POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Board of Education voted to return to in-person learning this month during its meeting on Wednesday morning.
The board voted 4:1 to stay in the “2:3 blended learning” through the end of the first semester, which ends Jan. 22. Students will return to the buildings on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Parents will have the option to continue or select virtual learning. The students who will return to the classrooms will do so regardless of the “color” on the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) map. This is for all students pre-K through 12th grades. Board of Education member Ashley Cossin voted against the motion.
The board also voted 4:1 to go to in-person learning four days per week starting Jan. 25. The board will follow governor Jim Justice’s plan for all students pre-K through eighth grades to report to school regardless of the “color” on the DHHR map. For the high school students in grades ninth through 12th, they will report to in-person learning unless the color is “red” on DHHR’s map. If the color goes “red,” the student will have remote learning. Board member Dale Shobe voted against the motion.
The board came to these decisions after discussion on Wednesday morning. Some board members and Supt. Jack Cullen met with the Mason County Health Department for guidance on Monday, where they discussed social distancing, contact tracing and protocols for playground areas and lunches.
Board members mostly agreed that students needed to return to in-person learning because it would be best for the education of students. Some board members referenced concern of having more students in the classroom at one time, and concerns of teachers and staff not being fully vaccinated before the return to the classroom.
Cullen said the vaccinations for teachers is scheduled to begin this Friday for teachers over 50 years old. There were 119 teachers who requested the vaccine and are schedule to receive their first dose this week. Next week, Cullen hopes to begin the vaccinations for teachers under 50 years old. After that, the board of education members, substitutes and coaches will be given the chance to receive their vaccines. The staff will be given the Moderna vaccine, which means the second dose is scheduled after 28 days.
During the meeting, board members also discussed the (CARES) Act funding and relief and mask wearing.
The Mason County Board of Education is set to meet on Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. and is expected to discuss more of the re-entry plan.
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Kayla (Hawthorne) Dunham is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.