Public Comments for 02/17/2021 Education
SB1190 - Health Standards of Learning; advanced directive education for high school students.
Last Name: Duke Locality: Glen Allen

Please support SB1303 in lieu of substitution bill. Schools have been closed long enough and need a clear plan to re-open. Many will not do this on their own until they are required to by law. Legislate required opening of face to face will get the ball rolling with re-opening plans from all schools. Put Virginia children's needs at the table with teacher unions. Do schools exist to provide comfortable jobs for teachers, or DO THEY EXIST TO EDUCATE CHILDREN? The answer is clear, educating children is the reason for schools, and it is not happening adequately in the virtual format.

SB1257 - SOQ; school board to provide at least three specialized student support positions.
Last Name: Stewart Organization: The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis Locality: Richmond

More than a decade ago, the General Assembly put in place a support cap which severely limited the level of support staff the state funded. As a result, since 2009, there has been a 39% drop in state funding for support staff in schools. Despite student enrollment increasing by 55,000 students, support staff in the state has dropped by nearly 2,000 positions. On top of that, the declines were four times greater in divisions with the highest share of students of color. This amended bill puts us on a path to begin correcting for these inequitable cuts put in place a decade ago, and comes at a time when students will need these support services more than ever. We know from extensive surveys that students are experiencing unprecedented mental health challenges at this time, and addressing their accumulated trauma over the years to come is a key part of getting them back on track. Additional social workers, psychologists, nurses, licensed behavior analysts, and other licensed health and behavioral positions funded through this bill will be critical for attending to students’ health and emotional needs and setting them up to reach their potential in the classroom. The Commonwealth Institute and the other 16 member organizations of the Fund Our Schools coalition fully support this legislation.

Last Name: Rachael Deane Organization: Legal Aid Justice Center Locality: Richmond

The Legal Aid Justice Center supports this bill, which will set standards for specialized support staff in public schools and direct state funds for these positions. Support staff such as school pyschologists, nurses, and social workers are more critical than ever to address the needs of students during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last Name: Duke Locality: Glen Allen

Please support SB1303 in lieu of substitution bill. Schools have been closed long enough and need a clear plan to re-open. Many will not do this on their own until they are required to by law. Legislate required opening of face to face will get the ball rolling with re-opening plans from all schools. Put Virginia children's needs at the table with teacher unions. Do schools exist to provide comfortable jobs for teachers, or DO THEY EXIST TO EDUCATE CHILDREN? The answer is clear, educating children is the reason for schools, and it is not happening adequately in the virtual format.

Last Name: Washington Organization: Retired Educator Locality: Midlothian

Please support our students by ration of 3 support staff to every 1,000 students in every support staff positions: social workers, psychologists, nurses, licensed behavior analysts and assistants, and other licensed health and behavioral positions.

Last Name: Harris-Braxton Organization: Virginia First Cities (VFC) Locality: Richmond

Virginia First Cities (VFC) Supports SB1257 that funds the Standards of Quality. VFC believes funding required to fund this bill is of the highest priority, especially in areas that provide additional assistance to challenged schools. VFC also strongly supports efforts that provide training and mentoring for school principals.

Last Name: Reid Locality: Midlothian

As a retired CCPS school psychologist I remember when the media talked about Columbine or later Virginia Tech disasters, it was poor John Q Public. How could we know about these things? Research now show that there are always signs and symptoms if there is someone present to notice! There is also a myth that students won’t tell us but I can tell you that is not true. Students want to help themselves and their friends if given the opportunity and skills to talk about mental health issues. It is no longer acceptable to say sorry after the fact. It is time to do something. Prevention and intervention need to occur in the buildings where the students reside . Services in schools give us the best opportunities to hear what students need (like how to help a friend and community resources). I am writing to support Senate Bill1257 because I know what the unmet needs have been for years And those needs are now exeracerbated by the COVID crisis, political unrest, and economic insecurity. Intervention does work and can prevent acts of violence against others as well as suicide. Most serious mental health issues develop in mid to late adolescence and early services can support families. Milder problems can be helped by giving students stress management skills. Earlier intervention is also cheaper since expense is always a concern.

Last Name: Bowker Locality: Richmond

Please pass SB 1257 to ensure 3 positions to every 1,000 students for support staff positions. It is vital to create additional positions to support students, especially in light of the pandemic and its consequences for students. Please ensure that students are supported when they return to school.

Last Name: Griffey Organization: Voices for Virginia's Children Locality: Henrico

Voices for Virginia’s Children supports equitable education funding for all students to succeed. Support position are critical to ensure children’s well-being is supported inside and outside the classroom. They help promote trauma-informed and trauma-responsive school settings and can help identify and address challenges children are experiencing that create barriers to learning. Please support SB 1257 and the Senate’s approach to providing additional specialized support positions for the next school year.

Last Name: Forrester Locality: Richmond

My name is Anne Forrester and I am an ESL teacher in Richmond. I am urging in the strongest possible terms that you support HB1257 which would provide critically needed social, emotional and mental health support staff to serve Virginia's students. I can tell you first hand that although policy makers usually talk about "learning loss" , the social, emotional and mental toll of the pandemic on our students is by far the most urgent issue. The support staff ratio provided in this bill is imperative to allowing students to heal from the experience of living through this past year and then move on to learning.

Last Name: Ward Organization: Virginia Public Education Partners Locality: Midlothian

I support HB1257. Now more than ever before, our students need these positions funded and ratios of 3 positions to every 1,000 students should be maintained for social workers, psychologists, nurses, licensed behavior analysts and assistants, and other licensed health and behavioral positions. Accumulated trauma and mental health issues for students have been magnified as a result of the pandemic, and these positions, which the state has been underfunding for more than a decade now, are critical to helping to address those challenges and ensure students are supported in their return to school. Please support HB1257.

SB1288 - Special education; Department of and the Board of Education to develop new policies and procedures.
Last Name: Duke Locality: Glen Allen

Please support SB1303 in lieu of substitution bill. Schools have been closed long enough and need a clear plan to re-open. Many will not do this on their own until they are required to by law. Legislate required opening of face to face will get the ball rolling with re-opening plans from all schools. Put Virginia children's needs at the table with teacher unions. Do schools exist to provide comfortable jobs for teachers, or DO THEY EXIST TO EDUCATE CHILDREN? The answer is clear, educating children is the reason for schools, and it is not happening adequately in the virtual format.

Last Name: Steele Locality: Henrico

Yes we need to get our kids back in school dull time it's been way to long now the kids are hurting more ways then one please pass the bills and get our kids back in school asap

Last Name: Asip Organization: Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE) Locality: Powhatan

Thank you Madam Chair and members of the committee! My name is Mike Asip and I am speaking on behalf of the Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE), including over 400 members who directly supervise the services for more than 165,000 Virginia students with disabilities. VCASE supports many of the JLARC recommendations, but hopes that some of the recommendations as expressed in SB1288 can further be considered for revision and/or clarification before becoming law. VCASE has shared some of these concerns in writing with Sen. Dunnavant. That is why VCASE supports HB2299 moving forward as the leading bill addressing JLARC recommendations. We look forward to continuing our work with the General Assembly and the Department of Education in addressing many of the JLARC recommendations that can have a positive impact on students with disabilities and their families. I join other local special education leaders across the Commonwealth of Virginia who strongly support the following as JLARC recommendations are considered: * Increased funding directly to localities to provide personnel and other resources needed to address greater monitoring and accountability. The JLARC recommendations have not comprehensively addressed the unbalanced local responsibility for funding special education services. The Commonwealth should increase its investment in the education of students with disabilities through greater funding to localities. We had hoped the General Assembly could pass House Budget Amendment 145 #31h (thank you Del. Guzman!) that would provide $3.96 million directly to localities in this effort. * Comprehensive planning and resources to address the special education teacher and staff shortages, which play a large role in inconsistencies of IEP development and quality. * Required training and licensure requirements for general education teachers and school administrators regarding IEP development; inclusive teaching practices; and their roles in the IEP development process. Thank you for your service to our citizens and your vote to conform SB1288 to HB2299! Dr. Mike Asip

