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Gov. Northam orders schools to close for rest of year; salons, gyms closed

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Posted at 2:17 PM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 07:25:06-04

RICHMOND, Va. - Governor Northam announced Monday that all Virginia schools must remain closed for the rest of the school year.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) will issue guidance to help divisions execute plans to continue instruction, while ensuring students are served equitably, regardless of income level, access to technology, English learner status or special needs.

This includes options for additional instruction through summer programming, integrating instruction into coursework next year and allowing students to make up content. VDOE will submit a waiver to the federal government to lift end-of-year testing requirements and is exploring options to waive state mandated tests.

In Virginia Beach, students have been operating in an online capacity, connecting with teachers via Zoom or Google Docs.

Related: Behind the screen look at virtual learning for students and teachers

Brie Gesick is a middle school student who says the changes have been an adjustment.

"It's different because we're not physically in a classroom and we only have a certain amount of time to ask a teacher a question. We can't do it anytime of the day; we have to do it when they're logged onto their computer."

Northam says all entertainment businesses such as salons and recreation centers must close for the next 30 days. Other businesses can remain open if they adhere to social distancing rules.

In a public press release, Northam's office said the following recreation and entertainment businesses are considered non-essential and must close to the public beginning at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24:

  • Theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums, and other indoor entertainment centers;
  • Fitness centers, gymnasiums, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities;
  • Beauty salons, barber shops, spas, massage parlors, tanning salons, tattoo shops, and any other location where personal care or personal grooming services are performed that would not allow compliance with social distancing guidelines to remain six feet apart;
  • Racetracks and historic horse racing facilities;
  • Bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, amusement parks, trampoline parks, fairs, arts and craft facilities, aquariums, zoos, escape rooms, indoor shooting ranges, public and private social clubs, and all other places of indoor public amusement.

Dining and On-Site Alcohol Establishments
All dining and congregation areas in the following establishments must close to the public beginning at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24. These establishments may continue to offer delivery and/or takeout services. Establishments include:

  • Restaurants;
  • Dining establishments;
  • Food courts;
  • Farmers markets;
  • Breweries;
  • Microbreweries;
  • Distilleries;
  • Wineries; and
  • Tasting rooms

Retail Businesses
The following retail businesses are considered essential and may remain open during normal business hours:

  • Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products, including dollar stores, and department stores with grocery or pharmacy operations;
  • Medical, laboratory, and vision supply retailers;
  • Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology;
  • Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers as well as automotive repair facilities;
  • Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers;
  • Lawn and garden equipment retailers;
  • Beer, wine, and liquor stores;
  • Retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores;
  • Retail located within healthcare facilities;
  • Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions;
  • Pet stores and feed stores;
  • Printing and office supply stores; and
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners.

All essential retail establishments must, to the extent possible, adhere to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing practices on common surfaces, and other appropriate workplace guidance from state and federal authorities.

Any brick-and-mortar retail business not listed above must limit all in-person shopping to no more than 10 patrons per establishment, adhere to social distancing recommendations, sanitize common surfaces, and apply relevant workplace guidance from state and federal authorities. If any such business cannot adhere to the 10-patron limit with proper social distancing requirements, it must close.

Additional Guidance Professional businesses not listed above must utilize telework as much as possible. Where telework is not feasible, such businesses must adhere to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing procedures, and apply relevant workplace guidance from state and federal authorities, including CDC, OSHA, and the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.

Businesses in violation of this order may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

During Monday's press conference, Northam acknowledged that many may lose their jobs and said he is aware of the effects it will have on families. He says while he understands, the priority is to save lives.

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