CHARLESTON – The 2 West Virginia unions representing educators are sad with plans to convey workers and college students again to highschool in particular person and are skeptical of plans to vaccinate lecturers towards COVID-19 on time.
Governor Jim Justice introduced final week that pre-k, elementary and center colleges will reopen for in-person studying on January 19, whatever the colour of the county on the County Alert System map.
Excessive colleges will even reopen for in-person studying so long as the county isn’t proven within the crimson on account of excessive an infection charges or p.c positivity.
Because of the adjustments, the weekly County Alert System map from the Division of Schooling shall be discontinued in favor of the County Alert System map up to date every day by the Division of Well being and Human Assets. As of Tuesday, 48 of the 55 counties have been within the crimson for top charges of COVID-19 an infection or excessive proportion of positivity.
Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Schooling Affiliation, was not pleased with Justice and the Division of Schooling didn’t attain out to educators when introducing the brand new reopening plans. Lee stated the state needs to be extra cautious, particularly since a brand new pressure of COVID-19 is within the US.
“I’m offended that the voices of educators should not being heard”, Lee stated by cellphone on Tuesday. “We have to guarantee the security of our educators, our college students, and their households. All of the sudden ignoring no matter maps you are utilizing when circumstances are increased proper now than ever and saying it is protected to enter, would not that make sense?
To organize for the reopening of colleges, Justice introduced that lecturers and college service personnel age 50 and older would obtain the Pfizer / BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The aim is to vaccinate lecturers and older workers first, after which vaccinate lecturers and workers underneath 50 years of age.
However each vaccines require a booster injection, which signifies that somebody who receives the Pfizer injection will obtain the second injection 21 days later, whereas somebody who receives the Moderna injection receives the second injection 28 days later. Academics and workers who acquired the injection as we speak wouldn’t obtain the second dose earlier than the January 19 begin date.
State well being officers stated Monday that even receiving the primary dose would give recipients 50 p.c extra safety than with none vaccine, and that the second dose would offer as much as 95 p.c safety. Lee stated it will be finest to stay to present college reentry metrics till all lecturers can get vaccinated with each vaccines.
“I’ve issues with that 50 p.c protection,” Lee stated. “I’ve heard from lots of our educators that the mixed fashions have labored and that having very small class sizes has been protected. They’ve been snug with that. There are lots of issues we will do, however bringing everybody in 5 days every week is reckless. “
Each the WVEA and the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Academics stated they have been surveying their union members to collect suggestions on the brand new college reentry plans. A joint assembly of the WVEA, AFT-WV, and the West Virginia College Service Personnel Affiliation is deliberate for later within the week.
“Everybody longs to get again to regular. However to get there, we’d like a plan that protects workers, college students, and weak members of our neighborhood. “ AFT-WV President Fred Albert stated in an announcement. “If returning to in-person instruction is the governor’s precedence, he should implement and execute a plan that protects the well being and security of members of the varsity neighborhood.”
County college programs are nonetheless free to train native management and swap to distant studying in the event that they deem it needed to forestall the unfold of the coronavirus, in addition to proceed distance studying for households who opted for this system.
In line with a Dec. 21 letter to state superintendent of colleges Clayton Burch from Stephen Wotring, president of the West Virginia Affiliation of College Superintendents and superintendent of Preston County colleges, the an infection fee in colleges throughout the state it has by no means exceeded zero.5 p.c, whereas statewide the an infection fee has fluctuated between 5 and seven p.c.
Lee stated these numbers do not align with actions taken by Justice and the Division of Schooling, together with closing conferences and informational conferences for the general public, in addition to the change of the beginning date of winter sports activities to 1 March.
“The governor nonetheless has no folks at his press conferences,” Lee stated. “The state board nonetheless would not have folks at its board conferences. We’ve delayed winter sports activities till March 1 as a result of we do not need folks within the health club, however will we permit 70 college students to enter a health club for bodily training? Will we permit 200 college students in a cafeteria with no masks for lunch? That is senseless “.
On Monday, Justice criticized the lecturers’ unions for making their members work on the brand new reopening plan.
“If in case you have detractors – lecturers unions – who’re rah-rah folks and all, then allow them to rah-rah” Justice stated. “I’ve made my suggestion on what to do and our kids ought to return to highschool.”