Northam: All Virginia public schools must have in-person learning options by March 15

Northam: All Virginia public schools must have in-person learning options by March 15

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia’s governor says students should be back in the classroom in some shape or form by March 15.

“It’s critical to prevent greater learning loss and to support our children’s health and wellbeing,” said Governor Ralph Northam, (D) Virginia

Friday, Northam put public school divisions on notice to come up with a plan within the next month to start the return process.

The move comes after the CDC issued guidance last week indicating students and teachers can safely return to school during the pandemic.

“Our students need some form of in-person instruction. As a current classroom teacher I am on the front lines of education, all while serving children during a pandemic,” said Anthony Swan, Virginia Board of Education Member.

About 40 school divisions across the state are affected. In Central Virginia, that includes the City of Petersburg, which was set to be virtual until April 1 with a new school board decision expected in March, and the City of Richmond, which committed to remaining virtual for the rest of the school year.

Prior to now, school divisions have been allowed to make their own calls on how to handle the situation.

With a learning deficit, school divisions will also have the option of year-long learning in some form.

“It will look different in every school district and every school division. Some of our school divisions have been open five days a week since August, and what their students need to do in terms of extra time will be vastly different than in communities that have had no in-person learning up until March 15,” said James Lane, Virginia Secretary of Education.

Some of those options including adding days to the school calendar and adding more time to the actual school day.

A workgroup called “Virginia Learns” is just coming together to look at all options for divisions on learning recovery and remediation.

“Our children need to catch up to be ready for learning in the fall. I want our schools to do this safely, and I want them to prioritize students who need this the most,” said Northam.

Teachers have voiced concerns about going back in the classroom because they aren’t vaccinated yet.

Northam said he hopes over the next month, that will improve and teachers will feel safe.

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