Education, Healthcare, Latest News, Monongalia County

Mon schools to remain open — for now

MORGANTOWN — Another 55 students tested positive for COVID last week in Monongalia County schools.

The number of classmates now in quarantine as a precaution is up to 356.

Add that to 36 staffers – the 16, to date, who have presented with positive diagnoses and their 20 colleagues now sitting out for safety – who are directly impacted in the new school year going into its third week.

Donna Talerico, the district’s deputy superintendent of schools, sees it as spin on the good news-bad news riff, pandemic style.

Or, bad news-good news, as it were.

The bad news, she said Monday, is that coronavirus numbers keep inching up in the school system.

COVID-19, she said, is now present in all school buildings and all related departments.

The good news?

It could’ve been worse.

“We’re continuing to watch this very, very carefully,” the deputy superintendent said.

The district’s “elevated protocols” of vaccines, masking and social-distancing are keeping the pandemic wolves from completely coming through the door, she said.

“Our numbers would be continually worse if we weren’t doing the things we’re doing,” she said.

Either way, though, they still keep inching upward.

A total of 24 students had tested positive during the end of the first week of school Aug. 27.

Staff shortages, too, she said.

Substitute teachers one day, cooks or custodians, the next.

School nurses scrambling to get it done.

“It’s been a challenge,” she said.

Next door in Preston County, Superintendent Steve Wotring announced his district is going on full remote through Sept. 27 due to COVID impacts.

Both Talerico and Mon Schools Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said schools here are staying open for now.

“I talked to Dr. Smith today,” Campbell said, referring to physician Lee B. Smith, the county health officer who has been consulting district officials since the start of the school year.

“We’re looking at all avenues.” Campbell continued. “We don’t anticipate going remote, but if we had to, our teachers could turn it around in a day and be ready to go.”

The only thing the district can truly anticipate, Talerico said, is the contagion.

“Truly, this is just something we have to learn how to manage.”

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