U.S. Department of Education Finds Fairfax Schools Didn’t Provide Necessary Services to Students with Disabilities During Remote Learning

The U.S. Department of Education found that Fairfax County Public Schools didn’t take needed steps to ensure that students with disabilities received a legally-guaranteed free appropriate public education (FAPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Based on the evidence obtained through the Division’s documents and data, as well as interviews of administrators, OCR [Office for Civil Rights] found that the Division failed or was unable to provide a FAPE to thousands of qualified students with disabilities in violation of Section 504,” OCR District of Columbia Regional Director Emily Frangos wrote in a Wednesday letter to FCPS Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid.

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Virginia Department of Education Delays Implementation of New Transgender Policies While Trying to Review 71,298 Public Comments

A required minimum 30-day period for the Youngkin administration to review public comment on new draft transgender model policies ended, but the Virginia Department of Education is taking more time to review the 71,298 comments, according to Director of Communications and Constituent Services Charles Pyle.

“The model policies and guidance document has not been finalized and will not be – as stated by Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow – until the department has reviewed all of the comments received during the public comment period,” Pyle told The Virginia Star.

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Virginia Board of Education Asks Youngkin Administration to Combine History and Social Sciences Draft with Previous Draft Begun Under Northam

RICHMOND, Virginia – The Virginia Board of Education voted unanimously to delay advancing a November draft of the History and Social Science Standards of Learning until January, and instructed Superintendent of Public Education Jillian Balow to change the draft to include content from an August draft presented to the BOE.…

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VDOE Releases New Draft of History and Social Science Standards

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has published an updated draft of the History and Social Science Standards ahead of a Thursday Board of Education meeting. Beginning in the summer, Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration called for multiple delays to address technical concerns and to get input from voices that may not have contributed to the document under the previous Democratic administration.

“Every graduate from Virginia’s K-12 schools will possess a robust understanding of the places, people, events and ideas that comprise the history of Virginia, the United States and world civilizations. Our students will learn from the rise and fall of civilizations across time, so that we may pursue and maintain government and economic systems that have led to human achievement. The Virginia standards are grounded in the foundational principles and actions of great individuals who preceded us so that we may learn from them as we strive to maintain our political liberties and personal freedoms and thrive as a nation,” states an introduction to the standards.

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Virginia Department of Education Announces $12 Million in School Security Equipment Grants

Virginia’s schools will get $12 million from the commonwealth’s School Security Equipment Grant program; the money will go to schools in 90 divisions to help purchase security systems including surveillance cameras, two-way radios, visitor ID badges, security card access systems, and radios for buses.

“The systems and equipment purchased through these grants will help school divisions control access to school buildings, respond quickly to emergencies and maintain orderly learning environments for students,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said in a Thursday Virginia Department of Education announcement. “Every student and every teacher should feel safe in their classrooms, during school activities and when traveling to and from school. In many cases, the equipment purchased addresses vulnerabilities identified in annual school security audits.”

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Public Comment on New Transgender Guidelines Ends, But Enactment Delayed for at Least 30 Days

Public comment has ended on the Youngkin administration’s draft transgender model policies, but they won’t go into effect until November 26 at the soonest, and may take longer, according to Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Director of Communications Charles Pyle. “The department’s timeline for finalizing the guidance and model policies…

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Youngkin Backs Delay in History and Social Science Standards Review

Governor Glenn Youngkin said the administration will not be rushed in its review of new history and social science standards, criticizing the previous Democratic administration for lowering the bar in the draft Youngkin’s administration is now changing.

In a press gaggle after a Monday release of National Assessment of Educational Progress scores that show declining performance on reading and math in fourth and eighth grades, Youngkin said, “In the context of what we’ve seen today, I’m glad we’re taking more time, because the standards that have been set by the previous administration who wrote those history standards has shown itself in the results that our kids have demonstrated over testing that has reflected bad decisions over a long period of time.”

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Superintendent Balow Asks Board of Education for More Time on History Standards to Include More Input, Including from Conservative Organizations

RICHMOND, Virginia – Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) needs more time to prepare updated drafts for review of new Historical and Social Sciences Standards and accompanying curriculum frameworks. That’s another delay in approval and implementation of the standards after Balow first asked for more time in August.

