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West Virginia Schools: State leadership needed in any reopening talks

A number of excellent questions regarding our children and grandchildren are being asked by public school teachers. They need to be answered adequately.

Just a couple of weeks ago, it seemed as if COVID-19 was on the retreat in West Virginia. That is no longer the case. Overconfidence and, perhaps, a sort of battle fatigue due to special measures taken to combat the disease have allowed it to stage a resurgence.

For a time, there was talk of allowing children to go back to school in August. New concerns about that have been raised because of a surge in coronavirus cases. Just last week, more than 500 new diagnoses of the disease were made in the Mountain State.

Leaders of the West Virginia Education Association have multiple concerns. One of them is leadership.

State officials “are leaving counties … autonomy at this time, and that is dangerous,” remarked Ohio County Education Association President Jenny Craig. “We need state leadership” she added.

We agree — to an extent. County boards of education are far more familiar with local situations than are officials in Charleston. On some matters, local officials should have the final say.

On many, the state needs to take a leadership role, however. As Craig pointed out, there are a variety of concerns. They range from how social distancing can be practiced in a packed classroom to whether educators will have adequate supplies of cleaning materials and personal protective equipment. There also are questions about how students’ health will be monitored.

All these and more are challenges that need to be worked out at the state level. Guidance — and help — needs to be provided by the state. Answers to the teachers’ questions need to start flowing from Charleston in the very near future.

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