West Virginia Education Association's President Dale Lee attends a Senate Education Committee meeting on Jan. 24 2019.
Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A West Virginia teachers’ union is urging public schools to avoid face-to-face instruction when students return next month due to the coronavirus.

The West Virginia Education Association suggested the online-only start Thursday based on a survey of the union’s membership.

Members of the Our Students First Coalition gather on Aug. 12, 2020 outside the West Virginia Education building on the Capitol grounds in Charleston, W.Va.
Jenny Anderson / Our Students First Coalition

A coalition of teachers and public school advocates are asking for West Virginia schools to start remotely for the first 14 days with in-person instruction beginning only after 14 consecutive days of no new coronavirus cases in the state.

The Our Students First Coalition also wants state officials to allow students to return to in-person learning – on a county-by-county basis – if cases drop to zero in certain areas.

A statue of Shepherd University's mascot wears a face mask outside the football field during the coronavirus pandemic.
Shepherd University

Updated on Aug. 12, 2020 at 9:50 a.m. 

All of West Virginia’s higher education institutions have varying return-to-campus plans in place for the fall 2020 semester. But how will plans be enforced? And what consequences exist if students refuse to comply?

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice announced at a virtual news conference Wednesday a handful of school reopening policies.


Justice says his administration is developing a color-coded system that would determine coronavirus threat levels that would determine whether schools would operate in-person at full capacity or deploy altered instructional plans.

Marshall University
Wikipedia /

Marshall University will move more fall semester courses to a remote format than originally planned due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Marshall President Jerome Gilbert announced the change Wednesday.

Swimmerguy269 / wikimedia Commons

West Virginia University on Monday pushed back the start of its fall semester by a week and is switching some courses to online instruction due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Gov. Jim Justice announced Friday that he will sign an executive order authorizing universities and colleges to reopen their campuses this fall. 

Public schools should delay reopening in coronavirus hot spots but should open fully if they want to receive tens of billions of dollars in new federal aid, President Trump said in a White House briefing.

At the news conference Thursday, Trump talked in more detail than he has in the past about the reopening of schools. He also announced new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on reopening schools.

On this West Virginia Morning, the traditional start of the school year is coming like a freight train, and educational leaders are trying to prepare for the unknown. We hear from West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch and other officials. Also, in this show, we hear a story about efforts to save an endangered plant in Appalachia.

West Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Salango speaks to the public and media at a press conference in Charleston on July 20, 2020.
Ben Salango / Facebook Live

West Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Ben Salango, a Democrat, joined members of the state’s American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO chapters Monday to call on Gov. Jim Justice to outline how he intends to use federal money to help public schools open safely this fall.

Stonewall Jackson Middle School

The Kanawha County Board of Education voted 3-2 during its meeting Thursday night to rename the former Stonewall Jackson Middle School to West Side Middle School.

“We feel the school should have a name that includes everyone that enters it,” said Camdyn Harris, who lives on Charleston’s West Side and who attends the school.

“We as students do not want to exclude any race that attends the school, both now and in the future,” Harris told school board members.

Joanna Cole, whose Magic School Bus series made science both dazzling and goofily fun for generations of children, died on July 12 at age 75. Her death was announced by her publisher, Scholastic. The cause of death was not given.

Jefferson County Superintendent of Schools Bondy Shay Gibson speaks with board members and the community over Zoom in a special meeting about reopening on Monday, July 13, 2020.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Last week, Gov. Jim Justice ordered all public schools in West Virginia open for the 2020-2021 school year beginning Sept. 8. Schools must provide 180 instructional days and must have a five-day school week.

Of course, this could all change depending on how the coronavirus pandemic evolves. But county school boards are starting to prepare for that date and discuss how a return to school in a pandemic would look.

On this West Virginia Morning, we explore the question on many minds: what will happen with school this fall? West Virginia Public Broadcasting is asking questions and reflecting on student experiences this past spring.

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear from a pediatrician who weighs in on whether children should return to public school in the fall. Also, in this show, we hear an excerpt from the latest episode of Us & Them about the challenges of receiving mental health care during the coronavirus pandemic.

