School Nurse Briefs Pocahontas BOE on Updated State COVID-19 Protocols

Pocahontas School Nurse Jenny Friel spoke to the Board of Education (BOE) members at their February 1st meeting about the updated WV Board of Education’s COVID-19 protocols which were released on January 31.

She said these new protocols recognized that the decision to require an in-school mask mandate rests with each local BOE, and therefore the new protocols are divided into those for mask mandated counties and those for counties such as Pocahontas County who do not have a school mask mandate.

One of the major differences is that the rules for requiring contract tracing for positive cases among students and staff remain in place for school systems without a mask mandate, while contact tracing may be discontinued for school systems which have a school mask mandate.

Another change in these protocols is for anyone who tests positive or has to quarantine, the first date they test positive or were exposed to someone who has is now considered to be day 0 instead of day 1.  The policy requires schools to enforce anyone who was exposed or who test positive to stay home for 5 days (not including day 0) they can return to school for days 6 through 10 if asymptomatic but they must wear a mask in school through day 10 even if the school doesn’t have a mask mandate. Nurse Jenny said enforcing this with students has proven to be very difficult. She said that if someone is not willing to wear a mask on days 6 through 10, they must remain at home.

Friel said that under the policy, if a someone in our schools voluntarily always wears a mask while in school and are exposed to someone who tests positive for CIVID-19, they are not required to quarantine.

Friel said she has been working with the County Health Department, and it is their belief that the COVID pandemic is becoming more of an “endemic” similar to a seasonal flu outbreak, but the State Department of Education still doesn’t see it that way. She also said that our numbers here are better then school system’s who enforce strict mask mandates.

As of the night of the BOE meeting, Nurse Jenny said those numbers are:

  • 2 positive staff members
  • 6 positive students
  • 46 students under quarantine (although 10 of these are due to be released by February 2nd.)
  • 0 staff quarantined.

PCHS Principal Joe Riley presented very encouraging graduation numbers and projections to the board members. Last year 90.45 percent of the seniors graduated in 4 years. Of those graduating this year, 61% say they are going on to college, 33% say they are going into the workforce and 6% say they are joining the military, including one who begins Marine Boot Camp the day after he graduates. This year Graduation is at 2 pm on Sunday, May 22nd.

Superintendent Beam told the board that only 17 students voluntarily remain in virtual instruction. He also said he feels the board should review the school reentry plan next meeting because of the revised state COVID policy. Beam said the county will be one of 18 counties starting a “grow your own” teacher program. Working with Glenville State College, special courses will be offered at PCHS for potential education majors to take courses enabling them to skip their first year of college at Glenville and spend their Senior year student teaching in our school system.

The board approved all of the agenda items that were up for consideration at the meeting.

You can find those items as well as the personnel actions approved at this meeting by clicking on this link to the agenda –2-1-22 BOE Official Agenda PDF

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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