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Volleyball Teams Forced to End Seasons

By Ed Parsons - Editor | Nov 11, 2020

Two ultra successful volleyball programs located about five miles apart in Wetzel County had their seasons cut short on Wednesday, October 4, following a message from Superintendent of Schools Ed Toman who at the time was positive for COVID-19 and in quarantine.

Paden City which sports a 19-1 record with their only defeat on the season coming at the hands of the Blue Eagles, was scheduled to play Weirton Madonna on Wednesday, and Magnolia was to play the winner for the sectional championship. However, with the closing of all county schools, the West Virginia Department of Education rules kicked in and Wetzel County immediatelly turned red on the map, and athletic and extracurricular activities were suspended.

Superintendent Toman told the Wetzel Chronicle that the decision was made by him, but it was supported unanimously by the Board of Education, including President of the Board Brian Price. Toman also said he was following the guidlines set by the WVDE, the WSSAC, and the state and local Health Departments. He added he feels bad for the athletes affected by the school closure, but he is concerned for the students, families and friends who could become infected with the virus. He also was concerned because the volleyball tournament was an indoor event.

On Wednesday Toman issued the following message on the Wetzel County Schools facebook page:

UPDATE from Superintendent Edward T. Toman: Effective immediately Wetzel County Schools will continue with distance learning through Friday, November 13th, 2020.

After working with the Wetzel-Tyler Health Department and analyzing our data, in order to protect our students, staff and communities at large we have deemed it necessary to cancel all extra curricular activities during this time due to an increase in positive cases within our communities.

All Wetzel County Schools will continue with distance learning Thursday, November 5th, through Friday, November 13th. During this time teachers/staff will work remotely and NOT report; no extra curricular activities will take place.

Students and staff will report for in-person learning on Monday, November 16th; an update will be provided prior to outlining the transition schedule for that week.

Only essential personnel as deemed by the Superintendent of Schools will report to their facilities.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, everyone is urged to follow best health practices as outlined by the CDC, DHHR and the WVDE guidance. This includes: wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, hand washing and cleaning protocols regularly. Families are encouraged to self-isolate as much as possible in order to reduce contagion. Free testing is being provided by the Wetzel-Tyler Health Department in various locations around the county.

We will continue to provide updates and thank you in advance for your understanding.

The Wetzel Chronicle also spoke directly with Bernie Dolan, Executive Director of the WVSSAC. Dolan pointed out that there are protocols to follow and they are spelled out on the West Virginia Department of Education Webpage. He determined that once a county turns red all extracurricular activities are suspended.

The WVDE webpage states the following: West Virginia’s School Alert System: Saturday Education Map is guided by metrics developed by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR). Based on a five-color system – green, yellow, gold, orange and red – each county is assigned a color based on the prevalence of COVID-19 within their borders. The map is updated each Saturday at 5:00 p.m. and determines instructional options and the level of athletic and extracurricular activities that are permitted for each county for the whole week. The exception is if a county turns red during the course of the week. That change would be made immediately because remote learning would begin the next school day and athletic and extracurricular activities would be suspended immediately.

While all of that makes sense when evaluating COVID-19, it is a hard pill to swallow for a team of athletes who worked their tails off for four years to become one of the top programs in the state. Wetzel County just happens to have two of those programs. Many local fans who have followed the game for the past few years would agree that these two schools would more than likely have been pitted against each other in the state championship game, had they been allowed to finish their season.

It is unfortunate to watch these two teams set on the sidelines, while teams they defeated easily during the regular season battle it out to become state champs. It is unsure if anything could have been done to reverse the decision, and it is now hindsight to speculate, however, it is a major disappointment for those who worked so hard and sacrificed to get to where they are only to have it taken away from them and handed to someone else.