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W.Va. teachers union says it’s ready to sue over changes to virus map that determines school status

The West Virginia Education Association says it will seek an injunction over changes to the state’s map that determines school status based on the spread of coronavirus.

“Listening to the comments from the governor and his health advisors, the focus has clearly been on getting teams back on the playing field and getting students in school,” WVEA President Dale Lee stated today.

“They forget that in many classrooms and buses across our state it is impossible to practice appropriate social distancing and enforce mask wearing.”

The teachers union is questioning whether continued changes to the map have compromised the safety of students and employees in public schools.

Dale Lee

“Our members have watched the constant manipulation of the map. As each rendition failed to provide the desired results sought by our state leaders, additional changes were made,” Lee stated.

“The map manipulation has gone on long enough. Citizens and educators have lost confidence and trust that the changes made to the map are in the interest of safety and public health.”

Changes over the past few weeks have included placing smaller counties on a 14-day rolling average; having nursing home residents, corrections inmates and now some isolating college students count as one unit; altering the cutoff points for colors meant to indicate county status; and adding an additional color, gold.

The most recent change had a dramatic effect last week.

Initially the map counted just daily positive cases on a rolling average and adjusted for 100,000 population. State officials concluded people were holding back on getting tested because positives would count against their local numbers.

So state officials now allow use of a percent positive figure. Counties are assessed by whichever is better, the average daily positives or the percent positive.

A daily state map appeared with that change for the first time Friday, and then a dominant Saturday map that dictates school status also reflected the switch.

Significantly more counties were depicted as green, the lowest levels, on the map. Monongalia County, which has been red for weeks, very quickly went to green.

Governor Justice

Gov. Jim Justice defended the changes during a Monday briefing, specifying that the most recent ones were meant to encourage more coronavirus testing and identify more people who might be spreading the virus.

“I am very pleased with what we’re doing. I know it’s difficult. I know it’s confusing. I know it’s all those things.”

Justice also indicated, though, that he wants more counties to have opportunities to get their numbers down. Kanawha County is still orange, which means there has been no in-class instruction all year so far.

“The kids in Kanawha County have not been in school. We want ’em in school so bad,” Justice said.

So, he said, “What we need to do is blanket the orange counties and, God forbid, a red county. And we need to test and test and test.”

Justice, during his closing remarks on Monday, specifically addressed school employees.

“Have I not since the get-go done every single thing I can do to keep you safe, to keep our kids safe?” the governor asked.

“Have I ever told you something that’s not the truth?”

The WVEA says the latest changes to the map simply go too far and the illusion of a ‘green map’ does not mean it is safe to return
to in-person learning in many of our counties.

“We know how important it is for students to be back in classrooms working with their teachers. No one wants in-person education more than our members, but they no longer feel safety is the top priority of our state government’s leadership.

“We have educators all over the state who have lost confidence in the governor and his statements regarding his desire to keep them safe.”

The union says the only way to restore confidence in the process and ensure safety in public schools is to adopt a new system from independent experts recognized in the field of infectious diseases and public health, such as the original color-coded map from Harvard.

The state originally modeled its map on one developed by Harvard but altered it over time.

A map from Harvard Global Health shows far fewer counties with the lowest green level, more in yellow or orange and two counties — Kanawha and Gilmer — as red.

Justice was asked on Monday how parents can be confident if they look at the differences between the state map and the Harvard map.

Justice responded, “I don’t know why in the world all of a sudden the Harvard map is a better map than the experts right here in West Virginia are doing.”

The governor continued, “The Harvard people naturally want their map to be one-size-fits-all.”

WVEA says its injunction “seeks to return the state’s color-coded map to reflect the intent of those national experts regarding the health and safety of our students and employees.”

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Baylor game will test WVU’s ability to improve and adjust after loss at OSU

(Neal Brown pregame Zoom conference)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Three days after the Mountaineers’ 27-13 loss at Oklahoma State, WVU head coach Neal Brown balanced the obvious disappointment of a lost opportunity with the need to move on to face a Baylor team that dominated Kansas 47-14 in their opener.

“It is not the outcome we wanted,” said Brown. “I thought that we had some opportunities to win the game. And we didn’t do it. So we have to continue to get better. Not only the players, but coaches.

