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Let Them Play Protest

Gov. Jim Justice gets out of his vehicle at the Capitol on Monday and is greeted by jeers from protesters who want high school sports to start again. The governor did not speak to the crowd.

CHARLESTON — As West Virginia enters week two of school, Gov. Jim Justice on Monday met with his team of advisors to discuss even more changes to the map that guides what school looks like.

Justice and his team met at 5 p.m. Monday. At his afternoon press briefing, Justice said he wanted to discuss possible changes to the color system, how to help counties with colleges that affect the ratio and to further discuss sports.

Justice said he believes the parameters of the orange phase (10 to 24.9 cases per 100,000) of the system are too broad and unfair. Instead, he would like to add a new color metric — maybe gold — that would go in between yellow and orange.

“Maybe the difference is gold is smaller, maybe only 10-13,” Justice said. “What I am so saddened with, you have counties that have not even had the opportunity to start back to school. We need to try with all in us to do something about that. We could allow you to go to school in gold and play sports in gold. You could play any other county in gold or play within the county.”

Take Putnam County, for example. On Thursday, which is the cutoff for the Department of Education map, Putnam County had only 11.89 cases per 100,000, according to the Department of Health and Human Resources map. That puts them on the cusp of being yellow, but still pretty far from going red, and Justice said he doesn’t think it’s fair.

Justice said he also wanted to revisit testing student athletes. Before the season started, Justice offered the few counties in orange at the time the chance to test their football teams. If they were all negative, they could play, despite being in the orange. All three counties declined the offer, and Justice said he didn’t think it was feasible to mandate the testing of all high school football players.

The governor also said he wants to look into ways they could better isolate college campuses so college students don’t count toward the average.

Justice could not give a clear answer as to when changes, if any, would be announced.

The possible “tweaks” to the school system come after parents and guardians navigated the second weekend monitoring the color-coded system.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck

on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.

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