Mon County students getting ready for band camp and football practice this summer will be able to show their faces – for now, at least.
The district is lifting the mask mandate for its summer operations, Schools Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said.
Ideally, it will be the opening act for autumn, he hopes.
“We wanted to set the stage for fall,” he said Wednesday.
The district won’t discourage those who still want to wear a mask, Campbell added.
As in the first day of school Aug. 24 and the fall term to follow, the superintendent said – when he hopes to see students, teachers and others associated with Mon Schools enjoying something no one has been able to fully do since March 13, 2020.
That is, to enjoy the full width and breadth of the school experience without quarantines, coverings and social distancing.
The superintendent said the decision for summer was made after numerous discussions with county health department director Dr. Lee B. Smith – who reminded him that COVID-19, and the health department, will still get the last word going into fall.
“We’ll still have all the protocols in place if this thing goes south,” Campbell said.
He’s referring to state and national concerns over the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, which now accounts for more 50% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
West Virginia’s Delta count was at 12 on Tuesday, reported Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s COVID-19 czar.
Marsh was speaking during a regular briefing Gov. Jim Justice has with media on the fortunes of the virus in the Mountain State.
Justice continued his push for vaccinations, which says are the only way to knock the pandemic, variant cases and all.
A total of 836,954 residents aged 12 and up – or 53.7% of the state’s population – were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, the governor said.
Mon County Schools, meanwhile, will continue to push vaccinations for the coming year, Campbell said.
And if masks do fully go away, the district’s in-house COVID disinfecting crews won’t, he said.
Those are the specially outfitted, specially trained employees who thoroughly clean the classrooms and school buildings where COVID cases occur.
Serving on the crew is a paid position, Campbell said. Existing district employees bid on the job.
The superintendent said the district wants to look within to hire and train more people for the team, which is on call seven days a week.
“We’d like to have enough for two or three more crews,” he said. “We wore this one out this spring.”