CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WVVA) - The West Virginia Education Association filed an injunction this morning in Kanawha County Circuit Court that challenges the safety of the governor's school re-entry map.
WVEA President Dale Lee announced the WVEA's intent to file last week saying, "Our members have watched the constant manipulation of the map. As each rendition failed to provide the desired results sought by our state leaders, additional changes were made... The only way to restore confidence in the process and ensure safety in our public schools is to adopt a new system from independent experts recognized in the field of infectious diseases and public health, such as the original color-cod. map from Harvard."
According to the WVEA, the filing seeks injunctive relief, including a temporary restraining order, as well as the enforcement of the West Virginia Open Meeting Act as it pertains to the experts making changes to the map and the 'Panel' adjusting the map prior to its posting.
"We have seen the manipulation of the map's colors and metrics on numerous occasions as protests occurred and pressure was placed on the governor. Now we are seeing the manipulation of the testing numbers as a result of the change made to the map using the positivity rate for counties to re-open," says Lee. "The fact that the manipulation is occurring, and people are bragging about getting tested on multiple days show that the map and its metrics are not looking out for the safety of our students and employees and should not be used as the criteria for school re-opening"
The WVEA believes the latest changes to the map created the illusion of a 'green map' but is not safe to return to in-person learning at this time in certain counties.
"We know how important it is for students to be back in classrooms working with their teachers. No one wants in-person education more than our members, but they no longer feel their safety is the top priority of our state government, leadership," said Lee. "Our goal is for students to return to school as soon as possible but we must be able to do that safely based on the circumstances in individual counties."
"School employees are particularly impacted by the lack of social distancing and mask wearing," adds Lee. "As the governor has stated many times, a large portion of our teaching population is older and more at risk for COVID. Over 2/3 of our members have identified that either they or somone in their immediate household have conditions that put them at risk."
WV EA's injunction seeks a new system to determine school re-entry from independent experts recognized in the field of infectious diseases and public health, such as the original color-coded map from Harvard.
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