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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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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Debates, Special Elections, and Hot Dog Reviews: A Virginia Gubernatorial Update

With a special election coming on Tuesday for Senate District 38, gubernatorial candidates on both side of the aisle made appearances this week campaigning for Laurie Buchwald (D) and Travis Hackworth (R). But the governor’s race this week also featured hot dog reviews, a Democratic debate, and attacks between candidates.

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Virginia General Assembly Kills Bill to Require Equal Educational Opportunities Across All Schools

After passing in the Senate 34 to one, Senator Bill Stanley’s (R-Franklin County) constitutional amendment to require equitable educational opportunities in all Virginia schools was killed by the House of Delegates Privileges and Elections Committee. Virginia’s constitution requires that free school be provided for all school-aged children. Stanley’s bill SJ 275 would have added a requirement that those schools include “equitable educational opportunities” for all school-aged children.

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Dunnavant’s In-Person Learning Bill Moves out of Committee

The House Education Committee voted Monday to approve changes to Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s (R-Henrico) bill to require schools to provide in-person learning. After passing the Senate with bipartisan support, the House of Delegates Education Committee proposed a substitute that Republicans said would have effectively left the status quo intact. However, Dunnavant worked with the committee to create a new substitute including specific definitions for the in-person requirement, creating a compromise bill that received bipartisan support in the committee. The bill would be effective for the 2021-2022 school year — efforts to give the bill emergency status were shot down.

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General Assembly Votes to Give Virginia Teachers a Raise, Senate Passes In-Person Learning Bills

The House of Delegates and the Senate both voted to give Virginia teachers’ a pay raise in the budget bills passed with bipartisan support Friday. HB 1800, passed 68 to 30, features a five percent teachers’ raise for Fiscal Year 2022, while its counterpart SB 1100, which features a three percent teachers’ raise, passed 31 to eight. The Senate also passed an amendment to the budget that requires schools to provide in-person learning options in 2021-2022; however, the House defeated a similar floor amendment on Friday.

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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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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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