Gov. Justice and state officials provide an update for media on COVID-19 preparedness and response plans. For more information about COVID-19 prevention and more, call the State’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-887-4304 or visit Coronavirus.wv.gov.
The Governor began his Wednesday briefing by reviewing the list of those who passed away since his previous briefing. As usual, he said these people are not just numbers. He encouraged all West Virginians to keep the families in their prayers.
McDowell and Mercer Counties are on the list of those seeing the largest increases in cases. The R-0 in West Virginia is 0.9.
Gov. Justice briefed West Virginians on the reopening of the schools. He said there are safe methods to reopening school. Schools will reopen on Sept. 8, 2020; however, this could change as things develop.
All children will have the option to learn in a virtual environment. This is to accommodate those who have concerns about COVID-19.
They are developing a color-coded system using Green, Yellow and Red for each county. This will be based on scientific metrics. The actual system is still in the development process.
Sports will be handled in the same way. Red counties will not be able to play games. If the schools are closed they will not play sports.
All counties must have plans submitted by Aug. 14. Each plan must include instruction five days a week and allow for a virtual options. Arrangements must be in place to provide support services including feeding. The plan to make a return to school safe has been in the works for a while, stated Clayton Burch.
A new Kids Connect initiative will guarantee broadband access to all students in West Virginia. There is $6 million committed to set up more than 1,000 hot spots for children to get online and get their assignments.
If children cannot get to one of the WiFi access points on their own, the state will arrange for bus service. The Governor said this is just a first step in getting students online. More will be released in coming days. The state will also provide every student with a laptop or tablet for their school work. This will have to be returned.
The broadband access points will also be available to college and university students.
WV Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch said they will ensure “One Caring Adult” is available to take care of the students.
The Governor addressed private and christian schools. He stated he wants everyone to believe there is no difference between public and private schools. With this in mind he promised $1.6 million to those groups. An additional $1.6 million is tied up in a lawsuit. If that is resolved, that money will also be given to the private schools.
The Governor pleaded with landlords and land owners to not evict those who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
If the pandemic continues to get worse, the government may have to ask people to self-quarantine for 14 days if they travel outside the state until they can get a test and it comes back negative. This is not a policy that is in place as of Aug. 5, 2020.