Education, Latest News

Mon readies for first day of school

Those Bluebird buses are back on the road this morning in Monongalia County.

Today is the first day of school in Mon, with 11,470 students, according to the most-recent enrollment numbers from the district, ready to report to their classes for the start of the 2022-23 academic year.

“We’re excited to be back,” Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said.

Mon’s district is going back on firmer footing than some.

While many of the Mountain State’s public school systems are grappling with teacher shortages, Campbell said that classrooms in the local district here will come standard with a certified educator on the other side of the desk — no matter what.

“Actually, we’re in good shape,” he said. “We’ll be fully be staffed.”

Eight teacher positions, though, are currently posted, said Donna Talerico, deputy superintendent, with five of them being in special education on the elementary school level.

There have also been 73 teacher resignations from last year to now, she said, with 22 others retiring either at the end of last year or over the summer.

A total of 15 full-time teachers are currently on leaves of absence, she said.

Campbell said those special education vacancies, for now, are going to be filled with long-term substitutes certified in that discipline.  

In a pinch, the district could also provide other day-to-day substitutes, the superintendent said.

A classroom caveat does enter in: Those substitutes are also certified, he said — just not always in special education.

“That’s the downside,” the superintendent said.

However, he said, a trained teacher in front of the classroom is still just that: A trained teacher.

And a trained, certified teacher, he said, can still deliver on the immediate, in-the-moment dynamic required by special ed instruction at those grades in the school building.

“On the elementary level, you’re not so deep into content,” he said.

The coronavirus, meanwhile, was still showing a certain depth in the county and region as of Monday.

“That’s something I don’t think we’ll ever be rid of,” Campbell said.

On its COVID alert map then, the state Department of Health and Resources reported 15 counties in the green, including Preston and Harrison.

Monongalia and Marion counties were among the 38 presenting with yellow on the map.

Two other counties showed gold.

The DHHR said it received notice of 17 COVID-related deaths over the weekend, including a 13-year-old girl from Nicholas County.

Of the 340 patients currently hospitalized statewide with the virus, 14 are children — with four of them in intensive care and another on a ventilator.

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