Bi-partisan WV legislative leaders ask Gov. Justice to close schools for the year

Coronavirus

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson County, Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso, D-Marion County, Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay County, and House Minority Leader Tim Miley, D-Harrison County, delivered a letter Thursday, to Governor Jim Justice to request that he start the necessary actions to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, according to a news release.

Sen. Mitch Carmichael, Sen. Roman Prezioso, Del. Roger Hanshaw, Del. Tim Miley

“Current public health modeling projections suggest the COVID-19 virus will peak during the first week of May in West Virginia. Based upon these projections, we believe it would be wise to fall on the side of caution and keep students at home for the remainder of the 2020 school year rather than risk sending our children into potentially hazardous and untenable learning environments,” the letter states.

On Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that schools would be closed through April 30, but expressed hope that students would be able to return to school for at least a few weeks.

When asked about the letter at his news briefing Thursday, Justice has this to say:

The letter also notes that the May primary election has been rescheduled to avoid potential public health risks of crowds gathering. Families, teachers, service personnel, and the public in general would benefit from receiving the same certainty about the end of the academic year, and would allow preparations for next year to begin without the cloud of the pandemic hanging over them.

This crisis, the legislative leaders said, has re-emphasized the need for West Virginia’s schools to deploy distanced-based learning tools and the ability to teach students via video feed and other technological channels, leaders said.

“The critical need for reliable, world-class broadband service is a vital element of this educational methodology. We challenge ourselves and call upon all other state and local leaders to facilitate the rapid deployment and/or enhancement of technology infrastructure in the West Virginia public education system with the goal of delivering superior educational content in a distance learning environment,” the letter states.

You can read the full letter here.

WV State Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch addressed the letter at the governor’s news briefing, saying he was “disheartened” by it. You can watch Burch’s reaction below:

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