BY: Howard Monroe

WV Governor Jim Justice has set January 19th as the date for students to end remote learning and get back into the classroom. Several county boards have decided to remain remote past that date because of concerns over the Covid situation in their local communities. This week the WV State School Board agreed with the Governor and set a regulation putting January 19th as the return-to-classroom date–local board decisions not withstanding and now overruled.

The state board is composed of very fine folks but they are un-elected–appointed by the Governor. I’m at a loss to understand why this centralized unelected authority should be able to overrule elected officials who clearly have a better understanding of their own communities.

Very few people do not believe that kids learn best in the classroom. But we remain in the midst of a raging epidemic of Covid. Many teachers across the state feel uncomfortable going back to the classroom until the vaccine is more widely distributed. I think their concerns are well-grounded. The AFT-WV has taken the issue to court.

In the meantime, as kids are ordered back into their seats to mingle with their friends and staff–and then head home to parents and grandparents, Governor Justice continues his frequent press briefings isolated from reporters who need to “phone in” their questions as the Governor pontificates safely ensconced in his own room.

And the state school board, as they chose to override local decision-making and ordered kids to “get back in there”, did so safely tucked away from the press and public in an essentially isolated session.

So I have a suggestion for the board and the Governor who want to use students and staff to show their authority by ordering them to get out of isolation:

Why don’t you go first.