CHARLESTON — On Friday, Gov. Justice welcomed United States Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona onto his virtual COVID-19 briefing, as he and West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch announced that back-to-school vaccination clinics will be held this fall in all 55 counties.
“I am totally committed to doing back-to-school vaccinations for those 12 and older,” Gov. Justice said. “And if and when the vaccines are recommended for those under 12, we will absolutely be ready to move quickly.”
During the briefing, Sec. Cardona praised Gov. Justice, Superintendent Burch, and West Virginia education leaders for answering the call to get more children vaccinated by providing these school clinics.
“Not only did you accept the call to action, you really elevated it,” Sec. Cardona said.
“When we say we’re going to increase our vaccination numbers, what we’re saying is we’re going to do our very best to make sure that students can get on the field, that they can have in-person learning, that they can enjoy those experiences that we all know are so important for school success. So, Governor Justice, thank you for your leadership, and Superintendent Burch, thank you. This is a tough time to be a leader. But you know what? It’s an important time.”
“What you’re doing shows strong leadership,” Sec. Cardona added.
In his remarks, Superintendent Burch explained that each county school system will pick one or more “central locations” to host these back-to-school clinics. Locations may include local high schools, middle schools, or any other school facilities—like football stadiums on game nights—where the clinics will have the biggest impact.
“Sometimes we’ll see them actually move the clinic locations around,” Superintendent Burch said. “I also want to clarify that these clinics are not only for students. Our school systems are opening many of these clinics up to the entire community so that when they’re able to do these clinics, even in the football games or any type of evening events, they want to make sure they capture as many of the community members as possible.”
Superintendent Burch also announced that the West Virginia Department of Education’s #IGotVaxxedWV campaign, which was launched this summer to encourage students to get vaccinated, has been rebranded as: #IGotVaxxed To Get Back.
“Listening to the students and teachers out there, ‘I Got Vaxxed To Get Back’ is really highlighting that need that students want for consistency,” Superintendent Burch said. “So when students talk about it, they’re talking about, ‘I got vaxxed to get back to proms and homecomings and football games.’”
The WVDE recently launched their “I Got Vaxxed Competition” to reward schools that have supported vaccinations among students and staff.
With Gov. Justice’s support, a total of 12 schools—four elementary schools, four middle schools, and four high schools—with the largest percentage of eligible vaccinated staff and students will each win $50,000 to use for their prom, fun fair, pep rally, or any student-based activity. The competition, which runs through the first week of October, is voluntary and is open to both public and private schools.
Superintendent Burch added that the WVDE has launched a new “County Recovery Snapshots” webpage, which provides a comprehensive overview of the demographic information, student enrollment, pandemic funding, and mitigation plans for each district.
Sec. Cardona also took time to praise Gov. Justice’s “Do it for Babydog” campaign and encouraged all vaccine-eligible students and residents to follow the Governor’s advice in regard to getting vaccinated.