Two West Virginia education unions sharply criticized Gov. Jim Justice, saying his announcement that children in the state will go back to school lacked specific details on how the plan will be carried off and how students and school employees will be protected.

“Yesterday’s press conference reminded me that I was watching an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show, ‘You get a ride. You get a ride. You get a meal,’ ” said Joe White, executive director of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, at a news conference Thursday in Charleston.

White was referring to a news conference that the governor held Wednesday when he said children would return to school Sept. 8 and would also have virtual options. The governor said a $6 million project would create more than 1,000 wireless connections so they would have internet access.

“Now today more than ever, leadership is important,” White said. “We cannot continue to come up with last-minute plans and off-the-cuff ideas.”

White criticized the governor for saying that school buses would provide transportation for kids to school, to practices, to remote learning hot spots and deliver meals.

“How many meals are our cooks going to have to prepare? This folks, is just not possible. We do not have enough bus drivers for regular runs,” he said.

White called it another example of poorly laid plans. He said COVID-19 has a 10% mortality rate, and state residents need plans based on science and facts. White said the state Department of Education, the National Guard and essential staff at the state’s schools need to come together and come up with a safe, secure plan for the entire state.

“The safety of our staff and our students is paramount. We need a leader,” White said.

Fred Albert, president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, also criticized the governor. He said union officials were contacted after the governor’s remarks by parents and school employees, who expressed confusion and concerns and had many unanswered questions.

“We recognize the task for reopening our schools is a daunting one, and there are hundreds of variables related to it, but we also need concrete details so families can plan and make decisions,” Albert said.

Albert said parents, teachers, students and school service personnel are longing for normalcy, but they have “legitimate concerns about returning to in-person classes.”

West Virginians deserve a leader who will use news conferences to inform the public and not confuse communities, he said.

Currently, he said union officials do not believe counties will be able to safely reopen on Sept. 8.

Albert said AFT-West Virginia put out a plan in April that is posted on its website that spells out the safe way for the return of school. Under this plan, physical distancing should be maintained until the number of coronavirus cases decline for 14 days. He said infrastructure needs to be in place to trace cases and public health tools need to be deployed to prevent the virus from spreading.