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Upshur County rated yellow on delayed school alert map

After being closed to students for five straight weeks, schools in Upshur County can potentially reopen their doors to students for the upcoming week after receiving a yellow rating on the weekly alert map released by the W.Va. Dept. of Education.

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 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 original version of map, developed by scientists at Harvard University, currently lists Upshur County as orange.

On social media, Upshur County Schools announced plans to return to the blended, two-day-per-week model this week.

The spread of COVID-19 has continued to accelerate over the past seven days, with West Virginia reporting record high numbers of both new cases (655) and deaths (15) on Saturday. More than 6,400 cases are currently active in the state.

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

Set to be released at 5 p.m. each Saturday, this week’s school alert map was delayed until nearly midnight for “further validation of data.” Many speculated the map was given extra care this week because high school football playoffs are set to begin.

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 could compete in playoff sporting events but ultimately decided to stick with the current map rules.

However, later in the day the WVSSAC announced a change 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.

Here are the changes the Data Review Panel made to the map:

  • Berkeley County: Moved from orange to gold based on additional testing results received and a reduced positivity rate.
  • Lewis County: Moved from gold to yellow due to data validation and three cases being removed due to case status updated and one case removed due to outbreak information being updated.
  • Marion County: Moved from green to yellow due to data validation and one case being added due to outbreak information being updated.
  • Marshall County: Moved from red to orange due to data validation of 11 nursing home residents excluded and transfer of three cases to correct county of residence.
  • Monroe County: Moved from gold to yellow due to data validation and one nursing home resident excluded.
  • Morgan County: Moved from yellow to gold due to additional testing results received.
  • Randolph County: Moved from gold to yellow due to data validation of ten college students isolating in dorms excluded and transfer of three cases to correct county of residence.

Here’s the full press release from the W.Va. Department of Education about this week’s map release:

The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) has posted the November 7, 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: Mineral, Mingo

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: Hampshire, Jackson, Lincoln, Marshall, Ohio, Putnam, Tyler, Wood, 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: Berkeley, Jefferson, Morgan, Pleasants, Wetzel, Wirt,

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 6 and above.

Yellow counties include: Boone, Cabell, Clay, Fayette, Kanawha, Lewis, Marion, McDowell, Monroe, Preston, Randolph, Ritchie, Upshur, Wayne

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 when students are outside of core groups and in congregant settings and on school buses.

Green counties include: Barbour, Braxton, Brooke, Calhoun, Doddridge, Gilmer, Grant, Greenbrier, Hancock, Hardy, Harrison, Logan, Mason, Mercer, Monongalia, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Raleigh, Roane, Summers, Taylor, 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 5, 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 at the same time 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.

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