“COVID Star” Dr. Harvey announces resignation from BOE

BUCKHANNON — Upshur County’s Board of Education met on Tuesday at French Creek Elementary School to present Upshur Stars Awards, and to hear reports from each department.

Beginning awards, FCES’s Principal Kasey Baisden recognized student Jaiden Messenger for excelling academically, and always putting forth her best effort in school. Baisden also awarded the following teachers and staff members for their outstanding and exemplary work in the school and classrooms: Levi Bender, Johnathan Ratliff, Sharron Walton, and Sheila Louk.

Following, Facilities Director Tim Derico received an Upshur Star award for his consistent and essential help to keep Upshur County School’s buildings up-to-speed with renovations and repairs. When the electric failed at Tennerton Elementary on Sunday, Derico reportedly came to the rescue with his family from out of town to save thousands of dollars worth of food from ruining.

Concluding the awards, the Board and department members presented a special COVID Star Award to Dr. Jeff Harvey, Head of Safety and Emergency Preparedness for Upshur County Schools. Dr. Harvey is stepping down from his current position with to pursue his personal business, which has reportedly flourished with success. He was commended and thanked by all Board members for his diligent work through the pandemic, as he was the leading force of help behind COVID-19 protection and prevention. He shared, “This district is important to me, the program that we’ve started is important to me, and I want to make sure that whoever follows me in this position has every chance at success. I’m not going too far.”

After awards, French Creek Elementary staff shared their Faculty Senate report to the Board. They explained their programs, incentives, grants, financial reports, multicultural lessons and activities, disciplinary data, and community engagements/involvements.

Following, Derico presented a video made by Kayla Yocum that showcased the history of the Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School building. As the structure was built in 1925, there are essential projects and repairs to be made for the well-being of students and staff in attendance. In particular, the roof is suffering serious damages from years of degradation. A temporary fix made in 2012 is now falling through, causing further issues within the building. Derico notified the Board that, although immediate action does not need to be taken, the repairs and roof renovations will cost around $3.25 million. The project will likely need to take place before the possible move to the current high school building.

In a Wellness update from Eddie Vincent, the Board learned of a new program—Wellness and You—that will provide free personal training and fitness classes to employees of Upshur County Schools. Led by Coach Jett and West Virginia Wesleyan College exercise science students, more information will be provided when finalized, to those interested in taking part in this opportunity.

Yocum and Quinten Oldaker provided a brief Technology report, informing the Board on a new “Technology Tips” newsletter that will be passed out to students, teachers and families to help strengthen technology skills in the school system. The team continues working daily to resolve Help Desk tickets, assisting at all hours of the day.

Concluding department reports, Dr. Harvey gave his final Safety and Emergency Preparedness report. He provided a graph depicting current COVID cases and active quarantines, which he said have finally leveled off after a long period of rising. Case and quarantine numbers are going down, as Dr. Harvey shared, “Schools don’t seem to be the super-spreaders we thought they could be.” He continues exposure tracing, with an emphasis on those who attended homecoming, pending a possible outbreak. As the county case map switches back and forth in color, mask mandates may soon be dropped.

The next BOE meeting will take place on October 26 at 6:00 p.m., at Washington District Elementary School.


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