(The Center Square) – The number of counties that cannot hold in-person schooling in West Virginia has jumped to six, Gov. Jim Justice announced Friday.
Four West Virginia counties are designated red in the state’s color-coded system, and two are designated orange. Counties in the red and orange are required to cease in-person classes.
Counties enter the red when they have more than 25 new coronavirus cases per day per 100,000 people and the orange when they have between 15 and 24.9 new positive cases per day per 100,000 people. The per-day number is determined on a seven-day sliding scale for larger counties, and a 14-day sliding scale for smaller counties.
“We all want our kids back in school,” Justice said during a news conference. “... Nobody wants them back in school more than I. Nobody wants to see our ball teams be able to play more than I. First and foremost, it’s schools. Secondly, it’s our ball teams, but more than anything … we want it to be safe for our teachers, our service personnel, absolutely our kids. We’ve got to be safe for our kids.”
Another seven counties are designated in the gold, which is a new designation between orange and yellow the administration created this week. The gold designation was introduced after Justice announced orange counties would have to halt in-person instruction after they previously had been allowed to continue instruction. Justice decided the restriction should not apply to schools on the lower end of the orange designation, so gold was created.
Counties enter into the gold if they have between 10 and 14.9 new cases per day per 100,000 people or less than a 5% positivity rate. They are considered yellow when they have between 3.1 and 9.9 cases per 100,000 people or less than a 4% positivity rate. A county enters the green when it has three or fewer cases per day per 100,000 people or a positivity rate of 3% or less.
The counties performing better have more lenient restrictions regarding face masks and group activities, and the counties performing more poorly have stricter restrictions regarding face masks and group activities.