Close this search box.
Cars form a line for COVID-19 testing at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School on Sunday.
Cars form a line for COVID-19 testing at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School on Sunday.

BREAKING NEWS: Upshur County schools will be closed this week

UPDATE 7 P.M. — Upshur County Schools will be closed this week.

“Based on the results of COVID-19 testing for our transportation staff today, we are sorry to report that we will need to remain in full remote instruction this week,” according to a press release. “This has been a very difficult decision because we want our children in school. However, we cannot possibly cover our bus routes due to lack of substitutes.”

Original story:

After being closed for three weeks due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Upshur County community, schools are set to reopen to students Monday. But a new outbreak among staff — particularly in the transportation department — was detected over the weekend, with multiple positive cases.

As a result, the full bus schedule may not be able to operate this week.

Jeff Harvey, director of safety and emergency management preparedness for Upshur County Schools, said administrators became aware of a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 among the bus drivers’ pool Saturday morning. A second case was then discovered.

“As of now, we have two positive confirmed cases in the driver pool,” Harvey said Sunday afternoon.

The school system hastily set up testing for employees outside of Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School on Sunday afternoon.

Community Care and St. Joseph’s Hospital helped run the drive-through testing clinic from 2-4 p.m.

“We are offering testing to see what the extent of it is, and as always, this is done out of an abundance of caution,” Harvey said. “We hope to quickly determine the extend [of spread] within the driver pool.”

PCR tests were being performed, not rapid tests, to deliver confirmed results, although those results take longer.

Harvey said the plan is to still open schools Monday, but the county is currently assessing who must quarantine and how the bus schedule will be affected.

“Right now, we are able to open schools, but we are trying to figure out what, if any, contingency measures we are going to have to make for transportation,” Harvey said. “We’re not sure if that’s going to be taken care of by available substitutes.”

Harvey said the county is working with the health department to determine whether there were any other potential impacts, such as last week’s food delivery.

“We are looking at that, and the health department will be using guidance to determine how far forward and backward we will go with that in regards to days,” he said.

A press release from the school system noted that if a bus route does not run, students will be given an excused absence.

“We are working with the health department today to complete the contact tracing and it could result in several of our bus drivers being placed on quarantine,” according to the release. “This may impact bus schedules this week, as we may not have enough drivers to run all routes. Please know that if you have concerns with transporting your student and choose to have your student remain fully remote, it will be an excused absence. You may also choose to self-transport your child.”

On Friday afternoon — before the latest outbreak — nine current COVID-19 cases were known to involve the school system, five students and four staff. At that time, a total of 41 people were on quarantine.

The school system plans to keep parents updated on the situation as it unfolds.

“We are excited to have our students back in school and look forward to seeing them tomorrow,” the press release states. “We will continue to keep our families informed as the situation as it evolves.”

News Feed

Subscribe to remove popups, or just enjoy this free story and support our local businesses!