Nine W.Va. Counties Will Go Virtual-Only In First Week Of School
The West Virginia Department of Education announced Saturday that nine counties will begin with only remote learning for the week of Sept. 6 through 12. State officials rolled out updated data Saturday at 9 p.m.
Monongalia, Fayette, Kanawha, Logan, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Putnam and Wayne counties will not initially open for in-person instruction.
Monongalia is the only county in West Virginia as of Saturday night that is marked red on the state’s color-coded map that gauges whether schools are ready for in-class teaching, sports and other activities. Previously, Monroe County was also labeled red but was moved to orange on Saturday.
A level of red indicates “substantial community transmission.”
As of the Saturday update, orange level counties — which indicates “heightened community transmission — include Fayette, Kanawha, Logan, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Putnam and Wayne.
The remaining counties in the state fall into the yellow and green levels, which allows for in-person instruction to begin. Yellow counties indicate “increased community transmission,” while green translates to minimal spread of the virus.
The color-coded threat levels are based on an average of new daily cases — with counties of 16,000 or more on a 14-day rolling average. Those with populations of less than 16,000 are measured on a 7-day rolling average.
State officials announced last week they would create a data review panel to evaluate county coronavirus case data to determine its accuracy and reliability.
“Upon further review of the data by the Panel, it was determined that Monroe County should be moved to orange status,” said West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Bill Crouch on Saturday. “This is because the county’s daily number of cases and the average seven-day incidence have declined sufficiently to meet the criteria for orange. From this analysis, the Panel concluded the level of COVID-19 transmission in Monroe County was improving.”
Monroe and the other counties in orange means school is remote only, but extracurriculars can still resume, however athletic competitions may not.
Updates to the map will be announced each Saturday at 9 p.m. and will be in effect until the following Saturday at the same time, according to the state Department of Education. The only exception would be if a county turns red during the week.
All schools, both public and private, are expected to adhere to the education department’s re-entry map to guide in-person instruction and extracurricular activities.
“We're about ready to go back to school,” said Gov. Jim Justice in a virtual press conference Friday. “Unfortunately we're going to have some that we just can't turn loose right yet, which is in the best interest of the school.”
Justice announced Friday the state will devote an additional $50 million in federal pandemic relief funds for personal protective equipment and testing capacity at schools.
The 2020-2021 school year in West Virginia is set to start on Tuesday, Sept. 8.
As of Saturday morning, the state Department of Health and Human Resources reports 11,289 total cases of the virus and 243 deaths. 2,530 cases are considered active.