Last Name: Asip Organization: Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE) Locality: Powhatan

Thank you, Chairman and members of the House Education SOL and SOQ Subcommittee. I am speaking on behalf of the Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE), I am writing you ask that you vote to conform SB1288 (Sen. Dunnavant) to HB2299, sponsored by Del. Carr. HB2299 is the preferred bill as the General Assembly addresses several of the 27 JLARC recommendations moving forward. VCASE supports many of the JLARC recommendations, but hopes that some of the recommendations as expressed in SB1288 can further be considered for revision and/or clarification before becoming law. VCASE has shared some of these concerns in writing with Sen. Dunnavant. That is why VCASE supports HB2299 moving forward as the leading bill addressing JLARC recommendations. This is a comprehensive bill addressing JLARC recommendations. We look forward to continuing our work with the General Assembly and the Department of Education in addressing many of the JLARC recommendations that can have a positive impact on students with disabilities and their families. I join other local special education leaders across the Commonwealth of Virginia who strongly support the following as JLARC recommendations are considered: * Increased funding directly to localities to provide personnel and other resources needed to address greater monitoring and accountability. The JLARC recommendations have not comprehensively addressed the unbalanced local responsibility for funding special education services. * Comprehensive planning and resources to address the special education teacher and staff shortages, which play a large role in inconsistencies of IEP development and quality. * Required training and licensure requirements for general education teachers and school administrators regarding IEP development; inclusive teaching practices; and their roles in the IEP development process. Thank you for your time!

Last Name: Wanders Organization: School bus drivers Locality: Virginia Beach

We school bus drivers need this training

SB1303 - Local school divisions; availability of virtual and in-person learning to all students.
Last Name: West Locality: Fairfax County

I strongly support SB1303 as this past year has been nothing short of a disaster for my children, our family and so many other families. Having a 1st grader and a 3rd grader learning remotely has had its daily challenges and now I’m seeing the long term effects. I have a stressed out 3rd grader who gets awful stomach aches when it comes to taking a test to a 1st grader that can’t grasp foundational math concepts. I’ve had to enroll them in math tutoring 3 days a week and spend countless hours trying to help them navigate online learning. We can NOT allow another school year to go by with any form of online learning, unless families choose to. Teachers are essential for the future of our children and should have been deemed so from the beginning. Our children deserve better than this!!

Last Name: Wesley Locality: Reston

As an experienced teacher, I understand the importance of interaction with peers for social emotional growth. My district emerged from the debacle of last spring with a solid, interactive, well-paced, thorough curriculum. Honestly, it is the first time in years I haven't spent hours gathering materials and text. However I am aware that without in person support it is almost impossible to differentiate instruction or gauge individual understanding. In short, it is inevitable that most students are falling behind. As a society, we need to determine whether it's worth risking the health and well being and possible death of community members left exposed to increased covid rates spread by children in school is worth a few months growth in academics? As a special education teacher, I say no. I catch up students with learning disabilities all the time. As much as it would benefit students to return to school, the experience they would have with covid restrictions is not worth sacrificing the health of teachers, teachers' families and other adults with contact to these children. Until we can guarantee greater safety all around, we should not force teachers into the classroom nor should we force them to choose between their jobs or the health of their family.

Last Name: O’Shaughnessy Locality: Fairfax

As an FCPS teacher, I would respectfully request that local School Board control not be stripped away and turned over to Richmond. Local communities need to make local decisions based on the best interests of their communities and their school districts.

Last Name: Gaudet Locality: Williamsburg

School shutdowns, remote-hybrid learning, and full virtual learning have been disastrous for children. We have two elementary school age children, one being a 1st grader who needs full time support, being that she is only able to read select sight words. They have only been to their school, maybe 6 days this entire school year. Sitting at home in front of a computer day-in and day-out is not working. It's crushing the kids, the families, and the community as a whole. Schools all around the world have been open full-time, and so should we. We need the OPTION! If there are families that are still scared, they will still have their option to stay home, but most families do not have that luxury because they work full-time. In particular, our James City County school district is run by a dictator, the superintendent. I don't know how one person obtained absolute rule over this decision, being that this person is not even an elected representative. THAT needs to change! Our superintendent and school board have therefore FAILED the needs of our children and our community, in the name of fear. They are being risk averse and do not want to take responsibility. It is a shame. We NEED representation! We need an option for in-person, FULL-TIME public education. The wealth/equity gap being created by these totalitarian school boards is going to be long-term. We no longer have faith in public education. Not only will this affect the kids, but it will also severely hurt those teachers who are doing their best, and deserve to be paid more for their services. Teacher complacency with remote/virtual will ultimately result in paramount degradation to their quest for higher pay. So many will be and already are being affected by these decisions. We need to turn the ship. We need schools open full-time TODAY, not 6 months from now. Time is of the essence. Regards, Mr. Gaudet.

Last Name: Dause Organization: Red for Ed Locality: Charlottesville

"Regardless of your personal stance about whether your school district should be open in Virginia, I think most of us agree that it should be a local decision. This bill threatens to take the choice away from localities and from parents." As a public school teacher with nine years of classroom experience, I can say without hesitation that school districts all across the Commonwealth rely on the cooperation and goodwill of parents. Parents are the most important stakeholders, both because they vote and because the children we serve are theirs. Please reconsider your thinking on this bill - cutting parents and school boards out of the reopening decision making process can't help but cause trouble down the line.

Last Name: Mansfield Locality: James City County

I implore the delegates hearing this bill today to move it forward. Let Governor Northam bring our children back to school. I am fully in support of all grades returning to in person learning, full time, immediately. Parents who have issue with their children returning have been offered the option of virtual learning all year long. But where has my option been? My choice to allow my children to attend school in person was taken away from me almost an entire year ago. Schools all over the country are successfully educating their children IN PERSON and have been since August. It's ridiculous that we have no followed suit.

Last Name: Otis Locality: Williamsburg

Our kids have to return to in-person learning. My junior in high school has suffered depression this year from lack of interaction with others. Follow the science and get our kids back in school!

Last Name: Jackson Locality: Williamsburg

Hello. I’m writing to ask and show SUPPORT for SB1303. Our kids have gone through so much and 2 days a week are not enough. We need our kids to get back in the classroom learning 5 days a week. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Wingfield Locality: Hanover

I am a Richmond public school teacher and Hanover resident. Please vote no on this ludicrous bill. Where were you all when our buildings and students needed new ventilation, science lab safety improvements and adequate materials for learning? Right now, the building where I teach in person is receiving crucial updates that will make it safe to teach in person. Those updates will not be done this quickly. Have you ever taught or loved someone who does? Put yourself in their place. Please vote no on this bill.

Last Name: Hamilton Locality: Williamsburg, VA

I support the clarification by Senator Dunnavant to the bill regarding what constitutes in person learning, as well as specifying 5 days a week in person. Please allow parents the option to choose in person education for our public schools, so we are not forced to seek in person education that our private schools have been providing this entire year. Please add emergency timeline as well so our children can be placed back in their classrooms if we opt for that, as soon as possible.

Last Name: Kessel Locality: Williamsburg

I strongly support SB1303. My husband and I cannot tell you strongly enough how much we believe schools should be open full time for Virginia students, especially by the beginning of next school year. Pur school district has been virtual for most of this school year. Since "computer school" absolutely doesn't work for my kindergarten age son, we have been paying out of pocket for private school, borrowing from his college fund. And until we can get some reassurance that next year he can go back in person full time without looking at a screen, we may have to do the same next year. This legislation would give us this reassurance. And how is this equitable for families for whom virtual education doesn't work and who cannot afford private tuition? It is now almost a year since the beginning of the pandemic, and it will be 18 months on September. Our children's education has been sacrificed for the sake of public health during this pandemic. But now that teachers and staff and the most vulnerable in our communities are getting vaccinated, this must end. We have to get these kids back to school! Education is essential!

