School and health officials meet to discuss what reopening will look like in Fayette County Schools

FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WOAY) – The state has released its recommendations on how schools should reopen, and now it is on each county to figure out what works best for them.

On Wednesday, schools officials, health officials and teacher union leaders met to brainstorm what that might look like in Fayette County. 

“Safety of our students and our staff is our number one goal,” Fayette County Superintendent Gary Hough said. “Our number two goal is to provide a quality education for our children. That’s where we’re trying to make sure that we approach it in that fashion to give us the best opportunity to provide a quality education based on a metric and the safety of the students. And third, to be good members of our community and our state. We don’t want our school grounds to become an area that causes a COVID outbreak to ignite in a particular area.” 

Over the next few weeks, Fayette County officials will continue meeting with teachers, principals, the health department, parents, staff and other stakeholders to come up with concrete plans and come up with a metric system on how to move from phase to phase. 

Right now, they’re shooting for an August 10 start day to hopefully begin that 4-day week with one day of online learning. But they will be working with the health department to monitor the cases over the summer. 

“It doesn’t really make sense to go back to school four days a week if we see a spike some time in July,” Health Department Administrator Teri Harlan said. “And so those are the things we need to look at. I think we’re pretty clear on if there’s a case in a school, we’re going have to close that school and follow whatever the guidelines are to make sure it’s sanitized and everyone is safe.”

Throughout the summer, the schools have been sanitized and now they’re working on ways to quickly sanitize buses in between trips.

Fayette County Schools is looking to bid for technology that will allow them to take the temperature of multiple students at a time who walk through the door.

Hough  said if a student is running a  fever, he or she will be sent home either with a parent or on a bus immediately.

The school system is also looking at ways to provide masks for students and figure out what masks will work best for the younger kids. 

“A lot of what we come up with is because of people’s ideas,” Hough said. “We had a great presentation this morning. I think it went smooth. I think our group agrees that we’re on the right track and we’re moving in the right direction toward reopening schools, but that did not happen in isolation.” 

Hough says they will be meeting with principals next week and that in the first few weeks of July, they will have a better idea of what the fall will look like and will be making sure that info gets out to everyone. 

Houhg has also proposed calendar changes where teachers will come back three days earlier to receive thorough training on their online program and where Christmas break will be extended. Those changes will need to be approved by the board.

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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.