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School boards, not the governor, decide how your child's school will reopen

Posted at 3:50 PM, Jun 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-25 16:42:18-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- When Virginia schools reopen following last March's COVID-19 closures, it will be up to your local school board to decide how that will look.

Clark Mercer, Governor Northam's Chief of Staff, addressed the issue Thursday in an effort to clear up any confusion in communities around Virginia.

"A few weeks ago, we released the state's guidance for Virginia's pre-K through 12 schools to help with their reopening plans," Mercer said. "It is intended to inform the discussions happening at the local level, but it does not mandate any one particular approach. Guidance is not law. This is up to your local school boards to decide how they're going to open responsibly."

Mercer pointed to Virginia's diverse landscape and how infection rates in one part of the state may not align with rates in other parts.

Still, he provided words of caution for the spread of the virus once school resumes in August and September.

"We have a number of youth throughout the country becoming infected, especially in other states, where we see the transmissions increasing, that 18 to 29-year-old age set is now the fastest increasing age set for positive cases," he said. "We have plenty of teachers and faculty and staff, from our janitors to folks that work in the cafeteria to our teachers to our principals and administration, who are in that age set where they will be very susceptible to COVID and as anyone that has children knows, once something starts spreading into school, you will get it at home and we expose our family members, our grandparents, our aunts and uncles, and folks throughout the community. We all know how quickly viruses spread through school-aged children."

School districts like Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield are still working to determine how students will resume learning once the school year starts.