Report: School COVID numbers related to declining school enrollment

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The West Virginia Department of Education says more than 9,000 fewer students enrolled in public school for the 2020-2021 school year.

The department blames the declining enrollment mostly on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Once there is vaccination and we can get COVID behind us, that those families would re-enroll. We do hope this is a temporary situation that we are dealing with and that our numbers rebound significantly,” said Christy Day, the West Virginia Department of Education Communications Director.

The decreased enrollment represents an estimated 42.7 million dollars lost in school funding – which a lot of this goes toward employing school staff.

This funding is important for schools like West Side Middle School.

“Our schools need more funding. I mean a great example is we do not have a full time nurse here. We never have, but especially right now, we could use a full time nurse,” said Jay O’Neal, West Virginia United Caucus member.

Organizations like the West Virginia United Caucus are fact checking the Department of Education’s reported COVID-19 cases. The caucus says the department is only counting COVID-19 outbreaks, which is two or more students not from the same classroom that are unrelated.

“The thing about that is, is that a big school like this one or a high school, you could have 5, 6, maybe 7 students who all come down with the virus. But they are all in different classes, and it’s never going to be reported on the state’s website,” said Jay O’Neal.

When asked about the West Virginia United Caucus’ COVID-19 report, the Department of Education declined to respond.

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