By Derek Tyson, The Welch News Editor
CHARLESTON, WV – At a press conference earlier today, Governor Jim Justice spoke about ongoing COVID-19 concerns, ultimately announcing that he would close all public schools across West Virginia after today.
“The situation is truly from the standpoint of concerning, legitimate in every way,” said Justice. “The biggest problem nationwide is if this thing were to turn really ugly, are our hospitals able to handle a surge of numbers of people that could possibly happen.”
Justice spoke about tough decisions about cancelling the State Tournament and travel bands, before arriving at the tough decision before him today.
“Here’s another tough decision, what do we do about schools,” said Justice. ”We have a lot of kids that the school is their safe place. The place where they can really get fed, where they learn, where they feel safe.”
Justice spoke about his awareness of the great responsibilities each education institutions carries, feeling that if a situation concerning the coronavirus was probable, he would have to close the schools.
“It’s a tough tough decision but the reality is just this. It’s why you pay me the big bucks,” said Justice. “At the end of the day, you want a Governor that will make tough decisions irregardless of the political ramifications. I’m closing the schools, that’s all there is to it.”
I feel like in my heart that the probability is likely that we will have to close our schools. To me, the risk outweighs the good.
“The decision by Governor Justice to close West Virginia schools due to the coronavirus outbreak was the most prudent decision based on the advice we have received from public health experts, including the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci. They have made it clear that the most effective way we can mitigate the spread is to minimize large gatherings and social contact for the immediate future,” Senator Manchin said. “I remain concerned about the safety and well-being of the more than 10,500 homeless and all at risk students in West Virginia. I am working with state and local officials to ensure there are plans in place to provide the necessary resources to these students. The safety and well-being of every West Virginian must remain our top priority and we all share the responsibility to prevent the spread of this virus and exercise responsible choices, including social distancing, frequently washing your hands with soap and water, wiping down surfaces with products that contain at least 60 percent alcohol, avoiding crowded places, canceling nonessential domestic and international travel and staying home if you are feeling under the weather. I will continue to monitor the outbreak and provide as much information as possible to West Virginians as the situation develops.”
Late last night following the request of Senator Manchin, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved West Virginia’s waiver application to provide meals to students during this outbreak so no child will go hungry while schools are closed.