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School map release delayed as state continues to analyze data

With West Virginia reporting record high numbers of both new cases (655) and deaths (15) on Saturday, the state Department of Education announced late Saturday afternoon that the weekly school map release has been delayed due to “further validation of data.”

The map is typically released at 5 p.m. Saturday, although it only includes data reported as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

After being closed to students for five straight weeks, schools in Upshur County could potentially reopen their doors to students for the upcoming week if they receive a gold rating or lower on the weekly alert map.

Students in Upshur County have not seen the inside of a classroom since Oct. 2 due to a sustained local outbreak that has led to more than 200 infections and four deaths.

Four of the past five weeks Upshur County has been either red or orange on the map, mandating remote learning. The county was green one week, but an outbreak in the transportation department led to schools again being closed just hours before they were set to reopen.

According to the most recent data from the W.Va. Dept. of Health and Human Resources, Upshur County remains orange by infection rate, but is yellow by percent positivity. The school map uses the lower of the two metrics, regardless of the severity of the other.

The spread of COVID-19 has continued to accelerate over the past seven days, and more than 6,400 cases are currently active in the state.

In Upshur County, 47 COVID-19 cases remained active as of Saturday.

Gov. Jim Justice said Friday he had asked state health experts to see if they could find a way so that athletes in counties with high infection rates compete in playoff sporting events.

Although the WVSSAC initially said they would stick to current map rules, they announced a change Friday that would allow red and orange counties to delay football playoff games to see if the infection or positivity rates might decline enough to play.

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