Changes made to school color code system

WEST VIRGINIA (WOAY) – Governor Justice announced he is tweaking the color coded model that schools will follow when they reopen next month. 

Last week, Governor Justice announced a new color coded system that would serve as reopening guidelines for the state’s schools. The system gives each county a color based on how many new COVID cases they report. It ranges from green, with a low amount of cases per 100,000 people, all the way to red, with more than 25 cases per 100,000 people.

According to Amy Harrison, a data and information specialist with Mercer County Schools, the system is also fluid, so a county can change colors at any time if their amount of new cases reflects that change. 

“If we are in the green, Mercer County Schools would adopt the blended Model A where all students go five days a week, but it will be a shortened day to give custodians time to deep-clean the classrooms and schools,” Harrison said. 

There are different models for reopening as well. Model A is the least restrictive, but still requires a shortened day. The other models then change how many days students attend in person versus online. And in red counties, schools are required to be entirely online. Many counties are already preparing for this possibility. 

“On the days that they’re at home, we have purchased an online learning platform called Schoology. And the teachers will upload any assignments, activities, resources that they need.”

With the recent changes, cases in nursing homes and prisons are counted differently. For every 50 prisoners with new COVID cases, only one case is counted towards the total. And nursing home residents are not counted toward the total at all, but staff members are. 

“We’re just holding the line here waiting to see what happens September 8th. But we are fully ready to open schools if we are in the right color and we’re excited to welcome our students back.”

Also, each color except red is now more restrictive on the number of cases they allow per 100,000 people. Green allows 0-3, yellow 3-9, orange 10-24 and red is when a county has more than 25. Most counties in southern West Virginia range between 1 to 10 cases per 100,000 residents.

Schools reopen next month on September 8.