WEST VIRGINIA — West Virginia officials have yet again amended guidelines for reopening schools with the aim of restarting in-person instruction and sports in more counties.
The changes Tuesday add a new category to the state’s color-coded coronavirus map, which rates the severity of the outbreak in counties. Critics and education groups say multiple tweaks to the map over several weeks have confused parents and school officials.
Republican Gov. Jim Justice and his advisers unveiled the new gold category after an hours-long meeting on Monday evening. Starting Wednesday, five counties can resume in-person instruction and sports competitions after moving from orange to gold.
Officials also changed the metric for how counties are labeled on the map, which now features five color categories. Counties in gold have 10 to 14.9 confirmed cases per 100,000 people or a positivity rate of 5% or less over seven days.
“Parents, I know it’s confusing,” Justice said. “But we try to give you as clear a path as we can possibly give you.”
The West Virginia Education Association, which has about 15,000 members, slammed the rollout.
“We are angry that our state leaders continue to manipulate the color-coded map,” Dale Lee, president of the association, said in a statement.