Due to “health concerns” Point Pleasant Primary School, in Mason County, will not reopen for the school year until at least Sept. 17, a week after other schools in the state, according to Mason County Superintendent Jack Cullen.
Cullen would not confirm if the “health concern” was related to COVID-19, or how many people were believed to be affected, saying members of the state Department of Education directed him not to say more about the situation due to privacy concerns.
“There’s nothing else I can release,” Cullen said. “Pretty much what was said to me is ‘Just be careful what you release.’ It’s because of health concerns, that’s all I can say and all [the West Virginia Department of Education] told me to say.”
Christy Day, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, said in an email Tuesday that the department “didn’t issue this directive.”
When asked what the details were regarding the “health concerns” and whether they were related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Day directed questions to the Mason County Board of Education — which Cullen is in charge of — or the Mason County Health Department, where representatives did not respond to requests for comments Tuesday afternoon.
Point Pleasant Primary School serves about 361 students from pre-school to second grade, and employs about 40 staff members, according to the school’s website.
As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, Mason County reported 105 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 30 of which were active Monday, according to data from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
On Monday, the county was designated yellow on the state’s color-coded school reopening map. Per state guidelines, counties designated orange or red the Saturday before classes are supposed to begin, cannot open with in-person instruction.
State Superintendent Clayton Burch said during Monday’s coronavirus news conference that completely remote learning should be reserved only for “extreme circumstances” in schools.
Day said in an email Tuesday that it’s normal every year — pandemic or not — for local health officials to work with schools to mitigate illnesses like the flu or colds. While not confirming that “health concerns” at Point Pleasant Primary are linked to COVID-19, Day said there is guidance for schools addressing potential cases of COVID-19 in classrooms and campuses.
“Working with health officials there may be a necessity for individual schools to be closed to in-person learning for brief periods of time,” Day wrote.
It’s unclear what the circumstances are, however, at Point Pleasant Primary School.