With schools projected to teach nearly 80% of students in-person, WV still isn’t strongly mandating masks

By Ryan Quinn, Charleston Gazette-Mail

August 20, 2020

Estimates suggest parents and caregivers of West Virginia pre-K through 12th-grade public school students are overwhelmingly sending their children back into classrooms this fall, despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to the state Department of Education.

Despite an online-only option offered to all, state Schools Superintendent Clayton Burch said Wednesday the latest numbers project that nearly eight in 10 public school students are returning to in-person classes.

With such a high percentage of children entering schools, social distancing might be difficult. And smaller airborne particles possibly reduce the effectiveness of that social distancing alone.


This highlights a hole in the state’s school reopening plans: There is no statewide mandate that students or school employees wear masks.

Neither the Education Department, which Burch oversees, nor the state Board of Education, which oversees Burch, nor Gov. Jim Justice, who has taken chief responsibility over the pandemic response, has mandated this.