Last Name: Tribett Organization: Private citizen Locality: Gainesville, VA

I am writing to ask all legislators to support Senator Dunnavant’s SB1303 as she has authored it. It’s imperative that we get our kids back in school and this legislation is likely our only hope. Politics needs to be taken out of the decisions regarding school opening. Opening plans need to be driven by science not irrational fear and pressure from teacher associations/unions. It’s clear that the teacher associations have zero interest in what’s best for the kids. Their self-serving agenda is NOT in the best interest of the children and is doing them irreparable harm. Parents and children should absolutely have the option of 5-day per week full-time in-person instruction with a teacher IN the classroom. Public schools systems were not designed to deliver content virtually and that’s not what is best for our children. This has gone on for a year - FAR too long. School systems should have been opened months ago and pressure from the teacher associations has prevented that from happening. Show us that you care more about the actual science, what’s best for our children, and their education than you do about support from teacher associations. Every piece of data indicates that schools should be open. Teachers have been vaccinated (and all certainly will be by fall), although no other public servant had the privilege of waiting until they were vaccinated before going back TO the workplace. And teachers ARE public servants paid by OUR tax dollars. If we don’t have the option of public full-time education, we should get our tax dollars to pay for private education which WILL be open full time, as many already have been. The learning losses that the kids have already experienced will only continue to grow and we need to remediate this now!! PLEASE support SB1303 and require schools to offer full time in-person education in the fall or GET ZERO funding. Thank you, Tammy Tribett 614-787-2087

Last Name: Cumberbatch-Smith Locality: Norfolk

As an educator for over 20 years this decision to do what is convenient rather than what is evidence-based is deeply disturbing. They protocols set by the CDC and concern for the lives of teachers should also be taken into serious consideration. I agree that many of our students would benefit from being in person and that many are having difficulty with the online model however let us not make decisions based on emotions and knee-jerk responses. Provisions for continued social distancing and safe navigation within the school environment MUST be made for both the adults and the children. A return to 5 days for all students and pre-Covid business as usual is irresponsible at this time. I hope that you will take the time to consider of the long term effects this decision would cause for ALL stakeholders.

Last Name: Lewis Locality: Arlington

I’m a constituent in Arlington with two children enrolled in Arlington Public Schools—a seventh- and a fifth-grader--who haven’t seen the inside of a school building since last March. We know by now that the science shows that kids are safer at school during this pandemic, that schools aren’t drivers of COVID infection, and that the detrimental effects of virtual school (in terms of education, well-being, and mental health) far outweigh the potential risks. I am writing to ask you to please advocate for reinstating the emergency clause into the original SB1303 which would require schools to offer an in-person five day option NOW with teacher instruction, not classroom monitors. Almost all of our teachers and school staff have now been fully vaccinated in Arlington. We are thrilled that APS has worked hard to ensure that our ventilation standards meet or exceed public health organization guidelines for safe return to school. There’s no reason why our kids can’t be in school five days a week NOW with safe mitigation measures in place. Not allowing kids a five-day option NOW only hurts our kids. Virginia currently ranks FORTY-SEVENTH in the nation when it comes to school reopening rates, and if the risk of opening schools was high, we would have seen as much in other school systems around the country, or in our private and parochial schools, which have all fared well during their reopenings. The damage that results from a virtual-only option is clear. For example, in Arlington, compared to last school year, 118 percent more sixth graders are failing at least one class, and the same goes for 77 percent more seventh graders, 80 percent more 8th graders, and 35 percent more 9-12 graders, per APS records. Please do the right thing for our kids and our communities and get our kids back in school with their teachers NOW by reinstating the emergency clause. Thank you.

Last Name: Prosser Locality: James City Country

I believe in local government. Decisions like this should be made by local officials looking at the situation in their community. Thank you for recognizing the situation is different across VA and letting us govern ourselves.

Last Name: Lombardi Locality: Virginia Beach

Please do not force us back into full-time school five days a week, for the following reasons: 1. It would more than double the exposures of everyone to each other: students, teachers, staff, bus drivers, cafeteria, and by extension, families. 2. We teachers need one asynchronous day a week to learn more tools and technology that can help us with our lessons. We also use that day to catch up on administrative work like calling parents/families, updating gradebooks, and preparing lessons. 3. In many districts, it will be impossible to meet even the loosest mitigation guidelines if the entire student body is back in the building five days a week. We simply are not able to get proper social distancing in classrooms and common areas. A great many students are thriving in the virtual setting. Those students who are having difficult virtually, are the same ones who had difficulty in the classroom. I encourage the General Assembly to look at ways to support families who are struggling, rather than place the students and school staff in danger.

Last Name: Watts Organization: Unvaccinated parents who have been working outside the home this whole time Locality: Fairfax

Pass the Dunnavant language and put Virginia children before special interests who have (very effectively) promoted fear in order to stay at home in their pajamas.

Last Name: Dyer Organization: teachers Locality: Henrico

This bill is clearly not taking into account any education concerns. Forcing teachers to teach in person and virtual students simultaneously is abusive. Many schools have a small percentage of students returning in person, leaving the majority of classes online. It is not equitible, nor is it ethical to require schools to be in person at this point in the year. The government needs to take any/all funding clauses out of the realm of discussion for the next budget year due to the completely uncprecedented events of the past year related to COVID-19. Teachers can NOT be the missing puzzle piece, and Senator Dunnanvant's bill puts much too much pressure of teachers to continue to adapt, change, sacrifice, and perform all kind of acrobatics to accomodate less than a majority of their students and families. Completely disregarding community spread and vaccine rates is short-sighted and dangerous. There should be testing protocol in schools as well as a plan for teachers for when they are exposed. The idea of bringning volunteers into a school to be in close contact with students is just ASININE! Teachers have special training and a skill set that allows us to multi-task and adjust to emergency situations and studnet needs in a split second. No matter how many good intentions are meant here, the volunteer idea needs to die right now. Volunteers can and are welcome to make copies, organize materials, and the like, but they can NOT be responsible for the care and education of our young people. What a slap in the face to our educators.

Last Name: Cobern Locality: Dumfries

Schools across the Commonwealth have different resources and facilities. A bill that mandates 5 day a week instruction would force school divisions that cannot safely accommodate all students in building to do so. HVAC systems are insufficient, classrooms are too small, there are not enough buses or bus drivers. To force divisions to send staff, teachers and students into unsafe buildings in overcrowded conditions (due to poor funding for decades) is negligent.

Last Name: Mullen Locality: Norfolk

I understand the importance of students being in the schools. I am a teacher and virtual teaching is one of the hardest things I have ever done. As much as I am eager for school to return to normal, The school systems really need the ability to provide hybrid instruction to provide for social distancing. The schools should also be able to close for outbreaks as needed. Teachers are leaving the profession at an alarming rate. There are many who find virus exposure too risky. Please allow the districts to keep their staff and students safe. Forcing those back into the building who have health conditions or live with someone with a health condition is not ok . Some districts are better equipped to put health mitigation strategies into place than others. Please let districts decide how to keep their students and staff safe. I would not feel safe teaching right now in a tiny classroom with 30 students packed in. My school is very old and has no ventilation what so ever. Hybrid learning helps maintain smaller class size and social distancing. Until schools have enough funding to make class sizes much smaller this is the only logical thing to do. Making us teach in unsafe health conditions conveys the message that out health and lives are not important. I have heard too many times that not that many teachers will die. I have had someone close to me die from covid. I’m not ready to start loosing coworkers and friends too. Please allow the schools to open in a way that is safe!

