School board votes to send students back to in-person instruction by March 3

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(Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP) (Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

UPDATE (2/23/2021 4:30 p.m.):

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – 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. The move replaces 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.

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.

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, the state’s data indicates minimal transmissions within schools, especially among younger learners.

“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.”

According to the data, the structure of the school system and school day and the practiced mitigations have shown to be effective in keeping schools safe. As a result, 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.

“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.”

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ORIGINAL (2/23/2021 3:30 p.m.):

Charleston, WV (WOWK) — The West Virginia School Board of Education unanimously voted to send students back to the classrooms Tuesday.

The Board heard from COVID-19 Czar Dr. Clay Marsh before voting.

Dr. Marsh stated in-person classroom instruction is safe, both for teachers as well as students and school personnel so long as masks and distancing are followed.

The board voted to mandate in-person K-8 instruction for five days a week and recommended five days a week for grades 9- 12.

COVID-19 transmission rates, according to Dr. Clay Marsh are only about 50% of what county transmission rates are under the DHHR map for the K-8 group.

The West Virginia Education Association and AFT of West Virginia gave comment before DR. Clay Marsh spoke and asked the board to let the decision of in-person instruction be at the discretion of the local school boards ‘who know their communities best.’

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