Adobe Stock

Gov. Jim Justice says his administration expects to reopen West Virginia schools later than usual this fall because of the coronavirus. That announcement comes despite the Trump administration pushing states to reopen schools as soon as possible.

Courtesy Photo / Marshall University

Updated Tuesday, July 7, 2020 at 2:45 p.m.

The Marshall University Board of Governors voted unanimously Tuesday to remove the name of a slaveholder and Confederate soldier from the building that houses the university’s education program. The name change comes as other markers and monuments honoring the Confederacy have been removed by choice or by force across the nation. 

Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET

President Trump vowed to exert pressure on states to reopen their school districts this fall even as large parts of the country are experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases.

"We're very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools," Trump said during a roundtable discussion Tuesday afternoon at the White House.

West Virginia State University

The West Virginia State University Board of Governors announced on Thursday it has chosen Nicole Pride to become the 12th president of the University.

Pride is the vice provost for academic strategy and operations at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, according to a news release on the appointment. She has also served as a member of the chancellor’s executive cabinet, the university’s chief of staff and its chief communications officer.

Jesse Wright / WVPB

In 2018, when Mirta Martin became president of Fairmont State University, she never imagined leading a school that was already in a dire financial state because of a pandemic. But because of measures she took upon taking the job, she doesn’t have to raise tuition in the face of the coronavirus.

West Virginia Department of Education

 West Virginia Department of Education Associate Superintendent Kathy D’Antoni is retiring.

The department announced her retirement Wednesday. D'Antoni spent her entire career serving students, including a decade in leadership roles with the department.

In a new rule announced Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos signaled she is standing firm on her intention to reroute millions of dollars in coronavirus aid money to K-12 private school students. The CARES Act rescue package included more than $13 billion to help public schools cover pandemic-related costs.

Adobe Stock

During the coronavirus pandemic, both fathers and mothers stepped up to help more with childcare. However, overall, mothers still continue to do 15 hours more housework and childcare. That’s according to a recent survey by Boston Consulting Group, which asked parents in the United States and Europe how the pandemic has affected how they balance work and family responsibilities. 

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

A private college in West Virginia said Wednesday it is removing the name of the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd from its health center, saying his name had caused “divisiveness and pain”without explicitly noting his complicated past on racial matters. 

How One Old Ohio Valley Farm Is Embracing New Farming Techniques

Jun 17, 2020
Jenn Jensen / Grow Ohio Valley

According to Columbia University—a symbiotic relationship between communities and local farms will effectively ensure a more sustainable future for people. Through developing sustainable agricultural practices, many farmers and communities are working together to grow and consume nutritionally-dense food, including Drew Manko of The Ross Family Farm.

On this West Virginia Morning, we continue to hear from and about the youth in our region. In this show, we hear the perspective of a young farmer, and we also hear from one of our first place winners in this year’s West Virginia Public Broadcasting Writers Contest.

Martinsburg High School Principal Trent Sherman reaches out to shake hands with a graduating senior on May 26, 2020 during Martinsburg High School’s drive-through graduation. Sherman did not wear gloves or a mask during the event.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

High schools throughout the United States and in West Virginia have had to reimagine graduation for the Class of 2020. Many have already had drive-through, or drive by, graduations, some have done virtual ones, and others hold out hope to also have some sort of traditional ceremony later this summer.

Johnathon Burkhart / Wheeling Nailers

If you went to a hockey game in the Nail City during 2019, there’s a good chance you saw defenseman Aaron Titcomb on the ice. Titcomb played for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers.

Ohio Valley Artists Share Insight: Find Your People

Jun 14, 2020
Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In a Yurt overlooking the city of Wheeling, traditional Japanese painter Hiromi Katayama showcased her portfolio book containing photographs of a vibrant spread of enormous floral paintings she’s made to a group of Ohio County School students. Some pieces spanned across twenty feet of folding screens, which left students in awe.

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia is one of the few states where the population is dropping and life expectancy is among the lowest in the country.  Communities are shrinking, aging, and experiencing some of the highest opioid overdose rates in the country. According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, one of every four kids in West Virginia has experienced two or more adverse childhood experiences — a rate almost 20 percent higher than the national average. West Virginia Public Broadcasting has engaged with organizations in the Northern Panhandle region with an eye toward addressing these disparities.