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West Virginia governor says school plan still ‘absolutely fluid’

After teasing a “significant” announcement regarding the start of school, Gov. Jim Justice offered a broad overview of the state’s plan during his daily press briefing Wednesday.

“We will begin education for all our kids on Sept. 8, provided we all know just one thing: this situation is absolutely fluid,” Justice said. “Who knows what’s going to happen in the next week? We hope and pray we’re moving in the right direction, but we may have to change things.”

Justice said that by August 14, counties must submit plans covering all options, from having schools open five-days-a-week to going entirely virtual.

“We will have total optionality,” he said. “If you feel like your child should not be at the school, we’re going to make that child’s education virtual and we will absolutely deliver a quality education to them.”

Justice indicated that teachers will also have the option of teaching virtually.

“If we have a teacher who decides she’d rather not be there, but she can contribute from a virtual standpoint, then great,” he said.

The governor said the state is working to devise a red, orange, yellow and green coding system to help identify the threat level on a county-by-county basis. He hopes to release the details on that in the next two weeks.

Justice said no determination has been made about whether masks will be required in schools.

The state will also fund a $6 million Kids Connect program that will be used to install wifi at schools, libraries and state parks that students can access from the parking lot. He said buses will transport students to the parking lot so they can access their school materials online.

Justice also said the state will continue to ensure students have access to meals.

The announcement came after the governor announced seven deaths since his last press briefing, noting they all came from separate counties.

“This killer is amongst us, all over the place,” Justice said.

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