Close Schools For Next Week

Schools in Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, Ohio, Tyler and Wetzel counties should be closed all of next week, regardless of what the state’s color-coded COVID-19 calendar prescribes. With the coronavirus spreading like wildfire through the Northern Panhandle, keeping students out of classrooms is the prudent course of action.

Being in school in person rather than via the internet is important for children. Each day of attendance that is lost carries with it a serious educational cost.

But in many ways, COVID-19 has never been as serious a threat to area residents as it is now.

State Department of Education guidelines use a color-coded map to inform school officials what they are required to do at five levels of COVID-19 activity. Green, yellow and gold levels permit in-school instruction. Orange and red do not.

Officials update the map once a week, early each Saturday evening. Colors assigned at that time rule school activities for the coming week — unless a severe spike in coronavirus activity dictates shutting classrooms down.

Often, county colors on the education map differ from those on the state’s primary COVID-19 tracking map, updated daily.

That map shows a worrisome trend in the Northern Panhandle. Except for Tyler, every county has seen steady, often drastic, increases in disease infection and positive test rates.

It is entirely possible that, come this Saturday, conditions will require closure of most Northern Panhandle schools next week.

Even if they do not, local officials should keep schools closed next week, leading up to the regular Thanksgiving break.

COVID-19 does not seem to affect children with anything near the severity of adults, especially older ones. But youngsters can serve as carriers of the virus, and that is why schools were closed last spring.

There is enormous, well-founded concern about whether big family Thanksgiving dinners will cause a COVID-19 spike. Keeping children out of school just before the holiday could alleviate the problem.

For the safety of both students and adults in our area, making the local decision to keep schools closed throughout next week would be the smart, right thing to do.


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