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Three years ago this week, Gov. Jim Justice closed all schools in West Virginia in response to the threat of COVID-19. What may have seemed to be a logical response to the spread of an unfamiliar disease became an educational disaster for many of the state’s children.

The school shutdowns dragged on longer than they should have. This past October, word came that fourth- and eighth-graders in West Virginia scored record lows on the U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress. Years of progress were wiped out during the school closures.

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