The soccer, baseball and softball fields are empty, as well as the tracks, tennis courses and golf courses this spring. Seniors who normally would be chattering in school hallways and planning prom outfits are instead faced with the prospect of missing so many moments they have looked forward to for years. Gov. Jim Justice this week declared the state's public school won't open until at least April 20.

Gov. Jim Justice has extended the statewide school shutdown, which was originally scheduled to end this Friday, to Monday, April 20.

He made the announcement in response to COVID-19, and said at the specified April 20 date, he will then reevaluate how the state will move forward.

As of Wednesday afternoon, food distribution plans in each county were still underway, despite the governor’s announcement to extend the school shutdown. In Raleigh, Fayette, Greenbrier and Monroe counties, plans to distribute a week’s worth of food in one day are in place at some schools, while some are making food deliveries via bus routes.

Adj. Gen. James Hoyer with the West Virginia National Guard said teams were working with the West Virginia Department of Education to address the food need for the state’s students.

“We’re looking at an effort of having the National Guard working to provide the child nutrition meals during the week, while other organizations like food pantries to provide the weekend support for the families,” Hoyer said.

The governor’s announcement has resulted in institutions having to make accommodations with their academic schedules.

WVU Tech has announced the postponement of 2020 commencement exercises in May due to concerns surrounding the global COVID-19 outbreak. Degrees will still be conferred in May upon the completion of major requirements, and diplomas will be mailed out like normal.

The university will work with graduating seniors to determine when they prefer to attend an in-person graduation ceremony. Depending on student feedback, WVU Tech will host a special ceremony in December for all 2020 graduates or allow 2020 graduates to walk in the regularly scheduled May 2021 event.

“We’re brokenhearted that we cannot celebrate with our graduates in the way we’re accustomed,” WVU Tech Campus President Carolyn Long said.

“We know how very hard these students have worked to achieve this accomplishment, and this difficult decision is something that leaves everyone in the Golden Bear family disappointed,” Long said. “But we must protect the well-being of our students, our employees and our guests at this time. These bright graduates should start their journey as safe as possible. We’re doing what we can to make that happen. And we will do what we can to honor their achievement now and in the future.”

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