CHARLESTON- The state’s largest education union responded to reports that school-related COVID cases are no longer being reported by state officials.
On September 4th, Governor Justice said “I want every single thing transparent at all times,” when he was still reporting cases at his tri-weekly briefings. Additionally, State Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad stated that same day that “we have announced the schools because we do think it’s a public health/safety concern, and parents, teachers and the public do need to know….and we will be doing that.”
“It took less than three weeks for the Governor and his team to scrap their promise. At a time when cases are surging in many counties, it’s disturbing that our Governor and state health officials have abandoned transparency in school-related COVID case reporting. While we understand the local health departments are responsible for contract tracing, AFT-WV believes the employer has an ethical and legal obligation to report cases in order to protect the health and safety of students, staff and community at large,” explained AFT-WV President Fred Albert.
The WVDE has stated that because they are not the entity that reports the outbreak of the disease, they also would not be responsible for reporting the school-related case information on a statewide basis. However, the Kanawha County school system has continued to publicly report its school-related cases, although it does not specify whether the cases are of students or employees, and if transmission occurred at the school.
“Kanawha County is currently a hot spot for the virus, with record numbers of cases daily. If their school system can collect and make the COVID case data available to the public, there is no reason why the WVDE couldn’t require all school districts to follow suit, in the interest of protecting public health,” continued Albert.
AFT-WV is calling on the Governor, state health officials and WVDE to collect and make public school-related COVID cases and fulfil their duty and obligation to a safe workplace. We believe the failure to report cases and protect employees and students rises to the standard of calamitous cause under WV Code.