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I am concerned about schools starting back in-person next week in Cabell County. Recently we had a huge jump in new positive coronavirus tests, statewide, with our percentage positives of those tested at an alarmingly high rate. Cabell isn’t doing terribly, but our number of active cases is staying above 200. Students are back on campus and in town and only a fraction of those students have been tested. Test turnaround remains slow. We don’t have a good picture of how many people in Cabell County have the virus, since so many can be asymptomatic.

Gov Justice seems to be hoarding over $1 billion that is supposed to be used for coronavirus relief.

Suggestions about how to make school re-entry safer are met with, “Where is the money going to come from?!?”

It seems that we need to either (a) have rapid testing so that only uninfected people are in the schools (this is not being met now), or (b) we do things to mitigate possible infection from unknown carriers. Things including reduced class sizes (Cabell is doing this through blended learning), greatly improved ventilation/air quality (looks like this is not in the works, but could be better filters, windows that open, outdoor classroom spaces), alternative scheduling to decrease daily contacts (some elementary schools in Cabell are doing this, but middle and high schools are still changing classes multiple times a day). All would make students and staff safer.

Unfortunately for controlling community spread, our plan seems to be “Do the minimum and cross our fingers until it all gets shut down,” even as we give lip service to how important schools are to the economy. If schools are crucial to the economy, then more funds should be directed to make school happen safely.

Grace Gooding

Huntington

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