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CINDERELLA — Mingo County Board of Education President James Ed Baisden on Saturday called for high school students to be allowed to return to in-person school along with the elementary and middle school students on Jan. 19.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced last Wednesday that all elementary and middle schools across the state will be allowed to reopen Jan. 19 for in-person instruction.

Previously, his administration required counties coded orange or red to shutter schools to all but special education students. High schools in all but red counties also will be permitted to reopen Jan. 19, the governor said, while winter sports and all extracurricular activities were put on hold until March 1.

“My response after listening to the students and parents across the county, I feel that our high schools should resume in-person learning with safe COVID guidelines and restrictions,” Baisden said. “While we have been closed, our county has lost multiple students to other states and districts. Our students are suffering from the loss of in-person education and social interaction in both class and sports. ... Our fall and winter sports are a big part of our student’s school life and motivation to succeed. Our students need each other. They are suffering both emotionally and academically. We have seen the highest rate of students failing than ever before. Something must be done.”

He also called for competitive games to begin in January, but closely monitored and following strict guidelines.

“Several ways to accomplish this could be to limit games, social distancing and fewer crowds,” Baisden said. “Games could be controlled with limited passes to parents, coaches and students. Our children have lost so much this year, and as a former educator I realize the impact it has taken on our students. It is also important for our vocational students to complete their courses and receive a diploma.”

Baisden, who was elected to the Mingo School Board in 2018, said he would reach out to the governor on behalf of his students and asked all other board presidents across the state to do the same.

“I am asking that he listen to the concern of our students, teachers, parents and community members,” Baisden said.

Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.