“Since the September Board meeting, new board members have raised important concerns and questions about the draft standards. Additionally, we sought reviews by individuals and entities, whose voices had not yet been heard. Meanwhile, VDOE staff has worked diligently, to correct errors, remove repetition, reorder guidance, and edit language so that parents, educators, and students can understand and use the standards document,” Balow said in a Monday memo to the board.

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Virginia Department of Education Selects English-As-Second Language Educator for Teacher of the Year

Spotsylvania middle school English-as-second language [ESL] teacher Fabiana Parker is the 2023 Virginia Teacher of the Year, making her Virginia’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year.

“Teachers play a critical role in the success of every learner and child in Virginia and Fabiana is the best of the best,” Governor Glenn Youngkin said in a Virginia Department of Education press release. “Growing up as an ESL student, Fabiana knows firsthand the challenges her students face. She began her career as an educator as a girl teaching her grandmother to read. She has helped hundreds of students find a path to success by equipping them with the English skills necessary to prosper academically and in life.”

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89 Percent of Virginia Schools Meet Accreditation Standards but Administration Says That Doesn’t Reflect Reality

The Virginia Department of Education released the first accreditation data for schools since COVID-19 began, and 89 percent of Virginia’s districts are fully accredited for the 2022 through 2023 year, three percent less than 92 percent in the 2019 through 2020 period. But Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration isn’t celebrating the relatively small decrease; instead officials say that shows that accreditation standards don’t capture the reality of COVID-19 learning losses.

“These ratings call into question the effectiveness of our accreditation standards in identifying schools where students are struggling to achieve grade-level proficiency,” Superintendent of Public Education Jillian Balow said in a press release announcing the accreditation rate.

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Some Virginia School Districts Concerned About New Transgender Model Policies Draft

Some school districts are already signaling resistance to new draft model policies from the Virginia Department of Education that will repeal current model policies controlling school district transgender policy.

“We want to assure you that Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) will continue its commitment to both implement and develop gender affirming policies for all ACPS students. As a School Board and division, we are concerned with these ‘model policies’ that do not align with our mission, vision and core values to support all students and staff, in particular our core value of ensuring that we provide a welcoming environment for everyone in our school community,” Alexandria City Public Schools said in a letter to students, staff and families.

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Virginia Department of Education Publishes New Draft of Model Policies to Replace Transgender Model Policies

The Virginia Department of Education posted a new draft of model policies to replace the Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students. The draft policies published Friday include an emphasis on parental rights as a major shift away from a current emphasis on protecting students’ gender identity from people, including family, who may not be understanding.

The first point under the Guiding Principles section of the draft states, “Parents have the right to make decisions with respect to their children: Policies shall be drafted to safeguard parents’ rights with respect to their child, and to facilitate the exercise of those rights.”

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Alliance Defending Freedom Requests Injunction Blocking Harrisonburg City School’s Transgender Policy

The Alliance Defending Freedom is seeking a temporary injunction blocking the Harrisonburg City Public School’s transgender policy from going into effect while the conservative legal group’s lawsuit against the district’s school board goes forward.

In June, a group of HCPS parents and students represented by the ADF sued the district over its policy; the plaintiffs are focused on requirements that staff use preferred pronouns and protect students’ privacy from their own parents.

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Qualifying Families Need to Apply for Free School Meals After End of Pandemic-Era Student Meals Provided to All

The Virginia Department of Education is reminding families qualifying for free meals for students to apply for the program after pandemic-era federal provisions for free meals for all students expired at the end of the 2021-2022 school year, meaning that otherwise qualifying families could face charges for meals starting on the first day of school.

“School meals are important sources of nutrition for students and help reduce food insecurity in the Commonwealth,” Superintendent of Public Education Jillian Balow said in a Monday VDOE newsletter. “I urge all families to apply to determine if they qualify. Filling out an application is simple and takes less than 15 minutes.”

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Citing Technical Errors, Virginia Department of Education Delays Review of History Standards

The Youngkin administration asked the Virginia Board of Education to delay reviewing new history and social science standards, a necessary first step that includes public hearings. On Wednesday, in the first meeting with a majority of Youngkin-appointed members, the board agreed to delay accepting the standards for first review until September, although board President Daniel Gecker expressed concern about falling behind on a timeline to approve the standards.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow asked for the delay, saying that would allow the five new Youngkin-appointed members more time to get up to speed and to address technical errors like the accidental omission of language that referred to George Washington as the “Father of Our Country.”

