Public Comments for 02/08/2021 Education
SB1106 - Public School Assistance Fund and Program; created.
No Comments Available
SB1132 - Public schools; severe weather conditions and other emergency situations.
No Comments Available
SB1169 - High school student parking passes; valid driver's license or driver privilege card required.
No Comments Available
SB1175 - Brunswick County school board; appointed school board salaries.
No Comments Available
SB1190 - Health Standards of Learning; advanced directive education for high school students.
No Comments Available
SB1196 - Teachers and other licensed school board employees; cultural competency.
Last Name: Anonymous Locality: Fairfax

Oppose - The demands for cultural competency are not helpful or necessary. Living in America should be enough cultural competency without mandating more training for teachers.

Last Name: Whitlock Locality: Louisa

SB1196 is an arbitrary bill. It calls for "cultural competency" but mentions only one ethnicity and race. That seems discriminatory. The United States is too diverse to exclude other groups if proposing this standard for history and social sciences teachers. Students deserve well-rounded and fair instruction throughout their curriculum. Also, how would "competency" be defined and measured in an objective way? Finally, by mandating cultural competency training, you insinuate that educators and administrators are too ignorant, incompetent, or insensitive to serve their students and community.

SB1204 - George Mason University; management agreement with the Commonwealth.
No Comments Available
SB1225 - Broadband services; school boards to appropriate funds for expansion of services for education.
No Comments Available
SB1257 - SOQ; school board to provide at least three specialized student support positions.
No Comments Available
SB1288 - Special education; Department of and the Board of Education to develop new policies and procedures.
No Comments Available
SB1303 - Local school divisions; availability of virtual and in-person learning to all students.
Last Name: Ackerman Locality: Fairfax

In person learning should be an option to all students in Virginia. Make this more than just a request from the Governor. It's time for the state to set a baseline expectation in STATUTE for the most basic requirement of every school district in the Commonwealth: to offer an in-person education option for students.

Last Name: Nussbaum Locality: Fall Church City

Continued virtual learning is negatively impacting my children and children within my community. They need full day in-person school. We support SB1303 and demand that you do to.

Last Name: Gutenson Locality: VIENNA

My kids have struggled with virtual learning. So have their friends. I'm deeply worried about the social and emotional impact of nearly a year of virtual learning. But beyond the scope of my comfortable world in Vienna, Va, I am terrified of the achievement gap that online learning is making infinitely larger. We have to take care of those who don't have moms like me who can work part time from home. We have to take care of those who speak English as a second language and are at a loss as to how to help their children. We have to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to get these vulnerable groups back in classrooms. Our society cannot carry the burden that online learning will yield for us. As a former FCPS high school teacher, I've seen the achievement gap first-hand. Please put students first. Tell the teachers they are essential (we want to hear you say that). Help the teachers and students move beyond the unions' roadblocks and into the classroom. The kids need to go back and most teachers want to go back. Put a stop to this tragedy so we can get to work on the achievement gap between gap between the haves and have nots that just became the biggest problem our county has ever known. We have a lot of work to do to fix what's been broken.  In the meantime, I am excited that my 6th grader and my 10th grader will be heading back to school in FCPS this March for two days of in person learning. I am also excited to return to the classroom myself, this time as a substitute teacher -  a way that I can give back to the community and help us all get back to school. I am hopeful that we will quickly get to 4 or 5 days a week of in-person learning. Our society needs to get our kids back to school five days a week this fall. We need to move mountains to make that happen. Please don't stop fighting for the children.   

Last Name: Stafford Locality: Alexandria


Last Name: Rosbrough Locality: Herndon

I am urging you to please support 5 days in person. My kindergartener is struggling with virtual. He does not understand why he cannot go in person when his friends in private school have been attending school since the fall. This cannot continue for another year. All children are struggling academically as well as socially.

Last Name: Barry Locality: VIENNA

Please support this bill and offer 5 days in school option for all students and teachers. The local elected officials are paralyzed. They are not equipped to make these analysis and decisions. They are not working in the best interest of the children. Our children have been out of the classroom for almost a full year. We need for you to step and to help our children and teachers return to classrooms 5 days a week.

Last Name: Ring Locality: Fairfax County

As an FCPS parent, I am writing in support of SB1303. It has been almost one year since my son has stepped foot in a classroom. He has lost hundreds of hours of instruction in a four-day-a-week, all-virtual learning environment. FCPS leadership has proven incapable of making decisions based on the interests of children, or on science, or on data that demonstrate the need to re-open schools and how it can be done safely. This public policy failure cannot be allowed to continue as our children pay the price. It was the Governor who shut down the schools, and we need Virginia’s leaders to act to save our children and salvage public education in the Commonwealth. Further, I would suggest that “in-person” instruction in a hybrid model that merely changes the venue of on-line learning from home to a classroom two days a week is not school and will not elevate the quality of education. Yet, that is the best FCPS can come up with after a year to plan. Our kids deserve better, and any elected leader charged with ensuring our children receive a high quality education in public schools cannot accept this model. We need five days a week of engaging face-to-face education that allows kids to learn and thrive socially and emotionally. This hybrid model will not correct all the predictable damage done by embracing an extreme policy of closing schools. Children will continue to fall behind. Parents will be required to forgo work — mostly women — to supervise their children’s learning three days of the week. Children whose parents cannot afford to stay home will still be left largely unsupervised, often in substandard learning environments. The mental health toll of isolation, uncertainty, a sense of abandonment by adults will persist for the most part. The physical toll of excessive screen time and inactivity will continue. Yet, the data tell us that schools can reopen with mitigation and not increase COVID risk. In fact, a plurality of schools across the nation are open five days a week for students (not hybrid). Why do our leaders in Virginia want less for our kids? This is not an issue of money. FCPS has all sorts of money and is sitting on millions in CARES funding. It is a matter of will and accountability. If these failing local school districts are held accountable, then maybe they can find the will to do what is right by our children, and follow the science to boot. There is no reason for the state to prop up failure by throwing money at local school districts who are not serving the interests of the families or kids they exist to support. Please do not accept words and mediocrity. You will be burned like the rest of us. We need action and consequences for failure. Our kids need school! Is that now an extreme statement? I surely hope not. Please support SB 1303 and do all that you can to get our children back in school — in classrooms, with a teacher engaging them in face-to-face instruction. Thank you. Lori S. Ring

Last Name: Adrian Locality: Fairfax County

Honorable Delegates, I'm writing to ask you to support this bill to require school districts to provide an in-person learning option for all families that desire one. I also support better funding for Virginia K-12 virtual to allow any family that wants to remain virtual to have that option and take that off the local school districts; they are not equipped to be providers of online education, that has become very obvious, When the Governor required schools to close in March 2020, the commonwealth provided no guidance to re-open and left that to local school districts. We have seen that these districts have no idea how to negotiate this re-opening and many are reticent to do so even as we see the negative impact on the children. It has become obvious that a statutory solution is necessary to get all school districts in Virginia to offer in -person education. Thank you for this consideration. I feel this is the most important issue facing the commonwealth right now. Leslie Adrian

Last Name: Mitchell Locality: Vienna

First - thank you to all of our hard working legislature members who have supported this bill to get it to this point. You all are seriously my heroes. I have written many of you individually, and our family really appreciates your support. We are engaged as never before. And we are watching ALL of our elected officials as never before. Please please please continue to support this bill to give our children the option to return to in person school. Our state, up to this point, has failed us. Our Governor, up to this point, has failed us. Our local school board, up to this point, has failed us. Our children are suffering. Our families are suffering. We have sadly, as a society, lost track of what we are trying to do here in regards to covid. We have failed to look at any type of cost/benefit analysis of the policies, mandates, and guidance issued at both the state and local levels in regards to our children. Please look at the science. It has been disheartening, to say the least, that instead of looking at science and the cost benefit of each action, politics is politics - our elected officials continue to listen to those that have loud voices, deep pockets, and a ton of political influence on elections. I am tired of listening to Kimberly Adams, who stepped up in line FIRST to receive a vaccine, then changed the requirements for teachers to return to the classroom. Yes please, vaccinate our teachers, our administrators, our school staff - but require that they then get into the school building. Please support this bill. Please give our children an option to return. Have you looked at the numbers nationally? Last week - 35% of the school aged children in the US had virtual only school as an option. FCPS - my own school district, one of the wealthiest in the country, the main reason why we live where we do, is now the bottom of the barrel. That's how I see that number. I see children who don't have room in their own house to do virtual school in their own space, giving up. I see children who don't have reliable internet service, falling behind. I see my own children, who don't have food insecurity, who have their own school space and reliable internet, who have access to tutors and outside help, just not caring. There are days and classes where my youngest daughter (a high school freshman) doesn't even see her teacher's face on the computer. She's just listening to a computer voice trying to learn advanced material. She does not care any more - and how can I blame her? This sucks. And I'm not blaming the teachers, or the curriculum, or the methods - I'M BLAMING YOU. I'm blaming every single one of our elected officials from the local government up, who has failed to get our children back to school. We are looking at the one year mark. One year. This is UNACCEPTABLE. We are also watching. And we will be voting. Please help us get our children back in school. Make this the single most important thing you have ever done in your life. Our kids are depending on you. Their lives are depending on you. Do better. Our children - all children, deserve better.

Last Name: Parker Locality: McLean

Sir or madam, the state created our problem in March, 2020 by shuttering the schools statewide. It's time for the state to set a baseline expectation in STATUTE for the most basic requirement of every school district in the Commonwealth: to offer an in-person education option for students. The Governor's request last week that schools put kids in the buildings by March 15 is nice, but it isn't STATUTE. Please push the Education Committee to support this legislation!! My children have suffered. This is as serious as children being hungry, abused or ignored. We will organize next Election Day also. We all are watching. Support our children!!!!!!

Last Name: Degn Locality: Fairfax County

Delegates, please support SB1303. The state closed schools in March 2020 and has provided no guidance on how to reopen them. Virtual learning in Fairfax County is not working for all families. I have three children in FCPS schools and they are all suffering academically, emotionally, physically and socially. They need to be back in school. Virginia children need to have the opportunity to be back in school five days a week. Local school systems do not have the expertise or resources to put together quality virtual learning offerings. Please provide a state-wide option for virtual learning, Virtual Virginia or otherwise, and direct our local school systems to do what they do best and what our kids need: teach in person.

Last Name: Gordon Locality: McLean

Vote to pass this bill. Students and parents of FCPS demand in person instruction 5 days per week. Put the genie (teachers Union) back in the bottle for the sake of our children.

Last Name: Siyoni Locality: Fairfax County

The state created our problem in March, 2020 by shuttering the schools statewide. It's time for the state to set a baseline expectation in statute for the most basic requirement of every school district in the Commonwealth: to offer an in-person education option for students. The Governor's request last week that schools put kids in the buildings by March 15 is nice, but it isn't statute .

Last Name: Sinclair Locality: Fairfax County

Our children need to be in school with their teachers. We are generating a future educational and mental health crisis that will take years to undo. I pulled both my children from our beloved neighborhood elementary school so that they could thrive again. Our private school has had zero outbreaks since August 2020 with 400 students attending in-person, five days a week. 25 students per classroom. Virtual education is simply not possible with young children. They are not learning to write. They are not getting the attention from other trusted adults and peers that is critical to early development.

Last Name: Marvin Locality: Herndon

Honorable delegates, Please support this legislation. The commonwealth created this problem by closing schools in March 2020. Some school districts need state leadership to re-open and provide 5 day a week in school education for children: They must be required to re-open for 5 day a week school by statute. "Virtual school" is a curriculum delivery system, not school. It requires constant attention from caregivers- attention many working caregivers do not have. The current regime is harmful to children's education, mental health, and is horribly contrary to equity as many children without the privilege of a stay-at-home caregiver fall far behind. Please support this bill & so districts will provide the FULL education all children deserve, including those most vulnerable. Thank you

Last Name: Wallwork Locality: FAIRFAX VA

All Please vote yes for SB1303 today. Our kids are suffering because of overly political school boards and paralyzed district officials. The science has been clear in support of school openings for months. At this point the issue is one of the districts not wanting to have uncomfortable conversations with their employees. All at the expense of kids.

Last Name: Penrod Locality: Vienna

Please support this bill. The state created our problem in March, 2020 by shuttering the schools statewide. I am writing for the state to set a baseline expectation in STATUTE for the most basic requirement of every school district in the Commonwealth: to offer an in-person education option for students. The Governor's request last week that schools put kids in the buildings by March 15 is nice, but it isn't STATUTE. Please support this legislation. Children now are only to attend in person 2/days week meanwhile children of teachers will be 4 days. Things are being grossly mismanaged in FCPS. Please support students by passing this Statute.

Last Name: Patterson Locality: Fairfax

Please support this bill. The state created our problem in March, 2020 by shuttering the schools statewide. I am writing for the state to set a baseline expectation in STATUTE for the most basic requirement of every school district in the Commonwealth: to offer an in-person education option for students. The Governor's request last week that schools put kids in the buildings by March 15 is nice, but it isn't STATUTE. Please support this legislation. Children now are only to attend in person 2/days week meanwhile children of teachers will be 4 days. Things are being grossly mismanaged in FCPS. Please support students by passing this Statute.

Last Name: Ellen Jennings Locality: Springfield

This bill is much needed. Fairfax County Public Schools and several others in VA have been closed since March 2020. Virtual learning does not work for the majority of the kids. Virtual learning is so bad that I had to place my son with autism and ADHD in a private school. He has gone from surviving at FCPS to thriving in his new school. I still have another child in public school and she needs to be back in person at school. She is totally unmotivated. If you haven’t already, I ask that you listen to SEN Chap Peterson’s speech in the senate in support of this bill. I also ask that you follow the science which says schools are safe and should be open. There is no reason not to require schools to open. Do it for the kids. They need to be back in school. Vote to support SB 1303.

Last Name: Minnaugh Locality: Springfield

We need the statute to have all schools with an option for parents for 5 days a week in person. We need to know that schools will be open 5 days a week in the Fall. Our public school children are falling behind daily, when private schools in the same area have been open for months, many all year. We need an in person 5 day a week option available for ALL children and our county has failed the children in being able to provide this so far. Fairfax county schools have been closed to in person instruction for the majority of children for 11 months. Please make the schools open.

Last Name: O’grady Locality: Fairfax

The students are deeply suffering from school lockdowns since March of 2020 and that is fact. The CDC says is safe to open 5 days a week now and that is a fact. Virginia teachers have been offered the covid vaccine ahead of essential employees like myself who have been working in-person since the pandemic started.and I was ok with teachers going ahead of me as long as they returned to in-person teaching. It’s time to put the kids first and do what science says which is to offer full time (5 days) in-person education to all students who want in-person. Virtual Virginia is already in place for those who prefer distance learning. It is well past time for Virginia to put into statute a return for all students to in- person learning if they so should choose. Please, do your job like I’ve done mine since the pandemic started and get all students back into classrooms where they belong. Thank you!

Last Name: Franco Locality: Loudoun County

I have lived in Virginia my entire life. I’m so upset that my county hasn’t figured out a way to give parents a choice with in person or distance learning. I expect children to be back 5 days a week this fall. My children have lost so much this past year. Please give parents the choice to have their child in school 5 days a week. Thank you

Last Name: Stauffer Locality: Fairfax

Please support efforts to reopen schools for in person learning. Local schools boards will not look for opportunities to keep the risk of covid at zero, which is not a realistic scenario and increasingly the data shows schools are not super spreaders locations by any measure. Please support giving students that want to return to school a chance to fulfill promises made by schools.

Last Name: Pirato Locality: Loudoun

Our school board is not qualified to make decisions such as whether or not to open schools. Since the governor had the power to close schools, but not to open them, we now require your help in passing this bill. We have over 80,000 students with a significant deficit in learning. Northern Virginia is falling further and further behind other regions in terms of education. Data shows it is safe when proper safety protocols are followed, to open schools. In person learning should be the default, not the exception.

Last Name: Kemmerer Locality: Loudoun

PLEASE vote to bring our students back to school NOW. Many large school districts have shown that it is safe and have been in school five days a week all school year! This has been a travesty and has opened our eyes to the politicians who are representing our children. Our children have lost one year of school and have received a subpar education while in isolation. Our family is researching to move to other states where our children will receive a quality education IN SCHOOL. Please vote for 1303 to pass. Thank you!

Last Name: McCook Locality: Burke

SB1303 ignores the differences in the various localities in Virginia in terms of covid community spread and ability to successfully mitigate transmission within school boards. The decision to open school buildings for in-person instruction should be left to local school boards with guidance from local health departments. Please vote NO on SB1303.

Last Name: Deaver Locality: James City County

5 days in person

Last Name: Lewis Locality: Loudoun

Please vote in favor of SB1303. I recognize that some parents believe it's not safe to send their children back to in-person learning. They are free to hold that opinion, and SB1303 does not hinder those families from choosing Virginia Virtual or their county's version of Distance Learning. However -- based on current scientific literature, my decades as an occupational health officer, and the education I recieved while earning my Master of Health Science degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, I am confident that it IS safe to send children back to school. Your support of SB1303 assures that I, too, have an option to choose the learning method that best fits my daughter.

Last Name: Kern Locality: Prince William

Please support SB1303 !!!My Dyslexic Freshman is suffering on many levels; academically, emotionally and physically. Academically the learning gap is growing in a way that time will not recover. Emotionally the lack of socialization and face to face interactions are the cause for depression and isolation. Children are not prepared for mental health issues with out their supports of parents, peers and responsible adults that care. The lack of a consistent responsible active schedule in person presents hours and hours of sleepiness and inappropriate dietary intake. Abandoning children "assuming" that every child knows how to use a computer to gain an education is the WRONG POLICY to force on children. Pencils, paper, books or a computer is a tool and abandoning children virtually to be independent to access a virtual teacher on line which is not a stable solid connection is not a FREE APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION (FAPE). Our students need to be thriving in person pursuing the opportunity to gain knowledge in a whole child learning model. Open school and give our children their future dreams and power of an EDUCATION in person. Reading is a LIFE SKILL!!! SB1303 VOTE YES!!!

Last Name: Nuttmann Organization: Teachers Locality: Centreville, VA

The push to return students to a physical school building does not take the safety and metrics of each county into account. A county in sSouthern Virginia may have a stark difference in cases compared to localities around Richmond or D.C. Is the state ready to provide the funding that this task will take, or are teachers expected to shoulder that burden once more?

Last Name: Geoff Shows Organization: K-2 and kids with special needs Locality: Falls Church City

We are in the middle of a public school crisis. Children, especially the younger kids, need to have the choice to return to full time instruction asap. Local schools are ignoring the research and science behind school transmission and need to be forced to prioritize kids education now. For those that disagree, keep the option for virtual learning. Many are fleeing public schools or are simply moving because how unsustainable this is for kids and families. This is a major crisis! Please pass the bill.

Last Name: Iannucci Organization: Fairfax County Public Schools Locality: Arlington

The covid situation is not the same across all counties. The decision to have in-person should be left to the school districts, to make based on covid rates within their own communities with the guidance of their local health department. Communities with lower spread may be able to return earlier than communities with higher spread. That should not be a state-wide decision, and school divisions should not be penalized for trying to keep their students, staff, and families safe. Virginia is too large a state with too many different types of communities for there to be a "one-size-fits-all" solution to a global pandemic. Please allow individual districts make the call to return.

Last Name: Kelley Organization: Self Locality: Fairfax county

Since the state shut down schools nearly a year ago, FCPS and Virginia have failed to educate my children. It’s a shameful disgrace that should have already ended. All counties MUST offer 5 days/week in person education NOW. This should have been done in September. Schools all across the country including private schools in Northern Virginia have been open for months. All of the science, the data, the experts confirm that kids belong in school. Failing to educate our children is a fundamental failure of government. This must change now. Please make it happen. No more waiting, no more excuses, no more supporting unions’ preferences at the expense of children and taxpayers.

Last Name: Dimov Locality: Fairfax

Open schools! My 2nd grader even told me that he didn't learn anything since the school started. Stop suffocating kids with this useless online classes!!!Open schools!

Last Name: Burks Locality: Loudoun

Single Mother immigrant here. My kid is falling behind. All Virtual learning does not work for our family. Maybe they do for rich families but not for us. Please I beg you, open the schools 5 days a week.

Last Name: Daddio Locality: Arlington

Please vote NO on SB 1303. SB 1303 does not take a school district’s locality into consideration when making decisions about re-opening buildings for in-person learning. This important decision needs to be made by the district Superintendent along with the school board and needs to take into account a solid and verified plan, most importantly including safety mitigations as recommended by VDOH and the CDC. Forcing school districts to open will only result in school districts leaving mitigations incomplete. In my opinion, a smarter and safer way to get schools to reopen buildings for in person learning would be to require districts show verified data and proof that they have all safety mitigations in place. Instead, I’d like to see some more concrete guidance and support to school districts so they can ensure students have a safe return to school and most important that they can remain that way without interruption. Ventilation, including transparent data showing that a building is following recommendations from aerosol/ventilation experts such as the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health metrics. Immunizations for all teachers and staff completed (both doses) Testing and Transparency of plans that are in place, shared with the community, Accommodations for teachers and staff who are in a high risk CDC category for COVID-19, or live with someone who is. Lunch (and Breakfast) Outdoors or a solid plan utilizing upper germicidal UV in higher ceiling rooms such as gyms and cafeterias.

Last Name: Frederick Locality: Fairfax County

I am writing to ask you to support SB1303. I am a mom of 3 kids in FCPS, and 2 of my children have a 504 and IEP. My kids need to be in school, in person. I have a 1st grader, 6th grader and 9th grader. As you can imagine, they are each struggling in their own ways. Virtual school is not working for my kids and it isn't working for our family. I have watched my children struggle for almost an entire year. I have cut my work hours in half so I can sit with my 1st grader all day, keep her on track, and teach her the lessons. I am fortunate to have that option. Kids throughout our county deserve better. Schools around the country have figured out a way to get children back safely (even schools with more kids than FCPS), and we should too. Our children are falling behind and falling apart. Please help. Almost one year ago, our state created this problem by closing the schools statewide. It's time for the state to set a baseline expectation in statute for the most basic requirement of every school district in the Commonwealth: to offer an in-person education option for students. Please support this legislation!! Please support the children who need you to stand up for them and say enough is enough. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Seneca Locality: Purcellville

I have watched the mental health of my children decline drastically over the past 11 months as they have been denied the option to go to school, socialize, and resume a regular routine with meaning and purpose in their lives. Recently our county voted for a hybrid return to school, which would allow my children in-person learning 2 days a week. Although they have yet to see the inside of a school building since the pandemic began, even just the hope that they can go back has brightened their spirits considerably. My heart aches to watch them suffer because the adults who are supposed to have the kids’ best interests at heart do not. The science indicates that the children are not spreading this disease. Why, then, are they the ones being most negatively impacted? Please allow them to get back to school. Their physical health would not be at high risk, but their mental health most certainly is if the school lockout continues. Please do not allow our children to shoulder the weight of this pandemic for the adults any longer.