“That game was winnable. There were winning plays we could have made that could have changed the outcome. We didn’t make them. You have to learn from those things.”

Specifically, Brown pointed to West Virginia’s 12 penalties which cost them 106 yards. 7 of those penalties occurred in the second quarter alone, when the Mountaineers fell behind by 17 points.

“The procedure penalties and the non-aggressive penalties, those have to be eliminated before they kill yourself. And the selfish penalties, Leddie (Brown) had one after the whistle had blown, we have to eliminate those.

“Where we are at right now as a program is that we can’t beat ourselves. Whether that is turnovers, whether that is missed assignments, penalties, we can’t do that. We have to get better at it.”

Oklahoma State Cowboys running back LD Brown (0) runs the ball against West Virginia (Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports)

“We did so many things to not win that game,” said WVU cornerbacks coach/co-defensive coordinator Jahmile Addae. “And we still had a chance in the end. What that says is that if we can clean up those things, offensively, defensively and special teams, we have something special going on here. But it is going to take us to clean those up. It takes the work.”

Junior quarterback Jarret Doege passed for 285 yards against OSU. That was his second-highest passing total in five starts at WVU. But the Mountaineers missed out on some chances to hit big plays in the passing game.

“He missed a couple throws. Those were footwork when he got his feet tangled up. What is came down to was he was trying to rush. He was trying to throw the ball before the running back got cleared. We missed two that would have been big plays. He had a couple where he didn’t have his eyes in the right spot. But you are never going to be perfect on those.”

“The decision making was pretty good but when you miss key opportunities as an offense in a game like that that is heavily conflicted with man and zero coverage, the one miss or the one drop or the one misread we may have had kind of collectively added up to three or four things,” said WVU offensive coordinator Gerad Parker.

Through two games, Sam James is West Virginia’s leading receiver with ten receptions. But he was held to just 32 yards receiving against the Cowboys.

West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Sam James (13) catches a pass for a touchdown against Eastern Kentucky (Photo by Will Wotring/The Dominion Post)

“I don’t think Sam would play that way again if we line up again,” Parker said. I think there was a lot of thought in some things he was doing to get off man press. And sometimes when you think too much you don’t respond and let your body do what it is born to do. We are going to give him a better plan and nobody takes more responsibility with that than me.”

As the Mountaineers turn the page to Saturday’s contest against Baylor, they will face a Bears team that has played only one game. Their lone scheduled non-conference game vs. Houston was wiped out due to COVID cases on the BU roster. Baylor rushed for 203 yards in their season-opening win over Kansas in the debut for Dave Aranda as the Bears’ head coach.

“When you put on Baylor’s tape, they are a tough, physical team that runs very well,” Brown said. “You can tell they have a really good culture there that Matt Rhule built and Coach Aranda and his staff continue to maintain.

“I think they want to run the football. Coach (Larry) Fedora (offensive coordinator) always ran the football and played with tempo. They’ll throw it too but with the talent they have at running back, people try to get their best players the ball. And those running backs are special.”

“The tempo is probably going to be the biggest issue,” said WVU defensive line coach/co-defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley. “They try to get you in some scenarios, formation-wise off that tempo. They are not very complicated up front. So they play fast, they play hard and they are physical.”

“That culture has remained pretty good by seeing one game,” Parker said. “I think just seeing how hard they play, they line up and they are sound. Kids know what to do and they play fast and they play hard. What better compliment to a football team to see that, especially with what we see on the defensive tape.”

Baylor Bears quarterback Charlie Brewer (12) makes a throw in the second half against the Georgia Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl (Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports)

The Mountaineers will face Baylor’s senior signal caller Charlie Brewer for the fourth time. He has completed 29-of-47 passes for 408 yards with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions against WVU.

“He makes plays with his feet,” Brown said. “They’ll run him a little bit. Where he really hurts you is on called pass plays where he scrambles and breaks the pocket.”

“He is a chain mover,” Addae said. “He doesn’t necessarily wow you with anything specifically, but he is really sound at just about everything.”