Last Name: Smith Locality: Fairfax County

Please vote in favor of this bill. As newer residents of Fairfax County and promises of the "best education" in the state, they have fallen flat and my kids social-emotional wellbeing is suffering. We moved here during late fall and they haven't been able to make friends and not from a lack of trying. They have not met their teachers in person and have yet to see the inside of their school. My oldest can't sleep through the night and cries daily. His school is aware and they try to check in with him online, but it is clearly not the same. They have simply forgotten the kids. They should be the priority. At our previous home I worked in the schools and I would work in the schools here if ever presented with the chance even during COVID. The CDC guidelines have been influenced by outside sources and that is unfair. They should follow their own science: 3 feet apart and masks when social distancing cannot be achieved should be the standard. With that, all children would have the opportunity to attend school 5 days a week for sure in the fall. Those who want to stay virtual should have that opportunity, but DO NOT FORCE that on EVERYONE. That just isn't fair or just.

Last Name: Brosnihan Locality: Glen Allen

While I support the return to in person learning, and defining what in person learning means, this bill doesn’t address the additional funding and teachers that would be needed to practically enact this bill. The CDC has said that the return to in person learning can be safe - if mitigation strategies are in place, such as mask use, contact tracing, cleaning and sanitizing the schools, and most critically, spacing kids in classrooms at least 6 feet apart. Our elementary school is only able to fit 14-15 children in a classroom with spacing 6 feet apart, but average class size at our school is about 20-22 students and we are a small school compared to others in our county. There simply aren’t enough teachers or enough rooms in our building to accommodate a return or 100%, or even 75% of the students enrolled at our school and still adhere to social distancing requirements. So, how does this bill account for the additional space and the additional teachers that will be needed to accommodate smaller class sizes? Further, the mitigation requirements issued by the Governor stress that opening safely means adhering to the mitigation strategies - but with a return to school 5 days a week, when would the deep clean at the schools occur, which are so critical to mitigation of the spread of the virus? It makes sense to me to lay out the definition of what in person learning involves - I.e. - a person teaching to their students live and in person, but simply defining what in person means doesn’t solve the actual logistical and fiscal issues to make it happen.

Last Name: Roberts Locality: Norfolk

Please do not pass any legislation that would keep us from utilizing a hybrid method for the return to in person learning. It is not safe for us to have full classrooms, and it is against the CDC’s guidelines for social distancing. Please help keep students and staff safer by allowing us to remain on the hybrid model.

Last Name: Matthew Hoy Organization: Myself Locality: Fairfax Va

Please pass SB1303. Children deserve better from our educators. Virtual instruction is not acceptable!!!

Last Name: Davis Locality: Fairfax Ciunty

Please show support for this bill. Virtual schooling is not a positive learning environment for my children especially my child with an IEP. The learning loss from not being in the classroom will take years to make up and I have seen the mental and educational toll it is taking. We have been locked out of the school without access to a choice that we made back in the fall and no consideration has been made for what best suits children. We must stop treating kids like their futures and education don’t matter.

Last Name: LS Locality: Vienna

Please support the Dunnavant's bill SB1303. Virtual education is not an adequate substitution for in person school. It is vital to our children to return to in person education 5 days a week and to clearly define that while ensuring VHD guidance on mitigation measures on incorporated. This is not a political issue.

Last Name: Cadorette Organization: As a parent and a teacher Locality: Alexandria, VA (Fairfax County)

My name is Emily VanDerhoff and I am a high school grade teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools, and have a daughter attending high school in FCPS. I strongly oppose Sen. Dunnavant's new substitute to this bill. This new version would require schools to offer 5 days of in-person instruction to any family who requests it. This is impossible to do while maintaining 6 feet of social distancing with the staff and building space currently available in any Virginia public school. The language "to the maximum extent practicable" would really equate to social distancing 0% of the time. With full classes attending in-person instruction 5 days/week in a school, there is almost never a moment that students are more than 6 feet away from others. 6 feet has been the standard established by health officials throughout the pandemic. Relaxing this standard puts students, staff, and their families at increased risk. We must not let pressure from a small but highly-organized and vocal minority demanding 5 days of in-person instruction with little-to-no mitigation strategies put the lives of our communities at risk. Virtual and hybrid options must remain available until community spread conditions greatly improve to allow for a gradual easing up of mitigation. Community spread cannot be taken out of the equation. All studies on the safety of in-person instruction include a statement that it is only safe when community spread is low. VDH sets a low bar for school risk, allowing a school to remain open until there are 2 separate but simultaneous outbreaks within the same building. It is too great a risk to wait for this to happen before considering closing a school in an area with high community spread. I am also concerned about the section in which VDOE would determine what success in virtual learning looks like. Virginia's educators are highly-trained professionals and can successfully assess the progress of their class. I am also concerned what the repercussions would be for a student who chooses virtual but may struggle academically. Would VDOE's standard force them into in-person against their family's wishes? What is the true purpose of this clause? This substitute is not feasible for our public schools. It puts students, staff, and families at unnecessary risk and it should not be considered by the Education Committee. It also tramples on local control, and risks unnecessary negative economic impact for questionable pedagogical gains that are more politically motivated than any real concern for our students, staff, and parents who would be potentially exposed to this deadly disease. Thank you.

Last Name: Edwards Organization: My kids Locality: Fairfax County

Please support the Dunnavant substitute language for her bill SB1303. It is vital to our children to return to in person education 5 days a week and to clearly define that as well as to take into consideration the VHD guidance to ensure safety measures are in place. As a mom of two children with IEPs it is critical that they both have 5 days a week in person instruction in the fall to begin to recover the learning losses from the last year.

Last Name: Macaulay Locality: RICHMOND

Please do not require all schools to return F2F 100% at this time. We are still in the middle of a global pandemic; these decisions must be left to local school restricts.

Last Name: Dees Locality: McLean

Please support the Dunnavant Substitute language on SB1303. All children in Virginia deserve a free and appropriate education. Virtual and hybrid education models have proven they are not appropriate for all children. Learning loss at any age can not be made up. I have an 11th-grade child at Langley HS. She had been an A/B student her entire life. She went into the pandemic with a 3.6 GPA. We will be lucky if this year she gets a 2.0. She has had to drop her AP classes and drop down to regular classes from her Honors classes. She has hopes of being a doctor, how does one have the lab experience for Chemistry, Physics, and Biology in a remote setting? I can’t even go into the mental health of our kids. Try to get an appointment with a Psychiatrist or Therapist who will see teenagers? Do you know how long the waitlist is? We do because we had to wait a month to ger her in to see someone, and we were at crisis stage (we had to hospitalize her). If you think my story is the only one, I know it isn’t because I am friends with a lot of other parents. The next pandemic will be the mental health of our students, and the loss of learning.

Last Name: Ruemmler Organization: Teachers and students Locality: Charlottesville

COVID 19 continues to be a very contagious virus to young and old alike, especially now, with its variants. Please do NOT open schools at full capacity! As a high school teacher, I am aware that Safety precautions cannot be taken. Schools cannot provide 6 Feet Apart, when all students are present. Hybrid is the best solution. Allow school divisions to make these decisions. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration to protect the health of Virginians.

Last Name: Sever Locality: Fairfax

Senator Dunnavant, This bill does not consider those students who (for whatever reason) remain virtual. Virtual students require equal support of teachers, staff, and administration that will not be provided under this proposed bill. I urge you to reject this INEQUITABLE distribution of care and support for our virtual students. All students should be afforded equitable education under Virginia law. Concurrent or hyflex teaching which streams to virtual students does not support the virtual student. Teachers cannot teach two modalities simultaneously while managing a class of in-person students and a separate class of online students. Ultimately the online students will not receive the same attention. Furthermore, the demographic breakdown of students returning to the classroom in FCPS are predominantly white, meaning that you are now proposing that non-white students receive inequitable education to their white peers. Please reject this bill.

