Richmond leaders provide update on city’s response to COVID-19, upcoming virtual school year

City leaders address rise in COVID-19 cases, upcoming virtual school year

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Mayor Stoney, Dr. Danny Avula and Superintendent Jason Kamras held a press conference Wednesday on the city’s response to COVID-19.

Mayor Stoney announced that the city plateaued in the number of cases, but it did see a slight increase, after a decline in June. He adds that Central Virginia has hit its goal of percent positivity of cases staying well under 10%.

The increase in cases corresponded with the Phase Three reopening with more people out and about, “giving an opportunity to transmit from person-to-person,” said the Health District.

“We would expect, after an incubation of about seven to nine days, that we would see a bump in disease,” said Health District Director, Dr. Danny Avula.

Richmond leaders provide update on city’s response to COVID-19

He adds that the city’s number of cases went up from 15 new cases per day to 25. The mayor recommended keeping up with health guidelines, adding that he would request a rollback on reopening plans in the city from Governor Ralph Northam if need be.

“I will not hesitate if, in consultation with the state and with Dr. Avula, that the data shows that we are seeing a tremendous spike that causes some concern, we will do what’s necessary to put public health first,” Stoney said.

And “health” was the motivating factor behind Richmond Public School’s decision to go all virtual for the upcoming fall semester, which Superintendent Jason Kamras called “the hardest decision in my 25 years in public education.”

Kamras said this coming fall would be like a regular school year, complete with graded assignments, reports cards and attendance, just done remotely. He says the school district is committed to getting Google Chromebooks in the hands of all 16,000 students, and to properly training staff “how to teach in a virtual environment, and how to keep kids engaged.”

Critics of the upcoming virtual school semester cite potential issues with parents who may have trouble finding childcare during the week, but Kamras says the district is already working to ease the minds of those parents.

“Working with partners like the YMCA, with the philanthropic community, [Department of] Parks and Recreation to try to figure out a way to support our working families, to see if there is a ‘One Richmond’ approach to childcare,” he said.

Kamras added that the school’s meals program would continue throughout the fall.

The mayor also mentioned a $250,000 grant from the Open Society Foundation to offer rental assistance to non-citizen households or households with mixed-immigrant status.

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