Gov. Ralph Northam calls on schools to make in-person learning available by March 15

Northam made the announcement during Friday’s coronavirus update.

“It’s time to find a path forward to in-person learning,” announced Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday. “Children learn better in classrooms and that’s where they need to be.”

During his coronavirus update on Friday, Northam discussed education across Virginia and the decline in academic performance since the coronavirus pandemic began.

[Where are Virginia’s coronavirus cases? The health department’s interactive map]

The governor is calling on on all school divisions to make in-person learning options available by March 15, 2021, in accordance with the health guidance from the Virginia Department of Education and new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Below is the governor speaking on the matter during Friday’s COVID-19 update:

Gov. Ralph Northam is scheduled to give an update on coronavirus in the commonwealth on Friday.

While it won’t be mandatory for students to attend school in-person by that date, Northam said it needs to be an option available to them.

Northam said the March 15 date is not a mandate, but rather a direction to Virginia’s school divisions.

That date is when options will be in place, not when all students will have to be back in school.

The CDC, Dr. Fauci and President Joe Biden have all said it’s possible to have safe in-person learning, said Northam.

“The health and safety of students, educators, school personnel, and communities continues to be our top priority,” said the governor. “We know that children learn better in classrooms and that going to school is vital for their social-emotional needs and for receiving critical services like meals. It is also important for our youngest learners, students with disabilities, and those with limited access to technology who have struggled most with remote learning. By focusing on mitigation measures, we can provide our kids with safe and equitable learning environments.”

Despite talking Thursday with The Washington Post about a plan to extend the school year into the summer, Northam didn’t mention anything about it in his update until asked about it by a reporter.

Northam said the funding for that type of program would come from CARES Act funding. He said that the state would do everything it could to fund summer learning.

Northam also thanked teachers for what they’ve done during this pandemic and many have taught in-person and navigated the new world of virtual learning.

Franklin County teacher Anthony Swann, Virginia’s teacher of the year, also spoke on Friday.

Stay with WSLS 10 for more on this breaking news story.