COVID outbreak forces Friday closure at Van Elementary in Boone County

VAN, W.Va. — Van Elementary School in Boone County closed on Friday due a COVID-19 outbreak.

Matt Riggs

Boone County Schools Superintendent Matt Riggs told MetroNews seven staff members and 17 students tested positive for the virus on Thursday.

“There were safety concerns with the number of staffing vacancies and positions without substitutes, which ties into the teacher shortage, but after assessing the situation and looking at the whole picture, it made sense to dismiss the students early,” Riggs said.

Boone County Schools tweeted early Friday morning school was canceled “due to a high number of staff members being off and a lack of available substitutes to safely supervise the students.”

Riggs said while there are teacher shortages across the school district and the state, Van Elementary did not close due to a lack of teachers in the classroom in general.

“At Van Elementary, I believe all of those positions are pretty much full. That’s not the problem. The problem was getting substitutes to fill in for the sick teachers,” he said.

There were about 10 staff and 20 students total that would’ve been out of school Friday.

The infected staff and students have been in quarantine and will follow CDC guidelines before returning to school, Riggs said.

Boone County Schools started the school year on Aug. 18. Riggs said this is not a good way to return after summer break, but tough decisions had to be made to protect everyone so the virus doesn’t spread.

“It’s not a practice we intend to use loosely, but there were legitimate concerns related to coverage,” he said.

Van Elementary will reopen on Monday. The building will be cleaned and disinfected over the weekend.

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