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Baseball returning to Bluefield, Princeton with new format

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — After questions revolved around the future of minor league baseball in Bluefield and Princeton this summer, those clubs finally have answers and baseball fans should be thrilled.

Major League Baseball (MLB) and USA Baseball announced Tuesday a new format for the Appalachian League, home of clubs in those two respective West Virginia cities, with a planned launch opening day in June 2021.

The league will feature the top rising college freshmen and sophomores in a 54-game game wood-bat season from June to August with an All-Star Game and playoffs.

“We are thrilled. The format that MLB has provided for us will ensure that we hold baseball here in our communities for quite some time,” Rocky Malamisura, the General Manager of the Bluefield Baseball Club told MetroNews.

Rocky Malamisura

As part of the deal, Bluefield will drop its MLB affiliation for the first time in over 60 years and its nickname associated with the Toronto Blue Jays. All 10 teams in the league will go through a rebranding process and create nicknames, logos and uniforms at a later date as they will no longer be a professional rookie league through Minor League Baseball (MiLB).

Malamisura said MLB will still be represented in games through scouting departments. According to a joint release, the Appalachian League will become a part of the Prospect Development Pipeline, the collaborative effort between MLB and USA Baseball that establishes a player development pathway for amateur baseball players in the United States.

MLB also said players will receive instruction from former MLB players and educational programming designed to prepare them for careers as professional athletes. The players will no longer be paid and controlled by a MLB parent club.

The parties are in communication with the NCAA to ensure athlete eligibility requirements are met. Malamisura said the league will feature Division I athletes along with Division II, II and NAIA where players could move on to the famed Cape Cod wood-bat league.

MLB and USA Baseball have already begun the process of identifying and inviting the 320 players to participate in next year’s league.

“The communities of the Appalachian League have supported baseball since our founding in 1911. We are grateful to MLB and USA Baseball for bringing this exciting opportunity to our fans and look forward to welcoming players, coaches, MLB scouts, and fans into our cities next summer,” Dan Moushon, the President of the Appalachian League said.

Dan Moushon

The future of those teams had been in doubt as MLB had been in discussions with MiLB to cut down the minor leagues by roughly 40 teams, even before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the 2020 season.  A 10-year Professional Baseball Agreement between MLB and MiLB was set to expire at the end of the 2020 season.

Malaisura said the news is reassuring for his 42 gameday staff employees and the near $14 million impact on the economy between Bluefield and Princeton.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D- W.Va.) released a statement about the announcement, “After months of conversations with Major League Baseball, USA Baseball, and the Appalachian League, I am pleased by this agreement to bring the Appalachian League into the Prospect Development Pipeline. This collaboration will directly benefit our two Appalachian League teams in Bluefield and Princeton, which provide many West Virginians with entertainment and family time and foster a love of the American pastime.”

“Through this new arrangement, our communities will host the premier baseball players in the country, giving West Virginians a chance to see baseball’s future stars before they reach the big leagues. I am committed to ensuring the future of all of West Virginia’s minor league teams, and I will work with everyone involved to ensure these teams receive the support they need to succeed during this transition and look forward to seeing top talent play in the Mountain State for many years to come.”

In a similar statement, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), “Though we have missed baseball this summer on the diamonds across West Virginia, today’s announcement is great news for Bluefield and Princeton, and frankly for anyone who enjoys watching our nation’s game in a West Virginia summer. The announcement of this new format for the Appalachian League made today by MLB and Baseball USA ensures future summer nights in Princeton and Bluefield will be spent watching our national pastime. This partnership will enable the baseball tradition that has existed for decades in Mercer County to continue for many to come. I couldn’t be happier.”

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Another letter from senators to WVU and Marshall, this one supporting presidents’ decisions

Eight West Virginia senators have sent a letter to the president of West Virginia and Marshall universities, taking a different approach from their counterparts who recently suggested those universities’ resources were being used to promote hate speech.

Democrats in the state Senate wrote that they appreciate tough decisions made recently by West Virginia University President Gordon Gee and Marshall President Jerome Gilbert. They’re also inviting students to talk.

“We think this moment requires us not to point fingers, call names and create further division in our state, but instead to listen to one another with compassion in an attempt to find a positive way forward,” the Democratic senators wrote.

