Public and private school students in Kanawha, Putnam, Monongalia, Fayette, Logan, Mingo and Monroe counties face another week of remote-only instruction following the release Saturday of the state’s color-coded school reopening map.
Meanwhile, students in Boone County, who were cleared for in-person learning last week when the school year began statewide, will likewise be barred from the classroom this week.
Those counties were all orange on the map, with the exception of Monongalia, which remained red.
In Boone, about 27% of all households lack broadband internet that could help with distance education, according to U.S. Education Department data. These households without access may include some who don’t have children.
Of the state’s 55 county school systems, 47 will be allowed to continue teaching students in-person. West Virginia has the fastest rate of COVID-19 spread in the nation, though it’s unclear how much that is due to, or will be exacerbated by, schools reopening.
Gov. Jim Justice hasn’t used the color-coded map to ban anything but in-person teaching, school extracurriculars and visits to nursing homes. Indoor bars, restaurants and worship services continue to operate.
Those 47 school systems allowed to keep classrooms open may now feel their future in-person teaching is more precarious following an announcement by Justice during his Friday COVID-19 briefing.
Justice said Friday any county that is orange on the Saturday reopening map would be banned from opening classrooms, not just those, like Kanawha, that started off the school year in orange.
Before Friday’s announcement, a county just had to drop out of orange on any Saturday to yellow or green and it could continue offering in-person courses, even if it later returned to orange. Only red would’ve stopped that.
Justice did say additional guidelines and clarifications on changes to schools reopening will be released Monday, but he didn’t specify what those would be.