Last Name: Tribett Organization: Parent of 8th grade student Locality: Gainesville, VA

I have an 8th-grade student at Gainesville Middle School. She is an excellent student in all advanced classes and has amazing teachers. She has maintained straight A’s throughout “virtual learning” and, despite this, she repeatedly says “school is just boring and I’m not learning that much“. This is a child who loves school and desperately wants to go back. She has always been a very happy child and I’m seeing a change in her. She is an only child who now spends all day every day staring at a computer by herself while I work. This is unacceptable. Public schools were not designed to deliver content to children virtually. Our children are not having their needs met with virtual schooling. Not only are they not getting the education they should be and are falling drastically behind, their emotional and mental well-being is at stake. Depression and suicide rates are skyrocketing. Kids are isolated from their peers and every study in child development tells you that this is doing them immeasurable and, sadly in many cases, possibly irreparable damage. I’ve seen teachers comment and heard many say they don’t want to return to the classroom, and I remind you that is where they were hired to do their jobs, until it is safe. However, they are making these claims with zero data to back that up. All of the science and data demonstrates that it is perfectly safe to return to the classroom. School systems around the world and around this country have been open for live instruction this entire school year and should certainly be serving as models of how it can be done safely and successfully. Here in Virginia we seem to have a huge problem with many teachers lack of willingness to go back and do their jobs in the manner in which they were hired to do them. We have unfounded hesitation and fear coming from school boards and superintendents who refuse to open the schools to our kids. This is a huge problem and while it is sad that it is come to the point of needing legislation to force them to open schools, it is necessary at this point. The CDC has said that teachers and all staff being vaccinated is not a prerequisite to opening schools and yet some systems are refusing to do so until their teachers and all support staff are fully vaccinated. There is zero evidence to support this is necessary. There is, however, a plethora of evidence to support opening schools at this point. Contact trace studies have been conducted in dozens of school systems and are showing that schools being open are not the cause of any outbreaks. Children have not been shown to be significant spreaders of this virus. The vast majority of all people who contract this virus will have mild to moderate symptoms if any at all. The risks associated with keeping schools closed far exceed the risk of Covid I beg you to support this bill because we need to get our children back in school by whatever means necessary and as soon as possible.

Last Name: Thomas Locality: Falls Church

Our children need to be back in the classroom as soon as the teachers have their 2nd COVID vaccine shot. The kids are suffering mental health and learning loss. Schools all around the US and globe are open and operating safely, and there are no major risks for children and healthy teachers for full in-person teaching.

Last Name: Brooks Locality: Falls Church City

Now that our teachers have obtained COVID vaccinations, we are advocating for a full-time in-person return for ALL students. We strongly support this bill, and urge the House to take it up immediately. However, we recommend the House include two amendments: (1) stipulate that an in-person option must include full-time in person learning, not just part-time "hybrid"; and (2) include a clause that puts the measure into force within two weeks of signature by the Governor.  Thank you.

Last Name: Lamb Locality: Henrico

I implore you to vote YES for SB 1303 to require all school districts to offer in-person in-school instruction to those parents who want it for their children. I am the parent of 3 children who should be attending the Henrico County Public Schools. My oldest was supposed to start Kindergarten at Nuckols Farm Elementary in September 2020 but when I found out it was going to be virtual I pulled him out and enrolled him in a private kindergarten because he does not (nor do most elementary school children) have the attention span to sit in front of a computer for hours a day. I knew he also could not learn to read or write on a computer when he doesn't have basic literacy skills to type at 5. I lobbied the Henrico County School Board all summer via emails, phone calls, and in person statements at their meetings to offer in-person instruction in the fall. I have watched in horror as they have pushed the date to resume in person learning 4 times and I have little faith that they will even stick to their latest announced start date. I believe that in order to ensure that our children physically return to brick and mortar schools in the fall it must be made a legislative requirement. The directive from the governor is not sufficient. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics have made it clear that children need to be in school for a plethora of reasons for their academic and emotional well-being. The science is clear that schools are not driving the spread of the Coronavirus. Not everyone can afford private education as an option and the gulf between those who can and those cannot has been blown wide open by the pandemic. Those differences will only continue to be exacerbated if you do not mandate that the public schools offer every student who wants it an in-person education. PLEASE VOTE YES FOR SB 1303.

Last Name: Catherine Aldana Locality: Falls Church City

Our children desperately need to be back in the classroom. They are suffering immense mental health and learning loss. Schools all around the he US and globe are open and operating safely.

Last Name: Kitchen Locality: Arlington

PLEASE PASS THIS BILL!!!! Don't allow the unions to hold our children hostage. We are at one of the top elementary schools in the county and our children are working on the same material teachers were teaching in SEPTEMBER. I have a Kindergartner, 2nd grader and 4th grader (in addition to a new baby at home). My kids are bored, disinterested and sad. How far behind will we let the children of Virginia fall? Virginia has some of the best public schools in the country -are we willing to lose that commitment to the quality of education in Virginia? In addition, it is pathetic that we are letting our teachers hold our economy hostage. We are a military family - service is not something we take lightly. Teachers are PUBLIC SERVANTS. There will be sacrifices and hardships, but ultimately service is fulfilling a purpose and goal higher than that of the individual. That's what makes it rewarding. If teachers and administrators are not willing to be public servants time to find new people or pull funding. Please, pass this bill and set the bar higher for our Virginia educators and administrators. Our children deserve better.

Last Name: Marchesi Locality: Virginia Beach

Please support the return of our children to in person learning, 5 days a week. As the parent of a middle schooler and two high schoolers, I see first hand the negative impacts of nearly a year of virtual learning. Students are suffering academically, socially and emotionally, and this has simply gone on far too long. With the vaccinations now available to teachers and staff alike, the excuses to keep our children virtual have run out. A substitute teacher myself, I cannot wait to see the faces of students and help them learn effectively. Our children are falling behind the states that went back to in-person learning months ago, many 5 days a week. Please think of our children and their futures. They depend on us to protect and guide them. Please support SB1303.

Last Name: Walker Locality: Vienna

Respectfully, I request that the delegates hear the pleas of parents across the state begging for schools to reopen. I have been on the fence as far as allowing my kids to return, but as we have seen the CDC indicate, there is very little danger for children returning to school. However, we must also continue to prioritize vaccinations for our school teachers and administrators, who are frontline workers in this pandemic. Please vote in support of kids - not teacher's unions who seem to be holding our kids hostage.

Last Name: Fisher Locality: Hanover

I come to you as a parent of two teen daughters who had the choice of face-2-face or virtual learning this school year. My daughters are F2F. Hanover County Public Schools worked hard to create a plan that would accommodate both options and they are executing it successfully. I am so thankful every day. My girls are not having the virtual experience that most Virginia students are having and we have been able to keep them mentally healthy and academically thriving in class. I am so sad that a majority of other districts did not pursue this for their students. The impact on students is enormous. The increased mental health issues and increased rates of suicide and attempted suicide are staggering. The kids who most need additional eyes on them are left alone, struggling and falling further behind. Please pass this bill and require school districts to offer a choice. Give students the opportunity to be face-to-face. HCPS has been highly successful in limiting spread amongst F2F students. Their plan is working. Look closely at it and use it as a basis for other school districts. Let’s get all of Virginia students back in F2F class. Thank you, Sandy Fisher

Last Name: OKieffe Locality: Arlington

Please SUPPORT SB1303 and open schools to in person learning. I have lost faith in our local administration and feel that we need the state to intervene on our behalf. The social, mental and educational impact on our children will be felt for years to come. Students deserve better and families deserve a choice. Thank you.

Last Name: Koehler Locality: Henrico

Please support SB 1303. For nearly a year now, children around the state of Virginia have been robbed of normalcy, education, mental, social, and physical wellbeing largely because many teachers refuse to return to school if not vaccinated. Once vaccinated, there should be zero excuse to return. Statistics have shown that largely, children are at very low risk of spreading COVID-19 to adults or to other children, especially the younger the child. The burden on working parents and parents who have had to quit the workforce to accommodate “virtual learning” is too heavy to bear. The financial and larger economic burden is even greater if working parents have to find childcare to fill in the gaps. This has been going on FAR TOO LONG. There are several local districts that have been very successful with in-person learning options (Goochland and Hanover, to name a few), but are never mentioned in the mainstream conversation. It’s time to follow their example and get teachers back to work, as they are essential employees to our children, who desperately need to get back to school.

Last Name: Shows Locality: Falls Church City

Please, pass this bill. The first fact is that remote learning is a disaster, especially for the younger and disadvantaged students. Children and families who are really struggling need it and for those people who are against the bill, they should have the choice to keep their kids home in virtual schooling – this does not have to be an either/or solution! The second fact is that in-person and full-time learning can be done safely with the right precautions. This may have not been clear last April but now study after study has shown that schools can be safe. A recent report from CDC just attested this fact. Private and some public schools have been running safely here and all around the country despite rising COVID-19 cases, with little to no evidence that attendance is spreading the virus. Our school leadership in FCC has said they have not had the leadership from the state, despite the guidance that Virginia issued last June for reopening schools. So, I would encourage some added requirements to this bill that kids should have the choice to return full time – not just hybrid. The hybrid model does not make sense from both an infection control perspective, and in terms of real teaching time to help kids get back on track. In our hybrid schedule the kids get less than 2 hours of in-person instruction 4 days a week. The school still has the full student body circulating through the buildings every day and the teachers are putting in a full day of teaching because they are accommodating the AM/ PM groupings. By having two groups circulating the building and the amount of busing for AM/PM groups every day, it adds complexity and more resources to do proper mitigation and makes contract tracing more challenging should there be an instance of COVID in school. A more effective “hybrid model” that could help the kids would be having the option for kids to go back full days Tuesday – Friday reserving Monday for cleaning and planning. The vaccinated teachers would still be putting in the same amount of time, but each kid would have a designated spot for learning, snacks, etc. The third fact is that this situation is especially devastating to the lower income population. Affluent families can flee the public-school disaster for private schools but that is not the case for lower income families. Last, on the most recent budget request for FY2022 from our Superintendent– it does not makes up for the investments (e.g., taxes paid) that we have made in our schools for the current tax year. Our City spends on average of about $19K per child/per year for education. Far higher than the national average and far higher than most VA districts. From a pure dollar spent standpoint, we do not feel that our children received the quality and level of education equal with the dollars spent. We also had 200 kids leave our schools this year. So, we ask ourselves - with our teachers now being fully vaccinated in February why is hybrid the only possibility being considered? Why not get our kids back full time? We have adequate space to fully socially distance and the data clearly tells us that with proper planning we can safely and fully open the schools. Why is it that our schools will be distributed funds for FY2022 (with a 2.5% increase) without any assurances that they will also spend the necessary time and money to fully reopen and catch our kids up for lost learning in 2020/2021. This commitment is paramount!

Last Name: Barbour Locality: Chesterfield, VA

VOTE YES to allow us/ the parents to make the best choice for our family

Last Name: Silver Locality: Arlington

Please pass this! Children belong in school buildings with their teachers.

Last Name: Butler Locality: Haymarket

Please pass SB1303! It has been nearly a year since our children have been in a classroom and not only is their education suffering, but the social and emotional toll has been devastating for so many. Even if school is different, there are so many that need the social aspect of in-person learning over the isolation of sitting alone at the screen for 6+ hours a day. This is a choice that so many parents and children need. Now that the experts have been able to show that schools are safe to open and should be prioritized, Virginia must follow suit and it must apply to all grade levels, K-12. Our county has completely ignored middle and high school students and that needs to stop. Our children deserve better. While teachers are working incredibly hard, the job is to provide in-person instruction. Teachers with valid health risks should be taken care of, but everyone else needs to get back to work just like millions of Americans who have already been back at work for months. There has been more than enough time for schools to prepare. If schools say they cannot open, require them to prove why they cannot open with specifics so those deficits can be immediately identified & fixed, within a time limit, and with the clear understanding that opening will immediately follow. No more moving the goal post for the re-opening requirements. Schools need to open now.

Last Name: Asbury Locality: Fairfax

Virtual Learning is still school. I teach 6th grade (21 students) of various learning styles. My students have grown and flourished through the virtual platform. They are not faced with bullying, competing with the “have/have not” crowd. The students are able to learn more than what is written in a book. They are learning life skills, survival skills, communication, collaboration, global and creative thinking skills , all through virtual learning. Please, for the sake of unity, allow our students to continue to have this opportunity!

Last Name: Ochs Locality: Loudoun

My 2 daughters are enrolled in Loudoun County Public Schools. They are in 8th and 10th grade, and neither has received in person education since March 11, 2020. I am asking you to please pass SB1303 for them, and for every other student in the state of Virginia. Every child deserves a full and complete education. VDOE and Governor Northam made the decision to leave it up to the individual school districts to decide whether schools should be all virtual, hybrid, or fully in person. The concept behind that is understandable, due to varying local health conditions. However, Loudoun County Public Schools is not following CDC guidelines correctly, and they are not involving the Loudoun County Health Department's guidance. 9 school board members, none of whom are health experts, are determining what to do during a pandemic. This is not their area of expertise. They are making decisions based on feelings, and under pressure from the LEA and VEA, when they should be making decisions based on science and facts. The CDC says not to use the core indicators alone as regulatory requirements, but that is exactly what LCPS did for months. Our mitigation strategies were successful, but that didn't seem to matter. When school districts are not listening to the CDC and local health departments, it's time for the state to step it. It is time for Virginia leadership to stand up and be hands on. The state has been hands off for too long. Those students and their families who have medical reasons to be virtual, or those who are more comfortable being virtual, can still make that choice. For thousands of students across the state, in person in necessary. School districts have the resources to implement proper mitigation strategies. Our district already did, but kept students out anyway. Virginia is obligated to educate its children. It is their right, and it as been withheld from thousands of them for far too long. Say yes to this bill. Say yes to educating every child in Virginia.

Last Name: Suvorova Locality: Alexandria VA

Open the schools

Last Name: Keyser Locality: Loudoun

PLEASE vote to bring our students back to school NOW. I do not care to continue to pay taxes for DL. Kids are failing, are very depressed and many school districts have shown that it is safe. It is a shame that these children lost 1 year of school because of a few who are petrified of a virus that is 99.9% survivable. Many are moving out of VA to states that have the stomach for in-person learning. I can take my kid shopping at the outlet mall but not to school. Please vote for 1303 to pass. Thank you!

Last Name: Jeannot Locality: McLean

Please get our kids back into their schools so they can learn. Hold Virginia and FCPS schools accountable,. We can no longer afford to pay taxes to run FCPS schools (pay teachers and administrators), while doing the work of FCPS schools (administrators and educators) ourselves from our homes. If administrators and teachers no longer want to provide our children with the education to which they are entitled, in the school buildings we have funded, then let us have school choice. It is unconscionable (after a full year now) to continue to take money from families for a job that is no longer being done. Just because teachers are “working from home” doesn’t meant this is working for children or families. Public schools exist first and foremost to educate children (not to employ adults). If FCPS no longer wants to educate children in a way that works for the children and families in person, parents should have the choice to spend their hard earned tax dollars elsewhere to educate their children appropriately. We all have our jobs to do and it is time that the Virginia public schools get back to work on behalf of the children and parents they were created to serve.

Last Name: Frey Locality: Ashburn

Please PASS this bill! Our students have been deprived of a quality education for almost a year now. It's having a huge impact on their grades and on their attitude toward schooling in general, and because of the fact that the schools are closed - they mental health is at risk! The science supports that schools CAN REOPEN safely. So many offices and organizations never closed, the private schools and daycare centers have been able to function full time, and there is no reason for our schools not to be able to fully open and teach our kids in person! Thank you for your support!

Last Name: Lankin Locality: Burke

I hope this bill doesn’t go through. My children are thriving, learning a lot, and being safe. Thanks to the dedicated teachers and the family support system. I will not lie, it’s not easy. However, in times of pandemic, we have to be flexible.

Last Name: Vance Locality: City of Falls Church

Please PASS this bill. Our children have been denied their right to an education for the last 11 months. Virtual learning is NOT an education. Children are expected to sit in front of a computer screen to “learn” for 6+ hours, against all screen time guidelines issued by the APA. Our school district tells us that based on test scores children have not declined academically, while this is good news, schools provide more than just academics. A child has social/emotional needs that are a huge part of their education. No test will tell you a child is suffering emotionally and the long term effects this will have on each child. We cannot measure the damage “virtual” school is causing our children. My academically advanced children are suffering. Get EVERY kid back IN school, IN person, EVERY day.

Last Name: Waite Locality: Warrenton

With a survival rate of 98% and with children being young and healthy immune systems we need the choice to have them in school. I have four boys their lives have changed drastically. I am in the front lines as I am a health care worker and those that have passed it is sad but if they had had the flu they would have passed also. We are not the ones that control how long people live and when they pass. This bill needs to pass to give children a choice of life and to live it. Three of my four sons have Lyme disease and they're in the immune compromised position. My college student that graduated with honors of 4.0 from a community college has now shut down It has severe depression and does not want to attend college or go to school because the media has made him so desperately afraid of this disease that he will die. This fear mongering has to stop. We need to not be afraid of living because of a disease that has 98% survival rate. My 17-year-old high school son also suffers now from depression. He went from being an a student in all of his classes and outgoing went in school to no friends and in the house virtually because our county won't open and has a FEA that does not want to have teachers back in school. He is now suicidal. He NEEDS to be back in school! My college son NEEDS to be in class! Electrical engineers can NOT learn virtual. Pass this bill and get our kids back in school where they belong five days a week not one not two five days a week! Kids need to have social skills they need to learn to work together with other people they need to be trained in different skill levels to thrive and become productive adults do not do this to our kids. If we're afraid all the time of living we might as well be dead already. Please for all our children's sake pass this bill. For our grandchildren that are growing up in a world so screwed up please pass this bill. Our children are depending on it and our future depends on it. Please do the right thing. Thank you!

Last Name: Van Locality: Williamsburg

Please bring our students back 5 days a week. Our students have suffered enough from both a mental health perspective and a quality of education perspective. The teachers have received vaccinations and other mitigating factors have been put in place. It is time for our students to be back to school 5 days a week. WJCC school board and superintendent have done a terrible job with no leadership and execution plan at all. It is a disgrace to our district and the state.

Last Name: Mellon Locality: Falls Church

Please open our schools to in-person instruction - two options 5 days normal schedule (with mitigations) or 5 days virtual. Make it a family choice. All the fancy plans in the middle just don't get the job done - they are inadequate instructional choices. Require schools to open if they can meet the minimum standards - 3 ft. spacing between desks, masks, no sick kids allowed, and hand washing - instead of allowing systems to do virtual/hybrid because they are trying to meet the ideal standard 100% of the time - i.e. 6 feet spacing. If schools cannot open, require them to prove why they cannot open, so those deficits can be immediately identified & fixed. Our kids need to be educated. They need to be socialized. They need to be physically active. Big kids & little kids & everything in between. Get them back into school in-person - it has been nearly a year of virtual & it is failing our next generation miserably.

Last Name: Ayotte Locality: Vienna

While the goals of this bill are admirable, providing in-person instruction needs to be done in a safe manner, when community rates of infection are low enough to make risk of transmission less likely and/or when broad-based community testing is easily available to catch cases early enough so that spread can be avoided. We definitely missed our opportunity to prioritize school opening last year, but let's not compound that error by putting teachers, staff, students and student families unnecessarily at risk now. Since community conditions vary widely across Virginia, a statewide mandate is not the smart way to deal with this situation. While not having access to in-person learning is a problem, not having access to friends and family because they die from Covid is a bigger problem that is easy to avoid.

Last Name: Miller Organization: High Schoolers Locality: Falls Church

Please open schools to in person learning. I have lost faith in our local administration and feel that we need the state to intervene on our behalf. The social, mental health and educational impact to our children will be felt for years to come. My senior has spent the last year "learning" from his bedroom and I'm quite frankly concerned for his readiness for college. As one senior stated when asked what they learned in the past year - they said: "I learned how to pass my classes without doing a thing." Is this what we really want for our kids? Please pass SB 1303 so that parents who choose, can send their children back to school.

Last Name: Kuntz Locality: Sterling

Please vote in favor of bill 1303 and allow for a choice of in-person learning and virtual in all Virginia schools. Our kids need to go back!

Last Name: Jones Locality: Fairfax

A big NO to this bill.

Last Name: Lee Locality: Falls Church City

We have failed our children in this pandemic for a year - it's time we do better. We have a chance to show our children, parents and families that children DO matter. They have taken on enough of the burden that it's time we put their interests and their education first.

Last Name: Brown Locality: Leesburg

Please pass SB1303! All we parents are asking for is a choice - a choice that was taken away from us and is now safe to offer. Not all students are thriving in a distance learning environment and their parents deserve the option to send them to receive an in-person education, to which they are entitled. Please stand beside Virginia families and pass this bill.

Last Name: Ferraro Locality: Chesterfield County

Schools have been closed for a lmost a year. Clear direction was not given at the state level to help them open. Many counties are now letting the education associations influence them. Kids are suffering from mental health issues and learning loss. Schools can be opened and need to be opened.

Last Name: Gilley Locality: Loudoun

I do not recognize Virginia anymore. I do not recognize my country anymore. The United States was built on the foundation of freedom! Freedom to speak, freedom of choice, freedom of religion, etc. The government is supposed to PROTECT OUR FREEDOMS and not take them away. Not allowing parents to chose whether their child can obtain in-person learning or distance learning is fundamentally wrong and does not represent the spirit of our country. We cannot give up our freedom so we can live inside shrouded in fear. Please join me in the fight for the mental, emotional and academic well being of our children. All we are asking for is a CHOICE. Clark County in Las Vegas, NV has had 18 suicides due to 100% distance learning and the youngest child was 9 years old. Doesn't that prove that staying home does more psychological harm than good? Are we going to wait for Virginia children to die from suicide before we open our schools?

Last Name: Prante Locality: Bedford, VA

My children have been in school since September. Get all the kids back in school! Arlington schools (supposedly the best schools in the state) have their kids sitting at home learning less than 2 hrs a day. My sister works full time and her 3 kids are online. Tell me how her Kindergartener is sharing, hands on learning, learning how to be a good citizen online! And forget that she has to pay a day care to supervise their online learning. Not all parents can sit at home and monitor their children. My daughter who was 5 this summer was depressed. She hadn’t been in school since March. She loved her teacher and cried that she would never have her again. She missed seeing her friends and going to school. She is an extrovert and needed to be around other kids. She would lash out in anger, call herself “stupid” and the “worst” for what seemed to be for no reason. She stopped skipping, humming, singing and dancing which was her usual MO. I am so glad Bedford County went back to school 5 days a week in September. I thank the Lord she is back with a teacher full time and with her peers. Her academics have been stunted, though, the absence of true instruction from March -May. I can’t even imagine if she had missed more. Her whole class is behind where they should be. They experienced the summer slide + 3 mos. Mental health issues for children is going to rise unbelievably. Give parents the choice. The choice for virtual or in person. The teachers in Bedford county want to be there. They aren’t scared. And they were given the option to teach online if necessary. We need teachers for both modes of instruction.

Last Name: DuVal Locality: Falls Church

Please pass SB1303. I, along with many others in Falls Church City, have been advocating since last summer for a return to school. Local leadership has largely ignored our pleas, and it's pretty clear that we won't get our kids back in school without a push from the state. We are counting on you to pass SB1303 to help us locally, where we the citizens are feeling powerless to effect change without you. Many studies have shown that a return to school does not increase community transmission and in may cases, the transmission rates in schools are actually LOWER than in the community at large. Why is this being ignored? Our children are SUFFERING. They are being robbed of a quality education and important social experiences critical for their development. Further, private schools in our own jurisdiction and both private and public schools around the country (and world) have figured out how to open schools safely. By leaving our schools closed, you are causing the next generation of Virginians to woefully fall behind. How will our kids remain competitive when they are being denied a quality education for so long? You have the power to help by passing SB1303. Please do so and set our children on a path of healing that will allow them to recover, grow and ultimately succeed. Thank you.

Last Name: Goodwin Organization: the youngest learners Locality: Falls Church

Online learning does not work for our youngest learners. For new-to-school students, the greatest benefits of being in school are socialization with their peers and new friends, learning the routines and procedures, and essentially, learning how to be a student and part of a classroom community. As a former teacher, I know firsthand how important it is to build that classroom community, and it is not happening to its fullest extent when our children are isolated at home in front of a screen. Our son (and no doubt many other children his age) began the school year looking forward to starting kindergarten. He was excited to buy school supplies, pack his backpack, and pick out a new lunch box. He couldn't wait to meet his teacher, get on the school bus, and find out what friends would be in his class. He couldn't wait to be a big kid and GO to school. Now, several months into virtual learning, that enthusiasm is dimming. He does not look forward to sitting, alone, in front of the computer. He only knows his teachers and classmates through the screen. He feels lonely and alone, and his attitude towards school in this form is increasingly negative. I implore you, on behalf of our youngest learners: please offer an in-person learning option for the families and children who need the in-person connection with their teachers and peers.

