How W.Va. Schools Are Using Coronavirus Relief Dollars


On this West Virginia Morning, we hear how schools are using federal and state dollars to cope with COVID-19. Also, in this show, we hear about a housing complex in southern West Virginia built for teachers, a Black Lives Matter march in Kingwood, and we hear about author Larry Tye’s new biography, “Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy.”

Construction of an apartment-style housing complex for teachers has been completed in southern West Virginia. Caitlin Tan has more.

A group of Black Lives Matter activists led by Del. Danielle Walker, D-Monongalia, marched through Kingwood in Preston County last weekend. As Brittany Patterson reports, it remained mostly peaceful, but tensions ran high throughout the course of the event.

When Congress passed the CARES Act earlier this summer to help Americans navigate the toll from the coronavirus pandemic, West Virginia received more than $1 billion.

Of that figure, more than $86 million was put into a fund called the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, also called ESSERF. That fund was spent two ways: $78 million was dispersed to all 55 county school districts to use at their discretion — divvied up based on the number of low-income students in each district. And $8.6 million was withheld by the West Virginia Department of Education to be used for emergencies related to COVID-19.

As Liz McCormick reports, last week, the West Virginia Board of Education held its first meeting since schools in the state reopened for the 2020-2021 school year. Board members were given a breakdown of how these dollars were used.

In the early 1950s, U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy became one of the most infamous public figures in American history. And he had a unique connection to West Virginia. After World War II, as the Soviet Union and communist China expanded, McCarthy led what’s now known as the ‘Red Scare,’ using unsubstantiated claims and slander to accuse U.S. government officials, and private citizens, of being traitors and spies.  

Many lives and careers were destroyed. And the senator’s red-baiting career kicked off with a speech at a Lincoln Day Dinner in Wheeling, West Virginia.  

Author Larry Tye’s new biography, “Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy,” details this dinner and McCarthy’s rise and fall. Tye spoke with reporter Eric Douglas. 

West Virginia Morning is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting which is solely responsible for its content.

Support for our news bureaus comes from West Virginia University, Concord University, and Shepherd University.

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