UPSHUR COUNTY, WV (WBOY) — An Upshur County educator has drafted an open letter to state and education officials to address concerns surrounding the re-entry to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wilson Harvey, a Social and Emotional Learning Specialist at Buckhannon-Upshur High School has been working with educators across the state to gather feedback on measures that will keep everyone involved with the school system safe.
The full letter and statement addressed to officials such as Superintendent Clayton Burch, West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee, the West Virginia Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers President Fred Albert, West Virginia School Service Personnel Association Executive Director Joe White and Gov. Jim Justice is available here.
The letter outlines a suggested plan for schools to reopen operating under a hybrid model, one limiting capacity to 50% on any day until a vaccine or effective treatment for the virus is available.
Additional measures in the letter focus on providing masks to all who regularly enter educational facilities, ample amounts of time for cleaning heavily used areas and preparation guidelines for a county to go to a virtual teaching method if an outbreak occurs.
“We stand in full belief that education matters tremendously, but education must never be valued over protecting human lives,” the letter states.
Harvey emphasized although the state has started to implement some back to school plans, educators are concerned there are some issues not being fully addressed.
“I know I admire what our state has done to some extent to try to protect us. There’s some things that we see have been kind of hedged on, some things we worry might not be fully implemented so this letter is kind of an answer to that,” Harvey said. “That’s why we’re doing this right now because we want to make sure that our students, our staff, our communities and we ourselves are safe in this moment. I know that the state is doing some things to that end but we want our voices to be heard in that conversation.”
Since posting the letter online Saturday, July 11, 2020, has received more than 228 signatures of support.