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New program launched to reduce school COVID-19 outbreaks

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 7:11 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The West Virginia COVID-19 color code map currently has 35 counties in red, with 20 outbreaks in schools across the state. Those high case numbers are leading to mask mandates in classrooms and even the closure of some buildings.

The Department of Education is launching a new initiative across all 55 counties in hopes of ensuring schools are safe and can remain open for in-person learning. State Superintendent Clayton Burch said it will focus on COVID-19 vaccination clinics to prevent people from having to enter quarantine.

Burch said the state is working with every school system to offer a vaccination clinic. They will not be held at every school, but will be available in at least one central location in each county. Some schools are even working to provide COVID-19 shots at high school football games.

“These clinics are not specifically just for the 12 and over,” Burch said. “These school systems are opening many of these clinics up to the entire community, so when they are able to do these clinics even in the football games or any type of evening events, they want to make sure they capture as many of the community members as possible.”

The new program will be similar to the vaccination clinics that were offered during the summer, Burch said. The superintendent said this is what’s needed to prevent widespread mask requirements across the state.

Currently, the state is planning to maintain its current guidelines that do not require people to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated or wear a mask in school buildings. Burch said schools can add additional restrictions on the local level, and local control in consultation with a local health department is the best way to manage the return to the classroom.

“We don’t want to wear a mask, we don’t want to have mandates, we want to go to school, we want goodness all around,” Gov. Jim Justice said. “What will ensure us of having that happen? Vaccination. That’s it. That’s all it is. If we choose not to have that, then all of those things, all of those things come into play that can disrupt our lives in every way.”

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