Last Name: Koehler Locality: Ashburn, Va

Parents and more importantly students, need to have the option of being back in school 5 days a week. Those who are mot comfortable with being back in the building should have the option to continue DL from home. Kids mental health is just as important as adults. This has gone on far too long and at the expense of our children. The science and data needs to be followed. We’ve had many months to watch school districts that have opened before us and the CDC, AAP, etc all agree it is safe with mitigation in place. Time to get back to school.

Last Name: Ortega Locality: Fairfax

Please, don’t allow this bill to pass. I would like my kid to stay healthy and my parents to be alive. The most most important lesson of this situation, is to learn to care for others. Almost 500,000 people died of COVID in this country so far. We don’t need any more funerals! Let the vaccine process make progress and then bring the students at schools.

Last Name: Traylor Locality: Henrico

Please support this bill. Our children are suffering from a lack of in-person school. Virtual school may be working for some children, but not for many others. They are essentially being deprived of a public education, not to mention the severe emotional and mental health problems that are occurring from this isolation. Dr. Avula and Dr. Fauci both say children should be back in school. The data and the science supports it. Many public and private schools have opened in-person and are thriving. There is no reason that all schools cannot open. Schools have spent thousands of dollars on PPE that they are not using. If you continue to fund the schools, they will have no incentive to open without a bill such as SB1303. Please put our children's interests first.

Last Name: Havens Locality: Chesapeake

If public schools cannot commit to finding a way for kids to be in school 5 days a week, then parents should get the financial allotment to send their child to private or otheropportunities. Private schools have been in school 5 days a week. This school closure has put m8dfle-class and economically disadvantaged families in a horrible situation. Further, if the NFL can have 25 thousand spectators we can find a way to get kids back on the playing fields. Lack of sports is increasing the childhood obesity. These closures will have serious ramifications for decades, especially for the lost kids we will never get back. It's like politicians don't talk to their community social services, pediatricians, or law enforcement. All three entities can tell you the problemis caused by school closures. Appalling that the same politicians that claimed, "follow the science" now refuse to follow the science. We now know that it's "follow the science when it's convenient for the politicians, unions, or other groups we want money from."

Last Name: Bishop Locality: Prince William

Virtual learning has been detrimental to our children’s brain, eye & physical development. It has negatively impacted their social and emotional health, resulting in a spike in depression and anxiety. Academically, children are struggling & having more stress due to all the increased screen time and test retakes due to this inferior mode of instruction. Kids need face to face interaction with teachers and fellow peers for collaboration and better understanding of the academic subjects. In person education will allow more opportunities for our children to grow into well rounded individuals versus just the attempt to learn academic subjects through a screen. Forced, isolated virtual school is child abuse on the grandest scale & should not be allowed any longer. Please require the choice of 5 days a week traditional in person education. Thank you, Monica Bishop

Last Name: Woda Locality: ARLINGTON

Please vote for this bill. Children and their families need options and schools need to open. I expect that some parents will continue to select a virtual school but many parents and children need in person school to happen YESTERDAY. My own children have been in person 5 days a week since September at a Catholic school. Prior to that, we had to seek counseling and urgent assistance for them due to extreme mental health decline from school closures and lack of activities for children. Our school has been successful at being in person and my children are now thriving, however, their public school peers are not. They are lagging in behind in academics and, across the board, are suffering from isolation and mental health issues. The Arlington Public School Board is incompetent. They have repeatedly ignored the science and pleas of parents and have not made sufficient progress to re-open on any scale that is remotely acceptable. Even our "Level 1" special needs students allowed in school sit with an aid while their teacher is remote and they are unable to receive in person services. They and other Arlington students are losing time they can not simply make up. VOTE YES for this Bill.

Last Name: Vargas Locality: Fairfax

Parents shouldn’t be forced to send their children back, if they don’t feel comfortable. Personally, my child is striving with virtual school. His anxiety is low and he feels happier and more confident. We, as parents, provide the social interaction with his close friends on a weekly basis. We take care of our in-laws who are older and have underlying health conditions (and we all Covid last year). Both grandparents had pneumonia and one ended in the ICU (with the Lord’s blessing, he pulled through and is home with us now). But, we don’t want to put our family at risk. Virtual education should be allowed from now on for parents like us. Particularly, when all Fairfax County Public Schools are overcrowded, HVAC systems are horrible (my kids were always sick when school was in person, pre-covid), and the school buildings are old and small for the number of students held.

Last Name: Williams Locality: Fairfax

I am a parent of a middle school student who has struggled this year, but I understand that things are not normal - we are in the middle of a pandemic that is claiming lives daily. I want my kid to return to school, but only when it is safe for her, teachers and administrators to do so. I believe that returning to school before we have met the basic health measures set by our school districts and state may be detrimental to lives. Let's all do our part and slow down the spread of this virus and return to school when it's safe. Otherwise, the message that we are sending to our kids is that they should not prioritize their health over production (school, work, etc.), and the message we send to teachers is that they don't matter. I also want to add that my kid has special needs and has an IEP, an element that increases her need to return to school, but not until it is safe for her to do so.

Last Name: Mazzocco Locality: Ashburn

Please get our kids back in school!! I have a (current) 3rd and 1st grader and am a full time working parent. My biggest concern is that kids are learning to HATE school because of the current situation. My 1st grader cries daily. I know he will catch up in reading and math (but make no mistake that he is behind specifically b/c of time out of the classroom and is now taking extra resources from the school in the form of reading and speech intervention), but if we kill these kids love of learning, or inherent desire to want to learn - that is a deficit that we will never come back from. There are options for people who are not comfortable being back in person, and that's great and they deserve to make that choice for their family. But we NEED an option for people whose kids NEED to be back in school with educators who are vaccinated and ready to be there too. We deserve an option for our kids too that allows them to be in the classroom 100% of the time! My 3rd grader has been in school FOUR days in the last year. That is unacceptable to me. Please vote to return our kids to school full time!

Last Name: Kelly Locality: Arlington

Hello, I'm sending this email as a parent of Arlington Public Schools. Since June, hundreds of us have been working tirelessly to open our public schools. We have sent thousands of emails, spoken hundreds of times at school board meetings, and pestered our superintendent and Chief of Staff to ensure they are following VDOE, VDH and Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health guidelines for safe return to school. As a result, APS has met or exceeded ALL guidelines. We then priority vaccinated all APS teachers. They have their own designated tranche of vaccines. In fact, over 50% of the vaccines given in Arlington thus far have been given to APS teachers. Yet a vocal group of teachers, backed by the Arlington Education Association, still refuse to return to the classroom. Now they are apparently colluded with one of our school board members to create a sham survey to further prevent return to school. They are bullying other teachers who want to return into silence. They are asking for concessions far and above what is required for safe return. The level of insanity of what is going on is beyond my comprehension. I'm a lifelong Democrat and the daughter of a public school teacher. The degree of hysteria, disgusting privilege and entitlement on display by the teachers' association, and a group of teachers is astounding. Why would we prioritize them for the vaccine if not to return THEM to the classroom to teach as soon as possible? It has opened my eyes to the sick level of power deployed by teachers' associations, and I believe that nothing short of ironclad legislation will get them to a) follow the science and b) stop the endless concession-grabbing and open our school doors. I won't bore you with the overwhelming research showing in-person school is safe w/ the mitigations APS has implemented, or the devastating effects of remote teaching--I see it every day with my son. **PLEASE, I'm literally begging you: pass this bill! There has never been a more urgent need for our children's mental, physical and academic health, nor a more flagrant disregard for science, ethics and common decency by teachers (not all, but enough) and teachers' associations. People will literally die in Arlington because they were not able to get the vaccine, because it was given to teachers and they still won't return. We must MAKE them return, or else they must be terminated. Thank you.

Last Name: McDonald Locality: Ashburn

Please vote in favor of bill 1303 and allow for a choice of in-person learning and virtual in all Virginia schools.

Last Name: Vande Slunt Locality: Chesapeake

Our middle and high school students need full-time in-person opportunities IMMEDIATELY! Many classes at a high school level such as labs, music education, and technology courses are hand-on and require in-person learning. Virtual classes cannot replicate the soft skills and intrapersonal relationships that face-to-face education encourages. There is more to education than just learning facts. Our teens are missing out on fundamental knowledge and experiences that children in other states with full-time in-person learning are receiving. This is putting them at a great disadvantage when it comes to being competitive for college or even the real world. The science says kids aren't super-spreaders. There are so many reports out there are mental health decline and academic performance decline. The CDC, WHO, Dr. Fauci, our President all say it's safe to open our schools! Why is Virginia refusing to listen and acknowledge the science right in front of their nose?! All other essential employees are going to work and doing their jobs except teachers. Teachers want more respect and higher pay, yet they hide behind the VEA and their local agencies and refuse to do their jobs. Teaching has never been risk free! Teachers are now being offered the vaccine, so there are no more excuses! It's time to stop living in fear and do their jobs or quit. Teaching is about KIDS FIRST and doing what's best for the kids--not the teachers. It's time Virginia gets it's priorities straight and get kids back into the schools NOW!!! Stop making excuses and figure it out like other states have!

Last Name: Enright Locality: Ashburn

Please support this bill and get kids back in school 5 days a week. Follow the science. The CDC and AAP have said that you can open schools safely. Children and teachers can mask and maintain their distance. Scientists have said that schools are one of the safest place for children. Distance learning is NOT working for many students and they need an in-person option. It can be done and is being done all around us. Private schools in our area have been open since August. Daycares run by Parks & Rec in Loudoun County IN OUR SCHOOLS have been open this entire time. It can be done and we must start putting the children first.

Last Name: R. Haygood, PharmD. Locality: Chesterfield County

As a healthcare professional who has been working in a hospital throughout the pandemic, I believe it is imperative for schools to open to any and all students that want to go back to in person instruction. Not only has virtual learning been ineffective in advancing students’ education, the lack of socialization and “normalcy” of being around teachers and peers has impacted the mental health of countless children. With masks, increased cleaning, start of vaccinations, and better mitigation strategies than we’ve ever had, it is now time that schools open and REMAIN open.

Last Name: Abraham Locality: Loudoun County

Requiring an in person learning option for those families that choose it is critical for our students. Especially for the younger learners in elementary grades who, as evidenced by the last year of distance learning, are falling behind in their progress and to which the hours of screen time required for virtual learning is incredibly detrimental to their development. Please pass this bill and require all local school divisions to make in person learning available at all times. The choice should lie with the parents to determine which choice is best for their child and family. Requiring distance learning for all children is not fair nor does it give equal access to education for ALL students.

Last Name: Stopper Locality: South Riding

I am writing in support of this bill asking for students to be back in the school buildings. Our students have missed a significant amount of education through distance-learning and that deficit is going to be difficult to overcome. The CDC and other guidelines have proven that there is little spread occurring in schools, and school systems should be required to offer five days, in person, learning for any family that wants it. Continue to offer distance-learning for any family who feels the need for that, but those that wish to be in the school building should be given that opportunity five days a week

Last Name: Pankenier Locality: Ashburn

Distance Learning is an inadequate platform to meet students needs. Students and families need the option for in person instruction, Making this a requirement at the state level would ensure that all students in Virginia are getting a high quality education. Currently only certain districts and private schools are providing in person education. This is a great disadvantage to our student. Countless studies and experts agree that schools are the safest place for our students. Continuing to allow schools to operate in an online only platform is unnecessary and a waste of money. I have watched my own children suffer trying to learn on a computer for nearly a year. They have become withdrawn and depressed. They suffer eye and back problem and dread school. Please help our children get back in school and back on track,

Last Name: Jenny Fox Locality: Fairfax

Please vote NO on SB 1303 SB 1303 does not take a school district’s locality into consideration when making decisions about re-opening school buildings to students. This important decision should be made by the school board in conjunction with the state and county health departments and guided by the CDC’s recommendations for safely re-opening schools.

Last Name: Brennan Locality: Chesterfield

Please support this bill and get kids back in school 5 days a week. There are no more excuses and our children desperately need it. CDC says it’s safe. CDC says teachers don’t need the vaccine. Kids are not affected by the virus like people with pre-existing conditions. The vaccine does not stop transmission anyway. Masks don’t work. We need to get back to normal. For everyone’s mental health. And to stay healthy and strong.

Last Name: Tosi RN, BSN Locality: Arlington

It is time to reopen schools. The experts have provided the knowledge of how to safely re open. It is being done successfully in other districts. We can do it safely. The children have suffered quietly long enough. It was imperative that the schools were once closed but it is time to re open. We are the adults, we can follow protocols, we can protect our children....this is what educators and communities have always’s time to do it again. Teachers are vaccinated the schools!

Last Name: Widener Locality: Suffolk

Please consider reopening schools to in person. As a parent of a 504 child, the online option is giving my 17 year old anxiety and stress that should not be placed on a child. Also not to mention the social isolation this causes. I feel there is a large loss in learning and we need to move forward with opening schools. Private schools have been functioning without any issues. I know the classes are smaller, but we need to go back to normal. Thank you.

Last Name: Gumayagay Locality: Ashburn

It’s not about how kids are adjusting academically to online learning, it’s how it is affecting their mental health. They are lonely, isolated, not paying attention. Kids need their peers, they need to get back to being kids again. Online learning may work at the college level, but it isn’t working at the grade school level. Let the kids be kids again! Open the schools!

Last Name: Schultz Locality: Fairfax County

Please pass this bill. Our students deserve to have education in person.

Last Name: Vande Slunt Locality: Chesapeake

Our kids need to be back to in school instruction. They are not learning well online, not at the level they would in person. The CDC has said it is safe. Our teachers unions are resisting it and throwing every excuse why teachers don't want to or need to do their jobs, but we need to force policy to back KIDS FIRST. Teachers need to step up or step aside and let our schools educate our kids. If we need to recruit more teachers, we can do that, but our kids are suffering while teachers are sitting at home and hiding behind covid. The vaccine has been offered to them and even without the vaccine CDC says kids in school are not the super-spreaders rumored that they would be. Many studies have supported this fact. Also we are ignoring mental.emotional health impact on kids forced to be in exclusion. They need the support they get from special activities, sports, and yes their regular teachers. Home is not a safe place for all of our kids and schools were that safe place for many who now are isolated, abused, depressed, anxious, and suicidal. Our local area has had 2 student suicides in the last couple of months but no COVID deaths for youth. We need to value our children enough to say that they are essential and their learning in person is also essential. Allow for online learning for those who don't feel safe but get the rest of our kids back to in person school 5 days a week NOW.

Last Name: Butler Locality: Arlington

After schools in Arlington being closed almost a year, it is imperative that schools reopen for in person instruction. Private schools in our area have never closed, and have operated safely. Our kids are struggling academically and emotionally—-they need to be learning in person, at school. I have never considered myself a one issue voter, until now.

Last Name: Farrow Locality: Loudoun County

Please vote to support SB 1303. Students in LCPS have been learning virtually for almost a year and it does not work for every child. Experts say it is safe for in person learning and there are many school districts around the country providing this option to families. We need to start putting students first. Their education is vital for the future. As a former teacher, it is clear that valuable instruction time has been lost this past year. There are no opportunities for differentiation and critical thinking. Please support this bill so that students who need an in person learning option can receive it.

Last Name: Rosenbaum Locality: Loudoun

Please push to pass this bill. Our young learners are not able to sit in front of a computer screen all day. While our teachers are doing amazing, it is virtually impossible to keep 5-10 year olds engaged for hours on end staring at a computer. Young children need to be physically in school. Many school districts all over the world are putting the importance of in-school learning first- please require that every school district be required to have in-person learning five days a week! Our children are counting on wonderful people in public office to make this happen! Thank you!

Last Name: Cash Locality: Falls Church City

Hello, On behalf of my children and other children in the state of Virginia, please consider supporting this bill. My young elementary-aged child would greatly benefit from an educational, social and emotional perspective with schools being fully open and taught in person by their teachers. We’ve seen success stories at private schools, daycares and public schools in other districts. Thank you, Caitlin and Matthew Cash

Last Name: Spiro Locality: Arlington

It is imperative that schools are open NOW. Virtual school is still going to be a choice to those families that insist their families continue to learn this way but not moving to provide safe, in person education to our children when all of the science says it is possible and recommended is a travesty. The toll virtual learning has taken on our children is heartbreaking from all perspectives; academic, emotional, and social. We have learned how to safely live with this pandemic present but will we recover from this true second wave pandemic that you have created?

Last Name: Smith Locality: Woodbridge

Please vote to mandate in-person instruction for all students. The closure of PWCS for the past year has placed an unacceptable and unnecessary burden on working families. While families have ALWAYS had the choice to educate their children outside the public school system (i.e. homeschool, Virtual Virginia, private school), I never imagined I would be forced to be one of them. We loved our local school and - with the passage of this bill - hope we can again when it is reopened full time for my two little boys.

Last Name: Cox Locality: Virginia Beach

I am writing to plead your support to make in person learning mandatory. My son is a Junior in High School and has not stepped foot inside a classroom since last March-almost a full year! Our children need to learn face to face not by staring at a computer screen. The quality of the education he has been receiving is ridiculous. Many days, it is just 15-20 minutes of instruction when the class is scheduled to be 90 minutes. I know some teachers are trying hard but also know some are hardly trying. The social aspect is another reason as well. These kids need to develop relationships and understanding of each other. These are skills that will be used their entire life. My son should be looking at colleges right now but honestly may not be ready. Please allow him and force them (the school board) to be face to face and get a quality education. I am not asking for much- but please give him a chance!

Last Name: Crowley Locality: Virginia Beach

Requiring face to face instruction is critical. Saying no to this bill and requiring face to face availability is the easy way out. The school board and superintendent need to find a way to "yes." Our children are suffering. We can do it!

Last Name: Chaiko Organization: FCPS teachers Locality: Fairfax, VA

School is open, educators are teaching, and students are learning. Just because physical buildings are closed does not mean schooling has flat lined. I have students who have are part of their school community and grown reading levels. I have students who are learning valuable 21st century skills as well as creative thinking skills. Teachers are not given much say in the decision making process in our county, yet we are scapegoated as the reason for pausing return to school building efforts. We love your children and want to go back to the buildings, but only when it’s safe. If you have children, please ask yourself - do you want your child in the building but still on the computer, in a full time mask and at least 6 feet away from friends who cannot play with in a traditional way? Do you want to commit to mitigation strategies in your own home with diligence so the school community can stay safe? Do you want your child’s teacher to fear for her/his life, which may cause unnecessary stress on top of the typical stress of teaching? Please consider what you are asking of your child and other members of your community if they come back to the school building during a pandemic.

Last Name: Deaver Locality: Williamsburg

Williamsburg James City County Schools has been in a remote learning setting for almost one year, as the schools closed in March 2020. With the exception of 8 days of in person learning last October on a hybrid schedule, we have been forced to stay home for education. Its been a complete disappointment to say the least. I have a second grader who thrives attending school in person. The past year has been extremely challenging for the entire family. I work part time so thankfully I can stay home to sit beside her and help with assignments, because that is truly what it takes to get her through a day of school at home. I also care for a child under the age of 2. The toll the pandemic has caused is devastating for so many. We need to bring back in person learning for these kids as soon as possible FULL TIME, five days a week. If we do not our kids with only suffer more academically and emotionally. I feel as if our school system has let us down this year and unfortunately there is no plan in sight for next year. Enough is enough.

Last Name: Rebar Organization: A parent of two Fairfax County children who haven’t seen the inside of a school in almost a year Locality: Fairfax County

Our children need to get back to school. All the science is saying it’s safe. Private and Catholic schools are doing it all over the county with no problem. Fairfax county school board has failed our children miserably but we need to move on from that. Please help us get a plan in please so we can start to reopen schools and get the teachers and students back. Especially now that the teachers are being vaccinated. Thank you

Last Name: Cradler Locality: Fairfax

Please allow students to continue virtual learning until this virus is under control. My MS child is doing very well. She is able to learn without any distractions and can get extra help when needed. I'm concerned for those children who have compromised health and being exposed to the virus. We need to keep school a choice right now until the transmission of the virus is under control.

Last Name: Cox Locality: Virginia Beach

I ask that you support this bill. All kids need to be in school. I have watched my son deteriorate over the past year .. physically, mentally and socially. He is a Junior in High School and has not stepped foot inside a classroom since March 2020. I understand everyone has been doing the best they can, but this decision for education should not be left up to the individual school boards. We need help!! We need a promise of consistency. We need our kids in school!! Please help us!

Last Name: Simin Locality: Fairfax

Vote NO for SB 1003. The society has to commit to behavior that stops spreading the COVID-19. Among other factors, staying away from others is a key ! Schools are integral part of our community and viruses and other diseases don’t magically stop at the front door. Education is important but only healthy kids can learn. Also, kids cannot make progress if their teachers are sick or dead. Help overcome the pandemic.

Last Name: Meredith Everett Locality: Fairfax

SB 1303 does not take a school district’s locality into consideration when making decisions about re-opening school buildings to students. This important decision should be made by the school board in conjunction with the state and county health departments and guided by the CDC’s recommendations for safely re-opening schools. Please vote no on SB 1303.

Last Name: Colombo Locality: Fairfax County

SB 1303 attempts to use a one size fits all approach to to learning in a pandemic. There is no equity in forcing schools to provide in person instruction without considering differences between localities, especially when considering something like community spread. Decisions to have buildings open for in person instruction should be left up to local school divisions with guidance from state and local health departments. Please remember that schools have been open, it’s just looked different. While we all want some normalcy back in our lives, we aren’t guaranteed that simply by forcing an in-person option, especially one where mitigation strategies will force children to be learning in much the same ways they were virtually, for the sake of health and safety.

Last Name: Copeland Locality: Chantilly

Please provide five days a week of schooling for our children. My oldest has turned inward and doesn’t know how to socialize and my youngest, with learning disabilities, is not thriving in this environment. Please reopen schools!!

Last Name: Leffler Locality: Aldie

Veterans with PTSD are at home with their kids during DL, even if hybrid was selected. Why? We served our country and simply desire our children to be taught in the classrooms to bring back a sense of normalcy. We served and protected our country, we humbly request public education do the same for our children. Serve them and protect them, in the classrooms, with a quality education. Don't make the children suffer because adults are failing them by not following the rules in the community. Show them that they matter too and aren't being left behind. Children are our hope and their hearts matter too. Our voice, our choice. Kids need to be back in the schools, it is inexcusable to have a year off of in person instruction because of failed leadership. Our kids need heroes too. And to not feel abandoned. Vote yes on SB 1303 and show us the respect our children deserve.

Last Name: McLaughlin Locality: Fairfax

I urge the Education Committee to pass this bill to help clean up the virtual education mess it created last year and follow the science to affirm by statute public school students' right to a continuously maintained high quality (i.e full time, in person) education to which they are entitled under the Virginia constitution.

Last Name: Hess Williamson Locality: Leesburg

Please support this bill and get kids back in school 5 days a week. There are no more excuses and our children desperately need it.

Last Name: Roselle Poe Locality: Loudoun

I humbly ask that you approve this bill. Our children need to be back in school Full Time 5 days a week. We have had 7 suicides since the close of school. The most recent was an 18 year old on Feb 2. Please, put children’s academic and mental needs as a top priority. Our county is asking for more money for less students. This county is missing 500 students that they cannot find. We have school board members who do not care, who have been caught sleeping on camera during board meetings as children plead to get their schools open. I again ask you to approve this bill for our children. This is truly now a matter of every child being left behind. This is not what Virginia should have happen to the next generation of leaders. Respectfully Erin Roselle Poe

Last Name: McMahon Organization: Parent Locality: Fairfax Station

The state created our problem in March, 2020 by shuttering the schools statewide. It's time for the state to set a baseline expectation in STATUTE for the most basic requirement of every school district in the Commonwealth: to offer an in-person education option for students. The Governor's request last week that schools put kids in the buildings by March 15 is nice, but it isn't STATUTE. FCPS will allow some students to attend 2 days a week in March 2021,, but it's not teacher led instruction. FCPS is allowing the vacvinated teachers to stay home while the children in the classroom stare at her on their computers. T Please push the Education Committee to support this legislation!

