MORGANTOWN — Monongalia County students couldn’t sidestep the coronavirus in the main hallway for the return to classes last week.
Twenty-four students across the district tested positive for the contagion in the first days after the opening of school, the district said Monday.
An additional 26 classmates also went into quarantine last week as a precaution.
Four staffers in four schools also tested positive, and another person associated with the district is also isolating at home for safety.
Meanwhile, Mon Schools Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said he’s staying positive in the face of those positives — despite their initial impression.
“On one level, it looks like a lot, and it is a lot,” he said, “but our overall percentage isn’t very high.”
“Overall,” being the watchword, he said, in a state where the Delta variant is roiling — just as morning bell is ringing across West Virginia’s 55 counties.
Thirty-six of those counties were glowing red on the state’s county alert map Monday morning.
Seventeen, including Mon, where a hue away from that map-worst designation — with showings of orange.
Just two counties were showing yellow.
“Given our current situation, it shouldn’t be that surprising,” Campbell said of the positive cases and quarantines here.
Morgantown High, University and Clay-Battelle were all able to get their first football games of the season in last Friday, he said.
Like a football team building momentum in the fourth quarter during a close game, the superintendent said the relatively low numbers of quarantines also have the makings of a celebration in the end zone.
“It’s an argument for masking right there,” he said. The county is enforcing masking indoors for all grades, for now, this year.
“Look at Suncrest Elementary as an example,” he said, referring to how that school fared in its return to class last week.
“We had one positive case with a student, but no quarantines. If this had been last year at this time, the teacher and 25 students would have had to go home.”
New guidance released by the CDC this summer will be especially key to children under the age of 12 in elementary schools, Campbell said. There’s no vaccine on the market for them.
Now, if a student comes into contact with another who tests positive, said student won’t have to quarantine — so long as both were wearing masks at the time.
The new measure, the superintendent said, will avoid a repeat of last year’s “pandemic math” — which resulted in hundreds of quarantines from handfuls of positive cases.
Despite double-digit numbers (positive cases and quarantines included) at University High and Clay-Battelle, the incidents aren’t considered outbreak cases, Campbell said, since none of the cases were related.
Seven UHS students plus one staffer tested positive last week, which necessitated the quarantining of three more students.
At Clay-Battelle, which houses students in the middle grades and high school, six students came down with COVID and five more went home for safety. No teachers or other staffers were called to quarantine.
“If we had had six or seven in the same classroom on a sports team in a locker-room situation, then that’s considered an outbreak,” Campbell said.
Either way, he said, the district is notifying parents or other caregivers in the event of possible contact with a classmate or staffer testing positive for the coronavirus.
COVID, by the numbers
Other positive cases and quarantines across the district:
- Brookhaven Elementary: 1 positive case (student); 2 quarantines (students).
- Cheat Lake Elementary: 1 positive (staffer).
- Eastwood Elementary: 2 positives (1 student, 1 staffer); 2 quarantines (students).
- Mason-Dixon: 7 student quarantines (no positive cases).
- Morgantown High: 2 positives (1 student, 1 staffer); 4 quarantines (students).
- Mountaineer Middle: 2 positives (students); 1 quarantine (student).
- Mon Technical Education Center: 2 positives (students).
- North Elementary: 2 positives (students).
- Suncrest Middle: 1 positive (student); 1 quarantine (student).
- Westwood Middle: 1 student quarantine (no positive cases).
- Early Head Start: 1 staff quarantine (no positive cases).