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News to Know for Sept. 8: Confederate monument comes down; More kids head back to school; Severe storms possible today

The statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is bathed in the late sun on Monument Avenue in...
The statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is bathed in the late sun on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va., Monday, Sept. 6, 2021. The statue is scheduled to be removed by the state Wednesday, Sept. 8, after a ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)(Steve Helber | AP)
Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 6:19 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2021 at 6:31 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Here’s a quick look at our top headlines on this historic day for the city of Richmond.

First Alert Weather Day

Strong to severe thunderstorms are possible Wednesday afternoon into the evening.

It will start out dry and mostly sunny with high temperatures in the mid to upper 80s. That heat and humidity could fuel severe storms from 3 p.m. to midnight.

Any strong storms Wednesday could bring damaging wind gusts, frequent lightning and localized downpours.

Why is Today Historic?

The country’s largest Confederate monument still standing is set to come down on Richmond’s Monument Avenue.

The Robert E. Lee statue will be removed in a few hours following more than a year of legal battles after Governor Northam’s decision to remove it in the wake of George Floyd’s death. As the statue continued to stand, covered in graffiti, it became a centerpiece in a society tied up in civil unrest.

A photo of the Robert E. Lee monument, complete with graffiti and a projection of George Floyd,...
A photo of the Robert E. Lee monument, complete with graffiti and a projection of George Floyd, graces the cover of the January 2021 issue of National Geographic.(NBC12)

Crews will begin removing the 12-ton bronze statue with a crane around 9 a.m. Lee and his horse will be put on the ground and cut into pieces for transport. The 40-foot granite pedestal will stay for now.

The public can watch the process nearby - gates for that area will open at 8 a.m. on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Of course, many roads will be closed in the area. Click here to see the map.

Time Capsule Contents

After Lee is removed, a new time capsule will be placed by the pedestal tomorrow.

Before that happens, we got a sneak peek at what will be going inside of it: a vaccination card, a photo of a Black ballerina in front of the statue, a Black Lives Matter sticker and even a special edition of the National Geographic magazine with the iconic photo of George Floyd’s picture being projected onto the statue following his death.

Take a look:

How Long Did it Stand?

More than 130 years. And planning began just hours after Lee died.

The statue was unveiled in 1890 to a crowd of 150,000 people - more than the population of Richmond at the time.

Developing the neighborhood around it didn’t come until nearly 20 years later. We covered the full history of the monument in our podcast How We Got Here:

Watch it Live from Home

You can watch the historic moment live on NBC12 and all our digital platforms, including Roku and Amazon Fire.

More Students Back to School

Summer break is officially coming to a close with the final students in central Virginia heading back to the classroom today.

All Richmond and Henrico schools are kicking off the new year. For many, it is their first time back in school since the pandemic began.

In Henrico County, students and parents may experience a longer wait time for the school bus. A national shortage of school bus drivers has plagued the district and other localities. Henrico Schools has increased wages and offered monetary incentives to attract new bus drivers.

Strict COVID protocols are in place to prevent the spread of COVID. Masks will be required in all school buildings in Richmond as well as Henrico, where an overwhelming majority of students have chosen to return to in-person learning.

Parents and guests are asked not to enter any of the school buildings to prevent the spread of COVID as much as possible before the school year starts.

COVID in the Classroom

In Chesterfield County, just more than two weeks into the new school year, the district is now reporting almost 400 cases of coronavirus.

The school’s dashboard shows there have been 389 cases since Aug. 23. More than 330 of those cases are among students.

Don’t live in Chesterfield? Here’s how you can track cases at your child’s school.

What About Across the State?

COVID-19 cases continue to climb at a steady rate across the commonwealth. Another 2,000 cases were reported in the last 24 hours, and the positivity rate remained steady at 10 percent.

Hospitalizations are also climbing, now at almost 2,000. Plus, 18 more Virginians have died from the virus.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Virginia Department of Health said the mu variant has been detected in low numbers in all health regions within Virginia. VDH also adds a majority of the sequenced samples continue to be the delta variant and its sublineages.

Recycling Delays Continue

Driver and worker shortages continue causing problems for recycling collections.

It first started in Chesterfield, but now residents in Ashland, Hanover, Henrico and Richmond are finding their bins still full after their assigned pick-up days.

Central Virginia Waste Management Authority says “Blue Friday” collections should now be completed, while “Red Monday” collections are delayed until today.

You are urged to leave your recycling bin out until crews come, or you can take your recycling to a drop-off location.

Folk Festival Needs Help!

We’re less than a month away from the Richmond Folk Festival, and they’re still in need of volunteers!

There are a variety of volunteer areas that are opening. Sign up and learn more about positions here.

This will be the 17th anniversary of the festival which features a variety of American cultures through music, dance, traditional crafts, story-telling and food.

Final Thought

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new” -Socrates

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