Graduation coming for Mon County students, administrators eye fall return

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – With planning assistance from the Monongalia County Health Health Department, students at all three high schools will have in-person outdoor graduation ceremonies this year in May.

Last year, pandemic restrictions and questions delayed ceremonies until late June. Despite requirements for masks, social distancing and ample hand sanitizer the senior was very grateful to have a ceremony.

On WAJR’s Talk of the Town, superintendent Eddie Campbell said there are fewer unknowns this year making the ceremonies possible.

“We still will have some social distancing restrictions, mask restrictions and those types of things,” Campbell said,” But, we’re going to get more people in than we did last year.”

Pre-pandemic, ceremonies were held in the WVU Coliseum. In 2020, ceremonies were held on the same day at respective football fields.

“May 21st University will graduate at 7 p.m. at their football stadium, on the 22nd at 10 a.m. Morgantown High School will do theirs at the football stadium and on Sunday the 23rd Clay Battelle will have theirs at the football stadium.”

The 2020-21 school year has been defined by the computer screen and connectivity. But, school officials will take lessons learned along the way from experts and experience to the fall 2021-22 school year.

“This is going to help us with things as basic as the flu and cold season,” Campbell said,” There are some silver linings to this in the lessons we’ve learned.”

All 55 public school districts, teachers unions and families all lined up with different concerns for state and local leaders ranging from safety to educational attainment and accountability. Statewide COVID Czar Dr. Clay Marsh endorsed data showing classrooms were safe helping ease concerns as students reentered buildings.

“We’ve learned a lot about the things we need to do to keep our buildings clean and to keep our doors open and our kids healthy,” Campbell said.

About 75 percent of students expressed an interest to return to the classroom prior to the State Board of Education order to limit distance learning. Some families opted for home schooling or other options due to the uncertainty.

“We’re very hopeful that if not all, a majority of students who have remain out for whatever reason this spring will return,” Campbell said.