CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ/WHSV) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced new steps the state will be taking in response to the COVID-19 crisis in a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
Gov. Justice announced that statewide school closures would be extended until at least April 20.
While West Virginia has gone farther than Virginia in issuing a statewide "stay at home" order, unlike Virginia, the state has not canceled school for the remainder of the academic year.
Instead, as of now, the West Virginia Department of Education is planning to reopen all public and private pre-K-12 schools on April 20.
During the next month, the department will work with individual counties to ensure children are fed and to work to design ways to continue education for children beyond just online means.
In a state where many people have limited or no access to internet, the department says they will work with counties "to provide student engagement opportunities using learning materials, phone contact, email, technology-based virtual instruction or a combination of all of the above to meet student needs."
They will be releasing updated guidance for all counties in the coming days that they say will "be grounded in compassion, communication and common sense rather than traditional compliance measures that most are accustomed to in our education community."
“Our schools are the backbone of communities,” said State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “It is important that our families are supported during this time in our state. We appreciate the Governor’s guidance and support of West Virginia children,” said Superintendent Burch. “We have all had to pull together and find ways to address unforeseen challenges, and I know our hard working educators and school personnel will do what is needed to support our children.”
The governor is also recommending that the state's tax filing deadline be pushed back to match the federal delay issued by President Donald Trump.
That would move the deadline from April 15 to July 15.
Gov. Justice also said he is waiving all interest and penalties on property tax filings until May 1.