Education, Latest News, Preston County

Preston BOE works out COVID plan

KINGWOOD — Preston County students will keep their masks on through October. After that, it depends.

The county’s Board of Education spent over an hour with two parents — Teri Kisner and Angie Harrison, who were representing a larger group concerned about the various masks and possible vaccine mandates — working out the details of the plan it eventually adopted.

“The Preston County Board of Education will mandate a mask mandate through October. Beginning Nov. 1, the mask mandate will continue but will be based upon the color-coded map. Meaning, five consecutive days of gold or below results in optional mask wearing. Three consecutive days of red results in a return to a mask mandate. Then moving to a school by school percentage basis beginning Dec. 1, 2021. This mandate applies inside all district buildings and buses.”

No matter what happens as far as masks inside each school, the students will be required to wear masks on the buses because of federal mandates.

“Schools shouldn’t be held hostage by overall county numbers,” Harrison said.

The December start date gives the school system time to implement procedures for tracking individual school COVID numbers and communicating the status to parents. Superintendent Stephen Wotring said that data will be shared on the school system’s website and Facebook page. 

The plan is to start getting that information out before December so parents can get into the habit of checking the numbers for their child’s school. At the November meeting Wotring will show the board how the system would have played out had it been implemented.

There was also discussion about implementing some kind of parental reporting for kids who are waiting for test results.

“I think that if there was more communication, and have faith in our parents, in our community and say, listen, the health department is swamped. Things are ridiculous. This is the path. If you have a pending test, this is who you contact,” Kisner said.

That would possibly allow for earlier quarantining of the exposed — which is complicated, decided by the state, and has changed several times since school started.

“For the (state) protocols as of right now, if everybody is in masks then there is no quarantine that you have to do. However, if the teacher is unmasked and is exposed to a positive person then he or she would be required to quarantine,” Wotring said.

If the teacher is unvaccinated and wearing a mask, it depends on how many feet apart and for how long the exposure was, Wotring said.

Wotring also made clear things could change on a dime — for example getting a bunch of new cases over a weekend and having to change the mask requirement at the 11th hour on a Monday.

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