Their letter was a response to one sent this month by 17 Republican Senators who objected to “Black Lives Matter” stickers on some West Virginia University football players’ helmets.

That letter also focused on recent comments by a Marshall University professor who told students during a virtual lecture that she hopes all of President Trump‘s supporters contract the coronavirus and die before the November election.

Drawing a connection between the helmet stickers and the professor’s comments, the letter from the Republican senators stated, “These behaviors are inherently disgusting, but the use of law abiding taxpayers’ money against their very country, especially in light of the violence these movements have displayed, is beyond any excuse,” the GOP senators wrote.

They went on to write that the taxpayers in their districts “would rather see those tax dollars returned to them or used for a more honorable purpose.”

MORE: W.Va. senators blast BLM stickers on WVU helmets, ‘get it and die’ comments by Marshall professor

Marshall issued a statement to say that it does not condone comments by the biology professor, who has been suspended. The statement said the university will take action after the conclusion of an investigation by the chief academic officer.

WVU said no taxpayer dollars were used for the BLM helmet stickers and that players have worn them voluntarily.

Black Lives Matter refers both to an organization — the Black Lives Matter Global Network — and a broader decentralized movement. The Black Lives Global Network sometimes receives criticism for its stated position to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement.”

But the movement is broader and involves hundreds of locally organized groups.

“It’s important for our fans to know that this helmet sticker is not advocating for any organization or any political stance, violence, rioting, looting or destruction. The sticker is a call for unity, safety and equality,” WVU said in a statement.

The Democratic senators, in their own letter sent this week, proposed a listening session with students. That letter does not specifically mention the one sent earlier by Republican senators.

“In the wake of recent questions raised, we want to begin a positive dialogue between elected officials and your students and student athletes,” the Democratic senators wrote.

“Now more than ever, during a time of racial and political tension in the midst of a public health crisis, we feel it is incumbent on us to listen to our youth. They are our future and will lead us into it.”



Gilbert Gee Letter 9 28 20 (Text)

That letter was signed by Democratic senators Stephen Baldwin of Greenbrier County, Corey Palumbo of Kanawha County, Bill Ihlenfeld of Ohio County, Richard Lindsay of Kanawha County, Mike Romano of Harrison County, Ron Stollings of Boone County, Mike Woelfel of Cabell County and Bob Beach of Monongalia County.

Baldwin said the letter was meant to recognize current times have political and racial turbulence, as well as anxiety over public health. He said senators wanted to reach out to youth navigating this moment.

“We didn’t want to put thoughts in somebody else’s head, we didn’t want to call anybody names, we didn’t want to make value statements necessarily and tell you what we believe about the situation,” Baldwin said.

“We wanted to instead say maybe this is the time to listen, especially to our young people.”

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Justice helps dedicate large paving project in Wood County

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Governor Jim Justice and state highway officials gathered Tuesday in Parkersburg along with local dignitaries to celebrate completion of one of the projects under the Justice Administration’s “Roads to Prosperity’ program.

Paving was recently finished on the project for an almost three mile stretch of State Route 14 between Vienna and Parkersburg. The stretch is often called the “Miracle Mile” in Vienna.

“Now it’s truly a miracle because you’ll be able to roll smooth on this thing,” Deputy Transpiration Secretary Jimmy Wriston told the gathered group on hand for the dedication.

The road, which is Murdoch Avenue in Parkersburg and Grand Central Avenue in Vienna, is a seven lane thoroughfare connecting the two cities. Transportation officials estimate 37,900 vehicles a day travel the road. Justice said it’s a key piece of economic development for the region.

“It connects these two incredible cities, and just image a traffic count of right at 40,000, it’s astronomical,” Justice said. “Goodness comes to these communities like crazy.”

Justice believed the upgraded road would help in the ongoing effort to lure investment in the region’s petrol-chemical industry and other economic development possibilities in the Parkersburg area. The project, completed by contractor Kelly Paving, included 2.99 miles-worth of paving, spanning from 26th Street in Parkersburg to 28th Street in Vienna. Roadwork began on July 24, 2020, lasting just over two months. The cost was $2.8 Million, which included federal money and a state match. .