Last Name: ZakRamsay Locality: Chesapeake

All children need to be back in schools 5 days a week.

Last Name: BARRETT Locality: Fairfax

The Commonwealth created our current mess when it mandated in March 2020 that all school districts shutter for in-person learning for at least the rest of that school year without any plan or strategy to re-open, effectively leaving the local school districts, and specifically FCPS, to figure their way out of it. The Commonwealth's default position to "keep schools closed" has paralyzed local school boards, as COVID cases mounted and media stories emphasized new public restrictions. Parents and children seemed to have no chance or voice that's why it's imperative that a Statute requiring in person learning be passed. It is my opinion that it is the responsibility of the lawmakers within the Commonwealth, who originally created the school closure mandate, to send a STRONG message to FCPS and other school districts across the Commonwealth, as well as to the teacher's unions who continually move the goal post with their never ending demands to RTS; that they are INDEED expected to resume in-person (5-day week) education as soon as possible with no backsliding with the passage of SB1303. The VA Constitution, in Section VIII, requires the state to provide for a public school system AND that it "shall ensure that an educational program of high quality is established and continuously maintained." Virtual education has been clearly demonstrated to be suboptimal--and FCPS has clearly said that repeatedly at this point, evidenced by lost learning and failing grades. Not to mention the mental health factors facing our children being shuttered away from any social interaction. Due to these deficiencies in virtual learning, the Commonwealth has an obligation to live up to its constitutional requirement to ensure an educational program of "high quality" that is "continuously maintained." Respectfully, Mrs. BARRETT I have included some links for your review detailing new data and opinions of the Director of the CDC as well as detailed accounts by teachers of why it is imperative to have students in school.

Last Name: Barker Locality: Woodbridge

I am in favor of continuing to provide online learning for any student/ family that requests or requires it. Families should have a choice in how they want their student’s educated. My child has flourished with virtual learning, despite it being a Pandemic ,and despite not being in close proximity to his friends. As a parent I provided peer interaction with quarantined classmates, I would also provide counseling and medical treatment for my child if he appeared depressed due to the Pandemic. I wish virtual instruction was an option for us at the start of his middle school career. He is able to voice his opinions, learn without distractions, receive immediate one on one instruction and rapid feedback. His teachers have been great with providing instruction in a way that he is able to absorb the information and demonstrate understanding. It would be inequitable to remove the option for virtual instruction, now that it is proven that it can be done and with fidelity. The parents that want in- person instruction have a choice, but it should not override my student’s choice. They do not speak for my child or my network’s children. Virtual instruction takes students closer to the 21st century and models how communication and learning may appear in college and the workforce. To take away this well funded opportunity would be taking a step back for many. Not every student with special needs, , nor honor student requires in- person learning . School systems have spent millions to equip students with technology , please do not take a step back and require all of them to sit the computer in the corner, in exchange for lectures and peer interaction. Every school ( middle and high school) after everyone receives the vaccine, and after Covid- should have a virtual school or academy option. Half of the parents despise virtual instruction, but what about the minority that saw the benefits of this type of instruction, and wants it to continue for their children. Families should have the right to continue the progress in the virtual environment, teachers should have the right to teach in a forum in which they received training and many mastered in a Pandemic. In- person has left many students behind, if you need evidence, refer to the SOL’s. Virtual instruction just made the fallacies of in-person instruction a reality for many parents that were not aware of their students’s ability or inability to engage, participate and comprehend instruction. Many are unfairly blaming virtual instruction when in fact their student is struggling , because they were also struggling in-person or they require teacher prompts and checking to attend, and no one at the home can provide that resource or incentive. Students that require socialization at the middle and high school level do not depend on it during their content learning, that is usually facilitated during lunch, hallway passing and activities. The same can be provided for virtual students that should have an option to participate in activities and sports. Please keep this vital form of instruction in place; and make virtual instruction a required option for all school districts to provide, and present to all of the families they serve. Virtual instruction should be a funded and provided choice during the 21-22 school year and beyond. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Last Name: Schatzman Locality: Fairfax

I support all children in FCPS returning to school. My daughter has been doing virtual leaning for almost a year and enough is enough. She is suffering academically and emotionally and FCPS needs to reopen.

Last Name: Engbersen Locality: York county school division

If CDC says we can open all schools safely, then we can. Please open schools, mitigate safety precautions and get our children back to the learning they deserve. It’s time

Last Name: Lozano Locality: Arlington

Children have been out of the classroom for nearly a year. Many of them are struggling with the isolation of virtual school. There is a new pandemic, an insidious pandemic and the continued isolation is exacerbating it. That pandemic is pediatric mental illness. Cases are skyrocketing and access to mental health care is even harder to come by than ever. As a pediatrician I see kids being amazingly resilient and holding themselves together, I see them with headaches and stomach aches when they don’t have the words to tell me that they are sad and anxious, and I see kids abusing drugs and alcohol to make the pain go away. Depression and anxiety make up the majority of the patients we see right now. They want to go back to school. They need contact with their friends and teachers. Research shows us it is safe to be in schools. Safe for both students and teachers. Teachers are more likely to contract Covid teaching virtually than in the classroom. As a parent, I have kids who need sped services and gifted services. They are fortunate to have parents that can support both ends of the spectrum. What about the families that are not as privileged as mine? Families whose children need services that the school usually provides. Please leave virtual school in place for those teachers and children at the highest risk but for the vast majority of teachers and students the safest place is in school. We need to put the brakes on the mental health pandemic that is damaging far more kids than Covid. In person school needs to be provided so parents can return to work. In person school needs to be an option so we can close the equity gaps that are getting wider and wider. Please for the sake of our kids make in person school an option. It’s time.

Last Name: Patwardhan Locality: Fairfax

I am dismayed by the push for a return to in person instruction and the discourse around educators. There has been a concerted effort to demonize teachers and other educators who do not wish to expose themselves and their families needlessly to a deadly and highly transmissible virus. There is endless talk of “mitigation” strategies, which basically forbid any kind of meaningful interaction between students or between students and staff. Covid-safe face to face learning is not more engaging than virtual learning. Those clamoring to “reopen” ignore those students who have thrived in distance learning and refuse to acknowledge that our educators HAVE been working hard to maintain educational continuity. It is hard to believe that policy makers have done an honest cost-benefit analysis of pushing a return to in-person. The ostensible benefits involve socializing, which is difficult when you can’t see half of someone’s face and your teacher can’t get close to you to give you individual support. The cost, meanwhile, is high. Besides the obvious increase in covid cases, there is the cost of building maintenance, of cleaning supplies, and of a higher carbon footprint both from the high usage of cleaning supplies and of the increased traffic, which will probably include a lower share of buses and higher share of single occupancy motor vehicles. People need to be brutally honest about their motives in pushing a return to in person. The only difference between covid-safe in person learning and distance learning is location. The disrespect towards staff of schools, meanwhile, is appalling. Educators deserve better than to have their lives gambled with. The governor thinks “parents deserve a break”. He needs to understand that most educators are parents too. They and their children deserve a break too. For too long, all society’s ills have been shunted to schools and there is apathy for the stress educators are under and downright hostility now that educators worry about the safety of themselves and their families.

Last Name: O’Neill Locality: Fairfax County Public Schools

Over the last 11 months our school board, administrators and local legislators have done everything they can to silence parents. We will not be silenced and we will continue to fight like hell for our children that are suffering. They have been thrown in the middle of a battle between politics and science and they just want to go to school!! Over the course of the past year the entire purpose of the existence Fairfax County Public Schools has been diminished. Teachers are working part time (my sons second grade teacher works 4 hours / week the rest of his day is independent computer work! He’s 8!!!) for full time pay, parents are doing a majority of the teaching while also working full-time jobs and juggling children that aren’t self sufficient yet. And for what? So our children can sit in front of screens all day learning nothing? How does a local school board get to decide that the best solution to education during a pandemic is shoving laptops in the faces of 5 year old children? They’re torturing our kids and then patting themselves on the back and calling themselves a “caring culture” during school board meetings?! Virtual learning has been absolute hell for our early learners especially those who haven’t even learned to read yet. My husband is a physician and has been saying since last April that the lockdowns were never intended for the schools. The sole purpose was to not overwhelm our healthcare system. Now given that our educators are taking vaccines from more vulnerable groups and the covid numbers in Virginia have plateaued and are on the downward trajectory it is time to fully open our schools 5 days a week and most importantly IN-PERSON. For over a year now our doctors have operated on covid patients while unvaccinated, private schools have been fully open and operating as normal with the exception of everyone wearing masks and there have been no major outbreaks. Unfortunately, this pandemic has shed light on all the fraud, manipulation and corruption in our public school system and overshadowed what’s actually important here - OUR CHILDREN! They NEED to be around other kids, they need to be in a classroom with a teacher teaching not a screen! Suicide is on the rise, these kids are suffering mental, physical and emotional damage that will take years to repair. We’re just trading one crisis for the next. Please follow the science. Please listen to the doctors. Please listen to the parents. We implore you to vote YES on SB 1303 and make sure our children receive their right to a full time IN-PERSON public school education.

Last Name: Sheil Locality: Fairfax

The CDC, AAP, and VA AAP all endorse that schools can and should open safely with the use of mitigation strategies. FCPS has received millions of dollars in CARES funds in addition to its already robust budget. FCPS has the means to open our school safely! Why are our children being held hostage? Please support this bill...our country's future depends on it!

Last Name: Harris Locality: Virginia Beach

My daughter has not stepped 1 foot inside her school in nearly 10 months. In my opinion, her senior year is the most important preparatory year for life as a college student. The only thing she has learned this year is that she means absolutely nothing to her school, her district and her state. She has been dumped on the street without so much as a, “goodbye”. This past fall during the college application and performing arts audition process, she could not even get email responses from several of her teachers when trying to secure recommendations, let alone any assistance in the audition process. The sad thing is that she attends a “performing arts academy”. Now as she approaches the last 4+ months of school, she doesn’t even want to talk to other people. She has lost the majority of her social skills. She has gone from a musical theatre performer, to an introvert who doesn’t like to leave her house. This is not related to a fear of the Corona Virus, it is because she has had very limited interaction with people. The system has failed my child, when it appears there is no scientific basis for doing so. A political agenda took precedence over my daughter’s success, and for that, anyone involved should be ashamed. All of our children are suffering. Some do not know it yet, but this year of virtual education has had an effect on every child. For some, the effects are already notable. You have a chance, by passing this legislation, to do the right thing. Get our children back to school, and give them some chance to correct the damage that has already been done. Give them a sense of normalcy and some awareness that their teachers care brought to be present for them. I would be happy to speak to any of you personally about very specific examples of how this year has failed my child, including 3 year olds attending class with teachers for AP classes and teachers not coming to class because they forgot they had appointments. None of this would be tolerated in person, but in the virtual setting anything goes. No cameras are on, and all my child sees is a blank screen. What a year this has been. Please do the right thing, for her sake, and all the others just like her.

Last Name: Campagnuolo Locality: Fairfax

Please support SB1303. In-person learning needs to be available to all students

Last Name: VanDerhoff Organization: As a Fairfax County Teacher and member of AFT Local 2401 Locality: Springfield, VA

SB 1303 ignores the differences from locality to locality in terms of COVID community spread and ability to successfully mitigate transmission within school buildings. The decision to open school buildings for in-person instruction should be left to local School Boards with guidance from the local and state health departments. Please vote no on SB 1303.

Last Name: Coleman Locality: James City County/Williamsburg

I have 4 children, all of which have been impacted by the decisions our school board and superintendent have made in relation to the pandemic. My oldest, and only daughter, lost the last half of her senior year and is now a first year college student. My sons are a junior, 7th grader, and 4th grader. Each of them impacted differently by the decisions of our school board and superintendent. My oldest son has been impacted the worst. A 4.0 student, he is struggling to learn, complete his work or even understand the topics he is being tested on. Fridays were removed as instruction days so our kids have lost 20% of their instruction time each week. As a nurse and my husband being a firefighter/medic, we have not stopped working. While my husband has some days that he is off during the school week, due to Covid, he has been held over for mandatory overtime often in order to fill the absences related to Covid. Some weeks he works 72 hours straight. We aren’t home to teach our kids. We are doing the best we can. We have also seen how it’s possible to be open for business and keep people safe. Nobody In our district leadership seems to care that the kids are struggling. The amount of kids failing 2 or more grades has nearly tripled from previous years. These kids need to be in school 5 days a week. Now our schools are announcing yet again that the kids will go back to school in a hybrid manner for 2 days in school, 2 days online at home and no Fridays. They are also making all instruction days half days so they can get the kids out before lunch so now even more instruction time is removed. This is not an education. Our tax dollars go towards this and we expect more. Please vote to open the schools 5 days a week for anyone that wants in person learning. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Last Name: Hunt Locality: Warrenton

In-person school is critical to my children's learning. My children have received only 8.2 weeks of instruction from professional teachers since last March. That little amount of schooling is unacceptable for our children. Virtual has not proven to be effective with my children. My historically straight A child has failed Chorus and As are a rarity. He used to push himself to obtain straight As. Now he doesn't care. His words, "the school doesn't care, why should I?"

Last Name: Kelly Locality: Arlington

I'm writing in support of opening schools and giving the option to those that want it to have face-to-face in-person instruction. Schools have been shown scientifically to not be linked to community spread. With the right mitigation process, it is safe for our children to return to school. Many children, especially young learners, are not equipped to learn through a computer screen. Virtual teaching is not effective.

Last Name: Kenna Locality: Arlington

I’m a divorced mom of three school-aged kids. Please open our schools. The science from around the world has consistently shown that schools are not hotbeds of disease at all. Studies performed before a vaccine was available to school staff or the general population have shown that adults who work in schools aren’t worse off. Being in-person at schools does not present an increased danger to community spread or to teachers’ health. Being a home, however, definitely increases the danger of food insecurity and domestic violence for children. It has demonstrably increased youth incidences of depression and anxiety—not sadness and worry, but clinical-level mental health issues as well as sleep disturbances and loneliness among our kids. Kids have lost literacy skills, content knowledge, and the crucial social skills—from cooperation to self-control—that most parents and citizens rely on schools to provide. For many years, parents have been admonished to limit screen time, to be suspicious of personal devices because of what neuroscience tells us about the negative effects attention-spans, sleep quality, concentration, and reading comprehension that come with increased screen time. We know that the colorful interfaces and literal bells and whistles of “apps” produce tiny hits of dopamine for our brains—making screen use very much akin to other addictive behaviors. Since the pandemic, parents have been asked to ignore all this evidence and years of warnings about screens breaking down stamina for learning and the social skills crucial to success in education and in society. We have been asked to pretend that poising our children for screen addiction is fine because we didn’t have a way of doing any other form of learning that was “safe.” My kids are hurting educationally, emotionally, and socially. They are despondent on some days and restless on most of them. My finances are strained from paying for childcare or “pod” learning so that I can work all day from home. My ability to care for myself so that I can be a patient single mom with a positive outlook—despite a global pandemic in society churning with division—is also under strain from having to co-teach my children, counsel my children, play with my children, be tech support for my children, be all things to my children. Not everything can open, sure. But school can. And with the return to in-person learning, working parents will be able to concentrate on work. Children will be in child-oriented environments where their support system of adults and peers can begin to restore needed insulation between the world of adult concerns and the world of learning, play, and discovery. Our children will be attempting to recover a lost year of instruction, but opening schools puts a stop to the size of that loss growing every day. Keeping kids out of schools has the highest negative learning impact on our state’s most vulnerable kids. The science is in and has been for months. Risks and known losses to children who are not given the option to learn in school far outweigh additional transmission risks associated with opening schools (while using masks and other precautions outlined by the CDC). The risk to teachers and to the community is almost negligible when it comes to incidences of viral infections linked to in-person learning . The risks and accumulating costs of denying children an in-person learning environment are known—not estimated—and steep indeed.

Last Name: Levy Locality: Loudoun

Please move forward with the push to open schools for K-12 . Thank you.

Last Name: Stahl Locality: Stafford

This is to encourage support this bill for all of the children of Virginia. I am concerned and quite frankly appalled that we’ve let this virtual “learning” go this far. Teenagers amd younger are having a hard time with this, not just the learning challenges, but that should be enough. I’m talking about mental health. How can a whole year out of a middle or high schooler’s life be taken away? It’s horrific how many children and teens have been coming to the emergency rooms a daily basis. It is multiple daily for emergency medical mental health care. Get the kids back in school we’re having some major problems out here. Teachers running the show ? Who’s the priority here?

Last Name: Elwell Organization: OPEN Fairfax County Schools Locality: Centreville

The Commonwealth of Virginia closed schools statewide in March 2020. It's time for the state to require every school district in the Commonwealth to offer an in-person education option for students without further delay. Please support this legislation in statute to compel our school districts to take action to return students safely to in-person school. The future of our children depends on it.

Last Name: Cope Locality: Moseley

We ask that you vote to pass this bill many children, my two included, have suffered greatly because of virtual leaning. Not only have they regressed educationally, they’ve been negatively affected mentally.

Last Name: Van Sice Locality: Arlington

I have 3 kids in virtual school in Arlington and it is not working. They are falling so far behind. We’ve had to get a tutor for my 8th grader. My 5th grader is a very bright student and completely not engaged. It is impossible to differentiate instruction in a virtual environment so they are being taught to the lowest level. Older students are very depressed and lacking healthy social interaction. It was sufficient to do virtual school when we didn’t understand the virus. But, now we know so much. Teachers should only be offered a vaccine if the commit to return to the classroom. I volunteered to substitute even without a vaccine. It is so important to open the schools for those for whom virtual does not work!!

Last Name: Quinn Locality: Fairfax

As an educator in Virginia’s public schools it is deeply troubling that this bill wants to force teachers back into school in person when many won’t be fully vaccinated and there is so much uncertainty with the new variants. Many schools in Europe are having to return to virtual, so is it really wise to close off that possibility? I understand that many parents are chomping at the bit and proclaiming they should have the choice of in person school. Teachers aren’t being offered that choice though. We didn’t sign up to be frontline workers. Please respect our right to protect ourselves and our families so we can continue doing what we do best, educating Virginia’s children. Think carefully about the message you would be sending to educators with the passage of this bill. Many teachers already have one foot out the door after the last challenging year. Don’t make it worse. I can’t wait to be back with my students when it is safe. Now is simply not that time.

Last Name: Brodie Locality: Ashburn

Please support in person school. I have four boys, three of which are elementary age. Distance learning does not engage them and their emotional health has plummeted. I know that they need the structure and routine and a different adult and peers to learn and be healthy mentally. I found a suicide note from my oldest. He's 10 and in 4th grade. This darkness had been triggered from isolation and forced learning through a screen with lack of community and belief that he is not valued. The negative thinking festers while I'm busy trying to help my 2nd grader navigate his way on the Chromebook or entice my kindergartener to try a short bit of his class. We have a stable home. My heart hurts and I worry for children and situations less stable. We don't make enough money to pay for private school. Public education should be a quality education available to ALL.

Last Name: Riddle Locality: Fairfax County

Please support bill SB1303 so that all students have access to an in person education. The emotional and social toll virtual learning is having on so many students is heartbreaking and cruel. Being alone on a computer all day is not school. With the proper mitigation strategies in place school is safe. Safer than being home alone, being on a computer for 6+ hours a day or being in an abusive home. Schools exist for teaching students, not for employing anyone. The rights and needs of the students must come first. Students need to be in school and in school for 5 days a week. This is not a local issue but a state issue as the state funds a good % of school budgets. Please pass this bill so ALL students have access to in person education and not just those families who can afford to send their children to private schools.

Last Name: Gwilliam Organization: Arlington Parents for Education Locality: Arlington County

Please pass this bill. The CDC director is saying it is safe for students and teachers to be back in school buildings— without the teachers being vaccinated first. We need to give students, teachers, and parents the option of in-person schooling. Virtual school does not work for a lot of our children, who are falling behind and are experiencing a great deal of emotional and mental anguish. Please show strong leadership. Our children need you. Thank you in advance.

Last Name: Semler Locality: Fairfax

Vote no to this Bill. Schools need to follow a phased and methodical reopening plan. Teachers are providing PPE for students and themselves. Not all staff have had their second vaccine and MSC is on the rise. With new variants in our community and elderly family at home we need to exercise caution in reopening. 450,000 dead Americans is enough.

Last Name: Hamilton Locality: Alexandria, Fairfax County

Good evening---My name is Jenna Hamilton and I am a resident of Fairfax County (Alexandria). I'm writing today as a parent to express my very strong support for SB1303. The bill would set a baseline requirement of the most basic expectations that the state has for local school districts--the requirement that they offer an educational option for in-person education to students in their jurisdictions. Our current situation--almost a year in Fairfax County without in-person education--was begun when the *state* shuttered the schools statewide in March, 2020. We now need the state to take a stand to reopen the schools and set the requirement that schools offer in-person education as a baseline. The Governor's guidance issued last week, while appreciated, is not the same as having *statute* that expresses the expectations of our government in Richmond. We cannot continue to have school districts paralyzed with analysis paralysis, refusing to offer students who need in person education the opportunity to access it. Even here in FCPS, where on Groundhog Day they offered yet another timeline for a return to partial in-person education, parents cannot count on it. They have offered timelines 3-4 times before, only to pull them back before implementation. There is no trust in the system anymore. We need the state to set a statutory expectation for a bare minimum. Our kids are struggling--study after study, pediatric experts, medical experts, mental health experts and our own Governor all agree that we are doing significant long-term damage to the kids in our community when we do not return them to school. We have to face the reality that there is no such thing as a "zero risk" environment. And that we have to learn to live in a world where COVID exists and where children still attend school. COVID is not going away. But our teachers, now prioritized for vaccination ahead of older, more at-risk people in our community, must return to teaching students. Parents are asking for your help. As the Education Committee considers this legislation, I implore you to remember your obligation to support the education of children. The children in the system have no one to speak for them. Please do not let them down. Thank you.

Last Name: Martin Locality: Fairfax

Please follow science and let the school open 5 days a week for in person, teachers and school staff are receiving their vaccine so no more excuses for teachers and Unions, parents who are concerned to send their kids to in person have the virtual, online and homeschooling options. Our kids needs to be in school in person for their mental emotional and educational health, depression and suicide rate between the kids is going high, schools are safe to reopen like all other private schools and school age centers in the area, these schools didn’t shut down since May 2020 and functioning very well and it didn’t spread the virus to the community, please follow science and open schools 5 days a week, instead getting summer school or extending the school year, let the teachers teach in Monday, why Monday is not anymore a school day? Our kids education is being jeopardized and our kids being neglected by FCPS. Families with two parents working outside, essential workers, their kids are failing with no supervision, hot meals or taking care off. Education system was built to help the kids to become better citizens and they are the future, now the future citizens are becoming mentally and emotionally destroyed and educationally way behind their peers in private schools and other open states, Please open schools for in person 5 days a week. We don’t want another Gabriel Fernandez in VA

Last Name: Vassallo Locality: Yorktown

Please support this bill and get our children back to in person learning! My child is a Junior and has never had a "C", until this year. This may effect her college choices and has definitely effected her mental health. All of the current science and guidance says it's safe. It's been a year, it's past time.

