KINGWOOD, W.Va. – During an emergency meeting in August, Preston Co. Schools decided to enforce a mask mandate that would be in effect until Sept. 27.
Superintendent of Preston Co. Board of Education (BOE), Steve Wotring, said the county formed a committee of board members, school teachers, administrators and parents to decide what to do after Sept. 27. On the night of the final day of the mandate, Wotring said, the committee came forth with the recommendation to extend the mask mandate but in three stages.
The mandate right now is really in three stages, so our numbers are really high right now in Preston County. I think we’re like the highest or the second-highest infection rate based upon the map today. But, we will be under a mask mandate for the month of October. Then beginning in November, we will begin to base the mask mandate upon the colors on the map. So, if we find ourselves in gold, yellow or green for five consecutive days, then the mask mandate would be lifted.Steve Wotring – Superintendent Preston Co. Schools
In the second stage, Wotring said, if the county is in the red for three consecutive days, then the BOE mask mandate would be reinstituted.
And then, stage three begins Dec. 1.
“The board wants to look at a school by school percentage-based system that we’re still working out,” Wotring said.
This means each school will have a mask policy based on its own infection rates in stage three. The BOE will assess how each school is doing to determine if mask-wearing should be optional at that specific institution.
Wotring said the new three-stage approach may seem confusing to some, but the message remains what it has always been throughout the pandemic.
“The message still remains that, you know, none of us have ever been through this before, definitely not through our education system,” Wotring said. “And, we are trying to do everything we can to keep our schools open and to keep our kids in school, so those are the measures we’re taking to make sure that we have the best option of making that happen. And we are just asking for cooperation and patience as we move through this.”