As the COVID-19 coronavirus situation continues to evolve, the district is receiving many questions about the status of our schools. Our public schools are in a much different situation than larger institutions of learning, such as universities. Instead of all students and staff being concentrated on one or two campuses, our district is made up of multiple individual school campuses and multiple partner Pre-K centers, all of which are spread out over Marion County.
Will my school be closed?
Currently, there are no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus in West Virginia. We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in close cooperation with the Marion County Health Department, which is still identifying the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in our communities as low. Health department officials have pledged to make the school district aware of any confirmed COVID-19 cases in our communities immediately. The decision to close any or all schools will be made on a case-by case basis.
At this time, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials are not recommending the closing of public schools en masse to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Instead, they are recommending schools and districts closely monitor confirmed cases of COVID-19 in cooperation with local health officials, and work with those officials to make decisions about when to close or reopen schools based on confirmed disease activity.
Because our public schools serve as important social support centers in our communities, there are many reasons to keep them operating, if at all possible. Schools provide meals for many hungry students who otherwise may not receive appropriate nutrition. In addition, schools also provide support services and safe places for children while their parents continue working. Also, many of our parents have careers in the healthcare industry, so it is important they are allowed to continue working to help us continue to prevent the spread of COVID-19 locally.
We are working with local, state, and federal officials to make any determinations regarding school closings.
At this point, we are following Marion County Health Department officials’ recommendations for careful monitoring of attendance and additional cleaning of school facilities and vehicles. We have put in place protocols for more quickly isolating any potentially ill students and are encouraging parents to keep children who are sick at home until they fully recover. The district has relaxed its attendance policies and is not requiring a doctor’s excuse. If we have a large number of identified COVID-19 cases at an individual school or multiple schools, we will work with the Marion County Health Department to determine next steps based on the most up-to-date, expert recommendations from medical professionals and the CDC. From what we understand, these steps may include closing the affected school or schools for a day or two to perform additional cleaning, advising parents of immunocompromised or sick children to keep them home, then reopening the school. However, we know this situation is evolving and will continue working with all officials to ensure we make sound decisions regarding student and employee health.
It is important to remember, the COVID-19 situation is evolving daily, as is the information about the spread and severity of the disease. Federal, state and local public health officials are constantly monitoring all aspects of this virus in order to provide our school district with the most up-to-date guidance. While we do not anticipate closing, this is a fluid situation and we are making preparations now in case we must. Information regarding those plans will be distributed in the next few days.
In situations such as this, no one has all the answers, which creates understandable apprehension. We will continue to communicate updated information we receive from our health officials through updates on our website, www.marionboe.com.
Marion County Schools will post relevant news, updates, and guidance for parents, students, teachers, and staff on this page to keep you informed.