Albemarle County Schools to Offer Optional Virtual Learning Alongside In-Person Learning in 2021-2022

Alongside five-days-a-week in-person instruction, Albemarle County is planning to offer an optional all-virtual school for elementary, middle, and high school students for the 2021-2022 school year. The virtual school will have its own principal and teachers, according to an Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) press release.

“My recommendation will be that our school board approve this plan as the default unless, of course, circumstances materially change,” ACPS Superintendent Matthew Haas said in the press release.

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Bipartisan Effort to Create an In-Person Learning Bill Slowly Moving Through the Virginia General Assembly

Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s (R-Henrico) SB 1303 requiring schools to provide both in-person and virtual learning options is still moving through the House of Delegates, but slowly. Dunnavant’s bill earned bipartisan support in the Senate, thanks in part to support from Senators Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) and Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond.) But a House Education subcommittee initially introduced several amendments to the bill that would effectively leave the status quo intact, prompting opposition from House Republicans

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State Senators Dunnavant, Petersen Call for Education Reserve Corps to Address Looming School Staffing Shortage in Virginia

Citing school staffing shortages, Senators Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) and Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico) are proposing the creation of an Education Reserve Corps in Virginia.

“As we’ve known, other than getting people vaccinated and keeping them alive, the most important issue, and we’ve been consistent about this, is reopening schools,” Petersen said on the Senate floor on Monday. He pointed to staffing parallels in the medical field.

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Governor Northam Wants Virginia Schools to Provide In-Person Option by March 15

Governor Ralph Northam wants Virginia’s schools to provide in-person learning options by March 15, one year and two days after first ordering schools to close on March 13, 2020. On Friday, the governor sent a letter to school districts instructing them to provide in-person options and encouraged the schools to develop learning-loss mitigation strategies.

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Two New Dashboards Offer COVID Data for Virginia’s Colleges and Universities

Two new online dashboards have recently been launched to help provide awareness and track the spread of the coronavirus at Virginia’s colleges and universities as many institutions in the Commonwealth have already begun or are starting in-person classes soon.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) launched its COVID-19 Outbreaks in Virginia Higher Education dashboard roughly two weeks ago.

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Legislation Requiring Virginia School Divisions to Offer In-Person Learning Option Advances in Senate

Legislation that would require local school divisions in Virginia to make in-person learning available to all students advanced out of the Senate Education and Health Committee on Thursday with some bipartisan support.

Senate Bill 1303, introduced by Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico), just barely passed out of the committee by an 8-7 vote. All six Republicans voted in favor of the bill and two Democrats joined, while the rest of the committee members opposed.

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Henrico Public Schools Delays In-person Learning for All Grades Due to COVID-19 Numbers

Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) on Tuesday announced that it is delaying in-person learning for all grade levels indefinitely because of local coronavirus numbers, just a week after pushing back the return to classrooms for elementary school students.

In an online message to families, Superintendent Amy Cashwell initially said the delay had to do with the school division’s nurses being pulled away from their regular duties to assist in administering vaccinations for teachers and other Virginians included within Phase 1b of the state’s plan.

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Bipartisan Group of Senators Call for Governor to Reopen Virginia’s Schools

Three Virginia state Senators called for Governor Ralph Northam on Wednesday to reopen public schools across the Commonwealth and mandate in-person learning as an option for families struggling with virtual instruction. 

Just hours before the General Assembly kicked off its 2021 session, Senators Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond City), Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico) and Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City) held a press conference to discuss the matter.

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COVID-19 Accelerates Harrisonburg City Schools Plan to Increase Outdoor Learning

COVID-19 is accelerating Harrisonburg City Schools’ push for more outdoor classrooms. At a school board meeting Tuesday, Superintendent Michael Richards said outdoor classrooms would provide more space for safe in-person classes. But Richards said the plan isn’t just a temporary plan to solve a problem caused by the pandemic.

