Schools back in session this week under gold COVID-19 status

Screenshot of the West Virginia Department of Education map.

by KATE EVANS

Morgan County Schools students will return to school  this week Monday, November 9 through Friday, November 13 after the county was classified as a gold county on the West Virginia Department of Education’s Saturday, November 7 School Alert System map for COVID-19. There is no school on Wednesday, November 11 due to Veteran’s Day.

Morgan County Schools operated through remote learning last week November 2-6 after Morgan County was designated an orange county on the state education map due to the rise in the number of county COVID-19 cases.  School was closed on November 3 for Election Day.

As of Saturday, November 7, Morgan County has a total of 177 cumulative cases of COVID-19-158 confirmed cases and 19 probable cases.  The county has 35 residents with active cases of the respiratory disease and 142 people have recovered from the virus.  There have been no deaths from COVID-19 in Morgan County.

Color codes

The gold category means elevated community transmission and that a county has 10-14.9 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 or a 4-4.9% positivity rate, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services.

The orange status indicates 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.

With the category change to gold, schools are required to increase mitigation efforts.  It’s mandatory for all students in grades 3-12 to wear face masks at all times.  No assemblies or large group gatherings are permitted and schools will limit exposure of core groups.

Athletics and extracurricular guidelines also changed with the gold classification. Only parents and guardians are permitted at athletics and extra-curricular events when a county is considered gold.  Cheerleaders and bands may participate at home games according to WVSSAC guidelines.  Counties can only compete in-county or with other gold counties.

School Alert System

West Virginia’s School Alert System uses metrics from the state Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) that use a five-color system of green, yellow, gold, orange and red to indicate the prevalence of COVID-19 within a county’s borders.

The map is updated every Saturday at 5:00 p.m. and determines the level of academic, athletic and extracurricular activities that are allowed in the county during that week.    On Saturday, November 7 the release of the School Alert System map was delayed until after 11:00 p.m. due to further validation of data, according to the West Virginia Department of Education website.

The Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) state COVID-19 County Alert map changes daily.  It shows each county’s infection rate and percent positivity rate indicators and determines a county’s color status by the lower of the two indicators.

Need community’s help

Morgan County Schools Superintendent Kristen Tuttle has said that the school system needs the community’s help to keep kids in school.  Social distancing, wearing a face mask, washing hands frequently, staying home when sick and  keeping hands away from your face are all important ways to offer protection from  COVID-19 and other illness.

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