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State Superintendent Says More than Three-Quarters of K-12 Students Sign Up For In-Person Classes

WV Public Broadcasting

Looking ahead to K-12 classes resuming Sept. 8, West Virginia superintendent of schools Clayton Burch said Wednesday that 79 percent of the state’s 265,000 students have signed up for in-person learning. 
State education officials set a deadline of last week for county school systems to detail reopening plans, including virtual and in-person instruction. They have also given parents options on how their children can attend classes as the pandemic continues into the new school year.
“I hate it like crazy. I know this is your business. I know that’s part of your life and everything,” Justice said as he announced the extension of the closures. “But at the same time, we’ve got a situation where we’ve got to try in every way to protect everybody in that county and throughout all across West Virginia.”
In other news of the day, Justice announced that bars in Monongalia County will remain closed through Aug. 31 unless the area sees a spike in cases of the coronavirus. The governor originally closed bars in the county in mid-July.“I think that sends a message that we are ready for our children back to school, but it also now puts our schools in a position of implementing those plans,” Burch said.
Justice was joined at his briefing by U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and Rep. Alex Mooney, who both made mention of the currently stalled federal coronavirus relief package — known as the HEALS Act — and the potential of $105 billion becoming available to states to support schools. West Virginia’s share of those funds was not immediately clear. 
“There’s no way that Republicans and Democrats can’t at least agree on supporting our children’s education — here in a few weeks — and at least pass that bill,” Mooney said. “We can keep talking about others. But, we need to get that through as fast as possible because there’s a deadline. Schools are opening.”
Wednesday’s briefing followed a roundtable discussion in Charleston that included Dr. Deborah Birx, who serves as the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force. 
State coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh said Birx praised West Virginia’s response to the pandemic but reminded state leaders to remain vigilant.
“She was appropriately cautious, but she did feel like that we were doing many of the right things — and, in fact, wanted to share some of the practices that we have engaged in and some of our creativity with other states and other governors,” Marsh said.