Governor Justice said it’s another credit to those who supported Roads to Prosperity at the ballot box.

“Seventy-three percent of people said, ‘Let’s go.’ In doing so, there was a lot of skepticism about whether or not you were going to have to raise taxes. I told people we weren’t going to have to do that. Low and behold. This is the result,” the Governor said.

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WVSSAC football ratings through Week 4

MORGANTOWN. W.Va. — The WVSSAC has released the official ratings through Week 4 of the high school football season.

Class AAA:

Rank School Rating Won Lost Tied Scored Allowed Points Bonus
1 SPRING VALLEY 13 2 0 0 64 27 24 2
2 CABELL MIDLAND 12.5 2 0 0 111 41 24 1
3 HURRICANE 12 1 0 0 21 9 12 0
4 BRIDGEPORT SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL 11 3 0 0 165 54 27 6
5 SPRING MILLS HIGH SCHOOL 10 3 1 0 182 98 36 4
6 MUSSELMAN 9 3 1 0 167 85 33 3
7 JOHN MARSHALL 8.5 3 1 0 179 74 33 1
7 WHEELING PARK 8.5 3 1 0 168 67 33 1
9 GREENBRIER EAST 8.25 3 1 0 173 64 33 0
10 RIPLEY 8 2 1 0 76 36 24 0
11 PARKERSBURG 7.75 3 1 0 104 97 27 4
12 MARTINSBURG 7 1 1 0 71 55 12 2
13 HAMPSHIRE 6.25 2 2 0 86 114 24 1
14 WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL 5.25 2 2 0 166 116 21 0
15 JEFFERSON 4.67 1 2 0 76 124 12 2
16 PRINCETON SENIOR 4.33 1 2 0 87 83 12 1
17 Brooke High School 3 1 3 0 79 107 12 0
17 PARKERSBURG SOUTH 3 1 3 0 90 148 12 0
17 LINCOLN COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL 3 1 2 0 40 66 9 0
20 BUCKHANNON-UPSHUR 2.25 1 3 0 35 165 9 0
21 WOODROW WILSON 0 0 3 0 20 129 0 0
21 PRESTON HIGH SCHOOL 0 0 4 0 13 120 0 0
21 HUNTINGTON 0 0 4 0 51 130 0 0
21 HEDGESVILLE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL 0 0 4 0 10 173 0 0

Class AA:

Rank School Rating Won Lost Tied Scored Allowed Points Bonus
1 BLUEFIELD 12.67 3 0 0 117 55 36 2
2 OAK GLEN HIGH SCHOOL 12 3 0 0 126 71 30 6
3 FRANKFORT 11.75 4 0 0 145 46 42 5
4 Lewis County 9.25 3 1 0 45 38 33 4
5 Chapmanville Regional High School 9 1 0 0 20 6 9 0
5 LIBERTY (Raleigh) 9 4 0 0 170 55 30 6
7 NORTH MARION 8.25 3 1 0 127 76 30 3
8 ROBERT C. BYRD 8 3 1 0 148 97 30 2
8 POCA 8 1 0 0 34 6 6 2
8 KEYSER 8 3 1 0 198 122 30 2
11 CLAY COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL 7.5 3 1 0 105 50 30 0
12 INDEPENDENCE SENIOR 7.25 3 1 0 206 66 24 5
13 POINT PLEASANT SENIOR/MIDDLE SCHOOL 6.5 1 1 0 64 49 12 1
13 LIBERTY (Harrison) 6.5 3 1 0 139 84 24 2
15 ELKINS 5.25 2 2 0 88 82 18 3
16 WESTSIDE 5 2 1 0 121 87 15 0
16 LINCOLN 5 1 1 0 46 63 9 1
18 SHADY SPRING 4.75 2 2 0 57 121 18 1
19 WAYNE 4.5 1 1 0 18 65 9 0
19 BRAXTON COUNTY 4.5 2 2 0 82 27 18 0
21 GRAFTON 4 2 2 0 68 87 15 1
21 FAIRMONT SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL 4 1 2 0 95 107 9 3
23 SCOTT 2.67 1 2 0 52 46 6 2
24 NICHOLAS COUNTY 2.25 1 3 0 84 139 9 0
25 EAST FAIRMONT 2 1 3 0 58 105 6 2
26 PIKEVIEW 1.5 1 3 0 42 116 6 0
26 ROANE COUNTY 1.5 1 3 0 60 91 6 0
28 WEIR 0 0 4 0 73 163 0 0
28 BERKELEY SPRINGS 0 0 3 0 39 142 0 0
28 PHILIP BARBOUR HIGH SCHOOL 0 0 4 0 10 162 0 0
28 LOGAN 0 0 1 0 6 20 0 0
28 WYOMING EAST 0 0 4 0 46 157 0 0

