Our Upshur County Schools fall reentry hangs in the balance due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said that six June outbreaks have been linked to churches in our state, though he had no plans to close them. Fairmont State University postpones the August Commencement due to concerns of more than 100 people gathering creating a potential “hot spot.” How can the BOE assemble nearly 4,000 children and over 500 employees over the 2020-2021 school calendar?
Major League Baseball owners announced plans for a 60-game schedule starting in July — but there are growing concerns that big-time sports will struggle to return. Athletes and team employees in baseball, football, golf, tennis and other sports have recently tested positive for the virus as they begin gathering for practices. How can the BOE grant coaches and players full sports seasons?
Yet this is our task! Our Board of Education, overseeing our capable and competent central office professionals and principals, is working out options for fall classes as we set our opening date. Our new West Virginia Department of Education Superintendent W. Clayton Burch, appointed by the West Virginia Board of Education as the 32nd State Superintendent of Schools, says: “The focus is now on school re-entry, recovery and the re-establishment of processes, protocols and procedures that will allow students to resume a more consistent learning structure. COVID-19 is a historic and seminal event that will forever change much of what we do. The pandemic has interrupted more than instruction, and we will see its profound impact on our children as we return to school. There is no denying that school will now look very different, but my focus remains steadily on three core areas that are critical to the whole child: social-emotional well-being, equity and access to technology and broadband, and overall academic achievement.”
As a Medical Doctor, I first listen to fellow Physicians like Anthony Fauci, MD, who recently spoke of reentry plans: “The best way to protect yourself and to prevent acquisition of and spread of infection is to avoid crowds. Avoid crowds,” Dr. Fauci urged. “Wear a mask at all times.”
Opening up our schools without fully practicing social distancing, frequent hand washing, wearing masks and isolating 14 days when sick gives me concern about the increased risk of spreading infection.
Upshur County Schools still has a most difficult lesson to learn due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. We are in a quandary! Whodathunkit?