WV Senate Democrats: School reopening decisions should be made locally

Education

A top shot of an isolated blackboard with a chalk and the shape of West Virginia (USA) drawn onto. (series)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – As controversy continues across West Virginia following Gov. Jim Justice’s executive order and the West Virginia Board of Education’s decision to return learning to classroom settings, and an injunction filed by a state teachers union, Democratic members of the West Virginia State Senate are weighing in with their opinion on the matter.

Out of concern for our students, staff, and families, we continue to closely monitor the reopening of schools. We realize this is a complex matter with many variables unique to each county including public health, student achievement, and home life. The health and safety of our children, our educators and staff, and all members of our community must be based on science applied to local circumstances.

Reopening should be a local decision made by elected county boards of education. Local leaders and health authorities should be consulted and their decisions respected. They have been elected to their positions to make these decisions. The issues facing our schools are complex, directly impacted by the size of the county or region of the state. Roane County is not Berkeley County. Monroe County is not Kanawha County.

Our county boards of education know their students, communities, and schools better than anyone. We should continue to trust them to make these difficult decisions. State government should help achieve this goal by allocating information and resources, not dictating decisions.

Now is not a time for adults to threaten one another. It is wrong to use our children, education resources, and COVID relief as bargaining chips used to force compliance without discussion.

In these difficult times, we must all work together for the good of our children. We call on all of our legislative colleagues to stand up for local BOE control. Local control is the only way to ensure that decisions are in the best interests of our children, educators and staff, and all citizens.

We strongly urge the WVDE and WVBE to work with each county board of education to support the local decision-making authority granted to them by our state laws.

Statement for WV Senate Democrats

Despite the state board’s decision and the governor’s order, several local county boards of education, including Taylor County’s have voted to remain remote, based on local levels on COVID-19 infection.

Other counties are still working to make decisions, while other counties were slated to return to the classroom on Tuesday.

The return to school was hampered, Tuesday, in 14 counties, where schools were closed, delayed or switched to remote, due to winter weather.

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