Class A:

Rank School Rating Won Lost Tied Scored Allowed Points Bonus
1 ST. MARYS 8.5 4 0 0 169 46 30 4
1 DODDRIDGE COUNTY 8.5 4 0 0 127 8 30 4
3 TUG VALLEY 8 1 0 0 22 20 6 2
3 GREENBRIER WEST 8 4 0 0 196 58 27 5
5 WIRT COUNTY 7.33 3 0 0 148 24 18 4
6 TYGARTS VALLEY Middle/Senior High 6.75 4 0 0 196 43 24 3
7 PETERSBURG 6.5 3 1 0 111 91 21 5
8 JAMES MONROE 6 1 0 0 53 0 6 0
8 BUFFALO 6 1 0 0 21 6 6 0
10 SUMMERS COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL 5.75 3 1 0 80 48 21 2
11 TOLSIA 5.67 2 1 0 112 42 15 2
11 EAST HARDY 5.67 2 1 0 46 21 12 5
11 WILLIAMSTOWN 5.67 2 1 0 102 84 15 2
14 SHERMAN 5.33 2 1 0 74 57 15 1
15 RIVER VIEW 5.25 3 1 0 70 63 21 0
16 MOOREFIELD 4.67 2 1 0 82 40 12 2
17 RITCHIE COUNTY 3.5 2 2 0 95 49 12 2
17 WHEELING CENTRAL CATHOLIC 3.5 2 2 0 81 89 12 2
19 MADONNA 3.25 2 2 0 104 134 12 1
19 TYLER CONSOLIDATED 3.25 2 2 0 94 92 12 1
19 CAMERON 3.25 2 2 0 126 103 12 1
19 POCAHONTAS COUNTY 3.25 2 2 0 97 111 12 1
19 GILMER COUNTY 3.25 2 2 0 114 106 12 1
24 PENDLETON COUNTY 3 1 2 0 62 60 9 0
24 VAN SENIOR/MIDDLE SCHOOL 3 1 1 0 72 80 6 0
26 MAGNOLIA HIGH SCHOOL 2.5 1 3 0 74 131 6 4
27 VALLEY (Wetzel) 2 1 2 0 71 119 6 0
28 WAHAMA SENIOR/MIDDLE SCHOOL 1.5 1 3 0 100 139 6 0
28 SOUTH HARRISON 1.5 1 3 0 59 101 6 0
28 RICHWOOD 1.5 1 3 0 101 107 6 0
31 WEBSTER COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL 0 0 4 0 18 261 0 0
31 TUCKER COUNTY 0 0 3 0 40 114 0 0
31 RAVENSWOOD 0 0 4 0 20 141 0 0
31 PADEN CITY HIGH SCHOOL 0 0 2 0 50 114 0 0
31 MOUNT VIEW HIGH SCHOOL 0 0 3 0 6 67 0 0
31 MONTCALM 0 0 4 0 27 156 0 0
31 MAN HIGH SCHOOL 0 0 1 0 0 19 0 0
31 HUNDRED 0 0 4 0 22 197 0 0
31 HANNAN SENIOR/MIDDLE SCHOOL 0 0 1 0 14 50 0 0
31 CALHOUN COUNTY MIDDLE/HIGH SCHOOL 0 0 4 0 40 182 0 0

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Tucker County on remote instruction with 26 employees quarantined through contact tracing

PARSONS, W.Va. — Tucker County schools will be on remote instruction until Oct. 12 after more than two dozen of the school systems employees had to observe quarantine following contact tracing connected to active COVID-19 cases.

