Lesson Learned (Aug. 27)

Probably I need not flatter myself that Clay B. Marsh, MD, our West Virginia COVID-19 Czar, wrote a blog post on June 1, 2020, that he entitled “LESSONS LEARNED.” I have 361 “Lesson Learned” columns and our COVID-19 Czar has 1 column, but no mind. 

Dr. Marsh leads the academic health sciences center of West Virginia University, including five schools — Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health — and numerous allied health programs and clinical operations around the state. 

Your humble servant is an elected member of the Upshur County Schools Board of Education serving for 10 years.

But when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, we are all in this together. This is really a big deal. Both of us have schools to open shortly. We have much on our minds. As Dr. Marsh observes:

“People became sick quickly. The concern of health and safety for their citizens induced the U.S. and world leaders to shut down person-to-person contact. Many had their citizens stay at home—away from schools, workplaces, playgrounds and parks. They stayed away from each other.  This was called the “suppression phase” by some and “the hammer” by others. By doing this, these leaders saw their economies decline. Unemployment soared. Restaurants failed. But this approach bought precious time and prevented a rapid surge in the number of infected people by the virus. This phase saved many lives.”

Now Governor Jim Justice has selected September 8th to reopen our schools. In May 2020, Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus convened an Upshur County-wide advisory board to participate in our schools reentry planning. I am pleased to be one of nearly 50 members who represent all the angles needed to successfully maximize teaching and learning in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Dr. Lewis Stankus says in our booklet 2020-2021 RE-ENTRY FRAMEWORK, outlining our plan: “We have never lost sight of the fact that our children NEED to be in school. However, we understand that we must do this with the utmost safety in mind. Upshur Schools is committed to both of those charges.”

My Lesson Learned as we march forward at a safe physical distance of six feet toward our school openings is that our immediate success hinges on wearing masks/face coverings and maintaining good hand hygiene. A vaccine is coming, but there is much we can do to keep our students and families safe until then.

We make wearing a mask a way to tell others we love them, to demonstrate altruism. We protect others from us. If all of us wear masks or face coverings, we protect Upshur County, West Virginia.

Our healthy behavioral chant can be ...


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