It’s hard to find an off-ramp when COVID is still behind the wheel.
That was the direction the Monongalia County Board of Education took Tuesday night after a parent asked when the masks might come off for students in the district.
Donna Talerico, the district’s deputy superintendent of schools, drew upon a classic parent’s answer in her response at the end of the public comment portion.
“I’m very hopeful we’ll be able to have that conversation,” she said. “We do feel like we’re in a solid place.”
Translation: Let’s wait and see.
In the meantime, positive cases do keep showing up in Mon’s schools, though not as bad of late.
The district ended last week with 47 new cases reported among students, with four staffers presenting with positive diagnoses.
A total of 115 students were out on quarantine along with five other employees, due to contact tracing.
That’s better than some districts.
The state Department of Education reported 113 outbreak cases at Point Pleasant High in Mason County, and 122 in Nicholas County Schools, with no particular buildings singled out.
Both sets of the numbers were attributed to “extracurricular activity,” according to the department’s web site.
Mon’s numbers go back to the protocol formula of masking and social-distancing, Talerico said.
“It shows us those mitigation strategies are working,” she said.
The contagion, meanwhile, isn’t just raising its hand in the classrooms and hallways of Point Pleasant High or on the sidelines of a football game in Nicholas County.
Just eight counties were showing green Tuesday on the County Alert Map maintained by the state Department of Health and Human Resources.
In north-central West Virginia, Mon County is orange. Several other counties are, also, including Preston, Marion and Harrison.
Ten counties are red, meanwhile, including neighboring Taylor County.
A total of 4,568 people in West Virginia have died to date due to complications from the virus, the DHHR said.
The best way to quell the virus, Talerico said, is by getting vaccinated.
Shots, with prior parental consent, will go into the arms of the district’s youngest students – ages 5 to 11 – in clinics next week at Mon’s 10 elementary schools.