State BOE orders grades pre-K to 8 to reopen five days per week

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) passed a motion today requiring grades Pre-K to 8 to return to full, five-day instruction in the state. The move replaces the 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.

As a part of the meeting, the board recommended high schools return to five days of in-person instruction as well. However, because older students may transmit the virus at rates similar to adults, grades 9-12 may remain with blended instruction if the infection rate in the community is high.

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.

The structure of the school system and school day, and the practiced mitigations have shown to be effective in keeping schools safe according to the data. 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.

“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.”

“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.”

According to the motion, counties are to return to the five-day, in-person model for Pre-K through 8 students no later than March 3, 2021. To view the motion, click here.

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