Mon County teachers voice concerns about COVID-19 reopening

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Teachers and members of Monongalia County are expressing concerns about reopening in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the opening of the Mon County Board of Education’s meeting Tuesday, a letter written by the American Federation of Teachers respresentative for Monongalia County was presented in front of the board that showed concerns about reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic by Mon County teachers an staff. In particular, concerns with the reopening plan currently in place scheduled for September 8th.

“We sincerly hope that the board and administration will take this information in consideration and revisit the current plan for reentry for the next school year,” said Mon County Board of Education Member Nancy Walker in reading the letter.

The survey presented by the AFT was answered by over three hundred faculty and staff working in Monongalia County Schools. Of those who did respond, the concerns stemmed from them or their family members being at high risk for COVID-19 in which an astounding seventy percent who responded said was their respective case. As a result of those concerns, there are several teachers and staff that are looking at early retirement.

“Eleven staff that are eligible to retire will retire if we go back to a traditional setting, members have also stated that they are not quite eligible for retirement will be eligible for an early option,” said Walker.

Most of the teachers and staff who responded to the survey, highly reccomended alternative options to the traditional teaching method. Even though alternative hybrid models of learning have been presented by the board, the survey is showing a virtual learning option is preferred among educators, with over fifty four percent saying so. The majority of those taking the survey, also soundly rejecting alternative options altogether regardless on what.

“With another twenty-two percent saying they would like a blended option, with only nine percent chose a traditional five day a week option,” said Walker.

Despite the concerns from staff members of the Monongalia County Education System expressed in the survey, the goal is to be open on September 8th. During Tuesday’s meeting, the BOE presented their unique education plans discussed for elementary, middle and high school students respectively. While concerns were discussed, the plans were given an okay by the board and while the situation is acknowledged as fluid, some sort of person to person education will take place in Mon County Schools.

“I think our plan is beyond solid, I think it will allow us to do the things that we know are needed,” said Mon County School Deputy Superintendent Donna Talerico during the meeting. “Nothing replaces the face to face instruction of our teachers,” she said.