CABELL COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – This week, Governor Jim Justice decided students will return to the classroom five days a week starting January 19th, no matter what color the county is on the COVID-19 map.
In the past, a color-coded system mandated by the governor during the pandemic determined whether West Virginia county schools could hold in-person classes or had to go to remote learning.
West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee says educators were not consulted before the decision.
To announce it over a holiday completely unexpected, just sent people into panic and fear.Dale Lee, West Virginia Education Association President
Many teachers have voiced their concerns – regarding the safety of themselves and their students, but not everyone is against the decision.
Davis Creek Elementary School 5th grade teacher Sarah Nichols says she agrees with the governor’s decision because she’s seen a noticeable impact.
They’re suffering academically, they’re suffering socially, and they’re suffering mentally and their parents are too.Sarah Nichols, Davis Creek Elementary School 5th grade teacher
Gov. Justice cited failing grades and the low academic performance overall of students across the state when announcing his decision. More serious issues like at-risk student abuse in homes during remote learning have also been suspected.
Nichols says she sees a more positive outcome in the near future for their students.
Where I can focus on my students from day to day, their needs, and not have to be doing two things at the same time.Sarah Nichols, Davis Creek Elementary School 5th grade teacher
Gov. Justice has promised to vaccinate teachers and school workers over age 50. For faculty members below the age of 50 and not considered to be at “high-risk’, it could be awhile before vaccines become available.