Huge turnout at testing site as Fayette County Schools encourage staff to get tested for COVID-19

OAK HILL, WV (WOAY) – Administrators with Fayette County Schools are encouraging all of their teachers and staff to be tested for COVID-19 before the end of the month.

That is why the turnout at New River Health’s weekly testing site exceeded anything that they had ever seen before as they tested 267 people in three hours on Wednesday.

Ansted Elementary Principal Marchelle Bowling was one of the 267 who was tested.

“Gary Hough, our superintendent of Fayette County Schools, has strongly encouraged the staff at Fayette County to come and get tested to make sure that we are providing a safe and secure re-entry,” Bowling said.

Even though the suggestion was voluntary, teachers and staff came in droves as New River Health tested 125 in just the first hour.

School officials wanted to propose this to hopefully ease some of the concerns people have about coming back to school. 

“It’s a difficult time for everybody,” Associate Superintendent Margaret Pennington said. “I know that parents are concerned. Teachers are concerned. Students are concerned, and so hopefully going ahead and having the test prior to school starting alleviates some of that anxiety people may have about being around other people that might have been exposed.”

In a completely fluid situation that could change any day, school personnel are having to remain flexible and based on the turnout Wednesday are willing to do what it takes for the safety of their students. 

“Our teachers are phenomenal,” Bowling said. “They are the best in the whole state. They have asked questions not only to each other but to the principals, and then reached out to the county to find out what they can do to make sure their classroom is safe for the kids.”

The school system plans to send the other half of their personnel next week.

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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.