Gov. Ralph Northam announced his support for reopening schools during a COVID-19 update Friday morning.
“Children learn better in classrooms, and that’s where they need to be,” he said.
He announced he expects all school divisions to make in-person learning options available by Mar. 15 in accordance with the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines announced last week.
Citing new data that suggests schools do not have the same rapid spread seen in other congregate settings, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said safely reopening schools was not dependent on teachers receiving vaccinations during a White House news briefing.
“That tells us it’s time to find a path forward to in-person learning,” Northam said.
Northam also cited Dr. Anthony Fauci and President Joe Biden in saying it’s possible to reopen schools safely.
Northam added schools should include plans to offer summer school options to give students the opportunity to catch up, but this is not mandatory.
While this announcement was not a mandate to reopen schools, Northam said it was a direction.
Most school divisions in the state have been offering some form of in-person learning; however, about 40 districts, including several in the Hampton Roads area, have been all-virtual.
He also added funding to extend the school year would come from the CARES act as well as revenue at the state level.
“We realize that there are anxieties out there,” he said. “But at the same time we need to move toward getting our children back in school, and we’re going to do it as safely, responsibly, and equitably as we can,” he said.
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