BUCKHANNON, W.Va. – On Tuesday, Upshur County Board of Education opened its meeting allowing the 2020 and 2021 teachers of the year to speak on experiences at the Buckhannon-Upshur High School.
The teachers talked about navigating the tough times during COVID-19 and the excitement of having students back in the classrooms.
Parents spoke and teachers discussed the issue of a face covering mandate with BOE members. The mandate that was approved by the BOE follows the recovering guidance document from the WV Department of education which recommends that face coverings will be required for all students and staff regardless of vaccination status in counties that are orange or red on the WV DHHR County Alert System. Board officials said the alert system updates daily, meaning the mask requirement will change according to that system’s daily reading.
Parents both for and against wearing face coverings spoke during the delegations of the meeting.
“All we are asking is just to have the choice, and that is what we want. We want as a parent, other parents that are in there speaking for their children. We just want to have the choice,” said Jennifer Clem, a mother of a Hodgesville Elementary School student. Clem is concerned that masking may cause other issues. “A group of parents in Florida sent their kids masks, six of them, or five of them came back that had 11 dangerous pathogens. And that is scary, they’re talking pneumonia, tuberculosis, meningitis, that doesn’t even include the other small less severe pathogens. And that is scary to me as a parent to have my child breathing that in for eight hours.”
BOE officials also said that noncompliance by staff will be addressed by administrators following county face-covering noncompliance information and procedures. Student noncompliance will be addressed utilizing the disciplinary measures identified in the student code of conduct and protocol at the school level. BOE officials also said that face coverings are also required on all buses regardless of the WV DHHR County Alert System, per the CDC order.
Upshur County Health Department officials urged the BOE to consider moving back to 14-day quarantines. Currently, students can return to school after a seven-day quarantine.
Officials with the health departments said that they have had to hire more staff members to conduct contact tracing when they have a positive case. The BOE will also be working with administration officials at each school to implement proper use and wearing of face coverings.
The board also presented a proposal of a new high school with possible locations by architect, Ted Shriver. He spoke about the site of the new high school being situated on the property the board already owns next to the current high school. There also was discussion was given on renovating the current high school into a middle school for students.
Visit www.upshurschools.com for more information.