WV Education Committee meets with state education leaders to discuss school guidance

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 11:39 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Throughout the week, lawmakers across West Virginia are meeting to discuss and brainstorm ideas, while getting answers to questions in order to prepare for the upcoming session in 2022.

“What I’ve heard from parents in my county is there is a concern they don’t know the number of children quarantined,” said Del. Heather Tully (R-Nicholas County). “They don’t know whether the exposures are coming from the school or community setting and how many children are being quarantined as a result of possible community exposure versus school spread, so those are the concerns that I’ve certainly heard from my parents.”

“I think that data would be useful. It would be useful just to know (but) the fact of the matter is: will we, as a Legislature, look at that data and would we actually address it and do anything meaningful?” said Del. Cody Thompson (D-Randolph County). “That’s a whole other question.”

On Tuesday, the Joint Education Committee, made up of both delegates and senators in the state, met with West Virginia Department of Education leaders and other state education leaders to discuss different topics.

Delegate Tully spoke up in the meeting, saying she would like to see the number of students in quarantine in each school in the state, rapid testing accepted and overall consistency across counties.

“There is some inconsistency across the state as far as who accepts rapid testing and also who accepts PCR testing for re-admission into schools,” Tully told WSAZ. “I would like to see some consistency, maybe with allowing everybody to accept the rapid test for getting children back into school more (quickly).”

Delegate Thompson is also an educator and said in his county, they are accepting rapid tests in schools.

“It does help because, ultimately, we want to make sure if a person, whether it’s a student, teacher, service personnel worker, if they think they have symptoms or have been exposed, that they have the opportunity to go test and have those results quickly,” Thompson said.

Earlier in the day, West Virginia University officials came to address lawmakers, presenting their current statistics from the university. According to the university, 73.46 percent of staff are vaccinated and 75.91 percent of students are vaccinated.

“Currently, (COVID-19 numbers are) unfortunately pretty out of control. WVU is doing a good job managing it. They’ve had an excellent vaccine program,” said Del. Joshua Higginbotham (R, Putnam County). “While social distancing and masking have not been as effective at the K through 12 level that we would’ve wanted to see, the vaccines clearly work. They’re effective at the higher (education) level (and) WVU is showing some excellent numbers.”

“I think the higher education (is) going to be totally different because, for the most part, you’re going to have technically adults,” said Del. Sean Hornbuckle (D-Cabell County). “So I think that’s a totally different situation.”

Interim committees will continue to meet at the Capitol through Thursday this week. This is something lawmakers do monthly to prepare for session.

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