Justice acknowledges tight squeeze to vaccinate teachers prior to classroom return; unions ring alarm bells

By Brad McElhinny, WV MetroNews

January 5, 2020

Gov. Jim Justice said West Virginia will prioritize vaccinations for school teachers and staff with a goal of resuming classroom learning by Jan. 19, but teachers union leaders are questioning whether the plan is realistic and safe.

Justice said his staff would have additional discussions today, and a schedule for school-related vaccinations will be announced Tuesday.

“I was really, really hopeful that we could get this accomplished within two to three weeks,” Justice said today.

“I was really hopeful that by the 19th we’d have everybody that would have taken the vaccine that is an educator or service personnel person vaccinated by that date. I’m going to still try to hold by that, and I’m going to still push like crazy to get that done. It may extend another week beyond that. But I’m really pushing to get it done right now.”

Justice announced Wednesday that the state’s elementary and middle schools would return to five-day-a-week in-person instruction on Jan. 19 no matter how the COVID-19 map depicts the spread of coronavirus. So, school would resume at those grade levels even at orange or red on the map.