CHARLESTON — Kanawha, Putnam and Monongalia counties, along with six southern West Virginia counties, won’t be allowed to reopen classrooms to students this coming week.
The six shuttered southern counties are Fayette, Logan, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe and Wayne. Mingo’s schools superintendent recently tested positive for COVID-19.
The state’s 46 other counties are now allowed to reopen schools.
In Kanawha, the state’s most-populous school district, about half of students had been registered to attend in-person classes.
They now will be forced, at least temporarily, into the online- or distance-learning paths that other families chose from the outset for their children for the entire first semester.
Students in the other affected counties similarly will be shifted. Parents will have to figure out how to balance child care, work and helping their kids with online learning.
These nine counties were orange or red when the state updated its color-coded school reopening map Saturday night. The colors are based on a county’s daily average of new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents.
The state has chosen Saturdays to lock in the consequences of the colors for each following week.
Counties in orange or red aren’t allowed to start in-person classes when the school year begins statewide Tuesday, Sept. 8. They have to start instruction, but it will be remote only.
If a county still isn’t green or yellow next Saturday, it must wait until the following Saturday, and so on until it gets to yellow or green.
Counties that manage to get down to those colors but re-enter orange later won’t be required to cease in-person instruction.
They will be required to halt “large group activities,” as state Department of Education rules put it. And, generally, students in third grade or higher in orange counties must wear face coverings at all times.
Red ends in-person instruction. And, unlike the other shades, its impacts take effect that day instead of only taking effect if the county is that color on a Saturday.
Only Monongalia County, near Pittsburgh and home of West Virginia University’s flagship campus, was red Saturday.
The other counties barred from in-person instruction were orange.
Orange and red also continue to impact sports and other extracurriculars.
When the map was locked in last Saturday, four counties’ prep sports were put on ice: Monroe was red, and Kanawha, Fayette and Logan all were orange.
This time, the number more than doubled.
In the eight orange counties, teams can practice, but they cannot compete against other schools.
The red counties — just Monongalia now — are not allowed to play or practice.
The map threw prep sports into a tailspin starting Friday afternoon, when it was updated for that day and Monongalia went red. Red immediately halts sports, just like it does in-person instruction.
The county’s teams were forced to cancel their games scheduled for that night. Parkersburg South High, which was scheduled to play Monongalia’s University High on Friday, gained a last-minute opponent that night in Cabell Midland High, which also was idle.