News to Know for Nov. 16: Extended year calendar options; Hopewell school safety; Vaccine boosters for all adults

Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 6:40 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2021 at 6:42 AM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Take a look at our top headlines before you start the day!

Sunny, A Little Warm

Temperatures will get much warmer midweek, but more chilly air arrives to end the week and weekend.

Today will be partly to mostly sunny. Highs in the mid to upper 50s.

RPS Extended Year Calendars

During the school board meeting on Nov. 15, Superintendent Jason Kamras presented three options for extending the school year. This comes after division leaders say new data shows only 35% of third through eighth graders are at grade level for reading.

Option A would add 10 extra days to the school year and would also give teachers more time to create lesson plans. The school year would begin on Aug. 15.

(Richmond Public Schools)

Option B is the same as the first, however, the start of the school year would begin on Aug. 22, and would let students out on June 30.

Option C would keep the current amount of days students and teachers are in school but add 14 intersession days, which are one-week periods between quarters where students could get extra help.

A list of all the options will be sent out to families in a survey that they will get the week after Thanksgiving. Board members will use that information and responses from multiple information sessions, to make a final decision in January.

Violations At Puppy Breeding Facility

A controversial beagle breeding facility in Cumberland is once again the subject of state and federal scrutiny after an inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture uncovered more than 300 puppy deaths attributed to “unknown causes” over a six-month period this year, with the agency faulting the facility for dangerous housing, inadequate veterinary care and a lack of recordkeeping.

The deaths were only one component of a July visit that found dozens of animal safety violations and critical deficiencies in the facility’s operations.

Beagles enclosed in kennels at a breeding facility owned by Envigo in Cumberland, Virginia....
Beagles enclosed in kennels at a breeding facility owned by Envigo in Cumberland, Virginia. Federal regulators and animal welfare groups have uncovered critical violations within the facility, including hundreds of puppy deaths with no causes listed.(People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)

A second report, completed after the same inspection, detailed a host of additional violations, including more than a dozen dogs with health problems including severe dental disease, skin lesions and eye infections.

Inspectors found hundreds of puppies and adult dogs housed in kennels where the temperature exceeded 85 degrees for hours with no way of cooling the building.

Trial Underway For VCU Employee Murder

A three-day trial is now underway for the man charged with raping and killing a VCU employee inside her home.

Suzanne Fairman, 53, was found dead in the bathtub of her Stratford Hills home in May 2019.

Thomas Clark.
Thomas Clark.(Source: Henrico County Jail)

Thomas Clark, who was hired as a contractor to stain Fairman’s deck, was arrested a week after the murder. Clark was indicted on murder, rape and abduction charges.

Vaccine Booster Expansion

By Thanksgiving, the state’s vaccine coordinator says a half-million Virginians could be eligible for Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster, up from the 2.9 now million already eligible.

Last week, Pfizer submitted new data to the FDA about expanding booster eligibility. Right now, you can only get a Pfizer COVID-19 booster if you are: 65 and older, 18 and older with an underlying medical condition, or work in a high-risk setting.

Health district now providing booster shots for all 3 vaccines
Health district now providing booster shots for all 3 vaccines

Dr. Avula is hopeful that approval comes by Thanksgiving to protect those with waning immunity because they got their vaccine months ago.

Avula said the state is in an excellent position for the next chapter in the vaccine rollout between pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and vaccine clinics.

Vaccines In Dinwiddie

Kids in Dinwiddie will have an opportunity to get their COVID-19 vaccines and flu shots at Dinwiddie High School.


Students, staff and family members who are 5 years of age or older can get their first, second or third COVID-19 shot. Anyone younger than 18 years old must be with a parent or guardian.

A clinic will be set up inside the high school from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Safety At Hopewell Schools’

New safety measures will soon be in place in Hopewell’s schools. The decision came at a school board meeting Monday, where leaders said now is the time to make changes, following three acts of violence in as many weeks, including students bringing guns onto school grounds.

Leaders decided there should be more of a police presence at schools. They want to reinstate an officer at Woodson Middle School after leaving due to a police shortage. School leaders say they’d love to see more than the two student resource officers at Hopewell High.


Hopewell is also looking at expanding and referring more students to alternative schools if the offense warrants it. There will be a text-a-tip and reward hotline for anyone to report crimes.

The district also promises to notify parents now every time a student brings certain weapons to school.

School Meal Adjustments

Supply chain issues are forcing Brunswick County Schools to adjust school meals.

The district says it is dealing with delivery issues and shortages with food and paper.


As a result, the district says it will try to provide students with hot meals three to four times a week, but students should expect cold options like sandwiches and salads one to two days a week.

Final Thought

Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody - Stephen Chbosky

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