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Virginia Student Assessments Show Improvement but Still Below Pre-COVID Levels

Standards of learning tests (SOL) for the 2021-2022 school year show improvement across most subjects from the previous academic year, but the administration is warning that there’s still an achievement gap compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. In a virtual press conference Thursday, Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) officials said that gap shows the impact of virtual learning.

“The research is becoming clearer and clearer: students whose schools were closed for in-person instruction suffered the most. Being in person for school matters,”  Superintendent of Public Education Jillian Balow said.

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Virginia Education Dept. Says Proposal to Remove Washington, Madison Language from Curriculum Was ‘Error’

The Virginia Department of Education on Tuesday hastily issued a correction after reports circulated that the agency was planning on excising language identifying George Washington as the “Father of our Country” and James Madison as the “Father of the Constitution.”

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Hanover County Public Schools Introduces Restroom Policy Opposed by Transgender Advocates

After refusing to pass a transgender policy required by Virginia law, the Hanover County Public School Board has introduced a proposed transgender policy that, if enacted, will require a written request from both the student and their parents if that student wants to use a restroom or locker room that doesn’t correspond with their biological sex. Under the proposed policy the school board would approve or deny the requests.

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Virginia Colleges, Universities Eager to Establish K-12 Lab Schools

Higher education institutions from across Virginia have begun the initial planning stages to establish K-12 lab schools as they await guidance from the Virginia Department of Education.

More than 30 schools have expressed interest in creating lab schools, which would be public schools run by colleges, universities or other higher education institutions. One of the goals of the program, which was approved by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year, is to connect students with university resources they would not otherwise have access.

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Virginia to Require Schools to Alert Parents of ‘Sexually Explicit Content’ in the Classroom

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is finishing model policies for school districts to give parents notice about lessons featuring “sexually explicit content,” according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

VDOE policy requires schools to post all “sexually explicit content,” including all materials used for the lessons and curriculum, on the school’s website and also requires parents to be alerted at least 30 days before the lessons take place. The policy says it is designed to help parents make decisions for their children “in accordance with their customs, faith and values.”

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Miyares, 22 Other Attorneys General Sue USDA

Attorney General Jason Miyares is one of 23 attorneys general suing the USDA over expanded guidance adding discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity to its application of Title IX rules for the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), which provides federal funding for food assistance programs including school meals.

“The Biden Administration is attempting to use the power of the federal government to force Virginia to choose between nutrition assistance for vulnerable children or advancing an extremist agenda,” Miyares spokesperson Victoria LaCivita said in a statement.

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Virginia ‘Meets Requirements’ for Compliance with Federal Special Education Requirements

Virginia earned the top rating — “Meets Requirements”–  for the 11th consecutive year on a federal report card looking at outcomes for students with disabilities.

“Results-driven accountability looks beyond compliance with the provisions of IDEA [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act] to see whether the efforts of special educators at the state and local levels are actually improving outcomes for students with disabilities. This latest federal rating shows that Virginia’s special educators continue to do just that,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said in a Virginia Department of Education [VDOE] press release. “I think every school in the Commonwealth can take a page from the special education playbook by providing individualized instruction plans and tailored interventions for all students.”

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Alliance Defending Freedom Sues Harrisonburg City Public Schools over Transgender Policy

A group of parents and teachers are suing the Harrisonburg City Public Schools (HCPS) over policies that require teachers to use students’ preferred pronouns and to keep the students’ preference confidential from their family. The plaintiffs are represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has filed several lawsuits against Virginia school districts over transgender- and equity-related policies.

“Parents—not public schools or government officials—have the fundamental right to direct the upbringing, care, and education of their children,” ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Bangert said in a June 4 press release. “Teachers and staff cannot willfully hide kids’ mental health information from their parents, especially as some of the decisions children are making at school have potentially life-altering ramifications. As the clients we represent believe, a teacher’s role is to support, not supplant, the role of the parent.”

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Youngkin and Virginia Department of Education Release Report on Virginia’s Achievement Gaps

RICHMOND, Virginia – Governor Glenn Youngkin’s education administration released a report on the heading of Virginia’s education. The release of the report is a major moment for Youngkin, who came to power riding a wave of parental frustration with education.

