Gov. Justice details color coded map to determine whether schools can stay open


CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has unveiled a color coded map by county to determine whether its safe for schools to reopen safely.

“There’s no state that we know of that has a rating system that is similar to what we propose to do,” Justice said.

Justice made the announcement during his Friday, Aug. 14, press conference.

He previously announced the start of reopening schools safely starting Sept. 8.

The color coded system will be update every 9 p.m. Saturday starting Sept. 5. Justice says people will be able to see where the county stands on a daily basis.

Justice says each county in the state will receive a code: green, yellow, orange or red code which will change daily.


“If you’re orange it’s going to be easier for you to get back to yellow than to go all the way back to green. So it’s not going to change that drastically,” Justice said.

The color coded system is based on 100,000 population as a percentage. Justice described how the color coded system works:

  • 0 to seven per a population of 100,000 is the green zone
  • Eight to 15 per a population of 100,000 is the yellow zone
  • 16 to 24 per a population of 100,000 is the orange zone 
  • Anything exceeding 25 is the red zone

Justice says anything orange or red in any county, will lead to the county automatically going 100% virtual for schools including extracurricular activities and athletics. Justice previously said practices for all fall sports can begin Aug. 17. Currently, Logan County is coded red. That means they will have to get their numbers down before Sept. 5. to reopen.

Justice says even if a county coded green, they have right to choose to have 100% of their classes go virtual.

A county coded yellow on Saturday can have football on the following Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

“If we go red at any point in time, the schools shut down, the sports shut down in their entirety right at that moment,” Justice said.

COVID-19 Czar Dr. Clay Marsh says the Harvard Global Health Institute was the model the state was trying to follow, but doesn’t translate to states with a small population.

State Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch says a lot of preparation has went into the color coded system since the spring.

Justice knows the color coded map could be considered complicated but “we’ve tried to make it completely transparent.”

Justice blames West Virginia residents traveling to Myrtle Beach as the reason for the spike in cases. Cases of the virus continue to climb in the state as of 10 a.m. Aug. 14. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources reports 344,530 total confirmatory laboratory results received for COVID-19, with 8,274 total cases and 157 deaths.

“The reason is real simple. Two words are the reason for this problem: Myrtle Beach,” Justice said.

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