NORFOLK, Va. - Gov. Northam pushed school divisions to offer options for students to return to in-person learning and for summer school during a news conference Friday.
Northam directed school divisions to offer the options by March 15 and said school divisions should also consider summer options like summer classes or even year-round schooling.
“We know that children learn better in classrooms and that going to school is vital for their social-emotional needs and for receiving critical services like meals. It is also important for our youngest learners, students with disabilities, and those with limited access to technology who have struggled most with remote learning," Northam said.
Many school districts remain largely virtual across the Commonwealth, although some have resumed in-person learning recently, including some students in Virginia Beach.
Northam cited concerns of students falling behind and becoming depressed as reasons for a push to return to in-person classes. He said the state will help with any extra costs school divisions may face.
“In-person learning is critical to the current and future well-being of our children,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Norm Oliver. “VDH remains committed to supporting school districts in getting kids back into classrooms as we work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and get Virginians vaccinated.”
Teachers have been getting vaccinated in Virginia and are part of Phase 1b and Northam stressed the need to continue COVID mitigation techniques in the schools.
Virginia Beach Education Association President Kelly Walker tells News 3 that vaccinations are helping teachers feel more comfortable about returning to the classroom, but there are still some concerns.
“With the mitigation standards and the safety teams that are in place within the school division, we feel pretty confident that we’re going to be able to return those students who wish to go back to school safely, that said we are still very concerned that educators are not getting vaccinated in a timely fashion. We know there are some that are still waiting to receive their first vaccine.”
Walker added that several teachers have contacted her this week to say they have not been able to get their vaccine.