Last Name: Schultz Locality: richmond

This bill is insane, You cannot legislate a pandemic away; you cannot decree that something is safe just because you pass a law requiring it. The CDC has released guidance on the community metrics, and the school safety conditions, that must be met in order for school buildings to open safely. Communities and localities differ greatly in their ability to meet these parameters and conditions. This law attempts to force ALL school systems, regardless of community transmission levels, class size, and infrastructure and funding, to offer IN-PERSON (in the building) education, and ignore all safety measures that must be put into place first. This is not a good law. It does nothing to ensure that students are receiving an education. It takes local control away from communities, while still leaving them to deal with the huge expenses required to make their schools safe. Please do not support it.

Last Name: Kite Locality: Frederick County

Returning to school for 5 day should not be mandated at this time. Our county schools are dealing with overcrowded classrooms. Most of these classrooms have inoperable windows and many with no windows at all. The HVAC systems in these schools do not meet CDC recommendations for air filtration. Our Board of Supervisors do not want to build more schools. When they do decide to build they pay for the bare minimum. I understand some communities can be back 5 days a week, it not in communities with overcrowded schools.

Last Name: Borden Locality: Chesterfield

It has been brought to my attention that Ms Dunnavant is presenting a substitute bill that will require 5 day in person teaching with many other restrictions. As a veteran teacher in my 34th year of teaching, I am perplexed with how politicians want to throw so many regulation at schools after doing so little to help us navigate through the pandemic for the last year. Please stop listening to the loudest parents as if they are the majority. We go back to in person teaching 5 days a week starting March 9. I teach ayvsn affluent high school but only 35% of my students are returning to in person. Many parents are NOT choosing in person for safety reasons. You have left schools to figure this out for a year and now you want to put your foot down and threaten their funding. How about letting us do what is best for our staff, our parents and our students in each district. We have taken care of our students for decades. This legislation is too detailed and not needed. Let us teach. We know what we are doing.

Last Name: Williams Locality: Norge

It's difficult to find a lot of details about this bill. I must wonder if that isn't deliberate. But, from what I have read - I absolutely do NOT support this. The bill allows no way for schools to adequately allow for students and faculty to physically distance. It also does not allow the school systems to take into account community spread and the impact on the local community. I don't support this. Not at all. My family has lost a lot over the past year and I'm not willing to blink at this point and have our children forced back into school where there is no ability to physically distance. I was just reading Senator Dunnavant's bio. The last paragraph states "Her time in health care has given her first-hand experience in the overreach of government..." Wow, really? The overreach of government?? So what's this, Senator Dunnavant? I can't imagine anything more overreach than a state senator deciding that she knows how children should be educated during a global pandemic and then attempting to force her opinion upon individual communities. I do NOT support this bill. I do NOT support Senataro Dunnavant inserting herself into how our community navigates educating our children during a global pandemic. Goverment overreach indeed.

Last Name: Albright Locality: Windsor

The VDOE is not a public health entity not should it be treated as such. Each school district should continue to make the best choices for it's students based on public health metrics. Rather than forcing in-person learning unilaterally, it would be more beneficial for the students to eliminate state testing this year. We know the students may be learning less this year, but they are still learning regardless of whether they are in person 100%, hybrid, or virtual.

Last Name: Murphy Locality: Orange

Until all teaching staff who want to receive a covid-19 vaccine have been afforded that protection, it is simply unconscionable to force them back into the classroom. Yes, many of us can't wait for life to get back to how it used to be, however we can't just pretend the pandemic is over and put so many of our educators and students in harm's way. A vote to do so is foolish and only reflects wishful thinking, not sound reasoning. Vaccine distribution is happening, but will take a bit more time, and patience is a virtue. Our educators continue to do an outstanding job amidst a global pandemic. Do not make the sacrifices they've done this past year be in vain.

Last Name: Wright Organization: FCPS Locality: McLean

I am a teacher with Fairfax County Public Schools. Please vote AGAINST Senator Dunnavant's new substitute to this bill. Virginia's public schools do not have the staffing and building capacity to make 5 days of in-person learning feasible while still maintaining 6 feet of social distancing. We must continue to strictly enforce all mitigation strategies including 6 feet of social distancing in order to make in-person learning as safe as possible.

Last Name: Binkley Organization: Fairfax Education Association-Retired Locality: Alexandria

For the state legislature to command opening of schools regardless of local pandemic conditions is an extreme overreach and has potential for great health harm to Virginia’s children. The health variables, from new Covid variants that are pushing Europe back to closures; to Swedish data that show teachers twice as likely to be infected during open conditions; to increasing MIS-C cases and studies from Philadelphia’s children’s hospital showing vascular damage markers in positive but asymptomatic children- The indicators show forcing return to school buildings has substantive risks and major unanswered questions at this time. No state intrusion and No forced return to buildings. #Notuntilitssafe.

Last Name: Howard Locality: Williamsburg

My family, like every other family across our country and across the world has missed out on so much. Vacations, Philmont treks, camping, family visits, time with loved ones. We are incredibly fortunate that we have not lost close loved ones but we know so many who have. Our country is rapidly approaching a terrible and dark landmark - 500,000 dead. All of those people left a great hole in the fabric of our country. One that will take generations to attempt to mend. We're almost at a year into the pandemic. It's hard to imagine. But now we have a light at the end of the long tunnel - viable vaccines. It will take time but we will make our way out of this. But it will be months before our children are able to be vaccinated. But people dismiss the impact of the disease on children. "They'll be fine.". Except those that aren't. Who's willing to throw their child into the Hunger Games lottery of - maybe they'll get it and maybe they won't. And let's talk about "children". An 8 year old is not a 16 year old but we persist in lumping all school age children - primary and secondary in together. I was just reading another study where the author said that at 15 there appears to be a switch that gets flipped. That teens are incredibly vulnerable to the disease. Why? Not sure. Part of it is that their bodies are now basically that of an adult. Part of it is that kids that age feel they are invincible. Part of that is that socially they are incapable of maintaining any kind of physical distance. But despite all the science, despite all the facts, despite the light at the end of the tunnel, Senator Dunnavant is now going to decide what is best for my family and my community. Having read what is included in the bill there is absolutely no way for school systems to fulfill these requirements and follow physical distancing. Community spread will no longer be a consideration. The good judgment of the people having to live with this decision and endure the outcomes will no longer be factored in. How dare you. How dare you think to place yourself in the position to make those kinds of decisions for my community?? This hasn't been easy for anyone. There's months to go. But we're getting through this. Our community has a hybrid plan that includes in person instruction on a rotating basis. This basically cuts the numbers physically in the school in half and allows for realistic physical distancing and cleaning procedures to be followed. On days students aren't in school they participate in class from home. Is this the greatest thing ever? No. But we're dealing with a global pandemic. Is it the best we can do under the circumstances? Yes, I think it is. Let me be very blunt here. It appears to me that our country's pandemic response has become political. It became political right from the very start. So from the beginning we have had COVID deniers, non-mask wearers, those that refuse to change their daily lives or to physical distance. Strangely enough, those are the same people screaming to have the children back in school and to have kids back at sports and now that all that is happening - it still isn't enough. Now ALL the kids must be back in school with no ability to maintain distancing and now ALL the parents are screaming about why they can't come watch their kid play sports. Can't we be grateful for what we do have? Senator Dunnavant you do not speak for my community or my family. I vehemently do NOT support this bill.

Last Name: Coggin Locality: James City County

Decisions on how and when to open schools and the details there of should be left to the localities. VDH data should continue to be used as a factor in the decision making process. The times we have opened, we have had to quickly close. Students are just now beginning to return in the largest numbers to date. It is premature to be creating this type of legislation. It is more responsible and prudent to see how it goes between now and June before legislating 5 days of in person per week. We must wait and see if schools (students in schools) are truly safe. Please do not vote to pass this bill at this time.

