By Ryan Quinn, Charleston Gazette-Mail
February 24, 2021
The West Virginia Board of Education is ordering all counties to return to offering students in grades preK-8 in-person instruction five days a week. It nearly ends the era of limited in-person teaching that began almost a year ago because of COVID-19.
The regular schedule of five days per week must start March 3, the state school board ordered Tuesday. County school systems still may keep their high schools on a “blended” in-person and online schedule.
Some counties, including Kanawha, have already returned to five-day in-person instruction. About 40 of the 55 counties are already on a five-day or four-day in-person schedule for all grade levels, according to the West Virginia Department of Education.
Students who were enrolled for online-only education this semester will be allowed to remain on that.
Counties may ask the state schools superintendent to let them limit in-person instruction in preK-8 to four days a week. That one non-in-person day may be granted to counties for teachers to support their online-only students — if those districts have local online-only programs, instead of just using the statewide virtual program.
The state board’s vote came after an hour of state coronavirus czar and West Virginia University Health Sciences Executive Dean Dr. Clay Marsh speaking to the board members and answering their questions regarding COVID-19, particularly the current risk in schools.
“We believe, at this point, all of our data says it is safe to be in the classroom when people are wearing masks and staying distanced, and we will continue to monitor this very closely,” Marsh said.