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School-By-School Approach Is Wise

Hardly was the ink dry on our story about Ohio County Schools bringing students back for four days a week before a wrinkle developed. It was learned a Triadelphia Middle School teacher who also serves as a coach at Wheeling Park High School had tested positive for COVID-19.

Steps to protect students and staff at both schools already have been taken. Keeping Ohio County’s other public schools open is the right decision.

A similar situation occurred the previous week in Marshall County. There, Sherrard Middle School and McNinch Primary were closed after a case of COVID-19 was found at each of them. Some students and staff members were quarantined. Other schools in the county stayed open.

Is that approach the “abundance of caution” about which we have heard so much during the past six months? Should not all the schools in both counties be shut down for a couple of weeks?

No. West Virginians cannot wait for the “all clear” to be sounded regarding the coronavirus. That will not occur until sometime next year, when a vaccine against the disease becomes available widely.

Our schools were closed initially in March. It will be extraordinarily surprising if standardized tests and other measures of learning do not disclose that the shutdown had an adverse effect on tens of thousands of children. Keeping them at home for several more months would be an educational disaster.

We know COVID-19 affects very, very few children severely. The danger in having them in school is that the virus will be transmitted to them, then communicated to vulnerable older people. If schools remain open, each and every family should take appropriate precautions against that.

But we all make sacrifices large and small to ensure our children are educated well. We believe the trade-offs are worth it. So it should be with the coronavirus epidemic. Schools where there is a clear and present danger from COVID-19 should be closed — but the others should remain open.

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