Judge denies injunction over West Virginia school virus map

West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee, left, and American Federation of Teachers' West Virginia chapter President Christine Campbell talk to reporters Tuesday, March 6, 2018, at the Capitol in Charleston, W.Va. The West Virginia Education Association filed a court challenge Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, to the state's color-coded map that determines whether counties can hold in-person public school classes during the coronavirus pandemic. The union wants to replace the school reentry map that has undergone multiple changes by Republican Gov. Jim Justice and state officials with one compiled by independent health experts. (AP Photo/John Raby)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia teachers union lost its bid Friday to stop the state from using its color-coded map to decide whether counties can hold in-person public school classes and athletic competitions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Judge Carrie Webster denied the West Virginia Education Association’s request for a preliminary injunction after Gov. Jim Justice’s attorney argued the court lacked jurisdiction and said the union did not have evidence that the map is not a rational approach tailored to West Virginia, WCHS-TV reported.

The union’s president, Dale Lee, testified that 67% of teachers surveyed had compromising health issues and fears or relatives who were home sick.

After the ruling, Lee said the WVEA was disappointed in the outcome.

“By choosing to use the lesser of the infection rate or the percentage of positive tests, WVEA and its members believe the governor’s color-coded map changes have created a false picture of COVID spread,” Lee said in the statement. “That has resulted in both education employees and students being placed in unsafe situations.”

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice holds a Monday March 16, 2020 news conference at the West Virginia Capitol in Charleston, W.Va. The West Virginia Education Association filed a court challenge Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, to the state’s color-coded map that determines whether counties can hold in-person public school classes during the coronavirus pandemic. The union wants to replace the school reentry map that has undergone multiple changes by Republican Gov. Jim Justice and state officials with one compiled by independent health experts. (F. Brian Ferguson/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP)

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

The union has endorsed Justice’s opponent, Democrat Ben Salango, in the November general election.

“Isn’t it awfully coincidental that (the court filing is) done three or weeks before an election?” Justice said after the challenge was filed this month. “It’s political.”

Kassie Simmons
Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.