The day after our specially called meeting of the Upshur County Schools Board of Education public meeting Wednesday, January 13, 2021, to establish our school re-entry plan, I continue learning more about the Coronavirus Pandemic. A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report continues to emphasize that we are at war with an ever-changing and mutating enemy.
COVID-19 cases among younger children remained low even after schools restarted for in-person learning. “To safely reopen schools, however, transmission in communities must be kept in check.” The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report considered more than 2.8 million laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases in people ages 0 to 24 from March 1 through December 12.
Looks like our Upshur County BOE is on solid ground to adopt the West Virginia State Board of Education (WVBE) motion approved unanimously earlier in the same day. We modified the plan emphasizing safety, particularly the wearing of masks by students and staff. We take the blended instruction model we accepted last summer after much debate. However, we will revisit our entire re-entry plan as our employees get vaccinated and we monitor community infectivity. The more virulent strain of COVID-19 could overwhelm us with rapidly spreading morbidity and mortality.
As both a Doctor and as an elected member of the BOE, the most amazing part of our deliberations has been all the dialogue from our citizens. I love feedback! For several hours we received comments from our audience, from streaming persons online and from previously submitted email remarks. While we decried the process of the WVBE as an un-elected governmental hierarchy superseding a local elected board, nevertheless, we reached the same consensus this time. “All politics is local” is a truism by my logic.
Listening to our public, like doctors listening to our patients, is a vital step in making a diagnosis and undertaking a treatment plan. Playing in my memory bank is our West Virginia University School of Medicine Dean’s lecture on the importance of obtaining a good history. Dr. Clark Sleeth told us doctors-to-be in the fall of 1970: “History is everything! Always listen to your patients. 90% of the time you will hear exactly what ails them. The other 10% of the time you will never know even with a million dollar work-up.”
Dean Sleeth then recalled his mountaineer doctors’ therapeutic options. “To be an effective Healer, you must propose treatments that your patient can carry out. It does nobody good to propose to a heart failure patient that they should not climb trails up West Virginia hills and hollows, or avoid steps to the water spring or to the outhouse, if that is what the patient needs to do to keep living in their isolated farm house.”
I am satisfied that our BOE adopted a school re-entry plan for the education of our children and grandchildren that will foster our Upshur Strong students’ intellectual, social-emotional, and physical growth and well-being. Lesson Learned is that our common sense approach makes horse sense!