Half the schools in West Virginia will be closed next week as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

Twenty-seven counties will be forced to cancel in-person school next week as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase statewide, the West Virginia Department of Education announced Saturday.

Upshur County is listed as orange and is among the counties deemed unsafe for students. With cases rising locally since Halloween, the Upshur County Board of Education had already voted to implement remote learning for the rest of the calendar year, saying the move would provide stability by allowing teachers to focus on one style of teaching while also removing uncertainty for parents.

Here’s this week’s press release from the WVDE:

The West Virginia Department of Education has posted the Dec. 5, 2020, Saturday Education Map that determines which counties will hold in-person and blended instruction and directs the level of extracurricular activities permitted. The map is developed with information from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) and vetted by the COVID-19 Data Review Panel.  

The weekly updates are posted at https://wvde.us/reentrymetrics. County plans should be reviewed for additional requirements.   

Red (Substantial Community Transmission): Counties must move to remote learning. No extracurricular competitions or practices are permitted. Staff may report to their schools, as determined by the county. Essential support services, including special education and meals, will continue.  

Red counties include: Barbour, Berkeley, Grant, Hancock, Marshall, Mason, Mineral, Ohio, Wayne, Wirt, Wood, Wyoming

Orange (Heightened Community Transmission): Remote learning required.  Extracurricular activities are limited to conditioning only and sport-specific practicing is not permitted. Marching band is limited to outdoors only. Staff may report to their schools, as determined by the county. Essential support services, including special education and meals, will continue.  

Orange counties include: Boone, Brooke, Cabell, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Morgan, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Ritchie, Tyler, Upshur, Wetzel

Gold (Elevated Community Transmission): In-person instruction permitted with increased mitigations including face coverings for children grades 3 and above at all times. Extracurricular activities are permitted in-county (with schools from the same county) and with other gold counties.  

Gold counties include: Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Harrison, Jackson, Kanawha, Mingo, Pleasants, Roane

Yellow (Increased Community Transmission): Counties will continue with in-person instruction. Extracurricular practices and competitions may occur. Health and safety precautions include, at a minimum, face coverings at all times for grades 3 and above.  

Yellow counties include: Lincoln, Logan, Marion, McDowell, Monongalia, Monroe, Raleigh, Taylor

Green (Minimal Community Transmission): Extracurricular practices and competitions may occur. Health and safety precautions include, at a minimum, face coverings in grades 3 and above on school buses and when inside of school facilities.  

Green counties include: Braxton, Gilmer, Greenbrier, Lewis, Mercer, Pendleton, Randolph, Summers, Tucker, Webster

The COVID-19 Data Review Panel reviewed and verified the data used to inform the WVDE Saturday Education Map to ensure both accuracy and reliability. The panel considered data captured at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, December 3, 2020. As a result, there may be differences between the WVDE map and the DHHR County Alert Map.  

The county color announced each Saturday will be in effect until the following Saturday with the exception of a county turning red during the course of the week. Once reviewed, that change may be made immediately to the WVDE map because all in-person instruction and extracurricular and athletic activities would be suspended. 

Counties that voluntarily move into remote learning during the week (without being given the red designation by the DHHR or the Data Review Panel) will be identified with red asterisks on the map. 

All schools, both public and private, are expected to adhere to the WVDE Saturday Education Map to guide in-person instruction and extracurricular activities.  

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