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Mon school district cuts COVID quarantine from 14 days to 10

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Article by: Jim Bissett, The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — Monongalia County’s school district is reducing its coronavirus quarantine period from 14 days to 10, Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said Tuesday night.

However, there is a contagion caveat, Campbell told Board of Education members.

It’s provided, he said, that the exposure is from a standard COVID-19 diagnosis – and not the Delta strain.

The as-of-now statute also runs in tandem with the district’s move to make masking voluntary for all students in all grades come Aug. 24, the first day of school for 2021-22 here.

Campbell said both measures were slotted after he and other district officials met with Dr. Lee B. Smith the director of the Monongalia County Health Department and the county’s health officer.

He said the decision was based on the low numbers of Delta diagnoses in the region. Meanwhile, there’s also a caveat-within-the-caveat, the superintendent added.

If COVID cases, variant or otherwise, start an upward trend again, the health department will put the masking protocol back in place – while doing anything deemed necessary.

“We’re pretty comfortable with where we are,” Campbell said.

The number 14 loomed large in the pandemic math used by the district after schools went back to in-person learning this past spring.

Hundreds of students were home for two weeks at varying times and whole sports teams were benched at various times during the year as cases mounted.

The district did its own contact tracing in-house and also deployed a specially trained and outfitted COVID disinfecting crew.

Said crew was made up of district employees who fanned out to the buildings where positive cases and possible exposures occurred over the year.  

Campbell said previously the district plans on tapping more employees to make more crews for fall – the jobs are paid positions and bid on – given that last spring’s team was on call seven days a week.

“We pretty much wore them out,” he said.

Summer Avalanche update

In the meantime, Mon’s students in all grades are getting a workout during the Summer Avalanche learning enrichment program, which runs across the district through July 29.

Students are learning everything from how to swing a golf club to how to code a computer program for the next whiz-bang download on your smartphone.

Around 1,800 students and maybe more than that are taking part in the Avalanche, Deputy Superintendent Donna Talerico said.

The final count is still being tabulated, she said, since there were several last-minute sign-ups.

“We didn’t want to turn anyone away,” she said.

BOE members turned to the county’s excess levy for education, giving their official OK to the document projected to bring in nearly $32 million for the district.

The excess levy does the heavy lifting for the programs and other extras that set the district apart from the rest of the state, BOE President Nancy Walker said.

Mon residents will cast for or against in a special election Sept. 25.

For 48 years, that’s been a “yes” vote – and generally on the landslide scale.