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Justice adds another color to school re-entry map, changes metrics

CHARLESTON – The color-coded school re-entry map parents and school officials rely on during the pandemic is changing yet again while the Democratic candidate for governor called for local control to return to counties on re-opening decisions.

Gov. Jim Justice held a rare Tuesday briefing with reporters from the Building to explain the new County Alert System map. He also laid out new guidelines for counties to use to determine if they can re-open for in-person learning or close for distance learning.

“The delta between the orange code and the yellow code is just too wide,” Justice said. “We’re going to insert another color into our color-code system.”

The new gold color will include counties with between 10 and 14.9 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people or counties with a positive rate of 5 percent or less. Counties in the orange will be prohibited from holding assemblies or large group activities, face coverings will be required at all times and attendance at athletic and extracurricular activities will be limited to parents or guardians. County schools would also only be able to compete with in-county schools or schools in gold counties.

Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango, Justice’s Democratic opponent in the Nov. 3 general election for governor, criticized Justice in a virtual press conference Tuesday morning prior to Justice’s 11 a.m. briefing.

“Leaders are supposed to inspire confidence. Leaders are supposed to provide structure. Leaders are supposed to provide some degree of predictability, so we don’t have chaos,” Salango said. “Jim Justice has demonstrated time and time again that he lacks the experience and the skills necessary to lead our state through this crisis.”

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