School officials explain the remote shift in Mon County

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Schools in Monongalia County will remain in remote mode until January 4. Deputy superintendent Donna Talerico said the decision was difficult, but key factors really forced them into the decision on WAJR’s Talk of the Town.

As isolation and quarantine numbers grew the number of available substitute teachers virtually disappeared, crippling their ability to provide quality k through 12 instruction.

“The delivery of our programs was suffering and not enough substitutes for that matter,” Talerico said,” To make sure everyone feels confident- our students, our parents and our staff.”

COVID-19 exposures in Mon County school buildings has been proportionally minor for a school system that last reported about 12,000 students. Talerico believes community spread has been responsible for the cases they have reported.

“We have had 37 students COVID positive since September and we’ve had 27 staff members test positive,” Talerico said.

So, COVID-19 is the cause for the shift, but the real cause has been measures taken to keep students and staff safe.

“The impact is larger, but the actual issues of COVID-19 are minimal,” Talerico said,” Really less than one percent in our school buildings.”

Several West Virginia school systems have battled the same COVID-related staffing issues and most have had to pause in-person instruction to bridge the time required for recovery from the virus, quarantine or isolation.

“Many of our subs, and I understand this, are not anxious to work,” Talerico said,” Many of them are retirees and they certainly don’t want to put themselves in jeopardy and I respect that totally.”

As of Wednesday, December 9, the DHHR website reports 17 school outbreaks of COVID-19 in the state. Statewide COVID-19 czar, Dr. Clay Marsh has also said multiple times that schools have been the super spreaders that experts thought they could be.

“Because we’re very strict with the protocols,” Talerico said,” It puts people out under a quarantine and that ripple effect throughout the building is hard to cover.”

Harrison and Marion County schools have also shifted to remote learning through the end of the year.