Last Name: Murphy Organization: FCPS Locality: Arlington

This bill is riculous! Please adhere to medical guidelines, and allow for virtual and hybrid models to continue at this time. Safety is a concern for all, including staff. Allow for vaccinations to be the priority, safety is key to healthy living in schools.

Last Name: Nelson Organization: Parent Locality: Chesapeake

I am writing to express my support of Delegate Dunnavant's SB1303 bill, which would offer the option of full time in-person or virtual learning for students. Education is essential, and while virtual learning can meet the needs of some students it does not meet the needs of most. Arrangements that offer less than full time in-person learning often result in students learning in a variety of settings where masking is not well enforced, such as home child care settings, neighbor's homes, relatives, and even public spaces among parents who are not able to stay home with their children. Offering full time in-person learning could actually help curb the spread of Covid as schools are structured environments professionals are trained to enforce rules and expectations. In addition, Virginians have accepted and supported to have teachers be vaccinated ahead of others as they were placed in group 1B along with frontline essential workers. The rest of the essential workers in that group cannot work from home and have positions in which they interact with hundreds of people in order to fulfill their duties. My expectation is that teachers are given priority for vaccinations so that they can return to the classrooms. Families who are not comfortable with the level of risk in-person learning can bring should have the option to have their kids learn virtually. As you decide whether or not to support this bill please remember schools exist to serve the needs of children. They are the only ones who truly have no choices regarding these decisions. Please do not allow them to become bargaining tools for political purposes.

Last Name: Davis Locality: Henrico

As an Henrico resident I've seen the negative impact virtual/partial virtual learning has had on students. If it's your plan to allow children to fall behind in learning, become despondent and depressed than I guess you will not be voting for SB1303. Any time one leaves their house, there is risk. Unfortunately politics, big Pharma and the main stream media has used FEAR and propagandized Covid against humanity. Herd immunity along with vaccines has and will continue to slow/stop this virus. What is not being reported on is that there are treatments available once you've been diagnosed: hydroxy chloroquine and Ivermectin- I know, I've used them and they work! It's time to live LIFE ... vote YES for SB1303 !!!

Last Name: Crihfield Locality: Williamsburg

I strongly believe, as a parent of two, that this bill is not wise. The decision about how to proceed in such strange times should be in the hands of the local school administrators. Mandating from a state level will not accomplish the ultimate goal, which is to get kids back in school in a safe and sound way. Please, for the sake of our students and their families, do not pass this bill.

Last Name: Kroptavich Organization: FCPS Locality: Fairfax

I am writing as a teacher and mother to you today. A mother and teacher who CANNOT wait to get myself and my kids back into the building and to get back to normal. However, we are in times we could never have planned for, never could have imagined. None of us have every gone through a Global pandemic, and that is what it is- A GLOBAL PANDEMIC. We are still going through it. Things are no better than they were in March/April in the sense that we are still seeing high infection numbers, we just hit a record 500,000 deaths in the US, we are still asked to stay home, stay more than 6 feet away, wear masks, etc. While we are on the track to the end of this, vaccines in arms are happening, we are still not there yet. I am fortunate to have been vaccinated and feel a bit more at ease to head back into a school with limited windows, a ventilation system that I don't even know when was updated, in a classroom of students that don't get to leave, but I am not as excited for my own kids who aren't. If you look around at workplaces, there aren't many (if any) who are at 100% capacity. Yet, many offices can offer 6 feet spacing, open windows, adults who can handle being stuck at a desk all day and not able to move, play, or interact with peers. We are asking students as young as 5 to enter a classroom that even before this pandemic was overcrowded. My own son's Kindergarten class held 29 little bodies and 2-4 teachers at any given time. When sitting on a carpet, they were mere inches away or touching knees sitting criss cross applesauce. I want my kid to be back, but I also want them safe. We have made it to month 11, almost 12 in this pandemic doing everything we have been asked to do. The last thing I want to do is put my kids in a situation that has not been thoroughly thought out, not just by politicians, but by educators and scientists. I do not go into a hospital or to any other place of business and suggest how they should do things, and I feel as though there should be more insight into what a classroom truly looks like, how schedules would look, how jobs would change due to mitigation strategies. Our own school board continues to meet virtually yet asking to place students into small spaces for 8 hours of a day. I want you to make sure you are considering EVERYTHING that it requires to provide a proper education in person and to keep everyone from the 5 year old student to the 75 year old school staff and everyone in between safe so they can properly do their job without putting their health in jeopardy.

Last Name: Gimbel Locality: Fairfax County

Virtual and hybrid models are grossly inadequate. All children deserve an appropriate and free education. Learning loss and the mental and emotional toll on children cannot be sufficiently addressed without full, five-day per week in person instruction.

Last Name: McElwain Locality: Henrico

This bill does not account for reducing number of “in the building” days if there’s a high community spread which puts students and staff at risk. If community spread becomes high again there should be a provision to allow for temporarily having students go remote again until the spread slows down. Also This bill requires 5 days in the classroom and does not allow for one day even for deep cleaning or rotation. If you don’t open schools more safely with these provision sun mind you’ll have more outbreaks at schools.

Last Name: Zargarpur Organization: Self Locality: Manassas

As a teacher and a school board member I am asking you to not support SB1303 for a number of reasons. While I hope we are turning a corner on the pandemic, we do not necessarily know what the future holds and will not know if there will be a resurgence of this virus or we we will have contained it fairly well. School divisions need local authority and the flexibility to be able to adjust to local needs. Under current CDC and VDH guidance, schools in some regions may not be able to provide the safety measures to be able to accommodate students full time if the pandemic worsens. I am also curious to know what additional funding would accompany this bill and how we would find personnel to make this feasible.

Last Name: Armbrust Locality: Henrico

Vote No on SB 1303. I have been a resident of Virginia for my entire life, for four decades in fact. I am a proud product of Virginia public schools, a daughter of a now retired elementary school teacher, and I’ve spent most of my life fighting on behalf of public schools. There are so many flaws with the arguments that are being made in support of this bill, not the least of which is that there is a teacher shortage that now requires “volunteers.” Public education has been underfunded in Virginia for decades. There is no shortage of smart and highly skilled workers in Virginia, but there is a shortage of people who are willing to assume extreme debt to accept a salaried position of 30k a year that requires 60 hours per week of work, 20+ hours of that being unpaid time. There’s a shortage of people that willing to accept personal and professional liability when if they’re accused of something they have to retain their own attorney, because rarely do administrators stand with and defend their staff. Public education has for far too long been treated like it’s a manufacturing plant where workers can be paid by piece and incentivized in that way. Educators are inspired instead by their students; students are not widgets being produced on a factory assembly line. We cannot use a cookie cutter approach to what’s the “best fit” for each locality in Virginia. Yet this mechanized approach to education exactly what some legislators are advocating for now. Local control is what I’ve heard legislators argue for years as what applies to the funding of salary increases for Standards of Quality positions. So why do these same legislators ensure and entrust localities to do what’s best NOW for THEIR employees? The Commonwealth of Virginia doesn’t even provide medical insurance to public school educators because the argument is that they’re local employees, so when educators become sick with COVID-19 the General Assembly can again shrug its shoulders and say “local control.” I’d pay more taxes for educators to be paid more. I’d also gladly help you all look into the budget and find more funds to allocate to fully fund public education, to expand the SOQs, and to fix the funding formula. The money IS there. Unless elected and appointed officials take a real look at the physical state of the public schools in Virginia and truly demonstrates concerns about the well-being of our most precious people resources then I don’t believe the arguments being made to “reopen” are anything more than personal political ploys for some election in the future. We are in a pandemic where very little is forgotten or forgiven in one the most devastating times in most of our lives. Actions taken at this time by elected officials will be remembered for long after this is over. My asks: -Stand with public school educators AND students and immediately stop the push of a highly politicized agenda and this standardized approach to education. Allow LOCALITIES to choose what’s best for them. -Waive SOL testing requirements for this year. -Fully fund public schools, by fully funding the SOQs -Immediately talk to educators in the districts that you serve about the current condition of buildings in their district, including the number of functional bathrooms, class sizes, functional space, and the number of trailers being used. Vote No on SB 1303.