Last Name: Gray Locality: Arlington

Hysteria has been substituted for logic, and it is a failing equation. Arlington Public Schools (APS) acquiesced to concerns and worries about COVID in the fall, and the goal posts have continued to move since then, with no real end in sight. APS ignored the science in September when the case numbers were low, and COVID told us that it would follow the same seasonal pattern of the coronavirus family--building in the fall and winter. APS can now harness hindsight, and see how flawed and shortsighted the operational decisions were at that time. Is APS now really prepared to once again ignore the science of vaccines--even as teachers are bumped to the front of the line---and honestly continue to debate the possibility and necessity of in person learning? The state of Virginia has manufactured an educational crisis where our students are approaching one year of being out of the classroom. Countless red flags tied to learning, mental health, and overall child well being have been waving for months to warn us that we have been moving in the wrong direction, and must urgently make a course correction. It is challenging to fathom how APS can even attempt to defend it's approach when confronted with the reality that countless public school districts across the country, with similar or higher COVID caseloads than NOVA, have been and continue to remain open. It is unconscionable that we have denied our students the ability to return to the classroom when so many other schools and places of employment have forged ahead with bravery and conviction. APS has cowered in the face of a great challenge, failed students in a time of crisis, and made a mockery of our school district. Enough now. Open the schools for in person learning.

Last Name: Hoover Locality: Fairfax

Vote no on this bill. School should and will resume 100% in-person 5 days a week when it's safe to do so. There are very good reasons that it has not been safe and has been in the best interest of children to be at home during this global pandemic. Public schools cannot ensure that all students are safe and healthy and were unprepared to do so. This is a pandemic, many have died and many of those are children. Schools can and will provide in-person education when it is safe to do so and the resources are there to make it work. No school system is trying to keep students out of the buildings for anything other than protecting kids. Everyone is tired of the pandemic but it is no reason to lose all sense of what is most important - our lives.

Last Name: Hollman Locality: Purcellville

It is time to focus on the children's needs. A large part of that is opening schools & letting their lives normalize & stabilize. Please start the process.

Last Name: Thrift Locality: Norfolk

I encourage you to support both of these bills. As our Governor stated, it is time to get our children back in the classroom. After losing 3 months of school in the spring of 2020 and many districts remain virtual, our students are not receiving the education they need and deserve. Most teachers are trying but there is no way students that are learning virtually are getting the same amount of instruction as students in a classroom. I know some students are flourishing but most are not. I know families that have changed residency to other states where they kids can get in person learning. I have friends struggling because they are paying for private school because their child(ren) need in person instruction. SOLs for all grade levels should be done away with. They are without a doubt the worst thing that’s happened to education. Ow teachers teach to a test. I hear from so many teachers that they don’t have time to do all the fun stuff they’d like to because they have to make sure students are prepared for the SOLs. I know this bill only deals with 3rd-8th grade but it’s a start. Growth based assessments are certainly more appropriate especially after all the school that was missed because of COVID. If you are unsure on how to vote regarding SOLs, ask a teacher. They will tell you that SOLs need to go!

Last Name: Mehta Organization: None Locality: Arlington

In person education is crucial for the academic, social, and emotional development of children. Virtual learning has been shown to be woefully inadequate in providing a meaningful, rigorous education to our students. Children of color are most likely to suffer with virtual learning. In person school should always be available to those children who need it for safety, social and emotional well being, food and for their education. Children need to be in school. They should not be ever left at home staring for hours on a screen. Please make sure schools always offer in person education

Last Name: Travia Locality: Fairfax

Support this bill. Our kids need to be in school. We returned from Sweden last summer and our kids didn’t miss one day of school last school year and can’t understand why they can’t go to school here. My kids have not met classmates, have no activities to meet friends, and have suffered so much since we moved to Va. They are now at huge disadvantage for college admission compared to their peers who live in states with compassionate leaders who cared enough about the children to keep schools open. The closing of schools is causing higher suicide rates and increased loneliness. Stop killing our kids and destroying their future. If every other business is open, many requiring closer contact than schools (hair salons, nail salons, martial arts, massage therapists, doctors, dentists, etc), then why are the schools not open? Do we not value our kids in the way we value the adults running these businesses? Stop forcing the kids to pay the price of some political war with the union. Kids are not pawns to be used for negotiation. They deserve an education and do not deserve to be left behind their peers that live in more compassionate states. Vote to put the kids back in school 5 days a week to give them some small chance to recover from the failures of the last year.

Last Name: Livingston Organization: Suffering Chidlren Locality: Ashburn

It’s pretty bad this has to be a bill. Our school district now has 7 suicides and near 500 children filed as missing persons. Meanwhile our union pushed to the front of the vaccinations lines and is still saying it’s unsafe. Our children are suffering and dying and our county employees are hiding in their homes with the vaccinations while senior centers struggle to get them. What a mess. Open schools now. This is a ridiculous failure. How many more children need to die?

Last Name: Bell Locality: Fairfax

Please give the families who want to have their children back in school the option to do so. If there are families that wish to stay virtual, they still can-there are many options, even to the point the public school system doesn't need to be involved in offering a virtual option. Our children need to stop being shut away and with their peers and teachers face to face. As a working parent, it is impossible for me to supervise or even help my child during his school day. I have found him playing around during virtual classes and not paying attention. He has always loved school and excelled and now he can't stop talking about how much he hates it and can't wait for summer.

Last Name: Ragano Locality: Fairfax County

Please open school 5 days a week NOW! Full time In person needs to be an option!!!! Please support SB1303. Our kids need you, Virginia has let them down. 7 school systems bigger than FCPS have been in person 5 days a week! Please follow the science. Mental illness has become a pandemic among children. Please support our kids!

Last Name: Grande Locality: Loudoun

Please vote yes to SB1303. Get kids back in school 5 days a week please. No hybrid for the fall. No back and forth in opening and closing due to infection rates.

Last Name: Ward Locality: Springfield

Please support this bill requiring school systems to provide both virtual and in person learning to all students so each student can choose what works best for them. Our school system FCPS does not currently participate in Virtual Virginia as they claim FCPS Online is comprable. However, this school year FCPS did not enroll all virtual students in FCPS Online and is planning to have teachers teach students concurrently in the classroom and at home. There is no way teaching like this can be effective for both groups. Please pass this bill in such a way we don't see school systems attempt to have one teacher teach one class on two platforms. This is wrong for our teachers and it is wrong for our students. To right our students, FCPS needs to have in person students in the classrooms 5 days and leave the virtual teaching explicitly to FCPS Online and Virtual Virgina. I support forcing all school systems in the Commonwealth to participate in Virtual Virginia even if they have their own online teaching model. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Reed Locality: Gainesville

Before this passes I would want more information or parameters. Educators have been working hard to connect & educate students from a distance during an unprecedented pandemic. This is different than a snow day or hurricane or other natural recurring anticipated situation. Do not support this blindly.

Last Name: Levin Organization: Henrico Parents Locality: GLEN ALLEN

I implore you to support SB 1303 when it comes before the House Education Committee. While virtual school is right for some students, the data shows that it does not work for most. There are many students living with food insecurity and living in abusive homes for whom school is the only safe place. The CDC reported in December that since schools have been closed there has been an uptick in child abuse. Additionally, there is also an abundance of data that shows that COVID spread comes from within the community rather than from within our schools. The science is compelling that the risk of spread in school is almost non-existent (latest CDC Schools Report) but the data is overwhelming that the risk of keeping schools closed is great. In Virginia alone, there has been a significant increase in suicides and self-harm ED visits in the 10-19 age group. The most important aspect that I would like you to consider when deciding on how to vote on this bill is EQUITY. Education is the foundation upon which all else is built. Please vote Yes for the students who are home alone doing virtual school, for the students who are responsible for taking care of younger sibling while also trying to do virtual school, for the students in abusive homes, for the students living with food insecurity. A quality public education is THE way to end systemic racism. The disparities between the districts who have had in-person instruction (such as Hanover County) and between the haves and have-nots, will continue to grow to a point of no return. The right to a quality public education is enshrined in the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and local school boards have been failing our children for nearly a year now. School boards across the Commonwealth have had nearly a year AND CARES Act funds to put in place mitigation procedures to make in-person education safe for staff and students alike. Yet, many school districts have not given a choice for in-person education. In the case of Henrico County, there is not even a return date on the horizon. It is time to send them a message that our children belong in school and it is safe for staff and students to re-open (with mitigation strategies in place). We often talk about acting on the right side of history, and this is your chance. Sincerely, Yael Levin-Sheldon A concerned Henrico parent.

Last Name: Kadel Locality: Fairfax

I support this legislation because all children need to be in school, in person.

Last Name: Thrush Locality: Vienna

I would like to express my support for SB1303 and all similar bills that guarantee our children the education that is mandated they get by the VA State Constitution but that, sadly, has been denied to most Virginia children for nearly a year. Virtual learning - staring at a screen with black boxes for peers for 7 hours a day - is not school. It does nothing to help children develop independence and social-emotional schools and is of dubious academic value as evidenced by the vast growth in failing grades throughout Virginia. Even for those students whose grades suggest they are doing well, remember that curriculums have been massively reduced in rigor. My son basically gets an A for showing up most days and turning in about one assignment per week per class. This is not learning. Leaving it up to local boards to decide on school reopening is NOT the way to go. Local boards have repeatedly gone against the wishes of the majority of parents in northern Virginia and have continued to keep schools closed. Neither of my children has been in a classroom since last March. Not only do the schools deny my children education, but their subsequent closure to all the community groups that rent their facilities at night has denied my children access to the non-school activities that depend on school facilities to run. Schools should not be receiving funding if students are not allowed in the school building. And I don't mean "open for the most needy kids" (subjective) or "open for 2 days in a hybrid format" (risking covid for almost no learning reward), I mean open for 5 full days per week just as was done prior to this pandemic. Fairfax County Schools now gives teachers a day off (Monday) each week for teacher planning, so even if my child goes back to school, he will only get 2 hybrid days (Thursday and Friday) and nothing on Monday. Since when did school equate to 2 days per week? Furthermore, in order for schools to bring students back 5 days a week, 2 more important things must occur - the social distancing "guidance" must clearly be stated that 6 feet is NOT required between desks or between kids at all times. In northern VA, the districts are insisting on 6 feet of separation, which means that all children will not be allowed back into the building for a 5 day week. They are telling us that this may be the case even in the fall! Also, the state needs to mandate that all students who wish to continue to stay virtual in the fall must use Virtual Virginia or a similar online public school rather than sap the resources of their local districts. The teachers of Fairfax County are not online curriculum developers. Their huge waste of time to reinvent the wheel and teach online when online public schools already exist that can do this better is harming the students who wish to be IN school receiving an in-school education. A teacher cannot effectively teach if she is tied to a computer screen staring at half the class over cyberspace. Please pass SB1303 and mandate that schools must offer 5 day a week full time instruction for all of their students in the fall. Young people have sacrificed everything this past year for a virus that is of virtually no threat to them. They have lost social events, leadership opportunities, arts/theater, sports, clubs, motivation for learning, friendships, mental health stability, and much more to "protect" those who should be protecting themselves. Do the right thing. Make the schools do their job.

Last Name: Carlucci Locality: Purcellville

Please support in school learning five days a week. Many parents and students are struggling in a distance learning environment. Our children’s mental health is at stake. It’s not enough for them to just survive this pandemic, they are our future and they need to THRIVE. Please help get them back in school full time. Thank you.

Last Name: White Locality: Ashburn

Please support this bill, children across this country have safely been going to school since last Fall. Friends and family of ours in other states are astounded when I tell them my kids haven’t been to school since last March. Virginia is not maintaining a high level of education. Our children are falling behind other states who figured this out months ago. Hybrid school is a failing solution and needs to not be an acceptable option. My daughter in hybrid school goes to school two days a week with no instruction on the other days. That is NOT sufficient. Full time school or full time distance. Please pass this bill to provide full time school effective immediately. The data shows they can safely return. Private schools have shown this too. The distance between those with money to pay private school and tutors is growing, I see it happening in my neighborhood. Please help stop this madness.

Last Name: Strackbein Locality: Vienna

My husband and I have lived in Vienna, Virginia ( Fairfax) most of out lives and our kids (age 8 and 11) are going to the schools we attended as kids. We have a 4-year old who will be starting Kindergarten in the fall. A big reason we close to stay and raise our kids here is the schools. But why should we stay now? We love our schools and our kids desperately want to get back to in-person learning. Their education and mental health are suffering while at home. Virtual learning was needed temporarily; but science and experience shows that the risks to kids and staff are low. I’m extremely disappointed with how Fairfax has handled the “return to school” planning. It is a total FAILURE so far. Please don’t let this school year be wasted. Please give our kids the opportunity they deserve to see a classroom this school year. Please approve SB 1303!! Thank you!!

Last Name: Carne Locality: James City County

Kids need to be back in school 100% full time. Superintendent is the sole entity keeping our schools closed. School Board has zero voting power. We are disenfranchised because we chose to have in person learning but our needs are not being met whereas those choosing virtual get all the accommodations. Kids are collateral damage because of the inability for Williamsburg-James City County Schools to be proactive, bold and mitigate risk. They’ve had months to implement protocols but chose to ignore the science and cited rising Covid numbers. Other school districts nearby were able to bring students back hybrid for months already. Our kids are prisoners to agendas, teacher push back and politics. Our kids are suffering mentally, emotionally and socially. Life is going on all around us but our kids are in limbo. Open our schools NOW!

Last Name: Walters Locality: Virginia Beach

As a teacher and parent I am urging you to pass this Bill. I teach kindergarten and had the opportunity to see the effects virtual learning had on my students. I watched students have emotional breakdowns, become withdrawn, and struggle to focus on learning. This was in stark contrast to how they were when we were going face to face. In the classroom the students were engaged in learning, happy, and well adjusted. Parents should be able to send their children to school. Public school divisions have an obligation to open the schools for students. This can be done safely.

Last Name: Levine Locality: Fairfax county

Please support this bill. The science and the data show that schools can be safely reopened with precautions, yet local school districts have not listened to this science and reopened fully, even after teachers are to be vaccinated. This issue unfortunately needs Richmond to intervene or else out kids will continue to be gravely harmed by local districts' failure to take bold and competent action on behalf of the children who need schools to be opened.

Last Name: Ramboz Locality: Arlington

I encourage you to support this bill to reopen schools. Children are experiencing real and lasting harm to both their educations and mental health. Science shows that with proper mitigation, the risk from COVID in schools is very small. Nothing will ever be risk-free, but the risk is manageable and must be considered against the actual harm that is already happening.

Last Name: Reich Locality: Arlington

Delegates, I urge you to support SB 1303. I am a school psychologist employed in a public elementary school (that is currently fully remote learning), and parent of children who have been forced to participate in school on an iPad for over 300 days. My kindergarten student has never even set foot in her school. I am uniquely poised to understand my child/students learning needs from both the parent and educational perspective. I know that they need to be in-person to benefit from a high quality education. As a parent, tax payer, and educator, I am asking for the option for an in-person education. Experts and data agree that schools can reopen safely. That choice has been denied to my children for over 300 days. This bill balances the educational programming being offered to the needs of each individual student. Please advocate for the right of children to a high quality education of which an in-person option must be available.

Last Name: Smith Locality: Arlington

Please allow parents the choice of in person learning 5 days a week. Hybrid is not enough. My 1st and 2nd grader have been out of school for almost a year now while every private school is open. While many public schools in other counties and states are open. The CDC has said on multiple occasions schools are safe! Our schools have had a year to prepare! Please put our children back in school. The learning loss is real.

Last Name: Plante Locality: Vienna

Please support this bill to hold out schools accountable for being in person. So far, Fcps has been remote for a year. Classes have been in our experience less than the curriculum.5 days a week is the only acceptable option.

Last Name: Zimmerman Locality: Fairfax

Please help our kids go to school! My kids are not learning and are on the computer too much! They are lonely and depressed!

Last Name: Cordero Locality: Arlington

Kids need to go back to in-person learning. Please support this bill. Our children deserve better. Go back in-person with the proper mitigation strategies is key to stop behavioral issues, anxiety and learning loss. We need your vote. Virginia Children need you now!

Last Name: Sicuranza Locality: Arlington County

Support for this bill means putting Virginia children first. It means supporting their education, their mental health and believing the overwhelming body of evidence that supports in person instruction and proves it can be done safely now. This is the BIGGEST issue of our time -- how we treated our children will be our legacy. They have borne the burden of this pandemic for far too long and its time to turn this situation around. Arlington County is the shame of the Commonwealth -- first to close and last to announce reopening dates. Please vote IN SUPPORT of this bill. In person education for ALL students k-12- NOW. Thank you.

Last Name: Reismeier Locality: Virginia Beach

Parents need to have the option of either in person or virtual education. My daughter is a junior, arguably the most important year for college-bound students. Virtual learning is not working for her. She has had a total of 2 days in person instruction. This is completely unacceptable. I understand that virtual works for some, and that's why there needs to be a choice. Please pass this bill so students like my daughter can get back in the classroom!

Last Name: Vicencio Locality: Fairfax County

Stop the madness. Please pass this bill and allow our children to go back into the classrooms FIVE days a week. The damage being done to our children is unacceptable and worsens by the day. We have learned so much since the early days of Covid, yet we are behaving as if it's all still a mystery. A handful of people in positions of power are allowing themselves to be paralyzed by fear and our children are being held hostage. Decisions for the fall need to be announced in time for families to leave public schools and enroll in private. That is exactly what I will do if my high schoolers cannot attend 5 days a week in the fall.

Last Name: Cuthbertson Locality: Arlington

With mask wearing, hand washing, proper distancing, committed teachers and conscientious parents our school buildings can and must re-open for all students that want to attend. I understand that every family has its own risk tolerance and for many, virtual learning is the best or only option. I respect their choice. I think parents should make the best choice for their child. Students have been out of the school buildings for nearly a year, while districts across the state, around the country and private schools around my county of Arlington have provided in-person learning to children. Data has shown and numerous experts have agreed, that schools can and must open and operate following safety guidelines. Teaching children in- person while following the basic safety guidelines works.

Last Name: Caputo Locality: Arlington

I am an arlington parent of a kindergartner and a 4th grader. And a homeowner and a psychologist. Our children are facing a public health crisis and APS isn’t doing anything about it. I am not talking about the pandemic, I am talking about the psychological crisis our children and youth are having from isolation and loneliness. Many of your inside voices right now are saying, “but everyone gets lonely and children are more resilient and adaptable than adults.” My response as a psychologist is yes and no. Children can better weather hunger, poverty, and homelessness but not isolation. Youth require, not just need, social and emotional engagement for their psychological health and growth. They are still learning how to interpret their thinking and feelings inside and constant social comparison around them is critical. Think about old school homeschooling, it produced children who struggled to adapt to life after schooling, until they moved to essentially what we now call pods mixing home learning with small social group activities. A great recipe if you have someone not working outside of the home to teach them inside of the home. The CDC found that, from April to October 2020, hospitals across the U.S. saw a 24% increase in the proportion of mental health emergency visits for children ages 5 to 11, and a 31% increase for children ages 12 to 17. Children are having severe panic attacks, are cutting, increased thoughts of suicide and actually attempting suicide. Before the pandemic, there was already a shortage of in-patient psychiatric beds for children. Just last week, I listened to multiple teachers tell this to the school board in response to my sharing this message about bed shortages. That shortage has only gotten worse as hospitals cut capacity to allow for more physical distancing within psychiatric units. There is also a shortage of therapists for children suffering from depression and anxiety from virtual schooling. They cannot connect with teachers, find the internal motivation they need because they have yet to develop that, and feel like they are disappointing their teachers and failing as learners. Why is this ok? Children waited for treatment before the pandemic so they can just wait longer now? Our priorities need to change back to students first! Let’s talk about the V word, virtual. Virtual screens and interactions can never mimic properly real human engagement for social and emotional growth, or even learning. APS and the AEA have never said that virtual school is good for kids, yet apparently it is good enough if it means not operationally preparing or upsetting staff. We have played by the rules! Our children have waited their turn, and absorbed ALL the risk for over 300 days. It is time for the adults to take on the risk instead and provide everything for our children’s educational, social, and emotional needs. APS school board and leadership have wanted staff to WANT to come back. It’s never going to happen, real leadership requires making tough decisions and today, finally that decision should put our children first! Lastly, Have you heard? Teachers unions want Fall 2021 public school to only be hybrid learning, not 5 days in-person. Enough is enough! Students and teachers need to return to the classroom, not students on screens with teachers still virtual. Teacher unions should not be more powerful than our children’s needs. No other field gets their desired accommodations.

Last Name: Thomas Organization: Chesterfield County Parents Association Locality: Chesterfield

I am a graduate of CCPS, the daughter of a retired employee, the sister of a current teacher & the parents of two CCPS high school students. I am extremely sympathetic to the situation the teachers and staff have been facing trying to navigate this school year during the pandemic. I know this has not been an easy time for them and they have done their best in the midst of an insanely stressful time. But with that said, I think the school system has gone out of their way to accommodate the teachers to the best of their current abilities. Even though the voices that have spoken in favor of remaining in all virtual classes has been among the loudest, they are also the minority. The fact is more parents and teachers have wanted a choice of virtual OR in person instruction & we have been conveniently ignored for the last 5 months. All we have ever asked for is the option of either & that has been denied. The risk is OURS to take. The evidence proving that students & schools are NOT super spreaders is now abundantly clear. My oldest is a junior and is Special Needs & in corresponding classes it is due to that he has been able to attend class in the building but he has still been impacted by the exclusion of extra activities, the loss of socialization with friends in other classes or across the school. My youngest who is a freshmen is still on all virtual and she has struggled horribly. Her mental health has collapsed to the point of threatening to drop out of school, lost all hope and wanting to quit living. This is a child who has never even had a C in her entire academic career until this year. Last quarter she had two D’s and had missed 17 days of class time, assignments and struggles to manage her work & classes. She has lost the interest and motivation to succeed or even try to do her work and she has been physically impacted by the shutdowns. She’s suffered loss of sleep, anxiety and decrease in appetite due to the stress, I’ve tried to seek help for her but it hasn’t been easy during the pandemic due to an overwhelming need for therapists and the closure of many offices. The only time I found my daughter improved was the short few weeks our county was allowed to return for a 2 day hybrid before Thanksgiving. In just those few short days there was a significant improvement in her mood, work and grades. She was back with her brother and she was back with friends and in a familiar better routine that suited her needs. Even my son was doing better because there was some life back in school for him. Once we were forced back on all virtual again the depression, anxiety & disinterest returned and it was worse than before. I don’t think our children can stand much longer what is happening to them with these closures. Virtual may work for some students but it cannot be denied that it doesn’t work for all. Like my children. It is those children who deserve, who NEED the option of in person. We need it yesterday. We need it NOW.

Last Name: Burton Locality: Fairfax County

Please pass this bill! Our kids need to be in school, in person. Right now we are not even being given that option. I am concerned about the educational achievement of my kid and other kids in Virginia if they are kept in distance learning any longer.

Last Name: Glines Locality: Vienna

Please support this bill to give parents the freedom of choice. We moved to Fairfax county because of the amazing public education system. Our 5 year old was regressing tremendously with virtual learning. We had to enroll in a private in-person school, but we are anxious to return to public school. Please for the benefit of the students and families support SB 1303 this week to require Farifax county to offer in-person education. Countless private schools and public schools across the country have proven in-person education is safe during the time of COVID. Help us help our children.

Last Name: Dickerson Locality: Henrico

Please please allow children and parents the choice to return to in person school. My daughter has not entered a school building since March 13, 2020. This is 11 months of NO CHOICE for individuals who desperately need in person instruction. My son is in private school and has been in person this entire school year with NO issues. Private school acceptance decisions will start in mid February. If public school students are not in the building by then they will be losing hundreds of students to private schools. Less students = Less funding.

Last Name: Turner Locality: Fauquier County

Education on a statewide level is in disarray, none of the counties are in the same educational level. Leaving a decision like this to the school boards has only provided proof that they are woefully inept at making such decisions. They have disregarded facts, parents, teachers and students. There are many counties where connectivity is a huge issue and a lot of children are being left behind. This is not an education, this is setting our children’s future up for failure. As parents we should have the right to make the decision of how our children receive an education, this should not be forced on us as it does not work for many. Our economy is in upheaval, many parents have had to quit their jobs in order to stay at home to teach their children. It is also furthering the gap of social classes, the financially well off families shouldn’t be the only ones able to give their kids a decent education. Anything short of children getting the education they need full time, in the manner they need it, is NOT an education, it is NOT equitable. Schools not operating in person full time is doing our state, our economy, our families, our children and our future a grave injustice.

