POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Board of Education discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and student academic achievement at the regular business meeting on Thursday evening.
During the meeting, Supt. Jack Cullen, who was attending the meeting virtually, received a call from the Mason County Health Department about a couple more positive cases at Point Pleasant High School. Cullen said the school and the Mason County Career Center would be going virtual on Friday, Nov. 20, to allow for contact tracing. Cullen said any staff who were not quarantined would report to the building.
On Thursday afternoon, the board met with the Mason County Health Department to discuss the protocol for contact tracing and guidelines for quarantining individuals. The board members agreed that the health department would evaluate each case and only quarantine the necessary individuals, but in the recent cases, the department is placing whole classes on quarantine, regardless of where they are seated in the room. At the conclusion of the meeting, the board said Dr. Wes Lieving with the county health department told them they would narrow the tracing and be more specific when placing people in quarantine.
Cullen said he and other administrators are working on staffing for the Mason County Virtual School. Cullen said the goal is to make classes less than 25 people in each room when moving to four days per week and have enough teachers for both in school and virtual classes.
On the agenda for the meeting, Cullen said the county virtual school will be listed, but it is to discuss supplemental contracts. Cullen said if this passes, teachers would be doing the virtual school duties after the school day.
Kenny Bond, the curriculum director, gave an update to the board and said the number of students failing classes has decreased from the midterm to the end of the nine-weeks. Bond said for students in grades third through six, 48 percent of the students failing were only failing a “rotational” class, such as music, art and gym, which meet once or twice per week.
A parent spoke to the board with concerns about effectiveness of only two days in the classroom and about sports. The parent said he does not feel that students only being in the classroom is effective to their education. He feels his high school aged son is falling behind more each week. The parent also said the students need sports for many reasons, including mental health, social development and even education. The board told the parent they understand his concerns, but the call on delaying winter sports until Jan. 11 came from Gov. Jim Justice.
More on the Mason County Board of Education will appear in upcoming editions of the Point Pleasant Register.
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Kayla (Hawthorne) Dunham is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.