RICHMOND, Va. – As the coronavirus continues ravaging the Commonwealth, Governor Ralph Northam is announcing new guidelines to address a struggling side effect of the pandemic: education.
“...Children are hurting right now. Families are hurting,” said Northam.
The Virginia Department of Education issued guidance to get kids back in the classroom.
“The intent of this guidance is to give school divisions the opportunity to prepare for the coming weeks” said Dr. James Lane, Virginia superintendent of public instruction.
The steps to guide school reopening decisions center around how well each school can implement prevention strategies, outbreaks in schools, COVID-19 rates in the surrounding community, and understanding capacity and populations needing in-person instruction the most.
A big key to pulling it all off: vaccines.
Teachers are included in priority group 1b, whose members are starting to get vaccinated across the state. There are plans to ramp up distribution with mass clinics launching in the coming weeks.
“Whether it be to get our children back in school as soon as we can, or modifying the summer months to add more days to the school calendar, which is something that we’re seriously looking at, we all need to collectively get our children back in school and that’s where they need to be for a lot of different reasons,” said Northam.
It’s up to each district to develop its own reopening plan. It won’t happen overnight, but education leaders hope school boards will start making plans now.
With good mitigation strategies, they say they know we can reopen schools safely.