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BOE talks vaccine, virtual school

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
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By Liz Beavers

Tribune Managing Editor

KEYSER- Mineral County Schools employees are being sent an email with a form to fill out indicating whether they intend to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it arrives in the county.

Superintendent of schools Troy Ravenscroft, himself quarantined at home this week after testing positive, said during the board of education meeting held by Zoom Tuesday that the West Virginia Department of Education “needs to know how many vials of vaccine to send to each district.”

Ravenscroft said the vaccine “could be available as soon as the end of this month.”

Ravenscroft also told the board members that he continues to work on the county’s re-entry plan so they can be ready to get kids back in school once it is safe.

“Obviously, the vaccine is going to be a major player in making that happen,” he said.

Both board president Lara Courrier and vice president Mary Jane Baniak emphasized, however, that even as the vaccine is distributed, people need to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing.

“The vaccine is not going to be a magic bullet” that makes the virus go away right away,” Courrier said.

“I’m really, really hoping that people can be smart and safe,” Baniak said.

In related news, the board unanimously approved naming Ashley Baker the administrator for West Virginia Virtual School, the online program the county will be using for those parents who choose to keep their children in remote learning when school goes back in session.

Ravenscroft said a group of facilitators would work with Baker and be available to assist students and parents with any problems or questions.

“We didn’t want to overload any one teacher,” he said.

Rather than have the county’s teachers again faced with teaching both in-person and online classes, Ravenscroft said this arrangement would be “basically in some ways a 15th school.”

Board member Tom Denne noted that Baker already has experience in working with online schooling.

Donnie Ashby made a motion to appoint Baker, and Terry Puffinburger seconded it. The motion passed 5-0.