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Mon Schools: Masks to remain, at least into January

Mon County students didn’t check their face masks at the door when they dismissed two hours early Wednesday for Christmas break.

In fact, facial coverings will be required when they return to classes Jan. 4, and that mandate was put in place as the district considered COVID numbers, and the delta and omicron variants the contagion is now carrying across the Mountain State.

“We did see a little spike in cases after the Thanksgiving break,” Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said.

“We know our kids are going to mask-less at family gatherings, so what we want to do is look at numbers two or three weeks into the month before we talk about anything else.”

Before omicron introduced itself to the state and region, the district was definitely talking about lifting the mandate in mid-January of the new year, Campbell said.

“We know our mitigation strategies are working,” he said. “The idea is keep everyone in school, while making sure our students and staffers are safe at the same time.”

Last week, 39 of those students reported positive diagnoses, with another 79 classmates finishing the week in quarantine.

A total of four staffers also tested positive, with two more among their ranks sitting out the week in isolation due to contact tracing, the district said.

That’s while COVID continues to raise its hand in school buildings across West Virginia, according to numbers from the state Department of Education.

Pocahontas-Marlinton Middle School in Pocahontas County went on remote learning last week because of absences and lack of staffing attributed to the virus, the department said.

In Mason County, Point Pleasant is still dealing with the aftermath of 118 outbreak cases attributed to an extracurricular activity, according to the department website.

To date, 5,242 West Virginia residents have died from COVID and its complications, the state Department of Health and Human Resources reported Wednesday.

Monongalia, Preston and Marion counties are among those showing orange of the County Alert Map maintained by the DHHR.

A total of 16 counties are red on the map, which is the worst color for the contagion – while six are showing green, the best for low-infection rates.

Meanwhile, Dr. Clay Marsh continues to be concerned over omicron.

He didn’t hold back while speaking of the new variant during Gov. Jim Justice’s meeting with reporters Tuesday.

The state’s COVID czar referred to the variant as “the most infectious respiratory virus on this planet.”

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