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Mon Schools transportation director: ‘We’re ready’

Not much to do now but gas them up and go, Tony Harris said Tuesday afternoon.

Harris, the director of transportation services for Monongalia County Schools, was talking about those big Bluebird vehicles that will soon dominate morning and afternoon traffic on local roadways.

The first day of school in Mon is next Tuesday — Aug. 24.

“It won’t be that much different from what we did last year,” Harris said. “We’ll just have more of it.”

Outside his office at the district’s transportation department on Chaplin Road, mechanics were getting many of those buses arrayed like planes on an aircraft carrier.

“The more of it,” as he mentioned, will be in the form of students.

The county is opening all buildings to face-to-face, in-person learning for students, pre-kindergarten through senior year.

“We have 110 buses and 437 runs,” Harris said.

While students likely won’t be able to socially distance with a seat between them as they were last spring given the newly anticipated volume, masks will again be required of drivers and passengers.

And the buses will be thoroughly wiped down after every run.

“We’re ready,” he said.

Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said the same thing later Tuesday evening during a brief meeting of the Board of Education.

Board members signed off on slight copy changes to that $6.9 contract for the purchase of the former MedExpress administration building, which will eventually be the new home of the district’s central offices this fall.

“We’ve got to get our kids settled in first,” he said after the meeting.

Which means getting settled in a pandemic landscape that’s anything but.

On Monday, Gov. Jim Justice discussed harsh COVID realities of a burgeoning surge in the Mountain State.

More than 1,400 new cases were noted from the weekend, the governor said, with 91% of all new cases being from the Delta variant strain.

Just 10 green counties were noted across the state Monday.

WVU on Tuesday announced it was reinstating its mask mandate for students, even if they’re fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, county health officer Dr. Lee B. Smith is scheduled to be a guest at the BOE meeting next Tuesday – on the evening of the first day of school.

Campbell said the district will keep with masking and other pandemic protocols.

He’ll take direction from the health officer.

Will the central office be prepared, should the call come down again for total remote learning?

Campbell recalled March 13, 2020 – when Justice ordered the shuttering of all schools in then-anticipation of the pandemic.

“If we have to,” the superintendent said.

“We showed that we could do it when we weren’t prepared.”

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