Gov. Justice announces Sept. 8 as target date for start of school year during Wednesday coronavirus press briefing


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The 2020–21 school year in West Virginia remains uncertain, and officials on the state level are evaluating their options for this fall.

Gov. Jim Justice said on Wednesday that his target date for schools is Sept. 8, which is 62 days away.

“We’ve looked at calendars from Sept. 8 and still being able to get out by the end of May, and be able to condense the schedule and pull that off, and we absolutely feel confident that we can do that,” said Justice.

“Now, in regard to sports and everything, if we could move the start date, and push the start date back of our high school football, or our fall sports and everything to the Friday before, you know, or, or maybe even the possibility of the Friday, Friday before, and that, we’ll, we’ll let you know about, and we’ll let you know more about that on Friday, you know, of this week,” Justice continued.

“I’ve got to look out, first and foremost, for the kids, the teachers, the service personnel, all those that are involved from right on down to the parents and everybody else that are involved with our kids, and I’m going to do, at the end of the day, what I think is the most safe thing and best thing for our kids,” Justice said.

Free testing is being offered in three area counties this week. On July 10, an event will run 9 a.m.–4 p.m. at the Morgantown Farmers Market at 400 Spruce Street, while a second event will be held July 11, 9 a.m.–4 p.m., at Mountainview Elementary School at 661 Green Bag Road in Morgantown.

In Preston County, testing events will be held July 10 and 11, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. each day, at Kingwood Elementary School at 207 S. Price Street.

Upshur County will hold testing in two locations on both days. One testing site will be at Buckhannon-Upshur High School in Tennerton. On July 10, testing there will run 10 a.m.–7 p.m., with testing July 11 running 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Testing will also be held at Community Care of West Virginia, located at 78 Queens Alley Road in Rock Cave. Testing will be held July 10 and 11, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. each day.

Justice expressed concern over the trends in active and recovered cases of coronavirus in the state.

“And, you can see, the top line is turning down. The bottom line has turned up significantly. They’re not moving the way we want them to move,” said Justice.

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources data, seen below and available here, the state currently has 2,613 recovered cases and 907 that are active. The previous peak of 829 active cases was on Monday, when there were 2,518 recoveries.

Going back to a previous peak a few weeks ago, there were 778 active cases on June 21, with 1,676 recovered cases. This means there were 898 more recovered cases than active ones on that day.

Inset of the above graph

Compared to this week, there was a difference of 1,689 on July 6 and a difference of 1,706 on July 8.

Expressed as percentages, on June 21, 31.7% of combined active and recovered cases were still active. On July 6, this figure was 24.8%, while on July 8, it is 25.8%.

Justice reiterated the executive order he signed on Monday, which requires people to wear masks when in “confined, indoor spaces, other than when in one’s residence…and when not able to adequately social distance” from other people who do not live in the same home. Wearing one outdoors is not required.

The governor also hinted at the possibility of more austere measures to ensure compliance with the order.

“Now, I entrust West Virginians can handle that and handle that from the standpoint of being on an honor system. Now, if you can’t, we’ll have to move and make that more strenuent [sic], from the standpoint that we’ll have to assess some level of penalties for your not com—non-compliance in not wearing those masks,” said Justice.

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