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Richmond superintendent recommends virtual second semester

Posted at 7:01 PM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 07:11:46-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Superintendent Jason Kamras says he will recommend that Richmond Public Schools remain fully virtual for the second semester.

In an email to RPS families, Kamras says he will make the recommendation to the School Board on Monday, December 7.

The recommendation comes after nearly 10,000 families and staff members completed a survey on whether schools should remain virtual or switch to in-person learning during the second semester.

Kamras says one of the reasons for his decision was the results of the survey, which remains open until December 6.

As of Thursday, December 3, 80% of staff and 63% of families indicated a desire to remain virtual. The number for families of color is even higher at 67% and 70% for Black/African-American families.

African-American and Latino communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and represent about 90-percent of RPS families.

"Though certainly not unanimous, the predominant sentiment of the RPS community is clear: remain fully virtual," Kamras wrote.

The superintendent says recent health data related to COVID-19 is another reason for his recommendation.

"First, given rapidly rising infection rates, I continue to be very concerned about the health and safety of our students, staff, and families," Kamras wrote. "Just yesterday, the United States experienced the highest number of COVID deaths and hospitalizations ever."

Additionally, Richmond recently hit its highest peak for weekly COVID-19 cases.

"Though the latest research tells us that the risk of within-school transmission is quite low, it isn’t zero. And were infections to occur in our schools, severe consequences are much more likely, given our family and staff demographics," he continued.

Kamras noted that recent news about vaccines is encouraging, however, it's not likely that the general public will have access to them until late spring or early summer.

The final decision about the second semester will be determined at Monday's School Board meeting.

The second semester begins on February 8, 2021.

For more on Kamras' recommendation, click here.