House committee approves legislation mandating in-person instruction

House committee approves legislation mandating in-person instruction
Virginia Capitol. (Source: Capital News Service)

RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - A House of Delegates committee has approved legislation that calls for a return to in-person learning before the start of the next school year.

Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico) and Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg (D-Henrico) have been working to craft a compromise and build bipartisan support for the measure, which would take effect on July first.

Senate Bill 1303 requires in-person instruction but includes exceptions if a school is experiencing a COVID outbreak. Parents can also opt-out.

“No longer is there a conflict about do we or do we not open, and what are the excuses for not opening,” Dunnavant told WDBJ7 in a phone interview Monday morning. “Now the conversation gets to be we’re opening, let’s all get together and find a way to do it and build confidence and consensus.”

“It certainly tilts the dynamic into a posture of five days a week school,” VanValkenburg explained to members of the House Education Committee, “but it has the guardrails if that’s not possible because of a COVID outbreak, for example.”

The measure received support from the President of the Virginia Education Association and opposition from representatives of the Virginia School Boards Association.

The committee defeated an emergency clause that would have enacted the new requirement immediately upon approval.

The final vote was 17 to 3.

The legislation will reach the floor of the House later this week.

Copyright 2021 WDBJ. All rights reserved.