Last Name: Jones Locality: Fairfax

Please support Senator Dunnavant's substitution language for SB 1303. School reopening should NOT be tied to community metrics, as many studies have shown that in school transmission rates are much lower than community rates when mitigation is followed. Teachers are more likely to get infected being out and about in their community. Kids need to get back in school and local school boards need guidance from the state, they have been unable to get kids back on their own for almost 1 year!! I have 3 kids and my older ones desperately need to be with their peers in a communal learning environment. I fear without a push from the state the older kids especially will be in virtual or hybrid learning indefinitely. With the teachers now getting vaccinated schools need to prepare to reopen fully. Thank you.

Last Name: Hammer Locality: Barboursville

Science should dictate how/when school buildings should be opened. Science should dictate how/when school buildings should be opened. Science should dictate how/when school buildings should be opened. Science should dictate how/when school buildings should be opened.

Last Name: Crockett Locality: Toano

Decisions about schools opening/closing/operating should be made by each locality.

Last Name: Allen Locality: Henrico County

I strongly support Senator dunnavant SB 1303 bill requiring school systems to offer in person options for all children. Virtual School has been huge burden to many families students failing academically and extreme mental turmoil for many children. Many families do not have the means to put their children in private school or pay for multiple children in childcare or tutoring pods. This is caused many children to be left home alone in an unsafe environment and children who are far too young to be at home alone in charge of younger siblings. Mental Health Counselors are overwhelmed and not taking new patients. Hospitalizations for children who are harming themselves due to depression and anxiety related to being left alone and isolated are skyrocketing. The wording for this bill needs to remain the same. All children not just select groups should have access in person School. The schoolboards are being pressured by teachers unions to remain closed. As taxpayers under Virginia state law we are guaranteed free education that is accessible for all. Virtual school is not accessible for All Families and it is not working for All Families. As a family with three children and both parents are essential workers virtual school is not working for our family. We urge you to support SB 1303

Last Name: Iooss Organization: NA Locality: Fairfax, Va

Education format decisions are best conducted and implemented at the school and/or school district level. I am an elementary school music teacher, and as I return to in-person learning under a concurrent model, I have concerns about the increased exposure to my students, my colleagues, and my own family to the Covid-19 virus. Schools need to retail the flexibility to pivot to virtual learning if cases arise.

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

It is troubling that in Virginia we have to look to our legislators when it comes to a very basic public-provided function, and that is our teachers teaching our kids in the classroom. This should be a given. This should be common sense. But here we are, looking to the state to legislate an in-person offering from the very public schools we as taxpayers pay for. My secondary children have been out of the classroom for a year. Let me repeat that. Out of the classroom for a year. When I first saw this bill I was both angry and relieved because while we shouldn’t need it, someone somewhere was finally doing something, I was pleasantly shocked when it made it out of the Senate - and then the House took all of it’s ‘teeth’ out and caved to the teacher’s association in VA. I was sadly not shocked to see this. While we shouldn’t need this sort of legislation in the first place it is obvious we have a real problem in this state at the school board level and their inability to stand up against the Virginia Education Association so I’m asking the House to please support this amendment, otherwise why even bother? It does nothing to push districts fo educate our children otherwise. Please, stop pandering to the association and start supporting the students and parents who pay for these schools. Or, you can start working on a school voucher bill because something has got to change. Thank you.

Last Name: Lampkin Locality: Williamsburg

Good morning, This is an extremely dangerous bill. 12 months ago we didn't know the path the virus would take, and even though things are now much better in terms of our knowledge about the virus, this bill leaves no room for the unknown. Relying solely on school metrics is foolish. The community has an impact on schools just like schools have an impact on the community. We cannot ignore families with vulnerable members, just because we like the school metric numbers better. It is dangerous to go against what the CDC is advising. Discounting the option for teachers to be remote means we weaken our already tight pool of educators, just where are we getting teachers from? We already have a critical shortage. Many teachers are doing amazing jobs teaching remotely. Let's not waste that talent. I suggest there is a bigger issue at play here, the issue being to have tried to maintain normality during a pandemic. Focus on grades and assessments have been misplaced, where focus could have and should have been mental,, social, and emotional health. For many years the education system has been neglected, this is a golden opportunity to demonstrate your believes and exemplify what you truly feel about the system and it's educators voting for this bill shows you do not value education nor educators, but rather need childcare. Voting for this bill shows you do not wish to consider the impact deaths of famies members will have on our young people. Voting for this bill tells everyone that you believe schools can operate at a level for which they are not financially equipped. Voting for this bill tells people you do not care. Do not vote in favor of this bill, it must be modified.

Last Name: Lee Locality: Fairfax

The Bill to reopen schools to 5 days a week simply should not be passed. It is not following CDC guidelines and schools are not large enough to safely open five days a week. It makes no sense to do this right now especially as many schools are just opening up to hybrid and adjusting to a new way of teaching and learning in the concurrent model. If things go well and spread doesn’t increase the schools should be able to make the decisions of whether or not to open five days a week. Parents and teachers and students are both tired of lawmakers who do not know what it is like in slide the schools making decisions for all of us that don’t work for our buildings and community. Please do not pass this Bill.

Last Name: Price Locality: Fairfax County

As a parent and teacher this substitute bill worries. There are many things that are concerning. One of which is that if all students return 5 days a week, there will be no way to maintain social distancing. This puts students, staff and their families at risk. We must consider community spread as well, even the VDH says that is a factor is opening schools. Asking schools to reopen at full capacity five days a week, would require more teachers and more space. Both of which most schools do not have. I hope you reconsider this bill and think of the safety of the families.

Last Name: Howlett Locality: Williamsburg

Taking the ability away from local government to determine what is in the best interest of their schools is wrong. There are limitations on what the federal government can do in any state of the Union, there should also be limitations on what State government can do in municipalities and school boards of Cities, Counties around the State. This is an over reach of centralized government that does not have insight into all the different issues each area grapples with to over come and be successful. Even representatives can not have a full understanding of all their school districts. Please let our elected officials do what they do so well. Run our town and cities in the best interest of they need to be successful. State government should focus on State issues.... Thank you.

Last Name: Robles Locality: Chester

I urge you to vote against this. I’m dumbfounded that this bill does not take community spread into consideration. My children chose to stay virtual due to not wanting to be the cause of it spreading to their teachers or other family members. The burden this bill will put on our already overworked and under appreciated teachers is immense and not needed.

Last Name: Lohr Locality: Fairfax City

Substitute teachers or room monitors are not the same as a teacher. Do not just push through a bill that does not address more specific issues plaguing public education in Virginia. NO to this bill!