Last Name: Gonzales Organization: Grandparent Locality: Loudoun

Never in my 70 years have I witnessed such a harmful act by our government such as the closing of schools. Since when do we as Americans ask children to protect us.? You must pass this bill in order for our grandchildren and their grandchildren to have fighting chance of a decent public school education. They deserve to be in a classroom with their friends. Teen suicide is on the rise. A vote in favor of this bill may just save the lives of suicidal children in VA who have been harmed by the public school system. The poor have no choice to attend public school. This is also an equity issue. - Thank you.

Last Name: Lehman Locality: Fairfax

Please pass this bill. Follow the science, the research, the experts and the president and get these children back in school as soon as possible. With mitigation, our schools are safe. Families are suffering, children are suffering. If we truly care about our kids’ education and well being we will get them back to learning in person immediately.

Last Name: Howard Locality: Fairfax

It is unethical to sit young learners in front of a computer screen for 6 plus hours a day. My child is suffering socially, physically and mentally. Please open schools to allow for family choice.

Last Name: Galdes Locality: Arlington

The unsubstantiated claims that schools needed to close in order to reduce community spread during this pandemic has added catastrophic damage to families across this state, to families and primarily to children and their caregivers—moms. It’s crippling everyone’s ability to function and all due to politicized fearmongering that refuses to accept the overwhelming scientific evidence that spread does not take place among school aged children in settings that put in place commonsense mitigation, which at this point is not rocket science—it’s being implemented in every indoor setting AROUND THE WORLD. My kids were luckily in private preschool when this happened and through two months of preparation, was able to reorganize its 20-year old program to mitigate COVID. We were among the first families to return when they reopened June 15, 2020, and they have been successfully operating for months. Further, my family was again able to function without major mental health and economic implications—I certainly would have had to quit my job if the closure went in any longer. Further, my son had sensory processing issues and virtual school did not work for him, if anything it created more stress and issues in our household, so my stomach truly turns to imagine what parents of autistic or other disabled kids are going through. This is flat unacceptable and I not only believe schools should reopen to be in person 5 days a week, but families should be reimbursed the wasted tax dollars that went towards near useless programming for an ENTIRE YEAR.

Last Name: Jolly Locality: Arlington

It’s been over 10 months and 315+ days since our students have had in-person school. The teachers have been doing a great job in a tough situation. Despite everything teachers are doing, the young learners just can not sit in front of a screen for multiple hours a day. APS has published a large amount of data that virtual learning is not working for our most vulnerable as well as many other students. The learning loss, increase in mental health issues, increase in failing grades is real for all students. Though community infection rates are higher now than they were in September, we also have much more information showing schools and children aren't super spreaders and there are examples of many public school systems of how to ensure a safe environment for our teachers, staff, and children. American Academy of Pediatrics, CDC, and so many other notable organizations have provided a strong recommendation that children need to return to in-school learning. Like many families in Arlington, we purposely moved to Arlington for its school system and have been proud to send our two children to Arlington Public Schools—a small, well-resourced, well-run, progressive school system attentive to the needs of its students. We have stood by the county through the pandemic, and while we could afford put our kids in private school and abandon the public school system, we have declined to do so. Every child deserves the right to have a choice of in-person learning. We need legislators to mandate 5 day in-person learning for all Virginia public school systems by a certain date (and if those counties don't abide then state funds should be withheld).

Last Name: Leader Locality: Reston

I am the working parent of three children, one of whom is special needs, and all of whom are suffering irreparable, avoidable harm due to the extended closure of our schools. My oldest daughter, who is 12, has begun expressing self-harming thoughts. My 10-year-old son, who has ADHD and impulse control issues, is unable to accomplish any work at all without constant parent monitoring. Due to my job and my husband’s job keeping us in meetings most days, we cannot supervise him adequately most of the time, and his grades have dropped drastically. His IEP also is not being followed, as he receives almost no special support. My 7-year-old daughter has emotional breakdowns on a daily basis, crying over the kind of small things that haven’t upset her since she was 4. My children all are bright kids who want to grow and learn. Without the nourishment of a proper learning environment, their hopes are shrinking, their souls are fading, and there is simply no need for things to be this way. I call upon you to support SB 1303 as an important step forward to getting my and other children back in physical classrooms where they belong.

Last Name: Grzegozewski Locality: Round Hill

Please vote yes to providing in-person learning to children. Their social development counts on being around their peers. There is a mental health crisis going on. Please keep their education a top priority and support their need to attend school.

Last Name: Nelson Locality: Chesapeake

An increasing amount of data shows that with mitigation measures in place schools are not a significant source of CoVid transmission. My children attend three different schools in Chesapeake and in their schools mitigation measures are being followed and there have been no cases if in-school CoVid transmission. The school has been a safe environment for my children and the staff. Some local boards have shown no intention of bringing students back into the classroom at all this school year, such as Norfolk and Porstmouth. Those school districts have a large minority population and lower income residents. I am concerned that the inequities that existed before the pandemic will be exacerbated by the lack of in-person instruction. I am also concerned about the risk of abuse and neglect that can go unnoticed when children are not in school. There is also a risk that children are not having access to meals. I know that some families are unable to pick up their children’s free meals due to their work schedule. I am afraid that if school districts continue to wait until “it is safe” to bring students back many children will have suffered irreparable academic losses and a decline in motivation. Depression and suicide attempts among children will continue to rise and abuse will continue to go unnoticed. In every decision we make we must mesure the risks and benefits. Families should be able to choose to send their child to school for in-person learning if it is in the best interest of their family. CoVid is a real threat to all of us, but 95% of CoVid deaths have happened among people older than 50 years old. For some families the risk of depression, learning loss, and income loss is higher than the potential risk of severe illness from CoVid. Please allow families to have the choice to send their kids to school. I ask you to support SB 1303 and advocate for the children who need in-person schooling the most.

Last Name: Durden Locality: Purcellville

Please open the schools. It has been over 325+ days and he has received no services.

Last Name: Barish Locality: Arlington

I am the parent of 2 children who attend Arlington public schools. I trust that the Education Committee and members of the House are familiar with the growing body of research showing that schools can safely remain open during the Covid pandemic. I also trust that you are aware of the incredible burden being borne by working families, and most especially by the many children whose parents or caregivers are unable to provide the daily support and supervision that virtual learning requires. Since I have been working full time in healthcare throughout this last year, I have been experiencing this firsthand, and can say that the last 11 months have been a near-daily struggle for us. We had opted to send our kids in the fall for hybrid learning, an option which has been repeatedly denied. For families who cannot safely send their kids in person, or who are uncomfortable with the extensive mitigation efforts detailed by Arlington Public Schools, I am glad that a virtual option exists. However, for those of us who chose otherwise (though, to be frank, it has not often felt like a choice), we have been repeatedly denied. At this point, it is unlikely either of my children will see the inside of a classroom for more than 25 days this school year. Looking forward, I’m increasingly concerned about the future of public education in the Commonwealth, and strongly urge you to support this bill to allow us to begin recreating school for those of us who desperately need it.

Last Name: Rabault Locality: Arlington

I implore you to support SB 1303. I am a parent of two children in Arlington Public Schools. Our family opted for hybrid instruction back in Summer and we continue to eagerly await the announcement of dates when APS’s hybrid option will finally begin. The Superintendent and school board keeps ignoring the science and data and delaying the return to school. This is unacceptable! Like other APS students, my 2 kids -both English-learners - have not set foot in a classroom or seen their teachers in person for more than 300 days. They are falling behind academically and I am worried for their mental health and social skills. My 4th grader does not sleep anymore and my Kindergartner cannot remain engaged with a screen. They need to be back in school as soon as possible. Distance-learning is not working, especially for the youngest and most disadvantaged. The CDC and countless international and domestic studies have shown that in-person learning is the best environment for children and that it can be done safely. Please help us get our children back in the classrooms!

Last Name: Bastiaans Locality: Virginia Beach

Please support SB 1303. My two Virginia Beach children have not stepped into a school building for face to face learning since last March. VB administration and school board gave families a choice at the beginning of the school year, but when it came down to it we weren’t given a choice. My children were sentenced instead to stay home to do virtual learning. I am a private school teacher who has been working face to face with my students since last August. As of today my school has had no issues because we have set in place all the protocols that are needed to succeed. Public school students deserve to be in the building like their public school counterparts to get the education that they deserve and socialization. Please support this bill and let’s get public school students into schools 5 days a week.

Last Name: Dao Locality: McLean VA

Please support this bill. I am a mother and physician. I have been strictly following the science and can not stand silent while fear is standing in the face of our children’s well being, education, development, and in some cases, safety. Being a frontline worker who had been in the face of the pandemic, I acutely aware of the concerns, but studies have repeatedly shown classrooms are. It the source of spread. My children need to be in school. Many of my patients are suffering. Children can not be the victims of the exaggerated fear of a few. Two days is insufficient. Classroom monitors instead of teachers is laughable. Five days of in person instruction with a teacher is what our kids needs and deserve. It is time to put them first.

Last Name: Fontaine Locality: Virginia Beach

Our children have suffered the most during this pandemic. It is so incredibly sad to see some school districts back and others not. My daughter finally got the chance to go back in person, but my nephews just a few counties over are still virtual...since March. I can only hope that the governor’s statement changes the minds of their school board, and if it doesn’t, this is why we need to pass this bill. Our children deserve the best! The science supports in person learning, it needs to happen. Our children are falling behind at the hands of local school districts. “Figure it out!”

Last Name: Poland Locality: Loudoun

Please pass this bill. Our schools should have been open since the start of the school year. Without this bill, the local school boards will continue to put the weight of this pandemic on our children. Their solution of forced distance learning is far more detrimental to our kids’ overall well-being than the virus itself. We can keep kids and teachers safe in the classroom where they belong. The distance option can remain but the children need be able to be in the classroom 5 full days a week ASAP. This is vital to their mental and social well being. Please vote in favor of this bill. It’s not partisan. Everyone should vote to take care of the most vulnerable.

Last Name: Wakefield Locality: Purcellville

Our families need the option of in person learning for every child in Loudoun County Public Schools. Our SB is doing a horrible job and have been called out in National news sites. They are ignoring parents pleas. They are ignoring the science. Our entire BOS and SB need direction from the stare. NOW. How many more children in LOCO have to commit suicide? 6 isn’t enough?

Last Name: Amoroso Organization: Prefix Locality: FALLS CHURCH

Our supposedly excellent schools have failed our children. While many other districts all over the country (and the rest of the world) have put children first, ours has put children last. The School Boards' failing of our children is not based in science, but on emotions. That, combined with an astonishing lack of qualified leadership, has paralyzed FCCPS. The district needs to be forced to offer meaningful in person learning or be at risk of losing all available funding. This bill is a good start but does not go nearly far enough to remedy the "distance learning" disaster or the emotional toll wrought by denying children meaningful education with their peers . Our children are victims. The harm that the school board has imposed by their ignorance (at best) or willful defiance of science (at worst) is irreparable and they need to be stopped from imposing further harm on our littlest victims. There is no need to have children vaccinated prior to a return to in person learning and our children need to be in school in person yesterday.

Last Name: Asimakopoulos Locality: Arlington

I support this bill. Children and parents are suffering unnecessarily. The data and science shows us that schools are safe and students and teachers can safely be in a room together. Tbia is the biggest education issue virginia has had to face since desegregation. Send the neasage that we value our children and they can't be used as political hostages.

Last Name: Asimakopoulos Locality: Arlington

I support the bill. Kids need to be educated for they are the ones to run this world soon. We invest in them it’s an investment in our everyone’s future.

Last Name: Herbst Locality: Virginia Beacb

It is past time to get our students back to school face-to-face 5 days a week. We cannot expect there ever to be the “perfect” time when we aren’t concerned with some sort of virus or flu. Our communities are opened up and our students needs to be where they thrive the most snd that is IN the classrooms. We cannot admit that the students are falling behind in virtual learning, see the need to expand summer school services and them still make our children participate in virtual learning. They are falling behind on a daily basis. Let’s get back to in person learning NOW!

Last Name: Whetham Locality: Norfolk

Kindly, support SB1303 - putting children personally back in front of the teachers they need to thrive. Virtual school wrecks mental health. I have one child in a panic every day about being lonely and failing. Another child who cannot connect to virtual in the slightest. One year - zero connection. He's ten. The Norfolk School Board is tone deaf. The virtual school rhetoric falls flat. It doesn't work. Stop kicking the can down the road. My children are tired and sad. Our family is fed up. I'm gutted. Virtual school is criminal. Open the schools. Please.

Last Name: Rodenas Locality: Virginia beach

Our students deserve to attend schools face to face at their home school. As a teacher and a parent, I know the mental well-being of our children depend upon interaction with their peers and trusted adults to support their learning. Covid 19 mitigation strategies are far more fatal to our students than the virus itself.

Last Name: Wright Locality: Chesterfield

Our Grandchildren need to return to school NOW. Being out of school this long is causing harm to their grades not to mention the emotional psych and too many children are taking their own because of the isolation. It’s. It healthy. If you can shop at the malls and grocery store everyone can return to school.

Last Name: Baummer Organization: SPS Parents for a Better School Locality: Suffolk

I am a parent of two secondary students that reside in the Suffolk Public School (SPS) District in Western Tidewater. I have been told by the Chair of the Suffolk School Board that, as the largest employer in Suffolk, SPS has an obligation to provide a safe work environment for the employees and that they are unable to do so if the students are back in the classroom. I have been told repeatedly that SPS students will not return to school until it is safe. The SPS School Board Chair and the Superintendent have indicated that the studies and data provided by experts regarding transmission by children are not reliable as they are not long-term studies nor are these studies factoring in the data of hybrid and virtual learning students. It is my opinion, due to denial of study reliability and a failure to develop an effective mitigation plan that can be agreed upon, that the SPS Board will not deem it safe to return to classroom learning until every single teacher and student is vaccinated or this virus disappears. Therefore, after attending school virtually for the last eleven months, the students of SPS will remain in this virtual Learning environment for the long haul with zero end in sight. For lack of better words, SPS is digging their heels in and has no intention of bringing students back to the classroom anytime soon – this is unacceptable. This past weekend I took my thirteen-year-old daughter to the Emergency Room due to actions and thoughts she has had regarding harming herself. My once bright eyed girl easily excitable lover of life daughter is depressed and riddled with anxieties. My daughter said she does not want to live anymore. The ER said they see three to four similar cases a day. This is a direct result being forced to autonomously learn in isolation for the past eleven months. The Governor recently mentioned that the VDOE has provided the guidance, safety precautions and funding necessary to make in person learning possible to the school districts of Virginia. It was stated that the experiences of school divisions across the state, daycare centers and early childhood educators have demonstrated throughout the year that it is possible to return to the classroom safely. It was stated that the CDC, Dr. Fauci, President Biden have said it is possible to do this safely. With all of this being said, each of my correspondences with the SPS board have indicated that it will not be possible and there is no intention of moving forward with in-person learning until COVID releases its hold on our locality, and for that they have no control. I fear if districts such as SPS are not provided a mandate, as SB 1303 would provide, the children will continue to have Virtual Learning forced upon them and continue to have their education and mental well-being deteriorate.

Last Name: Baumgardt Locality: Williamsburg

I have two elementary school children, fourth grade and first grade. They have attended Williamsburg James City County Schools. I am writing to you in strong support of the Senate Bill 1303 to get schools to open for in person learning for all families who choose it, immediately. Many parents and children in our community are suffering. Our school board continues to kick the can down the road and say that they just don't have enough resources or contact tracers, even though this is not true. Our superintendent has come up with every excuse she can think of to keep schools closed. They are allowing a choice of remaining all virtual, but are not allowing a choice of in person learning. All of our teachers and staff are vaccinated, but they still are only talking about offering 2 days a week of learning with a teacher, even in September! My fourth grader was allowed to attend three days in person learning since March, and that was for the MAPS standardized testing. At their previous early January meeting one of our school board members said that "it's no big deal for kids to miss a year or two of school and that the kids will be all right and parents need to take it down a notch". This is what we are dealing with! No urgency or care for the children! They had two doctors come to the school board meeting and tell them that they need to open schools immediately and that in school transmission is not a major concern with mitigation, but that there are major concerns about obesity, depression, suicide, and anxiety. The school board listened to these doctors, their own health team, and then decided to continue to delay any return in any way of in-person learning until the community spread is less, even after the teachers are now vaccinated! We are a wealthy school district with all the resources. Our school district spent many thousands of dollars on special cameras for quarantining students to zoom in, sanitizing machines, gallons and gallons of sanitizer. They have at least two masks for every student in our school district laying around in the buildings and yet they refuse to open for families who need and choose in person learning. Our district has repeatedly put out dates of intent to return to in person learning only to repeatedly delay those dates throughout the school year. The most recent dates they have put out are yet another delay. Do not believe WJCC when they tell you that students will be coming back because they have been telling us this since October and then continually push back the date. Many times this has happened! It's just a way to get us to be quiet while they continue to keep schools closed. The science is clear we do not need to wait for community spread to decline to go back to school. I urge you to support the Senate Bill 1303.

Last Name: Liebler Locality: Williamsburg

I am writing in support of SB 1303, in person learning in Virginia public schools. My children are in desperate need to be back in the classroom with live tea her interaction. My children are very good students, but have all said they are not learning and retaining what they should be. They have indicated the amount of cheating going on in all their classes. Other school systems and counties in Virginia and around the country have been able to implement safety protocols for their teachers and students to come back in the building, I believe all should have the same choose and right. We are part of Williamsburg James City County Schools and our superintendent has continually pushed back the date for our kids to come back. Only K-5 has been back in on a 2 day a week hybrid schedule for a couple of weeks. My children are middle school and high school and have not set foot in their school since 3/13/2020. I am begging for our children to be returned to in person learning FULL TIME, 5 days a week. Teachers claim they do not feel safe, yet I see these teachers at locals gyms working out, grocery shopping, taking vacations. They are essential workers that need to return to the classroom for the mental and emotional stability of our children.

Last Name: Bowing Organization: Chesterfield County Parents Association Locality: Chesterfield County

Please support this bill and vote yes to mandating an in-school choice for all a Virginia students. This is your duty, as a representative body, to help put clarity at a time when information has been evolving, confusing and conflicting. School boards have had to decipher information and make decisions that are way beyond the scope of their roles. As well-intentioned as they might be, it has left the state of education in Virginia in a very inequitable place. Protect Virginia’s reputation of having outstanding schools by supporting this bill so that children who need to be back in the classroom to learn academically and socio-emotionally, have the choice to do so.

Last Name: Seekins Locality: Ashburn

Please support this bill. Hold our local school board accountable. Please help get children back in school 5 days a week. Virtual learning has been terrible for my two children, my second grader in particular - he previously loved school and now falls further and further behind. The excessive screen time is harming my children. They need to be back in person, where all studies agree they can safely learn with the appropriate mitigation strategies. Please vote to get our children back in schools.

Last Name: Wells Locality: Botetourt

Our children are losing skills to compete in the academic and working world. Other districts or states that are are allowing in school education are doing the nod ALL schools should do. The teachers has been allowed to ignore our children. Suppose health care workers all stay home and care for patients virtually, would they get the best care. Our future is in our children’s hands. Give our school’s what they need. CDC is supporting return to in school learning. What happened to mandatory days or hours in school??

Last Name: Greenwell Locality: Loudoun

The majority of Loudoun County students have not been inside a school in almost one year. This is a year of education they will never get back and they will never recover from. After a year of social isolation, the children have sacrificed enough for the adults. Now is the time for them to resume in-person instruction if they learn better that way. No data or evidence supports keeping schools closed. The only ones who want children to remain in isolation are the teachers unions, but they will never "feel" like it is safe to return. No one is planning on returning every child every day; instead we want to return some of the kids with every mitigation measure you can possibly dream of, including masks and distancing. Our district has a $1.3 billion budget yet we cannot get our schools open without your help. Please vote yes on SB 1303 if you value the rights of children to be educated.

Last Name: Steele Locality: Henrico

Yes please get our schools back open in person, these kids are paying the price not the school board or Henrico county superintendent she could care less about the kids. So please help us get our kids back in school. Thank You

Last Name: Williamson Locality: Leesburg

Please support this bill. Children have been distance learning for way too long and the local school boards need this push to get them back as soon as possible. Thank you.

Last Name: Brown Locality: Leesburg

We need schools open 5 days a week to save the next generation of va children. The local school boards have been completely ill equipped for this. Please hold them accountable

Last Name: Conmy Locality: Fairfax County, Alexandria

Schools need to be offered in person, 5 days a week, NOW. The science supports it, tje government agencies support it, and the students NEED it. Over half the country is doing it since the fall. It's not fair to the children. Please support this. It's the right thing to do.

Last Name: Evans Locality: Prince William county

Please pass this bill. I have two middle school children who have been suffering mentally, emotionally, socially, and educationally long enough. My 7th grader is now in counseling (and mental health is so backed up now it’s a month before you can get an appointment) and my 6th grader sits and cry’s in front of her computer daily. Our family is first responders and have stepped up and been at work since day one - you have let the teachers sit and enjoy life at home in their pajamas earning a paycheck. They now have their vaccine opportunity, science 100% backing the opening of schools, and yet we bow to the teachers refusing to work. You need to open the schools and if the teachers won’t return - fire them and find folks that will. Enough is enough. Our children shouldn’t have to suffer anymore.

Last Name: Washington Locality: Fairfax County

As you are aware, FCPS has been closed for over 300 days, which means that children who cannot afford private school remain without any education. Let not fool ourselves and be honest: virtual education is not working. Notwithstanding what teachers association, School Board are telling us, we all know that our kids are not receiving education at all. Let's not forget some of the back story of why (as I understand it) the state government doesn't have the kind of power that others might have to mandate in person school. Virginia, in its participation of the "massive resistance" to desegregation, pushed a lot of the authority to local school districts to make their own decisions. That is still in play today. The state doesn't want to tell the counties what to do, the county board of supervisors won't tell the board what to do, it's a mess. Because of that lack of ability (or political will?) to create a state mandate, Prince Edward County kept public schools closed for FIVE YEARS just so they wouldn't have to desegregate. FIVE YEARS. White families created their own academies and partially funded them with state monies and grants and tax credits. Black families (and poor white families once a federal court ruled public monies couldn't be used for schooling when public schools were closed) either kept their kids home, tried their own very poorly funded academies, moved, sent children to live with relatives, or other solutions. The effects are still there today. It's a travesty and a school desegregation case that I had never heard of until last year in the context of the power vacuum in Virginia. Today we are approaching a ONE YEAR anniversary since our schools were opened last time. If you don't vote for the bill SB 1303, you will place yourself on the part of history that promotes racism and segregation in our county. Yes, most of the white children are now back in school for in person education in private schools that are open in our county 5 days a week and successfully managing Covid. Minority children are left behind. Do you want to be remembered as a Representative who failed to stand up against racism and segregation? If not, please, vote for SB 1303 to ensure that our schools are open 5 days a week for in-person education to offer equatable. education for all children in Virginia.

