Ruling made in injunction hearing over school re-entry map

Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 3:33 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 23, 2020 at 3:35 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The West Virginia color code map will stay in place, following a ruling by a judge in a lawsuit brought by the West Virginia Education Association.

Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Carrie Webster denied the petition for a preliminary injunction that would have forced the state to change its school re-entry system. Instead, Webster granted motion by lawyers for Gov. Jim Justice to dismiss both counts of the case.

The West Virginia Education Association filed an injunction over the school re-entry map earlier this month. It asked the judge to require the governor to follow the Harvard map that the West Virginia map was originally based on. It claimed Justice has since changed the system to reopen schools, even if they would not be considered safe under the Harvard model.

“The evidence that we presented, that for example Mercer County would be in the red under the infection rate but green under the positivity rate, just shows that there are problems with the system and that we have to maintain the safety of out educators, our members, our students and their families,” WVEA President Dale Lee said.

Webster’s ruling cited the West Virginia Constitution’s powers granting the governor the authority to act in an emergency situation. Justice still has the power to create and change the school re-entry system however he deems necessary, following the ruling.

The lawsuit’s dismissal also allows student athletes to continue getting tested multiple times per week in an effort to decrease the percent of cases that come back positive. The lawsuit looked to change the way these cases are calculated, to count it as one instead of multiple negative tests.

Lee said the Harvard model’s decision to go with the worst data metric, rather than the best as the current West Virginia system follows, would close about half of schools across the state, protecting teachers, students and the greater community from COVID-19.

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