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Gov. Justice announces new program to help with school reopening plan

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 7:54 PM EDT
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NORTH CENTRAL, W.Va (WDTV) - Every week, more questions about how students will return to school, what policies will be in place and how everyone will stay safe. During Governor Jim Justice’s covid briefing, he made an announcement about how schools will be allowed to move forward beginning September 8.

To keep everyone safe as the school year begins, the governor shared what he has in progress to make sure students can get an education without much worry.

First, he noted that parents will have the opportunity to decide whether or not their children participate in virtual learning or attend physical classes.

"We will absolutely deliver a quality education for the time period that they decide not to come to the school," he said.

With virtual learning comes great responsibility from the internet, and because 41 percent of the state is without broadband, the governor announced a new program.

"Today I am committing to make sure that all students within the state of West Virginia are going to have access to our broadband," Gov. Justice said.

The governor called the program Kids Connect. The $6,000,000 project will provide 1000 wireless locations for students to have access to. For those who can't get to the area, the governor said he plans to provide transportation and supply technology for those who need it.

"Every single kid in this state that needs a laptop or a tablet, we're going to provide them that, and we're going to provide that through our school systems," he said.

Even with the good news from the governor, one local teacher and the president of the Harrison County chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, Renee McLean, there's still more that needs to be discussed.

"Given the amount of covid numbers it wasn't the announcement we expected, and it's also not a definitive answer to whether or not we're going to go back to school because depending on how the numbers fall in the next couple weeks, the answer could change," she said. "It could be remote, it could be go to school, so he left us with a lot of questions," McLean said. "But we plan to work with our county office to get those questions answered."

A final return plan from all county school boards have to be submitted by August 14. There's a lot still left up to the counties on how they want to operate, and following the governor's briefing, there's a lot to consider.

Gov. Jim Justice also mentioned that things can change depending on the cases in the state as the start of school approaches.

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