Parents challenge management of COVID in West Virginia schools | News, Sports, Jobs

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CHARLESTON – A group of parents of Cabell County schools seek a judge to force state education officials to create uniform COVID-19 protections, including indoor mask requirements .

Public interest lawyer Sam Brown Petsonk seeks mandamus summons on behalf of Cabell County parents Jennifer Anderson, Amy Reed and Christy, according to a lawsuit filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court on August 31 Black.

Parents have children in the county school system, some with autism or learning disabilities, and some have parents at home with immunocompromised health issues that make them more susceptible to COVID-19 if their children bring the virus home from school. Cabell County is one of 29 out of 55 county school systems without a mask mandate for students, teachers and staff.

“Currently, some schools contradict the advice of their medical advisers and offer very unequal protections in the 55 counties of the state, in violation of the Constitution and mandatory legal obligations” Petsonk wrote.

Petsonk is asking the court to require county and state officials to comply with article 12, section 1, requiring the state to provide for a “A complete and efficient system of free schools”. Petsonk also accuses officials of violating state code requiring the state to provide “For the health and cleanliness of the pupils”, and violate West Virginia human rights law by providing unequal education by denying alternative education opportunities to students with disabilities.

“The state now essentially delegates all decisions related to COVID to county school boards, without providing any required metrics or minimum planning standards for these lay decision-makers, leaving children without adequate or fair risk assessment action.” exposure control plans, “ Petsonk wrote. “Children with special needs are particularly vulnerable and completely unprotected without coherent and risk-based planning of exposure control. “

The Ministry of Education released its school recovery and orientation plan on August 5. Decisions to stay open or go for distance learning in the event of high transmission of the virus rest with county superintendents and county health departments, although the days lost will have to be made up.

The use of face masks in classrooms by students, teachers, and staff is not mandated by the state, with counties empowered to make decisions regarding mask mandates, as advised by government departments. county health. As of Wednesday, there were 46 homes in schools in 24 counties.

Steven Allen Adams can be contacted at [email protected]

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