CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WV News) – One of the statewide West Virginia teacher unions released a statement Wednesday expressing a lack of confidence in the state’s reopening parameters for schools.
Specifically, the AFT-WV disputes the recent addition and implementation by the state of a second metric on the county warning system, a weekly version of which is used to determine the Education Department’s school warning system map. of West Virginia.
The state recently began listing both the incidence rate – the initial metric that measures a population-adjusted moving average of new cases in each county – and the positivity rate – a county’s percentage of positive COVID-19 tests. Any metrics that provide a lower color in the alert system are applied to the map.
“If we’re really erring on the side of caution, why shouldn’t the state use the higher of the two stats instead of the lower number to determine the color code on the map? Use the lower of the two stats to determine a school’s color designation. the system just gives everyone a false sense of security, “the statement said.
While the union nationwide has advocated using a positive test rate to help determine school plans, officials said in the statement that it’s just one of several factors it recommends to help determine safe return.
“The 5% positivity rate is just one of six factors needed in the AFT guidance document, ‘A Plan to Safely Reopen American Schools and Communities,'” the statement said.
Other suggested factors outlined in that paper include a demonstrated decrease in new cases and hospitalizations for at least 14 days; ensure adequate bed capacity in the ICU in case of spikes; and a low rate of transmission (Rt).
AFT-WV President Fred Albert finally called on Governor Jim Justice to stop the current mapping and fully adopt the plans of the AFT re-entry document.
“We want to go back to our schools, but only when it’s safe for students and staff,” he said. “Since the governor is so keen to cite a measurement included in the AFT re-entry document, we propose that he discard the current map and fully adopt AFT’s nationally controlled guidance plan.”
According to the statement, local AFT-WV presidents held an emergency meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss their path forward. Local presidents will contact their members to assess specific concerns in their counties and assess what actions local members are willing to take to address the issues.