Alicia Lambert

Tucker County School Superintendent Alicia Lambert said there are only six total COVID-19 cases in the entire school system and just 18 in the entire county but those who had possible contact with those residents has created a staff shortage.

“We didn’t shutdown necessarily due to the numbers of cases in the school. We shutdown because we have 26 employees currently quarantined and not enough subs (substitutes) to fill the vacancies,” Lambert told MetroNews Tuesday.

Seven of those workers observing quarantine are bus drivers, which represents more than half of the county’s fleet.

Lambert said finding enough substitute teachers is an issue just about every school year. She said that’s magnified during the pandemic.

“In your typical school year we have classrooms that don’t have subs but we’re able to move kids around and provide coverage by switching teachers around but we knew this year we weren’t going to be able to do that because of core grouping,” Lambert said. “We knew it was going to be a struggle.”

State School Superintendent Clayton Burch acknowledged on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline” that the shortage of teachers continues to be an issue in West Virginia.

“We have a statewide teacher shortage. We’ve known that and we’re short on substitutes,” Burch said. “We’re now working with Chancellor Tucker (state Higher Education Chancellor Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker), the Higher Education Policy Commission and higher education institutes. We’re actually looking at how we can utilize our student teachers to step in during an emergency and actually help some of these counties with substitute teachers.”

Tucker County did have two weeks of in-person instruction and originally planned to begin blended instruction this week. Lambert said they had to pivot and now the quarantined teachers and the rest of the county’s teaching staff are teaching from home this week.

“Students had all been preparing in school for the last couple of weeks how to use their Chrome Books. The teachers, in a lot of classrooms, were using their Chrome Books in instruction just like the kids would have it remotely so they would be use to it. They made sure everything was downloaded when they left school last Thursday,” Lambert said.

Going back and forth to remote learning may happen a few times this school year, Lambert said.

“I’m praying that it’s just a wave and we can get through it and then we’ll be okay,” Lambert said. “It’s going to be a year of nothing but pivoting I’m afraid

Although cases have been increasing in Tucker County, Lambert said fortunately no one has been extremely sick. She said the six positive cases in the school system are made up of three students and three employees.

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WVU athletic official says plan for fans was carefully put together

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU Athletic Department officials are confident in their plan to allow the return of fans at Milan Puskar Stadium this fall.

Matt Wells, the WVU Senior Associate Athletics Director of External Affairs was a guest on Tuesday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline’ and said the stadium operation plan at 25% capacity for the October 17 game against Kansas was carefully tabulated.

“We didn’t just pick a number of 25-percent out of thin air,” Wells said. “When you do the math and break seating blocks into twos, fours and sixes and space them out appropriately to have social distancing, it came out to about 15,000 seats.”

Matt Wells

WVU made the announcement for fans on Monday and indicated the cap of 15,000 fans in attendance is expected to be in place for the remainder of the 2020 season.

Only family members of players and athletic staff were allowed into Milan Puskar Stadium for the season opener against Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 12 and that’s the plan for this Saturday’s game against Baylor.

The Mountaineers played at Oklahoma State on Saturday, where the Cowboys hosted around 25% capacity of their stadium. Wells said the decision on fans at WVU had nothing to do with what other schools had been doing.

“It’s not about what others are doing because there are schools on both sides of that fence,” he said. “For every school that you can point to that was having fans, there is another group of schools that aren’t. It’s really about what is happening on the ground where you’re at, where your university is located.”

According to Wells, facemasks will be required of all spectators entering the stadium, and the department has previously provided a complimentary WVU branded mask to every fan who initially purchased season tickets for the 2020 season. Facemasks are to be worn throughout the stadium with the exception of eating and drinking.

On Tuesday, an online request form for a ticket to the Kansas game was made available to all Mountaineer Athletic Club (MAC) members and football season ticket holders who opted to maintain priority for the 2020 season or converted their ticket payment to a 2020 MAC gift. These fans will have exclusive priority to request single-game tickets for all remaining home games through Sunday, Oct. 4.

“That group will receive the first priority. They received ticket information starting this morning (Tuesday) on how to request their tickets. Everything is on a single game basis, no season tickets this year but they can apply the purchase they previously made to cover the cost of those single-game tickets,” Wells said.

