Schools in nearly half of West Virginia closed as COVID-19 cases skyrocket

This free update is made possible by Bacteria Busters, a Buckhannon-based business that is committed to keeping West Virginians safe by offering affordable, hospital-grade flu and COVID-19 disinfection solutions for both residential and commercial customers. Call them at 304-439-1032 or check out their website.

Schools in 24 of West Virginia’s 55 counties are either orange or red on the state Department of Education weekly map released Saturday evening.

According to the WVDE, six counties are red, 12 are orange and six others — including Upshur County — have voluntarily moved to remote learning.

The Upshur County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to move to fulltime remote learning for the rest of the year. More than 100 cases are active in Upshur County, according to the W.Va. Department of Health and Human Resources.

Statewide, nearly 7,000 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the last week and 84 more West Virginians have died from the virus.

When a school district opts to close due to adverse local conditions, they are considered red by the WVDE regardless of the metrics.

Most of the Mountain State is red on the Harvard Risk Map.

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

The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) has posted the November 21, 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: Berkeley, Hardy, Jackson, Marshall, Mineral, Wood

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, Hancock, Jefferson, Mason, Ohio, Putnam, Ritchie, Wayne, Wirt, Wyoming

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: Barbour, Clay, Harrison, Kanawha, Lincoln, Mingo, Monroe, Morgan, Nicholas, Preston, Upshur, Wetzel

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: Calhoun, Fayette, Grant, Greenbrier, Logan, Marion, McDowell, Mercer, Monongalia, Pleasants, Raleigh, Randolph, Taylor, Tyler

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, Doddridge, Gilmer, Lewis, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Roane, 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, November 19, 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 a red asterisk 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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