FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WVNS) – Fayette County Schools is requesting students who attended holiday get-togethers get tested for COVID before returning to the classroom.

The tests are completely voluntary and not required for students to return. However, Superintendent Gary Hough said his only priority when asking students to get tested is to make sure everyone is safe when students come back to school.

“It’s not a political argument,” said Hough. “I think that’s sometimes what people want to catch us in as a school system, but its not our goal. Political arguments aren’t where we’re at. We’re at ‘lets do what’s best for our students, for their health and safety, and to keep our students functioning in the school setting’.”

According to Hough, one of the biggest lessons he and other educators took from trying to teach during lockdown was that in-person learning provides a vastly better school experience for students than virtual learning. So, Hough hopes if enough students get tested before returning to school, they can greatly decrease the chances of a COVID outbreak sending them back to virtual learning.

“(Virtual learning) doesn’t work on a continual basis. It does not work day-to-day for lots of kids. They really struggled,” Hough explained. “You know, we’ll use it for snow days to keep things as normal as possible when kids are at home. But on a day-to-day basis it doesn’t work for a lot of kids. It’s not good for their mental health. It’s not good for them academically. A multitude of issues. So we want to try to avoid that at all costs.”

To make it easier for students to get tested before returning to school, The Fayette County Board of Education teamed up with the Department of Health and Human Resources to plan a series of testing sites in Fayette County over the next week. This includes three rapid testing sites open this weekend.

“On Sunday [January 2, 2021] we’re doing some special rapid tests,” Hough told 59 News. “This is the rapid antigen, so they will know immediately whether they would be COVID positive or not. They’re going to be given at Midland Trail high school from 11-2p.m., they’re going to be given at Oak Hill High School from 11-2p.m., and they’re going to be given at Valley Pre-K-8 from 11-2p.m.. It’s really important, that gives the opportunity so that we know our students are coming back as healthy as we possibly can.”

Tests available in Fayette County this week are as follows:

Thursday, December 30, 2021:

  • Rainelle Medical Center 10-2p.m.
  • Walgreens – by appointment
  • Montgomery General 10- 2p.m.

Sunday, January 2, 2022:

  • Valley PK-8 11-2p.m.
  • Midland Trail High School 11-2p.m.
  • Oak Hill High School 11-2p.m.