Three counties agree to state’s return-to-classrooms guidelines, putting all in compliance

By Brad McElhinny, WV MetroNews

January 22, 2021

Three West Virginia counties that were holdouts on state guidance to return to classrooms during the coronavirus pandemic have changed their plans.

Marion, Taylor and Gilmer counties were the last three considered out of compliance with a state requirement to end remote instruction in most cases. Under state pressure, though, each county’s board met over the last couple of days to agree on change.

The state school board is requiring in-person instruction for PreK to 8 no matter how a state map of covid levels shows local virus spread. The state guidance is for high schools to close if the map is red, the highest levels. Counties may opt for hybrid schedules, and parents may still choose virtual learning for their children.

Gilmer County’s board decided on a five-day-a-week return during a Thursday evening meeting.

“We are extremely pleased that our students can return to school,” Gilmer Superintendent Patricia Lowther wrote in an email to MetroNews.

“Our plan that was approved is for 5 days face to face instruction on normal schedule for students Pre-School through 8th grade when the DHHR map is red, orange, gold, yellow, or green.  Students in grades 9-12 will only be remote if the DHHR map is red.  Students in grades 9-12 will be 5 days face to face instruction on normal schedule when the DHHR map is orange, gold, yellow, or green.”