Mason-Dixon Elementary goes remote after three students contract COVID-19


BLACKSVILLE, W.Va. – Mason-Dixon Elementary School students will be learning remotely for the next couple of weeks after three students tested positive for COVID-19.

All three of the students contracted COVID-19 after attending an out of school birthday party, according to Superintendent of Monongalia Schools Dr. Eddie Campbell. Campbell said the initial belief was that it was just two siblings who had attended the birthday party, but later the school realized there was an additional person who is unrelated to the first two. That third student also tested positive for COVID-19, so the school will be remote for two weeks.

Dr. Campbell

“We ended up with a total of 58 students that were going to need to be quarantined and we had to add three additional teachers to that list. Those were all quarantines. When all was said and done, we had 58 students and we had eight staff members. That’s our smallest school in the district and so that was a pretty big impact on the school, as far as the number of students that were quarantined and the number of staff. When we looked at it, we felt it was prudent on our part as a precaution to go ahead and close the school because of the number of classes and the number of staff that were impacted so as to prevent any kind of school spread.”

Dr. Eddie Campbell – Superintendent

The biggest concern was for the safety of everyone in the school, so the county tried to avoid school spread with its decision to go remote. Campbell said with roughly 300 students from pre-k to 5th grade, there were not many other options.

Had this happened at Morgantown High School, which has 1,900 students, there would have been more options. Campbell said the county could isolate a class, classroom, staff and students with ease at a bigger school.

Outside of Mason-Dixon Elementary

Regardless, he said, the incident at Mason-Dixon Elementary proves that the system the county has in place for avoiding and handling COVID-19 works.

“This is definitely working for us,” he said.

The reason being, he said, is because the county is not seeing any in-school spread of the coronavirus. There are only cases springing up in the community that students are bringing to school. In fact, since schools reopened in January, Campell said, there have been zero cases caused by school spread.

“Everything that we’ve been dealing with has been community spread and we’re going to continue to be very aggressive in our approach of controlling it,” Campbell said. “And as I’ve said repeatedly, we can’t control what happens at a birthday party outside of school, but we certainly can control what’s going on in our buildings. And we’re going to treat that very aggressively and protect our students and our staff.”

Empty playground at Mason-Dixon Elementary

To keep up with the latest numbers in Monongalia Co. schools. Campbell said the public can visit the school board’s website. There, people can find week by week information about how many students and staff are infected.

“Those are are our real numbers, real-time numbers for the week, past week, so folks can see exactly how many staff members tested positive, how many students tested positive.,” Campbell said. “We actually post as well the number of students and staff have been quarantined as a result of those positive identifications.”

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