CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Governor Jim Justice and the state Board of Education want in-person instruction to return to public schools in West Virginia beginning January 19th.

The West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) leaders put out a statement this week saying they are ‘adamantly opposed to the unilateral decision by the state school board and Governor Jim Justice to re-open schools amid increased infection rates and rising deaths from COVID-19.’ They instead want to work with county superintendents and school boards to insure safe teaching and learning conditions. The state’s American Federation of Teachers (AFT) unit is criticizing the move, saying its priority is “to protect the health and safety of school employees.”

Eastern Panhandle schools have released their plans for next week.

Jefferson County Schools will Remain Remote Until March

Jefferson County Schools will be among those districts keeping learning remote.

In a statement Thursday, Jefferson County Schools said they have been in consultation with local health experts, Jefferson County Schools staff, students, and citizens.

The Jefferson County Board of Education has decided to extend remote learning until March 1, 2021.

The statement says the decision was made to ensure the safety of staff and students as the rate of COVID-19 infection in Jefferson County reaches its highest levels so far.

March 1, 2021, is the earliest date by which all vaccinated staff could reach 95% vaccine effectiveness according to the statement.

The board will revisit the issue as circumstances change.

Berkeley County Staying The Course, For Now, on Decision to Keep Learning Remote Until All Teachers Have Been Vaccinated

The state board of education this week unanimously passed a motion that would prevent county school systems from opting for remote learning after Jan. 19. This after Berkeley County Schools had announced they were going to keep learning remote until all their teachers have the opportunity to be vaccinated.

At this time, Berkeley County Schools will continue remote learning until all BCS staff have had the opportunity to receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. They say they do not have a hard and fast date for this but anticipate that to be late February to early March.

Berkeley County Schools spokesperson Elaine Bobo tells the Panhandle News Network “The decision made last evening was made with the best information available at the time. The new information from the State Board of Education is being reviewed. If we need to reevaluate, we will.”

On Friday, January 8th, vaccine deployment began for BCS staff 50+ years of age. Berkeley County officials have begun the process of vaccinating the full community. “The positivity rate in our community remains high and at this time, is not slowing down, but with the vaccines available in our community, there is hope on the horizon. We are looking forward to a lower transmission rate, slower spread and better trending numbers in the future. We must take steps now to have the school district in a better place so our students can have the possibility of enjoying the milestone moments that are typical at the end of the school year,” according to Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy.

Morgan County Schools Vote for Blended Return to School

Morgan County Board of Education voted Thursday to return to school with a blended model beginning Tuesday, January 19.

In a letter on their social media explaining the move, the school board explained that means students beginning next week would be in two cohorts that would be at school two days a week.

More information on the individual school districts’ plans is available on their Facebook pages.