Gov. Justice pledges $2.5 million to college and university COVID-19 testing

Gov. Jim Justice
Gov. Jim Justice (R - WV)

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – Gov. Justice announced that he is pledging $2.5 million to ensure that all public and private college and university students and staff members are able to be tested for COVID-19 upon their return to campus.

“We are pledging, right now, $2.5 million to go toward our smaller schools because WVU and Marshall have their own plans and they’re working them great,” Gov. Justice said. “But, for our smaller schools, we will support them with the funds and then we will defer to them as far as determining exactly how they’re going to do the testing.

“But we’ll pass the torch right to our institutions and say, ‘Let’s go,’” Gov. Justice continued. “Let’s test everybody that’s going to be on one of our campuses.”

The funding will come out of West Virginia’s portion of Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds, provided by the U.S. Department of Education to support educational needs in each state related to COVID-19. The GEER funds, approved by Congress through the CARES Act, are a separate allocation from the $1.25 billion in discretionary funds appropriated to the State.

The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission will ensure that the institutions that need these funds to fully test their students and staff get what they need.

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The Governor has also asked the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia National Guard to provide resources and support as needed.

The Governor was also joined Friday by Fairmont State University President Dr. Mirta Martin – who also leads the West Virginia’s Council of Presidents, which is comprised of all of the colleges and universities across the state.

“Today’s announcement that you have earmarked funds to help us test all of our students, faculty, and staff is evidence of your resolve to place the needs of our state and of our institutions first,” Martin said. “Governor Justice, on behalf of West Virginia’s universities and colleges, please accept our very heartfelt and sincere gratitude for your support.

“While this pandemic has been the defining event of our lifetime, you, Mr. Governor, have brought optimism, ambition, and heartfelt care to West Virginia,” Martin continued. “You have guided our state by putting ambition into action and we are so very grateful.”

“We all want to go back to school, but we’ve got to do it right, we’ve got to do it as safe as we possibly can,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve got to protect our students, our faculties, and our communities. We’ve got to protect all those around us.”

Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com