CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A second county in West Virginia is on track to have schools go virtual-instruction only and cancel extracurricular activities after an increase in coronavirus cases reported on Friday, a day before the state will announce which public schools are allowed to reopen next week.
Monongalia County is the second county to turn red on the state’s color-coded map that gauges whether schools are ready for in-class teaching, sports and other activities. It comes two days after Gov. Jim Justice ordered the county’s bars to close indefinitely after news of West Virginia University students packing bars in Morgantown.
Justice said that the map will be next updated on Saturday night to determine which counties can welcome back students for in-person classes on Tuesday.
“We’re about ready to go back to school. Unfortunately we’re going to have some that we just can’t turn loose right yet, which is in the best interest of the school,” Justice said on Friday.
Six counties were marked as orange, meaning in-person classes are allowed but no sports. Over a dozen were color-coded yellow, which allows for counties to fully reopen schools if education leaders take measures such as requiring masks for some grades and limiting crowded activities. Most of the state’s 55 counties were in the green, where disease transmission is minimal.
Monroe County is the other county to be labeled red, where there are more than 25 confirmed coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents.
On Friday, Justice announced the state will devote an additional $50 million in federal pandemic relief funds for personal protective equipment and testing capacity at schools.
West Virginia announced six new deaths linked to COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 243.
The virus usually results in only mild to moderate symptoms, but is particularly dangerous for the elderly and people with other health problems.