“Today is a moment in time for all of us to recognize we must change direction,” Youngkin said in the press conference. “We are not serving all of Virginia’s children and we must. We want to be the best in education. We should be the best in education. And the data that was compiled ans shared with you today suggests that we have a lot of work to do to be the best.”

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Virginia Association of Superintendents Criticizes Youngkin Administration’s Removal of Equity Materials

Glenn Youngkin standing at podium

The Virginia Association of School Superintendents released a letter on behalf of Virginia’s 133 division superintendents criticizing Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow after the Youngkin administration published Balow’s 30-day report on steps taken to remove divisive concepts. The letter says superintendents should have been consulted, and the removal of many equity-related materials, with an administration emphasis on equitable opportunities, not outcomes, could be harmful.

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Superintendent of Public Education Balow Publishes Report on VDOE Material Removed for ‘Inherently Divisive Concepts’

Virginia’s new education administration has removed many of the equity training materials that used to be on the Virginia Department of Education website, according to a report from Superintendent of Public Education Jillian Balow. The removals and the report were ordered by Governor Glenn Youngkin in his first executive order, aimed at removing “inherently divisive concepts” from public education. That was a measure to fulfill a campaign promise to ban Critical Race Theory (CRT), but the order and subsequent actions go beyond material that explicitly references CRT.

“This interim report rescinds certain policies, programs, and resources that promote discriminatory and divisive concepts as directed by Executive Order One. It also contains a sampling of critical race theory-based materials,” Balow wrote in a letter accompanying the report.

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Virginia Scraps Critical Race Theory Program Critics Said Would Have Destroyed Math Education

Students in class, listening to the teacher at the front of the room

A state plan to abolish teaching advanced math in public schools that was seen as a means of implementing Critical Race Theory (CRT) was canceled Monday, according to a parents group.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDoE) has shut down the Virginia Math Pathways Initiative (VMPI), according to a message that flashed briefly on the website before taking people to the main mathematics instruction page on the VDoE site, Parents Defending Education said.

“The Virginia Department of Education has ended the Virginia Math Pathways Initiative (VMPI) project. Please see the Mathematics Instruction page, if your browser does not refresh,” the message on the site reads.

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Amid Legal Doubt over Youngkin Mask Opt-Out Order, Virginia Departments of Health and Education Emphasize Parents, Officials Share Responsibility for COVID-19 Mitigation

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Department of Education (VDOE) updated their guidelines to reflect Governor Glenn Youngkin’s mask-mandate opt-out order. The new guidance downplays masks and says COVID-19 risk reduction is a shared responsibility between parents and officials.

“These three core principles found in Executive Order 2 reaffirm: 1. Parents are in charge of their children’s health, wellbeing and education, 2. Schools must be open five days a week for in-person learning, and 3. The Commonwealth and school divisions must provide a safe and healthy school environment,” the new guidance states.

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Virginia Teacher Fired for Refusing to Wear Mask

The Chesterfield County School Board agreed to fire government and history teacher Stephen Roszell for insubordination after he declined to comply with a state-wide mask mandate for teachers. Roszell told The Virginia Star that he would have complied with a local mask mandate from his employer since Virginia is a right-to-work state. However, he sees Governor Ralph Northam’s public health order as an overreach of executive power. He’s also concerned about federal stimulus funds sent to school districts influencing their policy.

“I teach about federalism in history and government, and this is a direct payment essentially from the federal government through the Virginia Department of Education to [Local Education Agencies (LEA)],” Roszell said. “This money is coming directly from the federal government, and localities must follow all the CDC guidelines through 2023.”

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Youngkin Campaign Responds to McAuliffe’s Denial of CRT in Virginia Schools

Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin

The gubernatorial campaign for Republican Glenn Youngkin responded to former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, running for his second nonconsecutive term in that office, who once again denied that Critical Race Theory (CRT) is being taught in schools in Virginia. 

“Virginians know that Terry McAuliffe doesn’t have the best interests of parents and students in mind,” Youngkin spokesman Christian Martinez told The Virginia Star. “McAuliffe wants to keep parents out of the classroom so his special interest allies can force their radical political agenda into classrooms and tell children what to think instead of teaching them how to think. As governor, Glenn Youngkin will empower parents, ban critical race theory, restore excellence in our public schools, and raise teacher pay.”

