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The state Department of Education on Wednesday granted a waiver that allows students with less than 2.0 grade-point average to participate in extracurricular activities, including sports, for a limited period, citing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students who would otherwise be academically ineligible for participation in the second semester may participate until March 19, when their status will be reviewed.

Most winter sports, idled since Nov. 13, are scheduled to begin the first week of March. Girls basketball games open on March 3 and boys basketball games on March 5.

State Superintendent Clayton Burch issued the memorandum Wednesday, saying it will allow students “additional time to improve their grade-point average.’’

“Over the past 11 months,’’ Burch said in the statement, “the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of students in West Virginia and across the world. … As a result, many of our children have suffered academically and emotionally.

“The goal of this limited waiver is not to diminish the importance of academic achievement, but rather to support it. During this limited waiver period, students will have the opportunity to reestablish eligibility by reconnecting with teachers, coaches, counselors and their peers.’’