CHARLESTON, W.Va. — On Wednesday, Gov. Jim Justice announced all public and private schools will remain closed with plans to reopen on Monday, April 20.
According to a press release from the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE), during this closure period, pre-k-12 public and private school facilities will not provide traditional, in-person instructional opportunities.
The WVDE press release stated:
“To align with Governor Jim Justice’s top priority, the WVDE will continue to work closely with counties to ensure children are fed. The WVDE Office of Child Nutrition has worked tirelessly with counties, the West Virginia Division of Tourism, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and the West Virginia National Guard to meet children’s nutritional needs.
During this unparalleled time, we must avoid assuming that continuity of education outside of typical school buildings only can occur through online means. Counties will continue to provide student engagement opportunities using learning materials, phone contact, email, technology-based virtual instruction or a combination of all of the above to meet student needs. Forthcoming guidance regarding student engagement will be grounded in compassion, communication and common sense rather than traditional compliance measures that most are accustomed to in our education community.”
“Our schools are the backbone of communities,” said State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “It is important that our families are supported during this time in our state. We appreciate the Governor’s guidance and support of West Virginia children. We have all had to pull together and find ways to address unforeseen challenges, and I know our hard working educators and school personnel will do what is needed to support our children.”
“I am very, very hopeful that our kids are going to be able to go back to school at some point in time, but we’re not there right now,” Justice said in a statement released by his office. “We need to give our families proper time to be able to make arrangements. April 20th is a Monday, a week after Easter, and it would take spring break into consideration. I’m very hopeful that on April 20th we can go back to school, but we’ll have to see, just like everything we’ve done.”
In addition, a press release from the governor’s office regarding Wednesday’s COVID-19 update, stated he announced he has asked West Virginia Tax Commissioner Dale Steager to extend the West Virginia income tax filing and payment deadline until Wednesday, July 15, to correspond with the federal government’s recent tax filing extension to the same date.
“We’ve been trying to fit these changes together and make it work,” Justice said. “The main driver has to be, first and foremost, the convenience of our people. If you’re going to do one filing, we surely don’t need to ask you to do two different filings.”
The governor also announced he will be waiving all interest and penalties on property tax filings until Friday, May 1. The West Virginia State Tax Department will be posting administrative notice of these changes on their website Thursday, according to the press release from the governor’s office.
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice joined religious leaders from across West Virginia today to conduct a virtual Statewide Day of Prayer Service.
According to a statment from the governor’s office, “Leaders from many different religious backgrounds participated in the event to provide all West Virignians, no matter their religious denomination, an opportunity to pray as one people during the state’s ongoing ‘Stay At Home’ order.”
“Today is a special day that we have dedicated to a Day of Prayer in West Virginia,” Justice said during Wednesday’s service. “I go to my God multiple times every day and I can tell you He’ll lead us out of this, but today is a really special day for us all to come together.”
The service was held virtually, with religious leaders participating through online video chat technology to ensure that social distancing practices, recommended by health experts across the country to combat the spread of COVID-19, are being followed.
Information for this article provided by the WVDE and the office of Gov. Jim Justice.