Opinions from around the state
Editorial Roundup: West Virginia
By The Associated Press
Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:
The Journal on the officers who sprung into action during the Christmas Day explosion in Nashville, Tennessee:
Once again, we have been reminded of how courageously many law enforcement personnel react to their protect-and-serve mandate.
On Christmas morning, a bomb exploded in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. It had been placed in a recreational vehicle. The perpetrator had placed a loudspeaker in it, from which a few people nearby may have heard a recording warning them of the bomb.
Many did not hear that warning. What they did hear was six Nashville police officers who had been alerted to the bomb, rushing from door to door, often in close proximity to the recreational vehicle, telling people to get out.
We don't know how many police officers got to the site in time to undertake that heroic work. We do know some of them were injured — not seriously, thankfully — when the bomb went off.
It is said that police officers, firefighters and other first responders rush into danger even as the rest of us hurry to escape it. Nashville police officers did just that on Christmas morning.
No one can say how many lives they saved. It is clear from the damage the bomb caused and stories told by some of those who escaped apartments that some people would have been killed by the bomb, had they not been evacuated by the brave officers.
Bless them all.
And bless the men and women in our area who would do precisely the same thing in a similar situation.
The Herald-Dispatch on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on education in West Virginia:
The editorial in Sunday's edition of The Herald-Dispatch drew a number of comments on social media. The comments showed not only the division among local residents on when public schools should reopen, but it also pointed to long-term changes educators and school administrators must consider.
The editorial noted that a third of West Virginia students have failed at least one class in the core subjects, which include math and English. It praised Gov. Jim Justice for setting a date for schools to reopen so children don't fall further behind.
As with anything related to schools and the coronavirus pandemic, opinions were divided, sharp and often caustic. Here is a sample:
Michael Lewis: "My Child is a Virtual School student at Explorer Academy administered by Ryan McKenzie for Cabell County Schools and I am extremely happy with the efforts and results from the program Explorer Academy is operating for our Kids."
Chelsa Irene Booth: "Michael Lewis, I agree! My girls are doing great with it! I will say, however, WV Learns puts so much stress on the shoulders of middle and high school students. Their work load is unacceptable."
Samantha Doutt: " … you also have to consider that families get out of remote learning what they put in. The students who are on my live meetings, who turn in assignments, and contact me with questions are doing well. Those I rarely if ever hear from are not."
Melissa J. Hill: "There's always a learning curve when introducing something new. For Administration, Teachers, Parents and Children"
Educators base their teaching methods on what they believe to be the best research-based practices. By now thousands of researchers are examining the effectiveness of remote learning and other nontraditional methods of teaching. That research will continue for the next few years as the long-term impact of the coronavirus-related school shutdowns becomes known.
How will this affect teaching methods five or six years from now, or even next year? It's apparent some children thrive under remote learning, while others don't. It could be the motivation of individual students, access to broadband internet, poverty or any number of factors.
School systems would be wise to determine which children learn best with remote learning, either in full or in part. Curricula or the method of delivering education could change depending on which children do best in school and which do best remotely.
Likewise, educators will need plans for the next widespread closures, whether they are related to a disease outbreak or not.
Teaching methods aside, the pandemic has caused people to question the ventilation systems in schools and other buildings. Last year Cabell County voters approved a bond issue to build new schools and renovate some existing buildings. Certainly air-handling systems will receive more scrutiny than before.
In a meeting with the editorial boards of HD Media newspapers last year, West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee said the pandemic forced society into changes that previously had been a decade away. We lost the time that's usually taken to implement these changes gradually.
That is true of education and so many things.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail on West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice brushing off criticism that the resort he owns did not follow coronavirus pandemic guidelines during a New Year's Eve gala:
It's a short videoclip, panning across the floor of The Greenbrier resort on New Year's Eve, showing a crowded room, with partygoers in close proximity to one another. Some were wearing masks, many were not.
It wasn't a surprise that the clip generated outrage across West Virginia. The Greenbrier is owned by Gov. Jim Justice, who refused to put the business in a blind trust and has said his daughter is running the resort while he's in office. Gov. Justice also has been appearing in COVID-19 briefings multiple times a week since last March, telling West Virginians to avoid large gatherings, especially indoors, and to wear masks. In fact, masks are now mandatory in all businesses and public buildings under an executive order from Justice.
The video drew particular ire from high school coaches of winter sports, after Justice pushed the start date for those sports back to March 1, as COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to mount.
Justice was questioned about the seeming hypocrisy and lack of self-accountability during his Monday briefing, and again displayed how badly he sometimes misunderstands what it means to be the leader of the state and to set an example for others to follow.
The governor's first response was to call the video a "political hit job," which makes little sense. And even if the video was released to put Justice on the hot seat, that response doesn't address the obvious problem on display.
His second defense was to say he wasn't even there. He was at his nearby home. He watched the ball drop on television to usher in 2021, kissed his wife and went to bed. There's no reason to doubt this. If Justice's involvement with The Greenbrier is anything like he runs state government, it's more than believable he had no idea what was happening at the resort. Again, that doesn't take away his responsibility.
Why was The Greenbrier having a large, indoor gathering in the first place when Gov. Justice was advising against just that in the name of public health and safety? How many people were put at risk because it took place?
Gov. Justice then reverted to a favorite line, "What would you have me do?" asking if he should just shut The Greenbrier down and have 1,500 resort employees lose their jobs. This is just a dodge, and a poor one at that. No one wants the resort shut down. No one wants anyone to lose their job. That had nothing to do with the line of questioning directed at the governor.
Finally, Justice said those at the party shouldn't have taken off their masks, and, had he been there, he would have immediately directed attendees to put them back on. But, on his own admission and like so many controversial events that involve him, Justice wasn't there.
Gov. Justice offered similar deflections when asked in November about a Thanksgiving event planned at the resort, saying he didn't run things there but was certain staff and attendees would do everything to stay safe. That should have served as a lesson and a warning to the governor to make sure his own house is in order while advising an entire state during a health crisis that has now killed nearly 1,400 West Virginians and is on pace to hit more than 100,000 total cases sometime this week.
Whether running The Greenbrier or not, he should have realized that another such event wasn't a good idea, and put a stop to it.
Instead, it turned into just another example of Gov. Justice's failure to grasp the full nature of the responsibility of his office, and how rules apply to him just as much as anyone else.