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Education unions willing to file injunction over state coronavirus class policy

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia Education Association is offering to take legal action against the state if  Monongalia County Schools is not allowed to maintain a class format for an extended period.

WVEA President Dale Lee and Heather Deluca-Nestor, the president of the Monongalia County Education Association, met with school system Superintendent Ed Campbell on Thursday to discuss the first day of classes, as well as when to have face-to-face lessons.

The discussion came ahead of the Sept. 8 start to the school year.

Campbell said in the meeting that state officials want school districts to flip between virtual and in-person lessons depending on changes with the color-coded county alert system map. Campbell previously told the Monongalia County Board of Education if a grading period begins online, it will conclude with virtual lessons.

Monongalia County is one of eight orange counties on the county alert system with a rate of 23.1 daily coronavirus cases per 100,000 people. West Virginia University, whose campus is in Morgantown, reported 83 positive coronavirus cases Tuesday and Wednesday.

“I think the entire state understands the unique situation Monongalia County is in with the university buildings and students intertwined throughout the community,” Lee mentioned.

Lee said the union is willing to file an injunction with the Monongalia County Board of Education to enact the plan.

“If Monongalia County is in the orange or red, they should be the one to make the decision on how long they’re going to do the remote learning,” he said. “It should be based on conversations with educators, parents and the community, not what color a map is on Saturday.”

Deluca-Nestor said there is a solidarity among educators about protecting themselves and students, but union members do not want a work stoppage.

“Because someone might not be willing to strike doesn’t mean they’re comfortable with the current plan,” she said.

Students and teachers were last in the classroom together in March, and Deluca-Nestor said educators want a safe start to the academic year.

“They really do have their student’s best interests at heart,” she said. “It’s really important that we take our employees into consideration and our students into consideration, and keep them out of harm’s way.”

Lee said he would not be surprised if other school districts follow Monongalia County Schools about the type of lessons to hold.

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