On Monday Oct. 5, fans who initially made a 2020 MAC gift and/or purchased 2020 football season tickets but ultimately elected to roll their investment over as a credit to the 2021 season will receive information about single game-ticket availability for the remaining home games, WVU Athletic Department said. On Friday, Oct. 9, football season ticket holders who initially purchased 2020 season tickets but ultimately requested a refund of their MAC gift and/or season ticket purchase and all other football 2019 season ticket holders will receive information about single game-ticket availability for the remaining home games.

Wells said the ticket area for students will be moved from general admission to a reserved seating environment, with students having an opportunity at two tickets each. He said additional information on student seating will be made available in the coming weeks.

“They will receive a ticket as well as an opportunity to have another WVU student attend with them. We are going to assign those seats in blocks of two with social distancing between each block.,” he said.

Wells said if any tickets remain for the available games, an announcement regarding general public availability will be made on Oct. 12.

Tailgating is not allowed and RV passes will not be available for this season.

.@wmattwells, Senior Associate Athletics Director/External Affairs, speaks with @HoppyKercheval about how WVU is allowing some fans for the Kansas game October 17 and the rest of the season. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/cbDQdgZvWP

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) September 29, 2020

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Source: WV MetroNews

Barbour, Kanawha, Boone ‘orange’ on daily COVID-19 map

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Barbour, Boone and Kanawha counties are the only West Virginia counties in the ‘orange’ category on the daily COVID-19 alert map released by the state Department of Health and Human Resources Tuesday morning.

Barbour County’s 7-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population is nearly 27 cases to lead the state. Kanawha County’s average daily cases top 24 while Boone County is just under 18 cases. Orange is the next to the highest level on the map. Orange represents heightened community transmission of COVID-19.

The DHHR reported eight additional COVID-19 deaths Tuesday including a 70-year old male from Logan County, a 70-year old male from Putnam County, a 79-year old female from Wyoming County, a 73-year old male from Berkeley County, an 81-year old female from Putnam County, an 84-year old female from Putnam County, a 73-year old male from Monroe County, and a 78-year old female from Taylor County. Overall deaths are now at 345.

There were 180 positive cases added from Monday to Tuesday. The state’s positive test rate is at 3.45%.

The DHHR said there are 172 people in the hospital with COVID-19 with nearly half of them, 80, hospitalized in Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) hospitals.

.@WV_DHHR reports as of 10:00 a.m., September 29, 2020, there have been 557,869 total confirmatory laboratory results received for #COVID19, with 15,692 total cases and 345 deaths. https://t.co/xkIBPMWcqO pic.twitter.com/XDGL4jfqbc

— WV DHHR (@WV_DHHR) September 29, 2020

Confirmed overall cases per county include: Barbour (78), Berkeley (1,009), Boone (227), Braxton (13), Brooke (114), Cabell (843), Calhoun (25), Clay (36), Doddridge (26), Fayette (629), Gilmer (48), Grant (161), Greenbrier (127), Hampshire (108), Hancock (150), Hardy (91), Harrison (382), Jackson (270), Jefferson (436), Kanawha (2,704), Lewis (38), Lincoln (171), Logan (620), Marion (284), Marshall (179), Mason (143), McDowell (87), Mercer (425), Mineral (174), Mingo (377), Monongalia (2,035), Monroe (151), Morgan (55), Nicholas (105), Ohio (374), Pendleton (53), Pleasants (18), Pocahontas (59), Preston (157), Putnam (576), Raleigh (526), Randolph (252), Ritchie (13), Roane (52), Summers (55), Taylor (127), Tucker (34), Tyler (16), Upshur (84), Wayne (403), Webster (8), Wetzel (56), Wirt (12), Wood (374), Wyoming (118).

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Source: WV MetroNews

Caresource MetroNews Top Plays – Week 4

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Check out the best plays submitted by you from around West Virginia in Week 4 of the high school football season.

You can send your plays every week using the Twitter hashtag #MNTopPlay. The winning play each week receives a $100 prize. Hudl links are also acceptable.

The post Caresource MetroNews Top Plays – Week 4 appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews