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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Families in Mon County are split on how education should be delivered this fall. According to a Mon County Schools survey, 2.488 want in-person classes, 2,400 prefer virtual learning and 1,400 more want a blend of in-person and virtual.
The split, along with strong support for virtual learning has pushed teachers, administrators and school board members to rethink all aspects of education delivery.
“It’s almost impossible to say one size fits all and make this happen,”Mon County School Board vice president Ron Lytle said on WAJR’s Talk of the Town,”So, we’re doing as much as we can to individualize education for our kids and our families, working and not working.”
On Talkline, superintendent Dr. Eddie Campbell said by Friday they will submit their plan to governor Justice as required.
“The goal here is to get our schools open for fives days a week in-person learning for parents that want and need it,”Dr. Campbell said,”And be able to provide high quality distance learning that Mon County teachers will be delivering to our parents as well.”
Lytle said developing these options requires hardwork, good communication with staff and parents, plus the ability to compromise when possible.
“When you deal with education, you deal with every single school-aged kid in this county, so you have to be wide open,”Lytle said,”That’s what we’ve instructed the administration to do, try to get some commitments out of the community as to what they want their education to look like.”
Teachers will return to buildings on Monday, August 17 and Dr. Campbell believes the challenge for administrators is to properly prepare teachers for a semester no one has experienced. In-person classes are set to begin September 8.
“We need to work closely with them to ensure the quality of the instruction and the instruction is equitable,”Dr. Campbell said,”We want the same classes being taught by the same teachers whether kids are sitting in front of them or it’s an uploaded lesson or a live-streamed lesson.”
Mon County School Board vice president Ron Lytle agrees that the foundation for a successful academic experience for the students begins when teachers return to buildings Monday.
“We’re working diligently and the administration is getting ready for the return of the teachers,”Lytle said,”They’re really going to have their plate full trying to figure this out.”
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Mon County Sheriff’s Department has identified the woman killed in a Monday accident as Pam Ciuni, 61, of Morgantown.
Ciuni died Monday afternoon when a car driven by Jerrey Hoyt, 76, hit the produce stand she was shopping at on Fairmont Road.
The employee at the stand was treated for minor injuries.
According to Sheriff Perry Palmer, investigators continue to investigate the crash.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Governor Jim Justice has extended the bar closure in Monongalia County.
“WVU has recommended that we keep the bars closed for at least another seven days,”Justice said,”We’re going to keep the bars closed for another seven days and see where we stand.”
The closure is extended to August 20 at 12:01 a.m.
The order keeps bars in the county closed for on-premises consumption of food or drinks or occupancy by the general public. However, customers are still permitted to pick up food or drinks to be taken away. Customers can be seated, for dining, at tables and bar tops within “bar areas” of restaurants, hotels, and other similar facilities, subject to the same limitations that are in place for restaurants.
This is the second time Justice has extended the bar closure order in Mon County since it was first announced in late July.
Justice said he wants to use data and advice in order to reopen the businesses as soon as it is safe to do so.
“During that seven day period we’re accumulating protocol from the bar owners, landlords, the medical community and restaurant owners,”Justice said,”But, we’re accumulating how we can open our bars.”
During the first week of July Mon County reported nealy 400 active COVID-19 cases, that number has dropped to 52 as of Wednesday, August 12. Current data from the DHHR reports more than 50 percent of active cases are in the 29-year-old and younger age group.
“The numbers are better there, they have done much better and that’s good,”Justice said,”Now, if we can come with a protocol that truly works of going ahead and reopening and having those businesses function, we’ll do so.”
Justice said in July he consulted with members of the Mon County commission, but with this closure they have backed away from offering the local perspective.
“We called upon the Mon County Commission in the beginning and they gave us direction on whether to close, now they’re kind of diving in a ditch and saying they don’t have any input, we don’t want to weigh in on this,”Justice said,”To be perfectly honest, that’s their county and they should surely to goodness have input.”
Mon County commission president Ed Hawkins told WAJR News statewide COVID Czar Dr. Clay Marsh asked for input hours before the closure was extended. Hawkins told Dr. Marsh the commission has never provided input on bar closures, nor had they been asked to until today.
Hawkins said the only input offered to the governor by the commission was to suggest tables in “bar areas” could be used to serve food since the bar was ordered closed. Additionally, Hawkins said they asked the governor to make masks mandatory in April, but no reply was received.
“To say this commission sidestepped, ducked, ran for cover or whatever is totally not the case.”Hawkins said,”This commission is dedicated to leadership and we will continue to do so.”
Justice said the order was extended to prevent students from congregating in small areas and possibly spreading the virus.
“Really, we’re trying to be sympathetic to our business community up there and what they’re doing,”Justice said,”But, we’re also trying in every way we can to protect the community.
This story will be updated with comment from Mon County commissioners.
MONONGALIA COUNTY, W.Va. – A patron at a fresh vegetable stand was killed in a single vehicle crash off of Fairmont Road Monday afternoon.
According to the Mon County Sheriff’s Department, a car driven by Jerrey Hoyt, 76, of Morgantown, struck a produce stand resulting in injuries to an employee and the death of a customer. The employee was treated for minor injuries and the patron was transported to Ruby Memorial Hospital where she later died.
No names have been released and the accident remains under investigation.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – New information from the WVU COVID-19 testing dashboard shows 7,844 students have been tested resulting in 63 positive cases and 3,760 staff members have been tested with four positive results. The infection rate for students and staff is .58 percent.
“We’re seeing a low number of positive case counts as a result of the broad testing efforts we’ve undertaken since July 20 on the Morgantown campus with a 0.58 percent total cumulative positivity rate,” said Dr. Carmen Burrell, medical director of WVU Medicine Urgent Care and Student Health Services. “Our testing efforts will cover all students, faculty and staff who will be on campus for the fall semester, and we are monitoring the results daily to keep an eye on any surges or upticks so that we can address them immediately.”
Testing for students on the Morgantown campus is scheduled to continue until August 22.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The DHHR is reporting 141 COVID-19 deaths statewide, 1914 actives cases and a cumulative infection rate of 2.37 percent.
Since July, cases in rural area across the country and in West Virginia have increased dramatically along with deaths and hospitalizations.
“We are seeing infections in a group of people that are much more vulnerable, but also we’re seeing infections in people without the same immediate access to really high-end, complex healthcare,statewide COVID czar Dr. Clay Marsh said on Talkline.
The recent spike in cases in the southern part of West Virginia is targeting a section of our population that has numerous comorbidities, according to Dr. Marsh.
“That combination of having a vulnerable population, higher instances of obesity and smoking,”Dr. Marsh said,”And some of the things that we know makes COVID outcomes worse.”
The surge in cases is now timed with the start of in-person classes at public schools across the state. Teachers, students and parents have all expressed some degree of concern for the return to classes.
“We’re paying strict and close attention to those schools systems in our country that are initiating classes,”Dr. Marsh said,”To try to understand from them the things we didn’t understand or anticipate that they are now doing.”
School systems continue preparations for the September 8 return to classes, but as cases surge more anxiety builds. President of the School Service Personnel Association, Joe White questions if schools across the state ready for the return.
“I’m not going to say it’s not safe in every county, but I’m getting reports in my office that we have some counties that still have not gotten their cleaning supplies and some that have not received masks yet,” White said.
As the start date gets closer officials are watching the data and have the option to delay the start or start virtually.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University dean of students, Dr. Corey Farris has sent a letter to the campus community asking students to make good choices on the Morgantown campus. Farris wants students to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, avoid large gatherings and house parties.
The complete letter is here:
To WVU students:
It’s an exciting, yet challenging time as West Virginia University welcomes you to campus for the start of the 2020-21 academic year.
The fall semester always revitalizes our campus and community with energy. Of course, this year will be like none before as we face the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. None of us anticipated – or would have chosen – our circumstances, but we have adapted so you can continue to progress towards your degree. While the decision to move some classes to online and hybrid modes of instruction has brought mixed emotions, we believe it is the best way to protect the health and safety of our campus community and those who live in Morgantown.
We will regularly remind you to follow the health and safety protocols of mask-wearing (and wearing it properly over your mouth and nose), physical distancing (staying 6-feet away from others as much as possible), self-monitoring symptoms (common symptoms of COVID-19 can be found at https://www.wvu.edu/return-to-campus/do-your-part/testing-and-self-monitoring) and proper hygiene (wash your hands for 20 seconds).
Remember, if you will be on campus for class, to use facilities or participate in activities you are required to be tested for COVID-19 before the beginning of classes. If you have not yet been tested, please schedule your test at http://myhousing.wvu.edu. Whether you plan to be on campus this fall or take online classes at home, you are required to complete a COVID-19 education module at http://go.wvu.edu/COVIDmodule. Failure to complete either of these will result in a $250 charge on your student account and a referral to the Office of Student Conduct.