Last Name: Hay Locality: Virginia Beach

We need SB1303 passed for our students across Virginia who NEED face-to-face education. I believe the following reasons are important to consider reopening school for face-to-face instruction. I am not linking articles to each of my points but trust you can find the data to support my assertions with a simple google search if interested in learning more. 1. Mental health. Remote learning has isolated students and has increased depression, anxiety, suicide, and a host of mental health issues among our students. Social interaction with peers is critical for emotional wellbeing and virtual education will continue to erode student mental health the longer it is allowed to continue. 2. Lack of interaction in the classroom decreases engagement, hinders teambuilding skills and collaborative learning, and disrupts learning about diverse perspectives. Working together in the classroom allows students to work together in real-time, without the option of "logging off" or "checking out" during a virtual presentation or workgroup. It encourages critical thinking in a group environment to solve problems collaboratively. 3. Many classes cannot be experienced adequately without hands-on opportunities. For instance, my son is a trombone player, and band has been quite difficult for him on his own. As a support instrument that doesn't play the melody, it has taken a large part of the joy and engagement of working together with a band as he cannot see how he contributes to the whole. In addition, I have two students taking STEM classes. Instead of building circuits and doing other projects that would be dangerous doing at home on their own to learn certain skill sets and education modules, they have spent a lot of time viewing YouTube videos and watching STEM instead of engaging in STEM. I know of several other students who can't enjoy their vocal music or theater classes as well, and then there are the students who want to study the trades and are missing valuable hands-on experience the trades education requires. 4. All COVID-19 data points to virtually no risk of serious illness or death to people under age 20. In addition, in school districts where in-person education is offered, school transmission rates are extremely low or non-existent. We are holding our students hostage and asking them to sacrifice their education by keeping them virtual. 6. Virtual learning puts an incredible burden on low-income, single-parent, and dual working-parent families, especially those with students in the earlier grade levels. Virtual learning requires parents to pay for childcare, and in many cases, students will be left unmonitored and unaccountable, except in the grade book. This scenario will not encourage students to reach their full potential by any measure. It is time to stop allowing fear to dominate our decisions and to instead move forward in providing the face-to-face instruction students need for their overall academic and mental health. A lot has been learned in the past few months to allow for our students the chance to return to some normalcy, in an environment that challenges them academically, grows them socially, feeds them emotionally, and refreshes them physically. Important growth metrics and many opportunities have been lost the past 10 months by Virginia's students, and it's time to work towards helping them make great strides forward again in their education. Thank you.

Last Name: Harrison Locality: Chesterfield

We need our elected leaders to listen and perhaps even break the party line to do what it right for those who don’t get to vote yet, the children in our public schools. Virginia children need to be given the option to attend school in person. We are seeing evidence of all the negative impacts virtual education has had and continues to have on our youth. It’s time to level the playing field for all children in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It shouldn’t be that in person education is available for those that can afford it or live in a certain locality in Virginia that is offering it. All public schools in Virginia should at this point be open for in person education. Please take action and support Bill 1303 so all children in Virginia have equal access to public education.

Last Name: Fisher Locality: Botetourt

Getting our children back in school is imperative. I have a 5th grader and 8th grader, both with ADHD, going 2 days a week. Our school system states that even with their ADHD and plummeting grades , they still can’t make it work to get them in school more days. Both my husband and I work outside the home so our children are left at home multiple days a week to teach themselves. They lack in executive function, making this even more challenging. It impacts our jobs and mental well being more than necessary!I thought the motto was “No child left behind”, that has been totally thrown out the door. We also live in a county with limited access to internet, a school system that could only provide laptops to a small percentage of students, yet they EXPECTED all work to be done online. How is this acceptable??? They’re closing days every week for teacher work days, holidays, snow days and days to get vaccinations . It feels like they are doing everything they can to keep the doors closed, and placing everything on the parents and students to do on their own. There needs to be more accountability set at a state level to define what is and isn’t acceptable. We pay our taxes and expect the services we pay for! Put our children first and get them back in school!

Last Name: Samantha Organization: Chesterfield County Parents Association Locality: Midlothian

When the governor left school opening to the districts and boards he failed our students and empowered education associations to play political games with public education. My secondary kids have seen the inside of a classroom for a total of six days since March of 2020 - they are both struggling while our school board keeps moving the goalposts and denying them their rightful education. Virtual schooling is not working, our kids are failing in record numbers not to mention an uptick in mental illness, self-harm, and sadly even suicide, especially in our secondary. Please, parents and students across this state need your help, we need our elected officials at the state level to push school boards to open our schools. The Virginia Education Association and their chapters have been enabled and empowered to destroy public ed for their own political gain for long enough. Please pass this bill for our kids!

Last Name: Tansey Locality: Leesburg

Please return all students to in person learning. Distance learning was never sustainable and as time goes by I am increasingly concerned about the educational health of the little ones and the mental health of the older ones. Each level has different needs and no ones are being met. This complete overreaction and overreach has been a disaster for students. Thank you.

Last Name: Gustafson Locality: Mechanicsville

Gratefully I’m in Hanover county and my 4th and 6th grader have been able to be F2F five days a week since school started. Our county needs to be an example of how other school districts need to open. It’s a travesty that Hanover is only one of 2 counties in the state to have openF2F five days a week schools. Our data can show that open schools do not drive community spread. Community spread does drive school spread but with mitigation strategies schools can make adjustments as needed and not force all of the children in the county to suffer. Please support this bull.

Last Name: Elliott Locality: Stafford

Please support this bill! Our kids need to be back in school. We have a 2nd grader and a kindergartner and had to opt for private school for our youngest, taking a big financial hit. In a few short weeks it will have been a full year since my son stepped foot in his school. Virtual learning is just not working, especially for our youngest students.

Last Name: Rosamond Locality: Fauquier County

My son is a sophomore in high school. The complete lack of interest in his school is disappointing. 2 days a week of education with the rest at home busy work is not an education. We started school 100% virtual in August and on November 9 he started Hybrid. We had one month of in person learning then returned to virtual until 1/19/21. The reason we could not start hybrid was the lack of staffing. Simple lack of staff. County schools should not make schools virtual because they could not manage the hiring of staff. This is not an excuse. Unacceptable.

Last Name: Leach Locality: Hampton

While the availability of virtual learning is wonderful in some instances (in the cases of students needing to be homebound for medical reasons such as a cancer diagnosis, etc.), for the most part, it is failing our children that need in-person education. The Commonwealth's constitution states that Virginia will provide a free public elementary and secondary education AND that "seek to ensure that an educational program of high quality is established and continually maintained." The latter has not been provided to our students, and in-person is the only way to ensure that this occurs.

Last Name: Taylor Locality: Henrico

A significant number of children are hurting and floundering in the virtual setting. Schools need to be accountable for having concrete plans in place to let these children know when they can count on getting back to school. There has been too much uncertainty, changing plans, decisions made based upon emotion/feelings and pressure by pseudo-unions. Our children DESERVE to know our schools are focused on THEIR well being, and that students who need an in-person option are no less important than students who excel in a virtual environment.

Last Name: Cook Locality: Fairfax

Our kindergartner has been clearly harmed emotionally by being forced to endure virtual learning, all while being in person at a daycare. Her daycare has the same student to staff ratio as her kindergarten class, and has mitigated COVID-19 successfully since the state reopened in June, yet FCPS has refused to allow her classroom to go in person. The school board is so risk adverse they are willing to harm the children of essential workers by forcing damage through virtual learning. Please mandate an in person option so students like ours can go to age appropriate in person school without forcing essential workers to pay out of pocket for day care or private tuition. Thank you.

Last Name: Bauswell Locality: Suffolk

As the mother of a middle school student and a high school student, I have seen firsthand the toll virtual learning has taken on the mental health of the students in my community. The lack of socialization is becoming increasingly hard on these kids. They do not understand, nor do I have an explanation for them, why adults are allowed to go to work and people are allowed to go to restaurants and shopping, yet they are not allowed to go to school. It is overdue for them to return to the classroom for face to face learning. Please think of the immediate and long-term effect this will have on our children in Virginia and support bill 1303.

Last Name: Allen Locality: Henrico, VA

Im asking you To support Bill SB 1303. Our children and families in Virginia desperately need your help. In March of 2020 All of the schools closed down leaving many children at home . Many children have parents Who needed to continue to work outside the home . Since then the school board's have continued to delay opening in person opportunities for children who desperately need it. There is a mental health crisis going on the numbers and statistics are just starting to come in but the number of children self-harming and the number of children seeking Mental Health Services has skyrocketed. I believe the suicide Rate will quickly go up In the coming months and years. A lot of children Are suffering in silence locked in their houses. Most families are doing the best they can but their income does not allow them To put their children in private school or to quit their jobs to stay home. Many counties have opened Across the country and in our state. Statistics are showing That schools are not big transmitters of covid-19. Many of the counties already have all the PPE and cleaning supplies they will need for proper mitigation However the school boards continues to ignore parents . The school board is listening to the teachers unions and not taking the best interest of the children at heart. They are asking for additional funding while not providing in person opportunities for the children who desperately need it. They need to be held accountable for their actions. I am a hospice CNA my husband works for Lowe's. We do not make a big salary . We have been struggling to provide for our youngest Child to go to private school Since we cannot leave her at home alone we have been forced to leave our 10 and 12 year old home to navigate virtual school. We are emotionally Exhausted. We pay our taxpayer dollars To fund the schools . By Virginia state law you are required To provide free accessible education. Virtual school is not accessible for a lot of people. Its Against the law to not provide free accessible public education.Also 504 plans and IEP's are not being followed also against VA state law. Internet providers have more than tripled the cost Of service and the hotspot the counties are providing are not reliable. The service is very spotty and cuts out leading to more frustration by children and alot of children unable to attend school at all. The numbers of children failing Are staggering. It is evident that virtual school is not working for a lot of kids. It will take years for these kids to catch up . The school board is put in place to teach our children it is supposed to be for our children in the best interest of our children not their employees. All other Jobs you have to make a decision whether you will work Or quit your job. The teachers feel that they are more important than everyone else in the community struggling. We should be working together throughout this very difficult time. The school boards Have shown their incompetence To lead. They have not gotten our children back in school . The time has come Where we need help . We need you to save our children. Please support this bill.

Last Name: Buesking Locality: Wjcc

I implore for all to supporr SB 1303. The WJCC School Board has been working on everything but getting kids back into the schools for learning. The local data as well as around the country has shown that distance learning is not working for the majority of students, and it has contributed to a huge increase in anxiety, depression and suicides. Our school districts should be doing what is best for the academic success and overall well-being of students. Our kids need to be back in school 5 days a week!

Last Name: McCann Locality: Manassas

This bill is important for all students learning in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I am the mother of a 5th grader and 7th grader. The mental toll being out of in person school has taken on them is immeasurable. I implore you as a citizen of this great state, please consider the needs of our children. Please pass this Bill.

Last Name: Chollet Locality: Fairfax, VA

I strongly support this bill and I hope it passes. Children, especially children with disabilities, need to be in school full time. The Virginia Department of Education has totally abandoned special needs students in the name of "local control", an archaic bit of legislation that was written into the Virginia Constitution so the state could turn a blind eye to white supremacist school boards practicing racial segregation in the 1960's. It's time for local control to go the way of segregated drinking fountains. Some clarifications might be in order, in that "in person" should mean 180 school days in person, rather than two days per week in person at best. Also, Virginia K-12 should satisfy the requirement that a school district offer virtual learning. There's no need for each school district to run its own virtual learning program when the state has an excellent one available to all students.

Last Name: Miller Locality: Loudoun

Please support SB 1303. The Loudoun County School Board has been working on everything but getting kids back into the schools for learning. The local data as well as around the country has shown that distance learning is not working for the majority of students, and it has contributed to a huge increase in anxiety, depression and suicides. Our school districts should be doing what is best for the academic success and overall well-being of students. Our kids need to be back in school 5 days a week!

Last Name: Petersen Locality: Fredericksburg

I am the parent of two beautiful children, one in MS and one in HS. They both tell me they are learning absolutely nothing in the virtual environment. The virtual platform is a joke and a huge disservice to our children. Both their grades have slipped. Of particular issue are the grades of my HS child slipping. His grades will determining his college opportunities and any scholarships he may have available. He does not have the time in his HS career to make this up. My MS child’s English teacher is mandated by the district to use Lexia, an English teaching, virtual platform, to teach concepts that will not be able to be covered in class. She is in literal tears trying to get through this program. My district only conducts 4 days a week for school. The children are literally losing 20% of their education for an entire year. How is this even meeting minimum standards? If as a parent, if I kept my child out of school 1 day a week, I would be taken to court; so why is it acceptable for the very same behavior to be mandated by the district? Studies across the nation has proven the abysmal failure of the virtual platform. An overwhelming majority of students, at all grade levels, are doing worse than my kids. Additionally, as the governor said in Friday, significantly more children are ending up in mental hospitals and being prescribed mind altering anti-depressants all over the unfounded fears of teachers. Making children protect adults is disgusting and sacrificing our children over these fears, is something expected in a 3rd wold country, not America. The science and statistics, both support in-person learning as far as safety for everyone involved and the harms of remaining virtual. If the very teachers, who are teaching children science and statistics cannot follow them themselves, then I seriously question those teachers abilities to properly teach any children. Teachers were put ahead of many older people, to receive the vaccine; regardless of the science that is clear that the risk of covid death increases with age. The goal of teachers receiving vaccines, ahead of older people, was to specifically to return to the classroom, in person. The continued grandstanding of the VEA and teachers who still advocate for virtual learning is abhorrent. They have cost the lives of children due to suicide, put older people at risk because their profession put them ahead of other age groups and have robbed an entire generation of a quality education. Clearly, the school boards need to be pushed to do what is right by our children. I have little hope they will make that right choice without the threat of withholding funds or a major lawsuit. Please vote yes in this bill and return our children to the classroom.

Last Name: Sadeghi Locality: Loudoun

I hope you will fully support this. It is of extreme urgency and importance that we get children back in school full time ASAP. Science and data backs up the need for in person school and how safe it is for all involved when following Safety mitigation procedures.

Last Name: Mojica Locality: Stafford

Already sent a written response to support this bill. I would like to mention for in-person instructions by the teacher, not on a camera. ... no virtual learning from school. It's a disaster for so many students.

Last Name: Norrell Organization: N/A Locality: Fairfax County

I strongly encourage the House to vote in favor SB 1303. As a parent of two Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) students, it has been maddening to watch restaurants, bars, and gyms open while my kids' schools remained closed. Superintendents and school boards have demonstrated they are unqualified to weigh risks and make decisions concerning public health. The state must intervene. Distance learning has been a disaster for my family. My daughter, in kindergarten, is too young to engage with a computer. My son, a third grader with ADHD, cannot sustain focus on a screen for hour after hour, and the frustration now causes him almost daily meltdowns. And yet, we are among the lucky: my wife works from home, we are financially secure, and we have local family members available to help our children during the day. What of the families who must choose between supporting their children and an income? What of children who lack secure housing? Schools provide safe and stable environments for students who may not have them at home. Meanwhile, study after study have shown schools can open safely with safeguards in place. The head of Virginia's vaccination program and the CDC director both said schools can safely open without teacher inoculation as a prerequisite. Schools across the US are open, educating students, and helping them navigate the crisis; but FCPS and its neighboring systems abandoned their students and communities. The conclusion is inescapable. Local school leaders failed, and Virginia children are paying the price. The state has an opportunity and responsibility to demand schools serve students. Please do the right thing.

Last Name: Washington Locality: Purcellville

Please vote “yes” on SB1303. No one is asking for distance learning to be discontinued, simply that for families for whom this is not working have the option to send their children to school. The vaccines are available and being distributed. Teachers can and are being vaccinated. Spread in schools is low. The CDC recommends schools open. Private schools have been safely open, many since August.

Last Name: Mojica Locality: Stafford

The majority of kids are suffering due to virtual learning. It has been a disaster since day one. CDC says it's safe to open but in Stafford kids are going in-person twice a week for a total of six hours a week, it's equivalent to preschool hours. Kids cannot connect through a screen... just because they're staring at a screen doesn't mean they're absorbing what's being taught. Children are losing interest with virtual and have a hard time focusing. Our kids are being used as leverage and the school board stands behind them. It's not fear to kids who are visual learners, they're being forced to learn virtually when it's not working. Schools in Stafford have all the precautions set in place but ignore the fact that kids need to be in building. Please vote on this bill and have parents chose what's best for their kids. It's taking a toll on the kids academically as well as emotionally. My 10 year old cries on a daily basis from virtual. She loves when she can go in classroom. My other kid is in IEP. They keep getting on him about keeping his camera on but he has higher anxiety now. It's causing so many issues. Please pass this bill for the future generation. Please put kids first. Thank you.

Last Name: Stevens Locality: Fairfax County

Please support this bill. We are a military family and chose to live in Fairfax County in large part because of the schools. However, our school board and teachers are failing my children. I work in a 7,000+ capacity federal building. I show up to work, taking reasonable precautions just like teachers can. Link school funding to in-person enrollment now!

Last Name: Anderson Locality: McLean

Please vote YES on SB 1303. Unfortunately, local school boards have proven themselves to be beholden to small teachers unions and unwilling to follow the vast preponderance of evidence that schools should be open for in-person learning. The long-term harm being done to many students is going to reverberate for decades. School is not just for academic learning, but also for the socialization children desperately need to develop in our society.

Last Name: Kasch Organization: Arlington VA parent Locality: Arlington

I cannot believe we have not had in-person school here in northern va for a year. Both our college art debts and k-12 students need to get their educational opportunities back immediately. They are suffering terribly and they cannot puck up where they left off. Please vote yes on SB 1303.

Last Name: #OpenFCPS Organization: #OpenFCPS Locality: Fairfax

The FCPS school board has turned Fairfax County into an elitist economy where only the families that can afford private school are worthy of a high quality in person education. The board is gridlocked with indecisiveness and unable to forge a path forward based on science and data. Please open the schools. Only fund 5 days in person education.

Last Name: Turkeltaub Organization: #OpenFCPS Locality: Reston

In March I was happy to support closed schools. In April, May and June we tolerated it. In July we were hopeful for 2 days In August we were hopeful for 2 days. In September we started to loose hope In October we started to get Angry. In November In December In January . . . We are angry Under the VA constitution children have a right to public education. Virtual learning does not qualify as public education. Public education must be in a school with a teacher in the room. It is the best way and only high quality way to deliver public education. The school board has ignored all scientific data that supports school reopening. The school board does not even mention the best interest of children in school board meetings. Our school board has lost all purpose and direction on the back to school issue. Not once in 12 months have they considered a plan for 5 days. When a parent asks "how are 5 days offered safely in other U.S. jurisdictions but not here." They ignore the question. In letter after letter, town hall after town hall they have 100% ignored any parent question on how other schools are open but we are closed? Our school board IS NOT INTERESTED IN RESTORING 5 DAYS OF EDUCATION. This is proven as there have been 0 agenda items or discussions on this. The school board cannot solve problems it doesn't even try to solve. FCPS is destined to be closed indefinitely without intervention. You cannot in good conscience based on the science known today fund any school that is not opened 5 days. Please help FCPS "figure it out" and vote yes on 1303. We need your help. Our children deserve your help. Support 1303 and restore our children's rights.

Last Name: Carlson Locality: McLean

Please pass this bill. Students and parents should not have to fight for free education in America. Rich families who can afford private school shouldn’t be the only ones learning on level academics instead of the “essential standards” the public schools have done this year because they know they can not teach all that needs to be learned in a virtual setting. The time for fear mongering is over. This is not March 2020 when there was so much we didn’t know. If the school systems, for whatever reason, cannot figure out how to open schools to all students, or have perhaps backed themselves into a corner— please help them by passing this bill. Passing this bill will help us find our way out of this mess the school boards have created. Please help our kids. Help my kids ages 5, 7, and 9. Learning behind a computer is not only inappropriate for their age, but also damaging to their health. Please see and understand this. You have the vote that can save our kids from even more pain than they’ve already experienced. They are just kids. Please vote yes to this bill and encourage districts for five days a week in person school. Thank you

Last Name: Brown Locality: Fairfax

I support SB1303. Mask up and get back in the classroom! Full budget = 5 day in person learning!

Last Name: Powell Locality: Lorton

My name is Kristen Powell and I live in Crosspointe, in Lorton,VA. My 4 kids in grades 4-8th are struggling and losing ground because of prolonged virtual school. Please support the passing of Bill SB1303. This bill will help, although without the emergency clause it won't help soon enough. Please support the reopening of schools as soon as possible, for the older grades, as well as younger. Please advocate for returning to a 5 day in person option as soon as possible. Virtual learning is not the quality education our kids deserve. They need in classroom teachers and peers. My 4th grade son who had a 504 plan will most likely be returning to an IEP now that he has spent all of this time without the type of support that he can only get in a classroom full of other children and a teacher who sees him in person daily. Today when I checked on my 6th grader, I saw that he has changed his google classroom profile photo to three bold words: “ONLINE SCHOOL SUCKS” While I’m mildly embarrassed, I’m also proud that he’s doing what he can to communicate how this feels to him. My 8th grader moved here this summer and has yet to hear the voice or see the face of any of his classmates because the privacy rules do not require middle schoolers to turn on their cameras or mics. He will not recognize anyone by sight or voice when he does enter a school building for the first time despite having been in class since September. Our kids need in person school. If we could afford private school for 4 kids, we would do that, as it is evident that the private schools have figured out how to educate our kids despite the pandemic. I look forward to your response and your advocacy on behalf of my 4 children. Thanks, Kristen Powell

Last Name: Jones Locality: City of Fairfax

Please support SB 1303 to require FCPS to offer in person learning - you have heard from many how our kids are suffering from isolation and reopening can be done safely. Our kids need to get back in school - if FCPS doesn't get a push from the state they will keep our kids stuck on their screens the rest of this school year at least with one excuse after another. The School Board has completely lost our trust with their continuous displays of incompetence. They are calling their proposed hybrid concurrent model "in person" even when teachers are at home and low wage monitors are the ones in the classroom with the kids. They are only offering 2 days per week at best for most of our kids, unless you work for FCPS then your kids can have 4 days. Please specify that "in person" means 5 days a week, with an actual teacher in the classroom. Please help us to make sure they actually open and get a plan together to offer 5 days a week in person instruction, as our kids deserve. Thank you.

Last Name: #OpenFCPS Organization: #OpenFCPS Locality: Vienna

The FCPS school board is plagued with conflict of interests with the FEA in violation of their fiduciary responsibility to make science based decisions regarding return to school. Two board members Ms. Cohen and Mr. Frisch have openly supported via their Twitter accounts expanding the authorities and control of the FEA even though the FEA has acted as the leading obstructionist in making reasonable return to school decisions. Should they have acted within their fiduciary obligations they would call on the FEA to support a reasonable return to school plan instead of obstructionist tactics. The FCPS school board has no plans to restore 5 days of in person education. They have not once considered 5 days as an option in 100s of hours of school meetings. Ms. Meren has repeatedly spent her allowed time during meetings advocating for the teachers, without any regard for the children. Our school board is incapable of making strategic scientific decisions and without assistance from you FCPS will be closed indefinitely. In March we closed based on science. Today we are closed due to political self interests. Vote yes to 1303 and restore the rights of our children. Please help.

Last Name: Davis Locality: Fairfax

Please heed the data from the last 11 months and require schools to reopen! Children are suffering when they could safely be in schools. Now that teachers are vaccinated, we should be back in person five days a week!

Last Name: MacDiarmid Locality: Alexandria

Please advocate for our most vulnerable children and all kids in Virginia by passing SB 1303. Our kids desperately need the stability and interaction of in person learning, as virtual learning has harmed not only their test scores and overall education, but their mental health as well. We must do better.

Last Name: Edwards Organization: The children! Locality: Falls Church, VA (Fairfax County)

I support SB 1303 and and effort to return our children to in person education 5 days a week. Our children go to FCPS and while their teacher have done a tremendous job of making the most of the situation, virtual learning is just not an appropriate long term learning method for young children and children with IEPs (special education). My children are lucky in many ways, they have 1 parent working from home, a nanny, private OT, extracurricular activities and the option for private school next year in case FCPS can not provide 5 day in person learning. I have lost confidence in our school board to do the right thing and the way they have dragged their feet I highly doubt in person 5 day a week is even going to be an option come fall 2021. We need the state to intervene. To get schools back on track and to make in person learning a priority. Honestly, it’s not just my kids I worry about, it’s all kids. Because certainly many families don’t have the resources to provide alternatives for when public education has failed our children, which virtual learning for a full year is a major failure of the public education system. So the educational gaps will surely only increase if schools continue in a hybrid model. Please consider supporting SB 1303 and any efforts to get our children back in person 5 days a week for all of the Commonwealth’s Children! See Virginia Constitution Article VIII Section 1. You are charged with maintaining a high quality education and our children have that constitutional right. Virtual learning and hybrid learning with classroom monitors are not a high quality education.

