Back to School Plans in West Virginia

As August draws to an end, I can’t help but feel the familiar feeling of autumn drawing near. I know it’s too early, and summer is sure to roar once again and smack us in the face with another heat wave.

But lately, the air has been cooler – with a gentle, steady breeze. The mornings, cold and crisp. I’m positive I even saw some leaves starting to turn orange this past weekend.

Regardless of what the weather is or isn’t doing, there is always one thing we can count on each August.

Back To School

Yep. It’s here already. 2020 continues to fly by right before our eyes and it’s already time to send our kiddos to school. Or are we?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has come to the conclusion that it’s safe to go back to school as long as their recommendations are followed, and community spread remains low. They’ve even put together a pretty great check-list for parents to follow.

So will school be online, or in-person as usual (ish)? A question that has many of us parents confused and weary. With school starting in a couple weeks and many parents still working from home, it’s no surprise that some are STRESSING OUT!

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice rolled out his most recent back-to-school plan two week’s ago with a target start date of Tuesday, September 8th – nearly a month later than last year.

“I’ve told you repeatedly that there’s no chance in the world, to the best of all my abilities, will I put a kid, a teacher, our service personnel, or anyone into a situation that’s unsafe… I am extremely proud to announce that we have a safe method to reopen our schools that we built in from a standpoint of local control and scientific metrics.” – Governor Jim Justice

According to the Governor’s plan, each county will offer multiple options for instruction.

  • in-person instruction – set number of days based on each county’s re-entry plan.
  • virtual instruction – complete online learning with a broadband or wifi access.
  • hybrid model – similar as in-person with reduced number of days.

Parents will have the flexibility to select their preferred method of instruction. Each county must have a plan to reduce exposure and ensure best health practices like social distancing, face coverings, hand washing, and disinfection protocols.

In the event a county were to see a significant increase in community transmission, the county superintendent is to work closely with the state on necessary action to keep the school safe, including stopping all in-person instruction and going fully remote.

The state is currently working on a coding system that will display a coding metric on an online dashboard for the public to view daily. According to the plan, depending on how each county is performing in the metric, they will each be assigned one of four colors: green, yellow, orange, or red.

Green – indicates that a county is experiencing minimal community transmission, allowing counties to operate under general re-entry guidelines while continuing to follow best health practices to prevent the spread of the disease.

Yellow – indicates that a county is experiencing moderate community transmission and increased restrictions may be necessary.

Orange – indicates that a county is experiencing higher community transmission and further restrictions will be necessary, in collaboration with local health officials.

Red – indicates that a county is experiencing substantial community transmission. Under these conditions, all in-person instruction would be suspended and remote learning plans would be activated. Staff would continue essential support services, including meals, student engagement, and special education.

Each county’s metric will be evaluated by DHHR and updated online each day.

I encourage each parent to visit your corresponding school or school board’s website to view your back-to-school plan. And as always, expect frequent updates as new information arises.

Good luck to all parents and children. On behalf of the team at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law, we wish you and your children a happy and SAFE school year!

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Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law

Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law
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