Back to School? Gov. Northam’s Lack of Leadership Puts Virginia Students at Risk

Back to School? Gov. Northam’s Lack of Leadership Puts Virginia Students at Risk

While Governor Northam only has a year left of his term, the thoughtless policies he has imposed on the people of Virginia will far outlive his time in office.

July 9, 2020

After weeks of backlash from parents and school districts throughout the Commonwealth, Gov. Northam and his liberal allies in the General Assembly have resisted their urging of returning to a normal 5-day-a-week back to school plan.

Yesterday, Virginia House and Senate Republicans joined the chorus of impassioned parents and school administrators by calling for the Northam Administration to withdraw their jumbled and tone-deaf guidelines. In the press conference, State Senator Siobahn Dunnavant—an OB/GYN—says she has been watching the data and learning about the virus as she counsels women on how to raise their newborn babies during this pandemic.

“Virginia’s number one priority should be five days of classroom for all students of all ages,” said Dunnavant. “There is no doubt we are facing a serious public health crisis but because of a lack of leadership from the Northam Administration we have school districts scrambling to figure out what to do and scared to bring students back to school. The updated guidance issued this week doesn’t help. The science, research, and numbers show convincingly that all students should be back learning in the classroom on a consistent and regular basis this fall. It’s clear that children rarely transmit COVID-19 between one another and adults, and the negative impacts of a disrupted school year will far outweigh the risk of bringing all children back into the classroom in September.”

Senator Dunnavent also mentioned that over the past 4 months, nearly 1,000 daycare facilities remained open during the peak of the COVID outbreak for the children of essential workers with only one outbreak.

In June, the American Association of Pediatrics issued guidance for re-opening schools by stating: “The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school…. No child or adolescents should be excluded from school unless required in order to adhere to local public health mandates or because of unique medical needs.”

Delegate Kirk Cox, a retired public school teacher addressed the disadvantages students would have in losing an entire school year of in-person instruction. “This is a time for creativity, flexibility, and new approaches to learning. School districts have been left hamstrung by confusing policies and guidelines. At the end of the day, we are leaving behind Virginia’s children who are going to have an entire school year disrupted. Remote learning should not be the end all be all, but rather a choice for students.”

While Governor Northam only has a year left of his term, the thoughtless policies he has imposed on the people of Virginia will far outlive his time in office. Virginia children, parents, teachers, and school administrators will be dealing with the ramifications of these shortsighted guidelines for years to come.

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