Lesson Learned (Sept. 10)

Our August 11th regular public meeting of the Upshur County Schools Board of Education gave us one more opportunity to hone our approach to our re-entry framework. President Dr. Tammy Samples correctly surmised that whatever decision we reach, and however we proceed, will leave some folks angered and distressed.

However, our many meetings and dialogues have resulted in the Upshur County Schools Team formulating a blended model, “2 days staggered” version framework that allows us now to work through school-to-school issues that will surely happen every day in our next 180-day school year.

Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus, Upshur County Schools Superintendent, addresses our families with a poignant reminder: “We have never lost sight of the fact that our children NEED to be in school.” The 25-page “Welcome Back” booklet that follows supplies guiding details for information on how we will mitigate against the spread and prevention of COVID-19.

As a retired physician who has run the course of practicing with patients in the West Virginia Hills, I can appreciate the role a framework provides. For Doctors of Medicine, our Hippocratic Oath gives us guidance: “I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant: I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.” (Modern Oath Framework)

The Board of Education acts officially when we hold our open, public meetings. The Buckhannon Academy Elementary School meeting on August 11th allowed us opportunity to hear from our citizens, our professional staff, and to deliberate with one another as elected persons. All of that came together.

To show the wisdom of following a local school board approach to problem solving, I can reflect on how this decision-making capacity has worked out in the past. Several years back, our Upshur County voters turned down a school building bond. Certainly, there were pros and cons to consider. We, of course, abided by the collective wisdom of the vote. 

Now, I am impressed with how we are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Any future school building will look different because of public health measures now in place to control COVID-19, including:

  • Windows and ventilation
  • 6 foot physical distancing
  • Sanitation including personal and deep cleaning measures
  • Masks and physical barriers between desks or in offices.

We are poised not only for a successful school year 2020-2021, but also, we are learning lessons for future school safety as we pledge to do all for the health and safety of our students.


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