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Henrico Public Schools Delay Return to In-Person Learning Because of COVID

Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) announced on Tuesday that the division is delaying the return to in-person learning for pre-kindergarten and elementary school students until the end of January because of the area’s current COVID-19 numbers.

HCPS Superintendent Amy Cashwell made the announcement and discussed the subsequent changes to the timeline for returning to the classroom in an online message to families.

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Virginia Teachers Union Calls for Statewide Virtual Instruction Until Mid-January

The Virginia Education Association (VEA) is calling for all public schools in the Commonwealth to switch to virtual instruction for the next month because of the recent rise in COVID-19 numbers throughout the state. 

VEA President Dr. James Fedderman issued the statement online Thursday. 

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No In-Person Classes in Virginia’s Capital: Richmond Public Schools to Remain Virtual for Spring Semester

Richmond Public Schools (RPS) will continue with virtual learning only for the rest of the 2020-21 academic year.

During a Monday night meeting, the RPS School Board voted 8-1 to keep students away from the classroom for another several months after Superintendent Jason Kamras gave a presentation and recommended the school district remain virtual.

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Fairfax County Delays Return to Classroom for Latest Group of Students

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is delaying the return to in-person instruction for thousands of younger students, Superintendent Scott Braband announced in a letter to parents and staff on Monday.

The largest school system in Virginia had planned to send 6,800 pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and special education students (Group 5) back to school on Tuesday, but decided to put the move on pause because the current community health metrics for coronavirus cases are exceeding the threshold to expand in-person education, according to Braband.

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Parents and Members of Loudoun County Republican Women’s Club Protest Distance Learning

A gathering of parked cars blared their horns as dusk fell over the parking lot. Parents arrived once more on a Tuesday evening to protest against distance learning at the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) board meeting.

After parents finished honking, they joined the meeting so that they can speak to the board directly. November 10th marked the fourth “Honk for Back-to-School” that parents and community members have attended. These individuals continue to protest the total distance learning at LCPS. 

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Henrico Public Schools Adopt Return to Classes Plan, Say Families Must Make Year-long Commitment

The Henrico County School Board adopted a plan last week allowing an optional return to classrooms for younger students later this fall and older students in early 2021, but at a town hall meeting on Tuesday school leaders said whichever choice families make, either virtual or in-person learning, will be a year-long commitment.

While answering submitted questions from parents, Dr. Thomas Ferrell Jr., Henrico director of high school education, brought up the stipulation that families’ choice of learning model would be binding, except for specific instances.

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VCU To Students: Zoom Time – No In Person Classes

As the fall semester begins to enter its final weeks, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) announced Thursday that the spring 2021 term will look very similar with most classes online and schoolwide health and safety protocols still enforced.

VCU president Michael Rao published an online message to students Thursday providing an update for the upcoming semester and highlighting some of the changes being made.

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Newport News Public Schools Superintendent Delays Students’ Return to Classrooms

The Newport News Public Schools (NNPS) superintendent George Parker announced Tuesday that he was postponing the plan that would have brought students back to the classroom for the first time since March.

The delay comes after the Newport News School Board voted 5-2 during its meeting last week to allow for a phased return to in-person instruction for K-12 students.

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JMU Students Have Returned to Campus and Resumed In-Person Classes Again

Students at James Madison University (JMU) resumed in-person classes on Monday after spending almost a month away from campus learning virtually because of a significant rise in COVID-19 cases and inadequate isolation/quarantine spaces.

At the beginning of September, university president Jonathan Alger announced JMU was temporarily sending most on-campus students home and switching to virtual instruction. Now, students are back at the Harrisonburg, Virginia campus to give the 2020 fall semester another shot.

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VCU Poll: Four in Ten Virginians Not Likely to Get COVID-19 Vaccine – If They Want It

A new statewide poll released and conducted by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) offers a glimpse at the opinions of Virginians on two separate policy issues: COVID-19 vaccines and in-person education. 

The Survey of 804 adults, age 18 or older, living in Virginia was conducted between August 28 and September 7 using telephone interviews.

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