Last Name: Read Locality: moseley

Please pass this Bill. My children have suffered so much in virtual school. My high school son who is all honors and who never has gotten less than a B average , was failing out at cosby high school. We had to move him to a private school so he could have in person education and now he is doing great. My other kids still in the public school setting are suffering and miss seeing their peers and teachers. This bill needs to become a law because the horrible effects of virtual education on our kids will last a very long time. This bill will help us and our kids never have to suffer again like this. Thank you for taking the time to read my comments.

Last Name: Dodson Locality: Chesterfield

SB1303 is not a political bill. It has bipartisan support. It merely offers a choice. Those who opt for virtual learning may do so. This bill allows teachers and students who wish to benefit from in-class learning the option to do so. Currently, thousands of Virginia children are suffering and they have no option other than to continue to struggle. Look at any county division and you will see FOIA results showing large increases in self-harm, depression, failing grades, students who don't show up at all, etc.... There is a waterfall of medical evidence to show in-class learning is imperative for students and that open schools do not increase community spread. If you follow the medical experts from Harvard and Brown or the CDC, they are telling us that schools should be open. Governor Northam recently sent a request to open, but it is merely a request. We need legislative action to ensure children have a choice in the future. This bill does not force teachers and students to attend in person if they feel it is better to remain at home. But currently, we are forcing teachers and students to remain at home and suffer for those who need in-class instruction. This bill is about choice. That is all it is legislating. We need your yes vote on SB1303 because many districts are comprised of a school board without experience in these matters and they look to legislation and our government for guidance. Please vote yes on this bipartisan bill.

Last Name: Goudreau Locality: Vienna, VA

FCPS has failed to provide IEP services responsive to my son’s IEP. They have fought paying for alternative private services and represented that COVID is a sufficient excuse to not be bound by special education requirements. FCPS leaders are aware of my son’s circumstances and refuse to change their countywide position that “equity” demand everyone get the same virtual education regardless of individual needs. Only defunding the schools will change their behavior. They have not even spent all the CARES Act monies provided last Spring hoping to gift those to teachers and their unions. Why would the State of VA continue to fund such a self interested group of public employees?

Last Name: King Locality: Fairfax station

Virtual learning is not working and a FCPS return to a two day hybrid school schedule is NOT a substitute for five , day in person with an actual teacher (no computer.) Children are not meant to learn this way and are being held hostage in their own homes. They are crying, frustrated, depressed, failing academically, and some even killing themselves from isolation. Children around this country and state are BEGGING to return to school. Please please please do the right thing and mandate that all Virginia schools, need to return 5 days a week, all day, all grades, all abilities, all languages, no matter the need. If the state is not clear and concise with the wording in this bill, districts will read between the lines and only adhere to what they think they can get away with to reduce in person learning and provide the bare minimum. Your bill clearly needs to state that the definition of return to school, is full time , five days a week. Children should receive nothing less than full time, in person, five day a week with their teacher (especially if vaccinated) and those who want to remain virtual can. However, there needs to be a separation between virtual and in person because hybrid is not sustainable. The computers need to be put away and children need to return to paper and pencil. Please help hour children.

Last Name: Jennings Locality: Fairfax County

Support families And kids by requiring in person learning with teachers five days a week!

Last Name: McMahon Locality: Fairfax Station

I hope you support SB 1303. It would ensure every school division in Virginia to offer in-person instruction to every student, based on the preference of the student's parent or guardian. SB1303 takes decision-making away from local school divisions—who are indecisive, working outside of their scope of duties to make public health decisions. They disregard local VA health officials recommendations to return to in person learning and react with fear, not facts. Educators and community members all agree—we want in-person learning now. Health mitgiation measures used by other public schools and local private school demonstrate safety can be assured. Local school divisions are responsible for providing the conditions for in-person learning, and they should comply. Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has closed their doors to students with disabilities, refusing to provide in-person interventions written in the students' legal binding IEPs, but these same schools are open to SAAC, childcare for a fee, in the same school buildings for the past 10 months for the general population without any outbreaks! They've proven mitigation strategies work in their own buildings. On 2/2/21 FCPS approved allowing some students to return to in person learning two days a week by March 16th, 2021. They are prioritizing elementary children of FCPS teachers, their children can return 4 days a week. Why did they not allow this children with special needs or who are failing or self injuring to return? The hypocrisy is palpable. Furthermore, FCPS is allowing vaccinated teachers to stay home, teach remotely whe the student is in the classroom with a paid monitor. The monitors are untrained baby sitters. Our school board is boasting they are getting children back in the classroom, but not the TEACHERS? FCPS was able to convince VA education department to use last years enrollment numbers to sustain 2021-2022 state funding, but they'll encounter a significant loss of funds in 2023-2022, which will tell the true story of their failures. More than 17,000 children disenrolled in FCPS this school year as of October 2020, and many more who can afford it are leaving by the masses. Military families refuse to sign military subsidy paperwork allowing additional VA funds to support military children since they are getting no support. It may be a financial hardship to get these teachers and administrators to FINALLY do the right thing for our children. Please SUPPORT 1303

Last Name: Friesen Locality: Fairfax County

Unfortunately the current school year has demonstrated that some school districts need outside motivation to offer the highest quality form of education - in-person learning. Despite academic, physical health, and mental health harms, too many districts quibbled in the face of clearer and clearer science from the AAP, CDC, WHO, UNICEF, and others. That said, as written this bill requires districts to stand up separate virtual schools (or do concurrent learning, which is unideal all around) when VDOE already has a virtual campus. It also allows districts to do a hybrid form of instruction for all and fulfill the whole bill. This bill needs to be amended, but Virginia needs forward motion on in-person learning for all but those medically unable.

SB1313 - Children's Services Act; funds expended special education programs.
Last Name: Martin Locality: Fairfax

Please follow science and let the school open 5 days a week for in person, teachers and school staff are receiving their vaccine so no more excuses for teachers and Unions, parents who are concerned to send their kids to in person have the virtual, online and homeschooling option. Our kids needs to be in school in person for their mental emotional and educational health, depression and suicide rate between the kids is going high, schools are safe to reopen like all other private schools and school age centers in the area, these schools didn’t shut down since May 2020 and functioning very well and it didn’t spread the virus to the community, please follow science and open schools 5 days a week, instead getting summer school or extending the school year, let the teachers teach in Monday, why Monday is not anymore a school day? Our kids education is being jeopardized and our kids being neglected by FCPS. Families with two parents working outside, essential workers, their kids are failing with no supervision, hot meals or taking care off. Education system was built to help the kids to become better citizens and they are the future, now the future citizens are becoming mentally and emotionally destroyed and educationally way behind than their peers in private schools and other open states, Please open schools for in person 5 days a week

SB1322 - Public schools; seizure management and action plans, biennial training, effective date.
Last Name: Dalton Locality: Henrico County

We lost our beautiful daughter, Elizabeth, at age 26, to epilepsy this year. She had a seizure in her sleep and died. She had intractable epilepsy and for years had seizures. This bill is very important to our family and many more families. Seizures are very common. Up to 10 percent of people will have a seizure in their lifetime. However, most people do not know how to respond to a person having a seizure. There are many types of seizures and it is important for staff to understand this and respond in a responsible and safe way. For years we talked to her school teachers, nurses, administrators and work peers about how to safely respond to a seizure and yet we did not feel as if they were all prepared. It caused Elizabeth and us great anxiety. We support this bill. Training by nurses and staff would be an easy way to make sure all students and staff feel safe and prepared.

Last Name: Hartley Organization: YCSD Locality: Yorktown

My name is Peggy Hartley. I am from Yorktown, VA. I am a Special Education Para-educator. My job is to provide support and safety to one student who has a rare form of epilepsy. Without having someone trained to care for her, this student would not be able to attend public school. When I was hired by York County Schools, I was assigned to an epileptic student. The Assistant Principal showed me a 2 minute video, from her cell phone, of the student having a seizure. The school nurse showed me an approximate location of a Vagus Nerve Stimulator that I was to swipe with a magnet to help slow the seizure. Then, I was to call the nurse on the radio. Less than 5 minutes and I was "officially trained". I had no experience recognizing seizures. I had no training on what triggers may set off a seizure. I had no concept of what to expect other than a tiny 2 minute video. I was terrified that I would not recognize this student's seizure activity. I worried about how to care for her if the nurse could not respond immediately. I did not know that seizure activity is unpredictable and my "training" did not teach me what to look for. I was literally unprepared to care for this student. When she had her first seizure, I knew that I needed to know much, much more about how to care for her. I personally pursued training through the Epilepsy Foundation, doing extensive research and by asking lots of questions because there is no training in place to accommodate students with epilepsy, or any seizure disorder within the school division. In order to do my job, and more importantly to protect and provide safety for this student, I had to learn, on my own, all I could about her condition. My personal training and support of this student is the exception. Other students that fight epilepsy and other seizure disorders do not have that security. Please support SB1322. It is imperative for school personnel to be trained to recognize and provide basic care for any student with seizure disorders. Their safety is our hands and without proper training we cannot provide that safety. Please vote YES. Our children deserve it.

Last Name: Lennartz Locality: Newport News

Teachers in the state of Virginia are required to go through annual training for Safe Schools. This includes training on diabetes to include what it is, the types, and how to assist a student if needed. It also includes training on allergies to include what causes allergic reaction to include anaphylactic shock and how to assist a student if needed. Teachers are given ample time to complete the training. Why is this mandatory? It is mandatory because teachers will have students in their classrooms that may have diabetes or may suffer allergies. The Jamie and Brie Strong Act for Seizure Safe Schools (SB1322) includes training for epilepsy for the same reason the other training is offered-to ensure students with these conditions are safe at school. This bill would ensure that schools throughout Virginia provide the same "safety net" for students who may experience seizures as students who may experience insulin shock or anaphylaxis. We do many things to train to keep children safe at school. The passing of this bill would allow students to know that they are safe at school and will be taken care of in the event of a seizure. As a classroom teacher, I am asking that SB1322 be passed.

Last Name: Brichter Organization: College Student at Roanoke College Locality: Roanoke County

I have epilepsy. When I was in grade school, my teacher would have me chew gum so she would know if I was having a seizure. Part of seizure first aid is to NEVER put something in the mouth of the person experiencing a seizure. In Highschool I was taking a vocational course and was prevented from participating in a educational opportunity because the school assumed all people with epilepsy are light sensitive. This is why a Seizure Action Plan is important. It provides the clarity needed to prevent unnecessary or unrealistic barriers

Last Name: Brichter Organization: College Student at Roanoke College Locality: Roanoke County

I have epilepsy. When I was in grade school, my teacher would have me chew gum so she would know if I was having a seizure. Part of seizure first aid is to NEVER put something in the mouth of the person experiencing a seizure.

Last Name: Mitchell Locality: Sterling, Loudoun county

Please approve this bill, childrenwith seizure disorders and their families need it to feel safe and thrive in Public school system; seizure management and action plans/trainings should be essential piece for well being of students who suffer from seizures and want to have equal opportunities with the test of the kids!

Last Name: Foster Locality: Virginia Beach

Incorrect response to seizure causes harm and occurs from ignorance, and ignorance is widespread. The only remedy for ignorance is accurate information. Some children will require a specific medical accommodation because of their seizures. These are the two problems that this bill addresses: fixing ignorance, and establishing a policy for medical accommodation. The fact that this bill is needed is a result of schools failing to prepare and provide a safe environment for students afflicted with this condition. Schools make medical accommodations every day, for broken limbs, pregnancy, peanut allergies, medication administration, and many other things. Yet oddly, the bureaucracy does not have a vocabulary for medical accommodations such as a high-performing student with epilepsy might require. Lack of bureaucratic vocabulary has created false obstacles to this bill. Epilepsy often presents without warning and presents in an acute state, so the condition requires a timely response. Opponents have tried to force parents to use 504 and IEP plans, which are slow processes, and therefore not suited to an acute condition. Additionally, these plans are only for conditions that affect academic performance. Students with epilepsy do not necessarily require academic accommodation, they just need a safe environment which is responsive to their medical needs. Academic accommodations may be needed by some, and when that occurs these other processes can be used. Pass this bill

Last Name: Hatton Locality: Elkton VA

Please pass this bill. Sincerely, a teacher in Rockingham County Public Schools , VA

Last Name: Dean Organization: N/A Locality: Elkton

This bill needs to pass. Children with epilepsy and their parents need to be able to feel secure in the knowledge that they are safe when they're at school, and that there are people there who know how to handle the situation if they have a seizure. My aunt was diagnosed with epilepsy as a teenager, and no one knew what to do for her. Her brothers (my dad and uncles) had to be called to tend to her if she had a seizure at school because even the nurse was not trained. She missed time at school and was sent home frequently, not to mention additional physical and psychological damage caused by well-meaning individuals doing the wrong thing in the moment. That was in the 1960s, but training for nurses and teachers has still not been implemented. Sixty years later, this should still not be an issue. Give the teachers and nurses the tools they need to provide a safe environment for all their students. While you're at it, pay them what they're worth. This is arguably one of the most fundamentally important jobs in the country, and they barely make a living wage.

Last Name: Terry Locality: Henrico

Correction for my previous post - the original post stated "and did know how to provide simple first aid for a seizure or what to do" What I meant to say was "and DID NOT KNOW how to provide simple first aid for a Seizure or What to Do".

Last Name: Terry Locality: Henrico

This bill’s Section A is not about academic accommodations, nor is it about academic modifications. The Seizure Action Plan is not a request to change how a child with a seizure disorder learns, or what they learn. It is simply a request to remove a barrier for children with seizure disorders so that they are free to experience their education without fear, and without real safety concerns that poor seizure recognition and inappropriate first aid response create. My daughter had a seizure in a classroom in Virginia and everyone did everything wrong in their reaction and action. The teacher made all students leave the classroom totally isolating my daughter from the rest of the students and did know how to provide simple first aid for a seizure or what to do during and after the seizure. Isolating her created this perception has if the seizure was taboo or contagious. This happened over 8 years ago and has had a lasting negative impact on my daughter and has created a social anxiety that could have been prevented. My daughter never returned to that class due to the way she was treated after the epileptic event by everyone, to include her teacher. These situations can have better outcomes. If the teacher is trained the teacher can show others how to react appropriately and professionally thus another teachable moment that all teachers should try to provide outside of just the academics of class. If one hour every two years, at not cost other than time, is a burden for someone to learn a simple skill that has so much to offer a child having a seizure that is much bigger than the actual seizure itself is contradictive to art of teaching and learning in general. To assume that all children with seizure disorders are intellectually or academically impaired, and therefore the 504 and IEP plans cover all children with seizure disorders, demonstrates the stigma surrounding this highly misunderstood neurological disorder. The training covers the general knowledge for seizure recognition and response, but the Seizure Action Plan provides any person-specific information, because, “anything the brain can do, the brain can do during a seizure!” I have taught first aid for seizures to teachers and students in multiple schools and I am amazed at how many teachers had no idea how to recognize and provide simple first aid for a child having a seizure, describe multiple wrong ways to handle the situation because of what they had heard or what someone told them, or understand the post state of the seizure activity and how to handle that as well. Understanding the different types of seizures is critical because they are all not clonic tonic shaking and convulsing which is even more important for teachers to understand. Recognizing the different types allows the teacher to spot things an untrained eye would perceive as something totally different and disconnected from true seizure activity. I believe my daughter was having subtle seizure activity for a year or two before it went into a clonic tonic seizure. Having recognized that subtle activity earlier could have provided the opportunity for early intervention and a different outcome from where we are today with her seizures still not under control.

Last Name: Washington Organization: Epilepsy Foundation of Virginia Locality: Rockingham County

I have an adult daughter with epilepsy, whom is now 32 years old. We had much difficulty in the school system when she attended public schools. Each year I would hold a training at which many told me they were only there to teach, not to do anything if she had a seizure. This is dangerous NOT to know first aid for our children. We don't balk at knowing first aid for diabetics or other diseases, why should we do so for epilepsy? Every teacher, administrator and school staff need to be trained on Seizure Awareness and First aid to keep our children safe at school.

Last Name: Howe Locality: Annandale

Please support this important legislation! Our son is 18 months old with intractable epilepsy (among other diagnoses) and his ITC early intervention team is already beginning to explain the transition process into the public schools. Our son has a variety of seizure types, and has seizures virtually every day, so it’s difficult to imagine sending him off to school. Knowing that the staff he interacts with at school would be trained to identify his seizures and take proper action as appropriate would go a long way toward giving us peace of mind. Thank you for all you do for our children!

Last Name: Schnur Locality: Loudoun County, City of Leesburg

We support the passing of this bill because our oldest son has a rare seizure disorder called Lennox-Gastaust Syndrome. This means that he has seizures daily, multiple different seizure types, severe developmental global delays and significant behaviors. We know that first hand school staff are not familiar with the different seizure types. We take responsibility for training anyone that works with Jackson at school on his different seizure types. We've done these trainings for 6 years. In our experience, staff are very much appreciative of the training and more comfortable working with him when they know how to respond to his specific seizures. It may not be possible for every parent to do these trainings for their children so this bill will help the entire special needs community.

SB1357 - Through-year growth assessment system; Board of Education shall establish.
Last Name: shibley Locality: Sterling

You need to open up our schools to 5 days! My kids have fallen way behind and hate school. I will have one starting middle school and a junior in high school! My son NEEDS to go to high school 5 days s week. His most important year. Don't delay this. You gave vaccinations to the teachers. They should have to go back in person and if not, find ANOTHER JOB! it's not rocket science people! Offer virtual to those who are scared and the rest if us 5 days. You are wasting precious time, that we will never get back. You had a YEAR TO FIGURE IT OUT. We are on of the wealthiest county and use to have an excellent school system..not anymore! People are having to put their kids in private schools, home schooling or just flat out moving to a different STATE. THIS IS ABSURD. Get our kids back to school 5 days a week and get the sports back and running properly. My kids deserve better them this! Kids are committing SUICIDE ! The mental health is at stake in do many of these kids. Do your jobs and get schools back and running 5 days a week!

Last Name: Thrift Locality: Norfolk

I encourage you to support both of these bills. As our Governor stated, it is time to get our children back in the classroom. After losing 3 months of school in the spring of 2020 and many districts remain virtual, our students are not receiving the education they need and deserve. Most teachers are trying but there is no way students that are learning virtually are getting the same amount of instruction as students in a classroom. I know some students are flourishing but most are not. I know families that have changed residency to other states where they kids can get in person learning. I have friends struggling because they are paying for private school because their child(ren) need in person instruction. SOLs for all grade levels should be done away with. They are without a doubt the worst thing that’s happened to education. Ow teachers teach to a test. I hear from so many teachers that they don’t have time to do all the fun stuff they’d like to because they have to make sure students are prepared for the SOLs. I know this bill only deals with 3rd-8th grade but it’s a start. Growth based assessments are certainly more appropriate especially after all the school that was missed because of COVID. If you are unsure on how to vote regarding SOLs, ask a teacher. They will tell you that SOLs need to go!

Last Name: Hay Locality: Virginia Beach

We need SB1303 passed for our students across Virginia who NEED face-to-face education. I believe the following reasons are important to consider reopening school for face-to-face instruction. I am not linking articles to each of my points but trust you can find the data to support my assertions with a simple google search if interested in learning more. 1. Mental health. Remote learning has isolated students and has increased depression, anxiety, suicide, and a host of mental health issues among our students. Social interaction with peers is critical for emotional wellbeing and virtual education will continue to erode student mental health the longer it is allowed to continue. 2. Lack of interaction in the classroom decreases engagement, hinders teambuilding skills and collaborative learning, and disrupts learning about diverse perspectives. Working together in the classroom allows students to work together in real-time, without the option of "logging off" or "checking out" during a virtual presentation or workgroup. It encourages critical thinking in a group environment to solve problems collaboratively. 3. Many classes cannot be experienced adequately without hands-on opportunities. For instance, my son is a trombone player, and band has been quite difficult for him on his own. As a support instrument that doesn't play the melody, it has taken a large part of the joy and engagement of working together with a band as he cannot see how he contributes to the whole. In addition, I have two students taking STEM classes. Instead of building circuits and doing other projects that would be dangerous doing at home on their own to learn certain skill sets and education modules, they have spent a lot of time viewing YouTube videos and watching STEM instead of engaging in STEM. I know of several other students who can't enjoy their vocal music or theater classes as well, and then there are the students who want to study the trades and are missing valuable hands-on experience the trades education requires. 4. All COVID-19 data points to virtually no risk of serious illness or death to people under age 20. In addition, in school districts where in-person education is offered, school transmission rates are extremely low or non-existent. We are holding our students hostage and asking them to sacrifice their education by keeping them virtual. 6. Virtual learning puts an incredible burden on low-income, single-parent, and dual working-parent families, especially those with students in the earlier grade levels. Virtual learning requires parents to pay for childcare, and in many cases, students will be left unmonitored and unaccountable, except in the grade book. This scenario will not encourage students to reach their full potential by any measure. It is time to stop allowing fear to dominate our decisions and to instead move forward in providing the face-to-face instruction students need for their overall academic and mental health. A lot has been learned in the past few months to allow for our students the chance to return to some normalcy, in an environment that challenges them academically, grows them socially, feeds them emotionally, and refreshes them physically. Important growth metrics and many opportunities have been lost the past 10 months by Virginia's students, and it's time to work towards helping them make great strides forward again in their education. Thank you.

SB1387 - Students; eligibility for in-state tuition.
Last Name: George Organization: LDST Justice and Civil Society: University of Richmond Locality: Richmond City

I encourage you to pass SB1387 as it will provide equity for undocumented students and equal opportunities for education and further success. As an undergraduate at the University of Richmond, I know how difficult it can be for students to pay for a college education and set themselves up for a more successful and beneficial future. Why should only some students be given these opportunities through financial aid and assistance while others suffer from loans and other payments? This bill will support undocumented students in their goals for a brighter future in the United States as it will give them educational opportunities that will aid them in seeking work and other positive externalities as a result of a college degree from a Virginia university. By passing this bill, the state of Virginia will receive more highly educated individuals in the workforce, strengthening the economy and helping people living in the community. Fourteen other states in the US have already extended state aid to undocumented students, which further proves that this bill is a step in the right direction for the state. For equity for students and a better future for the state of Virginia, I urge you to pass this bill.

Last Name: Whitlock Locality: Louisa

As read in its summary, SB1387 is NOT an equitable proposal. Virginia's code already extends in-state tuition to these certain students, and I believe that is fair and helpful. Also, providing many services to any student who may struggle with English is appropriate. However, making a non-citizen equal to a citizen when qualifying for and doling out financial aid is wrong. Financial aid is limited and is tax-payer funded. Why should the other students' needs be dismissed, and so easily? Why is citizenship being so devalued? My paternal grandparents emigrated to the United States from Italy in 1922. Their hardships and poverty were remarkable to me, but in many ways typical for other immigrants in that era. Their children - the next generation - served as soldiers and nurses in two wars, a bricklayer, teachers, secretaries, and even the wife of a lobbyist. My father had two, full-time jobs: a dairy farmer and papermill machine operator. My siblings and I all attended college, with three of us earning at least bachelor's degrees. And the majority of our children have master's degrees, with one holding a doctorate. Everyone of us paid for school through jobs, academic scholarships, or loans. Not one of us ever expected preferential treatment because of where we started. I was always taught that it's not where you start, it's where you finish that counts. If someone wants to be a part of this great nation and benefit from its abundance, then there are many pathways. Hard work, perseverance, and integrity afford a person true ownership of his or her future. I ask that you do not accept this bill as it is poorly conceived.

SB1401 - Standards of Learning; reduces total number & type of required assessments to minimum requirements.
No Comments Available
SB1405 - Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back (G3) Fund and Program; established.
No Comments Available
SB1439 - Students; guidelines on excused student absences, civic engagement.
No Comments Available
End of Comments