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‘I can say right now that every school in Monongalia County is safe’

MORGANTOWN — If you can’t do anything about the weather, Donna Talerico said, you can at least keep an eye on the winds of change.

Talerico, the deputy superintendent of Monongalia County Schools, was talking both about Wednesday’s snow day – the first of the season – coupled with ongoing concern from several Morgantown High parents over recent threats of violence in the building.

The weather component came early that morning. Roadways slickened by both ice and a dusting of snow prompted officials to call school for the day.

Students stayed home, and that directive most likely relieved several MHS parents who have been worried over their kids in school, of late.

That was after two instances of graffiti were discovered Friday at the school on Wilson Avenue.

The author, or authors, promised in both messages to “shoot up the school,” either that Friday or this past Monday.

District officials in response placed all high schools and middle schools on a modified schedule, including increased security, which will remain in place indefinitely for now.

They were motivated, they said, by last week’s deadly shootings at a school in Oakland County, Mich.

Ethan Crumbley, 15, is being charged with murder as an adult, after police said he shot four of his Oxford High classmates to death while wounding four other students and a teacher.

“In response,” is the watchword.

His parents are now facing criminal charges, and prosecutors haven’t ruled out the same for the OHS administration, saying all parties failed to act accordingly in the case of a son and student who was floundering, emotionally.

Meanwhile, in Morgantown, parents here are wondering if Mon Schools has responded strongly enough in the case of the local threats scrawled on the bathroom wall.

That’s what MHS parent Brandie Miles told Mon Board of Education members during their meeting Tuesday night.

“We shouldn’t fear sending our kids to school,” she said.

Miles is helping organize a protest, set for 1 p.m. Friday in front the school district’s central offices on South High Street.

COVID vaccination clinics for elementary students will continue today and Friday as scheduled, Talerico said.

Wednesday’s clinics, which were canceled because of the weather, have now been rescheduled for next week as well, she added.

Talerico said she’ll be confident for everyone’s safety during those clinics, since students had to be pre-registered and their parents, in many cases, will also accompany them.

“We’ve got all the safeguards in place,” she said. “We know who’s coming to school.”

Oftentimes in cases of school violence, she said, no one knows what’s coming. That’s why the deputy superintendent appreciates both the concern and heightened awareness.

“I can say right now that every school in Monongalia County is safe, but the world isn’t always safe,” she said.

Talerico said intruder alert drills will again start up in buildings. That fell off, she said, because of COVID and remote learning.

“We weren’t in our buildings for so long,” she said.

The district’s counseling services and other preventive efforts never went away, the deputy superintendent said, no matter how the learning was delivered.

“We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing,” she said.

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