(09/17/2020)
By Bob Weaver

A new "gold" color has been added to the W.Va county alert map, the change announced by Gov. Jim Justice after groups of Kanawha County protesters of parent-students appeared wanting a return of football and increased in-person education.

But the new "gold" change has apparently flopped in Kanawha County, which has now gone "red" with new Covid-19 cases, which eliminates football and in-person classes.

Kanawha has 70 new cases.

Lincoln County middle school closes after staff member tests positive for COVID-19.

Calhoun Superintendent of Schools says that it appears that Calhoun will go "gold" this weekend.

The new gold color will be added for W.Va counties in between orange and yellow. A difference is that counties in the ‘gold’ stage will be allowed to play sports, according to Gov. Justice.

State officials admitted Tuesday that the color-coding system developed for West Virginia schools led to decreased testing for COVID-19, prompting the government to “tweak” the system.

The new color phase is gold, and it will fall between yellow and orange. Counties with a seven-day average between 10 and 14.9 will go gold and will be permitted to attend face-to-face schooling.

Masks will be required at all times and large assemblies are not permitted. Schools also will be asked to limit the movement of groups of students.

As for athletics, counties in gold will be permitted to play only within the county or in other gold counties. Immediate families will be permitted to attend only games in gold, but the state adjusted yellow and green to allow grandparents to attend.

If, by 5 p.m. Saturday, a county is still orange, the state will then look at the county’s positive percentage rate over a seven-day rolling period. If the percentage is below 5%, counties in orange may still attend school.

Justice said the tweaks to the system were needed because the orange phase was too broad and it wasn’t fair to the counties that were on the edge of yellow.

West Virginia officials are talking about adjusting how some college students are counted when they test positive for coronavirus.

WVU apparently has a few hundred positive COVID-19 cases.

This has been an ongoing issue in Monongalia County, where local leaders have been discussing how positive tests by West Virginia University students have driven overall numbers.

When students isolate or quarantine in a designated location such as Arnold Apartments, that may now be viewed as a congregate setting (one case). So the cases there may be counted as one for the purposes of identifying community spread — like the state treats nursing home or jail cases.

Charleston’s Bible Center School has begun teaching its students in person, despite Kanawha County being orange (now Red) on West Virginia’s school reopening map and Gov. Jim Justice previously saying neither private nor public schools in orange or red counties may reopen classrooms.

With Kanawha going "Red," what will the bible schools do?

But neither police nor other officials ordered the school to cease what it was doing Monday, despite news station WCHS reporting that morning that the classrooms were open. Justice, during Monday’s tri-weekly news conference, cast doubt on his own ability to enforce his rule.

“I really probably need more guidance from the standpoint of an executive order versus freedom of religion,” Justice said, after a reporter asked how he would enforce the rule.

Meanwhile, the school, according to documents provided to the Gazette-Mail, is requiring parents of students returning in person, and the students themselves, to sign waivers promising not to sue the school if they get sick or die of COVID-19 or incur expenses related to it.


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