BOE explains outbreak


TALLMANSVILLE — The Upshur County Board of Education met Tuesday evening at Washington District Elementary School (WDES). With the exception of board member Kristi Wilkerson, all members were present, with board member Pat Long joining via Zoom call. The public was permitted to attend, with a recommendation to maintain social distance and wear masks.

Director of School Safety and Emergency Preparedness Jeff Harvey explained the outbreak incident that transpired over the weekend. Harvey explained that on Saturday, two employees had tested positive, so they started testing, quarantining and contact tracing. After testing Sunday, they discovered four additional positives tied to the school system.

Harvey reported that, at the time of the meeting, there were 20 confirmed active positives and 73 in quarantine. Harvey then explained that the local health department does not expect all of those in quarantine to be positive, but he said the school district is taking extra precautions to stop any potential spread and be as safe as possible.

According to Harvey, the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department has requested the schools to remain remote until November 5, as the last day for most school-related quarantines will be November 4.

Finally, Harvey reported that the food volunteers have been tested and have been requested to retest, any extracurricular events are not expected to be positive but they are also tracked, and he assured the buses are cleaned regularly.

Board member Katie Loudin requested to look into changing the mask-wearing policy within the transportation department, since this outbreak has stopped in-person classes. She shared that other county bus drivers have to wear masks while driving. “For everyone’s safety, theirs’ included, I would like us to entertain changing our practice,” she said.

WDES’s Principal Gabby Rhodes and Faculty Senate President Dorian Carrico gave the school’s LSIC/Faculty Senate presentation, including academic plans, budgets, grants, schedules and mentors/mentees.

Technology Support Specialist (TSS) Quinten Oldaker gave the Technology One-on-One report, which included Tech Tips that are sent out to students, families and staff regularly. He explained that feedback and more information to add to the tips are welcome. Oldaker said they also have Substitute Technology packets available, to help substitute teachers manage the different technologies for the year.

Director of Special Education Douglas Frashure presented Senate Bill 632 that allows video and audio recording in special education classrooms and the Best Life Therapy, LLC. Memorandum of Understanding, to which the board approved. Frashure noted that the cameras are for the children’s safety and will not be monitored by staff, nor used for monitoring purposes.

City Attorney Tom O’Neill was the sole delegation of the meeting, expressing his concern as a parent to five Upshur County students. He expressed his concern for the effectiveness of remote learning and asked to return kids to in-person classes five days a week, as soon as possible.

After the board went into executive session regarding personnel, the board approved Richard Steven Booth’s retirement as Bus Operator.

The board approved the following resignations: Travis B. Foster as B-UHS 9th Grade Boys Basketball Coach; and James Friend as Substitute Custodian for Upshur County Schools.

The board approved the following hires: Donna Walton and Virgil Waggaman as Substitute Custodians; Ricky Dunlap as Full Time Itinerant School Bus Operator; Chasidy D. Murray as Substitute Itinerant School Nurse; Michael Winter and Haley Barr as Substitute Teachers; Arron Roberts as B-UMS English Language Arts Teacher; and Dylan Chidester as Extra Curricular Bus Operator.

The board approved Ronnie Miller’s transfer from Full Time Itinerant Bus Operator to Full Time School Bus Operator. They also approved Mitchell Casey’s request for Bus Driver Training and Samantha Gainer’s maternity leave request.

The Upshur County Board of Education meets every other Tuesday. The next regular meeting of the academic year will be held November 10 at 6 p.m., tentatively scheduled at Buckhannon-Upshur High School.

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