Our goal is to increase our in-person courses as the fall progresses, but that depends on each of us being accountable to each other. You can help our University continue to have on-campus instruction by making good choices and adhering to safety protocols. House parties, going to bars and gathering in large groups will very likely increase community spread of COVID-19 and decrease the likelihood that we are back to normal anytime soon. We will not tolerate these negative behaviors that could harm our community.
We will have activities and events throughout the fall through the “Refresh Student Activities Series” including WVUp All Night, pop-up concerts, wellness activities, crafts, competitions and adventure outings. Our traditional Welcome Week activities will be rescheduled at a future time when we can gather in large groups safely.
We want you to experience everything that being part of the Mountaineer family offers, and we are here to support you on your journey. Enjoy a meal in one of our dining halls or on-campus restaurants (be sure to check out the new Panda Express in the Lair or the Starbucks in The Market @ UPlace).
We know this fall semester will be different, but we will work together to make it the best semester we can. Be sure to let someone know if you need help with classes, getting involved in student organizations or even dealing with a bit of homesickness. It’s okay to ask – and we want you to. We’re here to help.
Your resident assistant, your professors, faculty and staff all want you to succeed. Take your cues from those positive influences around you – and set great examples on your own. If we do that, we are sure to have a great year.
G. Corey Farris
Dean of Students
The first day of in-person classes for WVU students on the Morgantown campus is August 26.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Officials from the mon Metro Drug Task Force a major drug dealer from Detroit, Michigan has been arrested and a significant amount of crack cocaine and heroin have been confiscated.
Officers served a search warrant in a residence on Van Voorhis Road and located Lamont Graham, 20, of Detroit, and another man along with digital scales and dealer quantities of crack cocaine and heroin. Police also found packaging materials and cash in the apartment.
Graham is being held in the North Central Regional jail.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A new committee is forming in Morgantown to look at new ways to help homeless people, specifically those living in the encampment in the lower Greenmont area. The committee will include social service organizations, city council members, local law enforcement and possibly members of the encampment.
Currently, about 20 people are living in the camp near Decker’s Creek and have been since February. In that six month period there have been 44 reported overdoses and the use of NARCAN.
“This committee will identify ways to increase capacity,”Morgantown mayor Ron Dulaney said,”So we have enough housing units to make concrete offers to everyone in the encampment.”
Reports indicate the relations between camp advocates and previous committee members broke down when the camp was ordered to move in July. Dulaney expects this committee to pick up where the West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, Bartlett Housing Solutions and elected leaders left off.
When the camp was disbanded in July advocates released the following statement:
They have issued the following demand to the City of Morgantown:
“We the residents of Diamond Village demand that the City of Morgantown designate a piece of public property which we can stay on and continue our community without judgement or subjection, until a permanent solution can be found. This solution must come from a working group which includes representation and voting power from people living in Diamond Village.”
Until this demand is met, they, allies, and supporters are camped on public property owned by the City of Morgantown directly adjacent to their former site.
This is an easy demand to meet. All they want is space to simply exist in as they work towards housing and stability. The City of Morgantown must listen.
We will be here until they do.
“I don’t think is about enabling at all,”Dulaney said,”I think this is about trying to move people to an independent state.”
In the last year, complaints about open drug use and inappropriate behavior have increased from downtown business owners and residents leading officials to launch multiple efforts to address and mitigate the problems.
“The opportunity we have here is to try to work together in this attempt and to try to come some kind of consensus that is based on best practices,”Dulaney said,”And those are best practices from housing, best practices for wrap-around services and best practices for policing.”
Chief program officer for the West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, Rachel Cohen said they had been at the camp conducting assessments at least two days per week and placed several camp members in permanent housing during the first few months. Cohen says as camp members were placed in housing options more homeless people bypassed the established in-take system and repopulated the area. That information has determined that all members of the encampment are seeking permanent housing options.
“I think that’s where it’s going to get tricky, what do you do with those folks?,”Dulaney said,”They don’t want a roof over their head, they’re perfectly fine camping and then I think the question is- Is this the appropriate place to do it or is there a more appropriate place to do it, and try to make that case.”
Dulaney says finding and implementing a solution will be a community effort.
“We really want to approach this as inclusive as possible and build as much consensus as possible to move forward,”Dulaney said.