CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) has adopted parameters for in-person instruction in public schools in the state.
According to a news release from the WVBE, the action comes following the Executive Order issued by Governor Jim Justice earlier this week permitting schools to return to in-person instruction on Jan. 19.
“The WVBE’s action today was based on updated COVID-19 health data and its transmission rate in schools,” the release stated. “State health officials and many leading national health organizations support the return to in-person learning because transmission rates within schools do not reflect heightened rates in the community.”
For grades pre-K through 8, the action outlines expectations that schools offer a full in-person learning option four or five days each week. However, counties may begin with blended learning models providing at least two days of in-person instruction each week. Virtual learning options remain open to families, and each county is required to offer virtual learning programs for those selecting this option.
Schools are expected to offer an in-person option to students in grades 9 through 12 as long as their county is not red on the DHHR County Alert System Map. In-person instruction may also include blended learning models.
Counties are expected to continue to work with their local health departments to move specific classroom or schools to temporary remote learning if specific health needs related to that classroom or school are identified irrespective of the county’s color on the DHHR County Alert System Map.
“As a State Board of Education, we have to do everything in our power to bring our children back to school in person,” said WVBE President Miller Hall. “I believe what our health experts are telling us, and I know our schools are the safest place for many of our children who are a part of vulnerable populations.”
Wednesday’s action also focused on the importance that schools and teachers play in many students’ lives, according to the news release.
“Too many of our children are falling further behind with each day they are not in school,” said WVBE Vice President Tom Campbell. “We know more about the disease now than we did a year ago, and we are able to make these types of decisions with the best interest of our children in mind. Nothing can replace the role a teacher plays in a child’s life, and in-person instruction is essential to this.”
Each Monday, State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch will provide the WVBE with an update of each county’s in-person instruction status. The Board has instructed the State Superintendent, WVDE staff, and all county-level education leaders to continue to provide educational information about the benefit and safety of the COVID vaccination to teachers, education staff, community members and residents throughout the state.
Information provided by the WVBE.