Gov. Jim Justice used some Friday night lights to illuminate his COVID-19 briefing Wednesday afternoon.
That is, he said, green really will mean “go,” for your football team.
However, he stressed, if your county pulls red — you guys won’t play that night.
And it won’t matter if it’s your cross-town rivalry.
Or, the grudge game from the upset last season.
Or, the marquee matchup between your quarterback and the one on the other team, both destined for Division I.
Justice was referring to the color-coded system he wants to introduce this fall to gauge the daily severity of the coronavirus.
Green, yellow, orange and red — and all those hues imply.
He hearkened to the normalcy of high school football in an autumn to come, that will be anything but.
The governor said he remains steadfast in getting students back in their actual classrooms on Sept. 8, which is still set as the first day of school across West Virginia.
Those colors, he said, will show both how specific, and how flexible, that goal will be.
That’s because the state will daily consider which schools will actually have their doors open for class that morning — and which schools will have to opt-out for remote learning depending upon the number of positive diagnoses noted by your county’s health department.
Metrics, first and ten
Justice said health officials are about two weeks out from the formulation of a metric to determine the color assigned to each one of the state’s 55 counties come fall.
“We will challenge all y’all in every county to do all you can possibly do to keep your numbers as low as we possibly can,” the governor said.
And red means “stop,” he said — no matter how much you may want to dispute the call with the referee.
“If the numbers are exploding and you happen to have a sports contest that day or that weekend or whatever like that, you’re not going to be able to play,” he said.
“It’s that simple.”
Teachers, benching themselves
What might be complicated, though, is the issue of teachers and other employees who are vulnerable in the midst of the pandemic.
Older teachers, for example.
Or those with cancer whose immunity has been weakened by chemotherapy.
Justice said parents who prefer to keep their kids home for safety this year will be able to take advantage of online learning through the state’s Virtual School option, which is operated by the state and not their child’s school.
Teachers wishing to deliver their lesson plans electronically from home will be considered individually, the governor said.
Readying the technology
While it isn’t perfect, Monongalia County is fairly adequately covered in the technology department for such delivery of lessons and homework.
Other counties in the state, though, aren’t as lucky.
Justice announced a $6 million, “Kids Connect” program which will provide for 1,000 wireless hot spots across the state, with laptops and tables to every child in the district that can’t offer the technology.
Mon, to compare, provides Google Chromebook computers for its students and is in the process of outfitting its school buses with Wi-Fi units — turning the vehicles into mobile hotspots — for greater accessibility.
Details on vouchers to come
Meanwhile, back-to-school time in West Virginia also means school voucher time for needy families who qualify.
Around 90,000 children yearly benefit from the offering, used for the purchase of school clothes. It’s administered by the state Department of Health and Human Resources.
Bill Crouch, the DHHR’s cabinet secretary, said he would have particulars of this year’s program for the governor’s Friday briefing.