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Virginia Schools Grapple with Bus Driver Shortage Exacerbated by the Pandemic

Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) announced a starting pay increase from $17.21 to $20.21 per hour to attract bus drivers amid a national bus driver shortage. That combines with an already-in place $3,000 bonus, and was made possible by additional funding from Chesterfield County, the school and the county announced Monday.

“A national school bus driver shortage has led to transportation challenges at the start of the 2021-22 school year. Chesterfield school bus drivers are working long hours and driving multiple routes to get students to and from school, but dozens of school buses are sitting idle because of a lack of drivers,” a CCPS press release said.

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Virginia Schools 2020-2021 Standard of Learning Tests Results Unsurprisingly Low

Virginia’s 2020-2021 standards of learning (SOL) pass rates are low: 69.34 percent for reading, 54.18 percent for mathematics, and 59.45 percent for science, according to Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) data released Thursday. The VDOE emphasizes that those results are due to COVID-19 and related factors, and followed national trends.

“Pass rates reflect disruptions to instruction caused by the pandemic, decreased participation in state assessment programs, pandemic-related declines in enrollment, fewer retakes, and more flexible ‘opt-out’ provisions for parents concerned about community spread of COVID-19,” the VDOE said.

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Chesapeake School Board Chooses Not to Pass Transgender Policy

The Chesapeake Public Schools Board declined to even vote on passing a transgender policy in its Monday meeting. After hours of public comment advocating for and against both mask policy and the transgender policy, Member Patricia King’s motion to pass the policy died without being seconded by any other board member.

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Some Virginia Schools Temporarily Close or Go Virtual When Dealing with COVID-19 Cases

Virginia public schools are reopening under a new law, SB 1303, which requires all schools to make in-person instruction available for the minimum standard required instructional hours — virtual learning can be provided, but must be optional. However, that doesn’t mean that local districts can’t choose to go virtual-only for limited amounts of time, as Rappahanock County Public Schools is currently demonstrating. On Monday, the district announced that amid rising COVID-19 and flu cases, the school was moving to virtual-only until August 27 while the district implements new mitigation strategies.

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Court Dismisses Lawsuits over Virginia Department of Education’s Model Transgender Policies

Lynchburg Circuit Court Judge J. Frederick Watson dismissed lawsuits challenging the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) model transgender policies. In the decision published Tuesday, Watson found that the plaintiffs the Christian Action Network (CAN) and the Founding Freedoms Law Center (FFLC) do not have standing. The plaintiffs had argued that the VDOE improperly responded to public comments.

“VDOE contends that the appellants are not aggrieved by the model policies, which are directed not at the appellants but at the local school boards, which have flexibility to fashion policies consistent with the model policies,” Watson’s decision states. “In these cases, the appellants do not have standing to challenge the model policies. Their dissatisfaction with VDOE’s response to their comments does not create an immediate, pecuniary, or substantial interest in this litigation, but only a remote or indirect interest.”

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Gov. Northam Proposes $250 Million ARPA Allocation to Fund HVAC Upgrades for Virginia Schools

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam

Governor Ralph Northam is proposing that Virginia legislators use $250 million of Virginia’s American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds for HVAC upgrades in the Commonwealth’s schools. He announced the proposal on Monday, a week before the Virginia General Assembly is scheduled to meet to allocate the ARPA funds.

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Family Foundation Lawsuit over Virginia Transgender Policy Has Hearing for Injunction

Two organizations asked the Lynchburg Circuit Court to issue a preliminary injunction against the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) temporarily blocking implementation of legally-mandated transgender policies in school boards across Virginia. On Wednesday, they argued that while a lawsuit over the policy proceeds, school boards are implementing the policies which, they said, could be harmful to children.

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Virginia Department of Health Recommends Local School Districts Require Masks in Elementary Schools

New guidance from the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Education asks local divisions to implement their own mask guidelines based on the local COVID-19 environment.

The guidance doesn’t include mandatory policies for the whole Commonwealth, but does recommend requiring masks for everyone in elementary schools regardless of vaccination status until vaccines are available for children under 12. They also recommend that middle- and high-school staff and students should wear masks if not vaccinated.

