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On this March 12, 2020, photo file, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice spoke during a press conference at the State Capitol in Charleston, W.Va. Justice Justice on Tuesday, April 21, 2020, closed schools across the state for the remainder of the year over concerns about coronavirus. (AP photo)

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CHARLESTON – Schools throughout West Virginia will remain physically closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year to continue to slow the spread of the new corona virus, the governor announced on Tuesday.

“I hate this like crazy,” Governor Jim Justice said in his daily coronavirus briefing on the Capitol. “I have repeatedly promised you that I will not put you in a position that could be dangerous, and I will try to protect you in everything, especially our children … the last thing I will do is put our children in a dangerous way . “

Justice said the distance learning and feeding program would continue, but opening a school building this year would not occur. The school has been closed since March 13 and is scheduled to reopen on April 30.

“I have thought very hard and I have tried in every way to hopefully get back to school, because I know how children will appreciate it. I cannot imagine the joy of children returning and seeing their friends, their teachers, and all the good that will come from that. The ability to shut it down really confuses our children in many different ways. “

Clayton Burch, acting public school official, said Tuesday that the decision to close the school was not taken easily. According to Education Week, West Virginia joins 34 other states that have closed schools for the remainder of the school year. The West Virginia decision follows the closure announced by Ohio Governor Mike Dewine on Monday.

“We realize that it will be very difficult. Such a big decision is very, very difficult to make, “ Said Burch. “Our school system is ready. We believe that our children, all 260,000 in public schools, are supported by our system. “

Burch said distance learning would remain in effect for the remainder of the school year, food would continue to be provided and a task force was being formed to deal with how to handle high school graduation. Justice encourages schools to find ways to hold graduation ceremonies even if it means holding them later in the summer.

“Of course, we must graduate our seniors and celebrate their achievements,” Said justice. “I urge every school to try to find a place during the summer where we can bring back the graduates and we can really let them walk across the stage, receive their diplomas and truly celebrate their achievements.”

“It is very important for us to recognize and do everything we can for the senior class of 2020,” Said Burch. “We want to make this graduation special. We also want to make it smooth when they switch to post-secondary education. “

Burch said the College Board has stepped forward to ensure there are no gaps for children who take the advanced placement exam by offering free online classes and take-home exams. The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission helps students complete dual credit courses and the state Community and Technical College System seeks to ensure students can complete their courses.

Burch also said the virtual summer school would be free for students who needed help to move to college. For middle school juniors, the College and State Board will offer students who pass the free SAT to receive it for free in the Fall.

“We have big plans for our children to support them for the rest of the school year,” Said Burch. “This decision is not taken lightly. We have a system that is ready to support our children. I cannot thank administrators, teachers, school service staff, school nurses, our supervisors, our regional education council enough. The many caring adults who step forward to ensure every decision taken in the best interests of our school children is truly impressive. “

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