FAIRMONT — Officials with Marion County Schools will receive an update at Tuesday night's special school board meeting about the COVID-19 pandemic in which the use of face masks will be a key part of the presentation.
Marion County School Superintendent Donna Hage said the administrator of the Marion County Health Department is recommending students and faculty wear masks during fall term regardless of whether a person has been vaccinated or not.
"This is not a mask mandate from the health department, and so we continue to ask families and staff to take the mask guidance as a recommendation — not mandate at this time — to reduce transmission further so that we can continue to keep schools open for face-to-face instruction 5 days a week," Hage said Monday in a prepared statement.
Hage said school district staff have received input from multiple heatlh care professionals in recent weeks in preparation for fall semester. The guidance comes at the same time the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus continues to grow, spread and cause great concern among the state's COVID task force members.
As of Monday, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources reports there are three cases of the Delta variant in Marion County, 17 Delta cases in Monongalia County and 1 in Harrison County.
In one of Gov. Jim Justice's daily COVID briefings last week, State School Superintendent Clayton Burch said mask policies were going to left up to local boards of education in West Virginia, deciding instead to take a hands-off approach.
“If you feel you need it, wear a mask,” Burch said Aug. 4. “But really, local superintendents will be looking at that individually for their counties.”
Hage said Marion County Schools have a good track record of working closely with the health department during the pandemic.
"The WVDE and Governor has guided counties to work with their local health department, and Marion County Schools has a history of doing this in all previous decisions related to the pandemic. We will continue to monitor the county’s status related to the spread of the virus and its variants," Hage said.
No vote will be taken at Tuesday night’s meeting.
"It is for information and recommendation purposes. We know that this is the best way to service our students as they recover instruction and feel supported with mental health needs," Hage said.