Gov. Jim Justice announced an extension of the statewide school closure until at least April 20 and delay the state income tax deadline until July 15, matching the federal guidelines.

The governor made both announcements during the first few minutes of a daily news briefing Wednesday before making a quick departure. Justice said he needed to call the White House, but didn’t provide many specifics.

“There’s issues related to additional supplies that I’ve got to go do,” he said.

Justice originally announced the closure of West Virginia schools on March 13. He later said the closure would last until at least March 27, which is this Friday.

Some school systems like in Virginia — or even Jefferson County in West Virginia — have gone ahead and canceled in-school instruction this year.  Justice said he still has hope students can return this year “but we’ll have to see.”

West Virginia Department of Education

Clayton Burch

The state Department of Education followed up with its own statement, saying counties will continue to use learning materials, phone contact, email, technology-based virtual instruction or a combination to meet student needs.

“Our schools are the backbone of communities,” said state schools Superintendent Clayton 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 also called for a delay in state income tax filing until July 15, which would align West Virginia with the delayed federal tax filing announced earlier.

He says the aligned deadlines will be more convenient for people.

“We surely don’t need to tax you with two different filings,” he said.

Legislative leaders earlier Wednesday sent a letter to Justice asking for the extension.

The letter was signed by Senate President Mitch Carmichael, Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso, House Speaker Roger Hanshaw and House Minority Leader Tim Miley as well as Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair and House Finance Chairman Eric Householder.

“This will allow West Virginia taxpayers to seamlessly file their state and federal tax returns at once,” the lawmakers wrote.

By providing the extension, “This will eliminate a critical point of stress for the citizens and businesses in our state,” they wrote.

Justice said state Revenue leaders have been working on the extension and that a congressional relief package anticipating billions of dollars in aid to state and local governments provided enough financial certainty to move ahead.

Similarly, Justice announced a waiver for penalties on property tax filings until May 1 “just to see where everything will fall out.”

He said greater detail of the tax changes would be available Thursday at the Governor’s Office website.