by KATE EVANS
Morgan County Schools students will switch back to full remote learning this coming week, Monday, November 2 through Friday, November 6. The county was classified as an orange county on the West Virginia Department of Education’s Saturday, October 31 COVID-19 School Alert System map, triggering the closure of in-person classes for the second time this fall.
The orange status means heightened community COVID-19 transmission of 15 to 24.9 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 or a 5%-7.9% positivity rate of COVID-19 infection, according to information from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services. The state school map is updated every Saturday evening based on the previous week’s COVID testing and infection rates for each county.
County schools were back in session this past week October 26-30 while the county was in gold status, indicating elevated community transmission. Schools had been closed for remote learning October 19-23.
Steady rise in cases
County COVID-19 cases have been steadily rising over the last several weeks, but active cases have started to drop again. As of Saturday, October 31, Morgan County had 156 total cumulative cases of COVID-19 with 143 confirmed cases and 13 probable cases. There are presently 32 county residents with an active infection, according to the West Virginia DHHR data.
On Sunday, October 25, Morgan County had 61 active cases of the respiratory disease.
Some 121 people have now recovered from the coronavirus. Morgan County has had no deaths tied to COVID-19.
Morgan County Schools Superintendent Kristen Tuttle said in a Saturday evening press release that “although the recent rise in cases are not school-related and we believe that children need to be in schools for optimal learning, we must follow the metrics as directed.”
“Students will not report to school starting Monday, November 2 until our metric color returns to gold, yellow or green on the WVDE Saturday map,” Tuttle announced.
All faculty, staff and administration will report to work while the county is in orange status, Tuttle said. Teachers and administrators have established plans to deliver instruction remotely. The Schoology online learning platform will be used. There are already more than 600 county students using that platform full-time for learning.
“Teachers will be delivering instruction, communicating with their students and monitoring student progress. Students are expected to be engaged in learning each day,” she said.
Tuttle reminded families that all Morgan County school parking lots, the county’s state parks and public libraries are internet hotspots.
Meals for Morgan County Schools virtual students and for those students that have requested meals during remote learning weeks can be picked up at the following times on Monday, November 2:
Berkeley Springs High School–11 a.m.-12 p.m.
Paw Paw Schools–12 p.m.-1 p.m.
Pleasant View Elementary–10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Warm Springs Intermediate–10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Warm Springs Middle School–11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Widmyer Elementary–10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Follow health instructions
Tuttle urged families to follow any instructions from the Berkeley-Morgan County Health Department. If told to quarantine, she said they should quarantine for the entire period indicated by the Health Department. She noted that Morgan County Schools supported the Health Department’s recommendations and directives.
“We want to keep our students and staff safe and healthy so that we can get back to school soon. We need the citizens of Morgan County to please be vigilant in following recommendations of the local health department, the WVDHHR and the CDC to slow the virus spread in our community, Tuttle said.
“While the numbers are coming down, we need to stay the course to keep them that way. Please remember to social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands and keep your hands away from your face,” Tuttle emphasized.
Keep at least six feet away from others and limit your exposure to others. Wash your hands often with soap and water and use hand sanitizer with 70% alcohol when hand-washing isn’t possible. Clean and disinfect frequently used objects and surfaces often.
Testing, Election Day
Tuttle reminded everyone that free COVID-19 testing is available Sunday, November 1 at Warm Springs Middle School from 12:00 noon to 8:00 p.m. She also noted that there is no school for students and staff on Tuesday, November 3 due to Election Day.
Orange status activities
Counties designated as orange must suspend in-person instruction and activate remote learning following the release of the Saturday School Alert System metric map.
Staff continues essential student support services such as meals, student engagement and special education services. Face coverings are required at all times for grades 3-12 when school services are required or needed.
Athletic and extracurricular activities are limited to conditioning only as defined by WVSSAC. Marching band activities must be limited to outdoors only.