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West Virginia students to return to in-person learning, WVBE passes motion

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 4:22 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va (WDTV) - The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) passed a motion on Tuesday requiring grades pre-k – 8 to return to full, five-day instruction in the state.

According to a press release, the move replaces the January 13, 2021, motion that required counties to offer at-least blended learning for families. This does not affect families that have chosen virtual learning for their children. Those children may remain with virtual learning.

The board recommended high schools return to five days of in-person instruction as well. However, because older students may transmit the virus at rates similar to adults, grades 9 – 12 may remain with blended instruction if the infection rate in the community is high.

West Virginia’s Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh presented data regarding the transmission of COVID-19 within the school system. In line with national research, West Virginia’s data indicates minimal transmissions within schools especially among younger learners, according to WVBE.

However, not everyone at the West Virginia Board of Education meeting was on board with this decision.

“We feel strongly that it should be a local school board decision, because the local school boards best know their communities,” said AFTWV Fred Albert.

The WVBE’s decision requires counties to move to a consistent full, five-day teaching model regardless of the county’s color on the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) Map.

As of now, only about a dozen counties still use a blended learning model.

“Early in the pandemic we thought school transmission was closely tied to community transmission rates,” said Dr. Marsh. “We’ve since learned this is not correct. We are finding that when mitigations are followed, schools are among the safest places for our children.”

“The decisions we are making are based on data,” said WVBE President Miller Hall. “According to Dr. Marsh, it is safe to return to five-days of instruction for our elementary and middle school students, and that is what we must do. Children don’t have equal access to technology, and it is very important to restore the support of the school system in the lives of our children. It’s time to return.”

According to the motion, counties are to return to the five-day, in-person model for pre-k – 8 students no later than March 3, 2021. To view the motion, click here.

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