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Wood BOE receives COVID-19 update

PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Board of Education met in regular session Tuesday, again going online to conduct business amid concerns of the spread of COVID-19.

Tuesday marked the second online meeting conducted by the board, with officials switching to a Zoom online meeting platform. About 25 people attended the virtual meeting, including the board and Wood County Schools administrators.

The board took the opportunity to receive an update on construction projects throughout the county, many of which continue amid a statewide Stay Home Order issued Monday by Gov. Jim Justice. The order took effect at 8 p.m. Tuesday, closing non-essential businesses and asking residents to remain at home unless seeking food, medication or healthcare or providing essential services.

COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, has rapidly spread around the world since the first cases began in China in early 2019. This marks the second week of school closures, and nearly daily officials have announced more closures and suspension of services. West Virginia was the last state in the U.S. to have a confirmed case of coronavirus. As of Tuesday, the state had 20 confirmed cases with no related deaths.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Fling, who oversees construction projects for Wood County Schools, said work continues at the new Williamstown-Waverly Elementary School and Williamstown High School, though with smaller crews. Work at the Wood County Technical Center has stopped however, due to contractor concerns.

“They felt it was not possible having people working on these things” while maintaining social distance, Fling said.

The 10-day shelter-in-place ends March 30 but will be reassessed by the contractor based on federal and state actions, Fling said.

Meanwhile, smaller projects throughout the county continue, but the district has run into issues with receiving certain materials as shipments and distribution lines are being affected by the coronavirus and some businesses temporarily shutting down.

Fling said the district also is having problems having enough workers for the various projects.

“It is truly a volunteer situation at this point,” Fling said. “We’re getting done what we can get done and are doing daily projects.”

Board President Rick Olcott said board members understand the situation may result in project delays.

“Certainly a lot of challenges we’ve been dealing with over the past three weeks,” Olcott said. “We won’t have any unrealistic expectations on completion dates.”

Superintendent Will Hosaflook said the coronavirus has created a “fluid situation” where plans will have to be reassessed at least on a weekly basis. The school system already is looking at changes in how instructional packets and students meals will be distributed.

“It’s an unbelievable undertaking,” Hosaflook said. “Everyone has stepped up and that is what it takes to keep us afloat and to meet the needs of the children.”

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