’s Board of Education members at their meeting the evening before.

Wednesday’s coronavirus news comes a day after the district announced another positive case on the girls basketball team at Morgantown High.

Two cases in two weeks netted the quarantines of 17 players and three coaches – meaning it’s the last of this group of Mohigans for the next several days.

Alam, a technology integration specialist at Suncrest Elementary, has yet to be vaccinated, because she’s under 40 years of age.

And she’s not the only educator in the county on hold, which, she said, puts her and her peers in that group at risk – for an obvious host of reasons.

“We have families we have to care about,” she said.

And elderly parents who are especially vulnerable, Alam added.

Many of Mon’s educators – including her, she said – are concerned for their safety and frustrated about being in vaccine limbo, as it were.

“Teachers have responded at every turn with professionalism, creativity and a fierce determination to provide the best education to our students,” she continued.

“We are not pushing back because this is difficult or we aren’t capable of doing the work.”

It’s just that it’s not easy with COVID-19 constantly acting up in class, she said.

Especially, she said, as she’s trying to glean information as to when she might be able to roll up her sleeve for the two shots required.

“My phone calls to the governor’s office are met with a runaround back to the county,” she said.

“My calls to the county health department are a runaround back to the governor.”

For now, Mon Schools is set to inoculate a final round of teachers in the 40- and 50-year age range who are awaiting their second doses of the Moderna vaccine.

That happens Friday at MHS. Susan Haslebacher, the district’s director of health services, said 160 doses are lined up to go into 160 arms.

Also Tuesday, Mon’s BOE approved a $1,500 stipend for about 400 middle school, high school and special education teachers who must conduct their lessons both in-class and online, out of curriculum and necessity.

Board member Ron Lytle wondered if that outlay couldn’t be more – and longtime BOE incumbent Mike Kelly said he appreciated the commitment to the craft during these pandemic days.

“We hired these teachers to wear one hat, and we’ve had them wearing two or three hats,” Kelly said.