WV elementary, middle schools to reopen for in-person learning

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia elementary and middle schools, or pre-K through 8th grade, are set to reopen to in-person learning Tuesday, January 19, according to West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. He says this gives schools and teachers two weeks to prepare.

According to the West Virginia Department of Education, counties whose teachers are providing direct virtual learning instruction to their own students will be given special allowances for four-day learning models.

The governor says high schools, 9th grade through 12th grade, will only go to virtual learning if the county is in red. Grades 9-12 will now be able to go to school in-person if the county is orange. The governor says winter sports are again being pushed back with a new target date of March 1, 2021.

The WVDE says all counties will move to remote learning from Jan. 4 through Jan. 15, and families will have the option to keep their children in virtual learning regardless of changes to in-person instruction.

‘The research shows it is safe to restore the in-person learning model for parents that chose this option for the children. We also know students are suffering because of the lack of in-person instruction. CPS referrals have decreased, student social and emotional well-being has suffered, and one-third of our students have received failing grades in at least one core subject area. We simply have to get our students back in school, in-person.

The Governor understands the data is undeniable. I fully support this decision because we know that heightened transmission rates experienced in communities are not reflected within the schools because of the mitigations in place.’

State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch said

Faculty and staff in West Virginia schools will be offered to all teachers, staff and service personnel over the age of 50 within the next three weeks. He says once the first group has received the vaccine, the state will offer the vaccine to the teachers, staff and service personnel under 50-years-old.

Justuce says in the first semester, transmission of COVID-19 in schools was .02% among students and 0.3% among staff. He says it will be important for students and faculty to continue practicing social distancing guidelines, but returning students to in-person learning is crutial for students’ education.

According to Justice, reports from the West Virginia Department of Education show at least one-third of West Virginia students are receiving a failing grade in at least one core class. Justice says the virtual learning models are not working for most students without the consistent live engagement from a teacher.

He also says the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is reporting a 50% to 54% reduction per month in Child Protective Services referrals in the Mountain State.

The WVDE says it will no longer send out its Saturday Education Map and the WV DHHR County Alert System Map will guide high school in-person instruction.

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