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Some School Boards Oppose Virginia Transgender Policy Mandate; Enforcement, Consequences Unclear

As culture war issues spread through public hearings at Virginia’s school board meetings, school boards are starting to oppose adopting new transgender policies mandated by state law. Amid complaints and demands from public speakers, the Pittsylvania County Schools (PCS) Board voted four to three on Tuesday to reject adopting the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools.

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Botetourt School Board Disavows Critical Race Theory

The Botetourt County Public Schools (BCPS) Board disavowed Critical Race Theory (CRT) in its July 8 meeting, saying CRT was not being taught in the school. After public comment, Chair Anna Weddle read a statement supported by all five board members.

“[BCPS] has not and will not be teaching [CRT]. The term is not mentioned in standards, nor in curriculum. This includes the current standards and those standards that will be taught beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. Collectively, we do not support [CRT] in K-12 education in Botetourt County,” the statement said.

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Youngkin Nearly Tied with McAuliffe in New Poll; DPVA and RPV Attack Each Other’s Candidates

The Virginia gubernatorial race is neck-and-neck, according to a new poll. 46 percent of respondents support former Governor Terry McAuliffe and 42 percent support GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin, with a 4.2 percent margin of error. The phone poll of 550 likely voters was conducted by JMC Analytics from June 9-12, and was commissioned by CNalysis with funds from 141 donors.

House of Delegates races are even closer. The poll found that 44 percent would support a Democratic candidate for House and 43 percent would support a Republican candidate. Democrats have stronger leads in the Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor elections.

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Commentary: Virginia Can’t Seem to Make up Its Mind About Its New Math Curriculum

Classroom of students with teacher at blackboard

What the heck is going on with the Virginia Department of Education?

A little over a week ago reports surfaced that the state would be doing away with advanced math classes for all grades except 11 and 12.

But then reports came out noting the state’s education chief disputed those reports, saying “absolutely acceleration is not going away in mathematics courses.”

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Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative Draws Concern Over Lowering Academic Standards

A proposed Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative (VMPI) has Republicans concerned after Loudoun County School Board member Ian Serotkin warned about the plan on Facebook, first reported by Fox News. Serotkin wrote that there are some good things in the initiative, like enabling students to take calculus in high school. But Serotkin also warned that the VMPI would end math acceleration before 11th grade.

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Cox Calls for Small-Group and Individual Tutoring to Address Learning Loss

Gubernatorial candidate Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) agrees that schools need to be reopened immediately. But he says that’s not enough — policymakers need to address learning losses. Districts like Fairfax County have reported spikes in failing grades. Parents and medical studies have expressed concern over the long-term harms caused by a year of virtual learning. Cox is calling for tutoring programs to help students recover academically, and he says he is willing to be one of those tutors.

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Virginia Department of Education Announces Guidelines for Reopening Schools

The Virginia Department of Education announced a new set of guidelines for school reopening, the result of a workgroup created in February. The guidelines include recommendations for remediating learning loss, note that virtual learning doesn’t work for every students, calls for special attention for vulnerable populations, and say that more staff may be needed to keep student-teacher ratios low.

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Virginia Family Foundation Sues over New Transgender Public School Guidelines

The Family Foundation is suing the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) over its Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools. The model policies took effect March 6, 2021, and school boards must adopt policies consistent with the model by the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. However, the Family Foundation says there are legal problems with the policies and that the VDOE did not properly address comments made during a legally required public comment phase.

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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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Virginia Teachers Union President Calls for All-Virtual Learning Until School Staff get Vaccinated

Virginia Education Association (VEA) president James Fedderman wants public schools in the Commonwealth to go to fully virtual learning until teachers and school staff receive vaccinations to stop the spread coronavirus in schools.

Fedderman asked the governor and school leaders around the state to facilitate the instructional switch in a video published to the VEA website on Friday.

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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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83 Percent Increase in Middle and High School Students Earning ‘F’ Grades in at Least Two Classes in Fairfax

A Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) study found an 83 percent increase in middle and high school students earning ‘F’ grades in two or more classes. The study compared Quarter One 2020-2021 results to Quarter One 2019-2020, and coincided with COVID-19 virtual learning. Last school year, six percent of the students earned ‘F’ grades in two or more classes; that increased to 11 percent in the latest results.

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