Justice criticizes ‘Let them play’ rally

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice appeared aggravated Friday with a rally that took place outside his office at the state capitol before his scheduled media briefing on the coronavirus.

There were a few dozen, mostly high school, students there urging Justice to move-up the winter sports schedule from his previously announced March 1 date.

Those in attendance were chanting, “Let them play!”

Justice called the rally “silly” when he paused to comment on it after reading the information of the 1,500 state resident who had died from COVID-19.

“They can yell and bark at the moon all they want but I can tell you that without any question we’re doing the right thing here,” Justice said.

He wants in-person instruction to resume in schools on Jan. 19.

“We don’t go back to school until the 19th or later,” Justice said. “What in the world could we possibly be doing saying out there (at Friday’s rally) that we want to play ball right now.”

Justice, himself the girls basketball coach at Greenbrier East High School, said he would like nothing better than to be coaching in games, practicing with his team or even taking his players to Dairy Queen after practice but it’s just not possible at the present time.

“We’re trying to get (COVID-19) vaccines out. We’re doing a terrific job in doing so. We’re trying to take care of people where we save their lives. This is silly,” he said referring to the rally.

Justice appeared to blame adults, including some coaches, for playing a role in organizing the rally.

“We are expected to be examples for our kids. We’re not in school for all practical purposes across this state. We know we’ve got to be in school,” he said.

Justice asked for patience.

“We will absolutely get to play as soon as we possibly can. I ask people just to give us some time,” Justice said.

The West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission is expected to approve revised winter and spring sports calendars next week.