CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Classes in nine of West Virginia's 55 counties will be held remotely after the state issued an updated color-coded map determining their status for the start of the school year.

The map issued Saturday night shows the rate of confirmed community-spread coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents in each county. The categories, in order of increasing severity, are green, yellow, orange and red. The school year starts Tuesday.

The nine counties were in orange or red. They must reduce their virus case rates to yellow or green before schools there can conduct in-person learning. Athletic contests in those counties also cannot be held.

Students statewide have been out of classrooms since Gov. Jim Justice shut down in-person learning in mid-March.

“This is all new to everyone. We've never started a school year out this way before,” Heather Hutchens, general counsel for the state Department of Education, said Sunday. "But I think the place that we can find some calm is we have systems in place."

Monongalia County, home of West Virginia University, was the only county in red. The counties in orange are Fayette, Kanawha, Logan, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Putnam and Wayne.

Health officials reported a record 259 positive virus cases statewide on Saturday. Over the weekend both the Charleston Area Medical Center and South Charleston-based Thomas Health issued no-visitation policies at their hospitals due to the rising number of virus cases.

The virus usually results in only mild to moderate symptoms, but is particularly dangerous for the elderly and people with other health problems.


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