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WVEA | A third of members fearful of return of in-person learning

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 12:18 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - During a meeting to discuss the return of full-time in-person learning in schools across the state, the President of the West Virginia Education Association announced that a third of the association’s members are fearful of the return to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Dale Lee says a survey was sent to all members and 3,500 responded.

85 percent said they were not comfortable with the model that included five days of in-person learning. Participates cited too many COVID-19 cases in their county and not enough social distancing in classrooms as their largest concerns.

Lee says county boards should make the best decision for districts and should have the option to go fully remote across the county.

“For four months we have said if you are in the orange or red it’s not safe to return to school,” Lee said. “I don’t think you can suddenly say, ‘oh no we are kidding, it’s safe to return.’ And not only safe to return on some type of (blended learning) model, but have all the kids there. I think the counties are the one, in working with their local health departments, that need to make the decision. If those discussions with employees, the health department and the county administration, they say it is not safe to return to school, we want to do remote, they should be allowed to do remote.”

Monday, Gov. Justice announced he would be signing an executive order allowing elementary and middle schools to return to in-person learning. The governor says high school students will be allowed to enter the classroom if their county isn’t listed as red on the ‘County Alert System Map.’

The governor previously announced the date for the return to in-person learning as January 19.

“I think they’re constantly manipulating the map to be able to do what you want,” Lee said about changes Justice plans to make. “To say, ‘well we’re going to change this to make it easier to do our kids back full time,’ is just not safe and the wrong thing to do in our opinion.”

Wednesday the West Virginia State Board of Education is set to consider letting counties resume a blended learning model until the vaccination of all school employees is completed.

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