WPHS Closing Right Decision
Did Ohio County Schools officials have to close Wheeling Park High School? Probably not.
But was suspending WPHS in-person classes this week the prudent move? Yes.
Two WPHS students and one staff member were diagnosed with COVID-19 during the weekend. While that number may not seem alarming in view of the school’s 1,500-plus enrollment, it is the potential for spreading the disease that needs to be kept in mind.
Standard public health procedure in dealing with the epidemic has been to using contact tracing to identify people who have come in contact with those who test postive for the disease. Contacts then are advised to quarantine themselves for a period of time to ensure that if they picked up the virus, they do not pass it on to others.
At WPHS, the quarantine list includes 40 students and 10 staff members. Contrast that with West Liberty Elementary School, enrollment 118, which was closed last week.
That action was taken after one WLES staff member tested positive. Six other staff members were quarantined — but no students were affected by contact tracing. The school was reopened on Monday
Clearly, the potential for in-school spread of COVID-19 is significantly higher at WPHS.
This is not the first time local school officials have closed a school that could have remained open under state COVID-19 guidelines. We have supported administrators’ decisions in every case.
Better safe than sorry remains the appropriate policy for Northern Panhandle school officials, both for the safety of students and staff members and to minimize the risk of community transmission of the disease.