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After the rain, Mon students return for in-person learning

Monongalia County students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade poured into their classrooms Tuesday morning – after heavy rains and localized flooding the day before put the district on an unexpected remote-learning session to start the week.

No schools were affected by flooding in downpours that dropped close to 2 inches of rain on the county Sunday and Monday.

Mon Schools Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said he and administrators made the call to go remote over safety concerns, as buses would have had to negotiate outlying roads where flooding was a factor.

“That was unfortunate,” he said, “because this is the week.”

As in the week Mon’s elementary and middle-schoolers embark on what will be five-day-a-week, in-person instruction, by mandate of the state Board of Education.

The middle grades report to their buildings Wednesday, and high school students in grades 9-12 hit their hallways this coming Monday.

Nearly 80 percent of the county’s elementary students are returning to school, according to numbers culled by parent surveys.

That number drops a bit for middle school, Campbell said, and down to around to the mid-60s for high school – which might owe to the fact that students that age are little more independent and adapt better to self-directed study, he added.

What is fortunate, he said, is that the district cleared Monday with no reports of COVID cases among students, teachers, or others working with students in buildings.

Ten positive cases among students were reported last week, the superintendent said, with five employees also marking the same.

As a result of the above, 117 additional students, plus five more staffers, had to go into quarantine as a precaution.

The district’s positive cases to date have come from community spread, Campbell said, and not from any outbreaks in any school buildings.

In the meantime, the teachers and employees who work in those buildings – the ones yet to be vaccinated – are still worried about going into the arena uninoculated.

That’s because many of them have young children and elderly parents, Kathryn Alam told Board of Education members last week.

“We have families we have to care about,” the Suncrest Elementary teacher said.

In recent days, numbers of Mon teachers have driven over to neighboring Maryland, to receive first doses at a Walgreens chain pharmacy in Oakland.

With no firm news on future shipments of vaccines to Mon’s school district, Campbell said he can understand the motivation.

“Whatever list we can get our employees on, works,” he said.