More than half of students who so far have registered for classes in West Virginia’s largest public school district plan to attend in person, officials said Wednesday.
Kanawha County announced that 53% of 17,482 students registered for in-person classes. The rest are going online-only.
While Kanawha employees generally are required to show up to schools to work, the state Board of Education barred the public Wednesday from physically attending its monthly meeting.
Online audio livestreaming of the meeting was provided.
Our Students First Coalition, a coalition of anti-poverty nonprofits and a few county-level school worker unions, held a news conference Wednesday outside the Capitol Complex building urging officials to slow the push to restart in-person classes.
Signs declared, “Our students are not lab rats” and “I can teach from anywhere except the grave.”
“It makes no sense,” said Jenny Anderson, head of one of the antipoverty nonprofit groups in the coalition, referring to the board meeting being closed but classrooms soon reopening.
State school board President Miller Hall said members had received 250 letters. He did not read them aloud. Normally, people can comment publicly at meetings.
“I understand where they’re coming from,” Hall said. “We appreciate them for having a voice.”
“As a board, we support the governor to ensure that all counties that are deemed safe by [the state Department of Health and Human Resources] and health officials will start with in-person school,” he said.
Asked why the public was not permitted in the boardroom, Hall responded: “Why are we going to let 12 or 13 or 14 people come in there on top of each other, and someone tests positive?”
Kanawha and other districts still could be required to shut down. A recently announced color-coded shutdown system is expected to be finished Friday, the state schools superintendent said.