Last Name: Woodard Locality: Alexandria

Schools can reopen safely, if mitigation strategies are followed. Teachers cannot follow these mitigation strategies if expected to be open for all students to attend daily 5 days per week. I’ve been in person teaching highly impacted students with disabilities from October to December. In December I felt terrified to be at work because of the community spread. Our rate of community spread is still high and we are back in person. Please do not make this situation more serious by discrediting the one shred of mitigation that works, social distancing. I believe you’ll have teachers decide to not return and take a leave of absence. Some will not return the following year. The stress, anxiety, cleaning measures is cumbersome. The students have been impacted emotionally, socially, financially. Add in that we now have to do twice the teaching because students are in person and online at the same time (con current learning) and perhaps you’ll begin to understand that teachers are exhausted, emotionally and spiritually. We have no more to give than what we are. Please realize the only bare necessity safe guard mitigation strategies, 6 foot social distancing and wearing a face covering, must be complied with and if you demand in person 5 days per week instruction for all students then we cannot have that. Sincerely, Jennifer Woodard Fairfax County Public School teacher and taxpayer

Last Name: Niessen Locality: Annandale

I strongly oppose the proposed substitute bill. There simply isn’t enough capital to make it feasible in a state that saw Covid infection numbers rising as all 49 other states were falling. The community is not doing enough to mitigate the spread and the arm twisting that has already happened to start the avalanche ahead of us has shown that no one is willing to do what it takes. Our schools don’t need bills to reopen. They need funding, teacher pay increases, updated HVAC systems, more staffing, more space. We have been woefully underfunding education to the point of collapse and that’s exactly what is happening under the pressure to “return to normal”. This fiasco is NOT on the backs of our teachers who have leapt through every hoop to provide what they can while lofty politicians scheme from virtual offices. Stop. Just stop. There will be no one left to teach.

Last Name: Walker Locality: James City County

This bill is ludicrous. Tying the hands of districts to achieve full in-person learning defies logic and is inequitable to communities where schools have been traditionally underfunded and buildings are substandard. It’s more systemic racism. There are many parents across the commonwealth who do not yet want to send their children back. Some are at-risk if children bring home the virus and they can’t get vaccinated yet. Why are you removing from them the option of virtual education vs. a hybrid district model? This is also an attack on teachers. We WANT to go back to buildings. We NEVER stopped working. We are being demonized for speaking up and telling the truth about the conditions in schools which do not match the rosy picture being sold by corporations that want their workforce back at any cost and who donate heavily to political campaigns. Remember - teachers in Virginia don’t have collective bargaining rights in place. This isn’t union driven. It’s reality driven. These decisions should be locally controlled. In our district a large percentage of parents who have the option of in-person are choosing virtual. By saying hybrid doesn’t count, you’re taking that decision away from parents as well. How is that serving the needs of your constituents? Our legislature has charged teachers for decades for every lack of state income and every emergency. We are underfunded and make significantly less than our colleagues in other states. A master’s degree is required for us to be considered highly qualified yet a master’s program at a public Virginia university will cost you $32,000 - not much less than the starting salary for Virginia teachers. We don’t make enough to pay the student loans necessary to become public, and thus indentured, servants. Yet you want us to go into buildings (that don’t meet safety standards in a non-pandemic year), while purchasing our own PPE and classroom cleaning products, into schools where mask requirements aren’t enforced and numerous cases go unreported? You treat teachers like the dirt under your feet then shame us for telling the truth. Grocery workers, medical personnel, and other front line workers can’t work remotely. If they could many would. Teachers are NOT first responders. We are highly educated and undercompensated. Our workplaces do not allow for social distancing when at capacity. Our workplaces aren’t all safe. Mismanagement of vaccine distribution means many teachers aren’t yet receiving the vaccine. And we would be happy to wait until every senior and every person with comorbidities is vaccinated as long as we can have the option of teaching remotely until then. Or prioritize teacher vaccines. Either one. Seriously. We can be good either way. We just don’t want to die. We don’t want our loved ones to die. How much work are you doing in person, dear legislators, within 3 or 6 feet of 28-40 your colleagues at once? Spending much, or any, time in schools seeing the reality of those that aren’t affluent? How many of your colleagues can’t leave their masks on all day? How many of you are required to spend your “unencumbered” lunch in a room full of maskless people? Even with the abysmal working conditions and complete lack of support from state and federal leadership, many of us want to be back now. So capitalize on that but give others the option to stay remote until fully vaccinated and serve the needs of parents who want a hybrid or remote model. Local control.

Last Name: Movic Locality: Arlington

I am a parent of high school student and I do not support the VanValkenburg substitute APS would have the discretion to define what in-person instruction is, including saying that a student in a building in front of an iPad or laptop is "in person". It would also require APS to draft guidelines that conform with CDC guidance, which as has been reported, were drafted in part by teachers' unions. VanVAlkenburg doesn't have best interest for our children and their education and well being. Our children need to be in school regardless of their age, color, status, religion, race or sex. They need their voices to be heard and choices to be respected and that means in person education with teachers at their work place and that means in school. It is disappointing especially since the Post reported that the substitute was created in consultation with the Governor, who had previously said that he supports the original version of SB 1303: Please reject the VanValkenburg substitute and vote yes on the original SB 1303. I'm writing to express my strong opposition to the VanValkenburg substitute for SB1303. This new language does not constitute in-person school! Students require teachers--live, in-person teachers--in schools to learn. This constitutes a Fair and Appropriate Public Education, and teachers must be present. Why else would we priority vaccinate all public school teachers in VA, if then to allow them to continue to teach remotely from an ipad and call it 'in-person' school? It's patently absurd. I'm frankly stunned that the HOD education subcommittee would allow this language to even be considered. I call on you reject the VanValkenburg substitute and vote yes on the original SB 1303 Lisa

Last Name: Lynn Locality: Williamsburg

Every time our school system has tried to reopen to in-person classes over the past year, they are closed within a matter of days due to spikes in community spread, especially in such a small town as Williamsburg. Our teachers and students are not safe when so few in the community are vaccinated at this point in time. It is too early to force students into a normal school schedule when we are still in the middle of a pandemic. Please allow localities to chose when it is safe to bring students back to the classroom. The voices of teachers and parents understand what is best for students far more than a sweeping judgment for an entire commonwealth that is vastly diverse.

Last Name: Easton Locality: Fairfax County

I have read a version of the bill is being considered that requires in-person instruction in school 5 days a week REGARDLESS of community spread of COVID. And a school would only be considered at risk if there are two outbreaks at the same time. So some legislators have no care for the safety of our schools apparently. You must want our yearbooks to be full of memorial pages for the students, staff and teachers who have died of COVID or who are permanently harmed. How irresponsible this is. There is ample worldwide data showing rampant outbreaks in schools among students, teachers and staff. COVID community spread must be low for school in-person to be safe. These choices will have TRAGIC consequences. Please do not disregard science. Do not politicize the virus further and allow GOP denialism to endanger our children and adults who work with them.

Last Name: Ward Locality: Midlothian

I support the version of this bill as submitted last week by Delegate VanValkenburg. Virginia should follow CDC guidance with reopening to ensure a safe environment for students and staff. I do not support a School State Takeover bill. Citizens elect School Boards to manage their schools. Removing authority of the locality undermines the powers of the elected School Boards. Not every district is the same and should not be required to operate equally. Equality is not equity. Communities should make every effort to limit spread so students can return to school safely, and School Boards should follow the guidance set-forth by the CDC. Chesterfield County Public Schools did not follow CDC guidance with Legionella testing and mitigation. A teacher nearly died as a result. Others became ill. This illness was entirely preventable. Deaths and illness from COVID are preventable too (per the CDC). I ask that our elected leaders do their job to protect citizens of all ages.

Last Name: Ferraro Locality: Midlothian

I support Senator Dunnavant's original and recent substitution NOT Senator VanValkenburg's. There also needs to be an emergency clause added to get this bill in place as soon as possible. Schools have been closed for way too long Students are suffering.

Last Name: Palmer Locality: Chesapeake

Why are you even considering this? Our school board meets virtually, apparently the House meets virtually, but schools should open the buildings. For those who say schools have been closed... NO THEY HAVE NOT!!!! Teachers are working harder than ever. We are teaching every subject, every day. When it is safe for the House , Senate, and school boards to meet face to face, the. It is safe to reopen school buildings....or are we so much less valuable than yourselves?

Last Name: Anderson Locality: Henrico

This is an overreaching bill that is taking away a school division’s ability to make the best decision for its students. Education had never been one size fits all. What works in Wise might not work in the City of Richmond. Are you planning to fund all the building improvements for HVAC, build additional classroom space to accommodate all the students with social distancing and additional classroom supplies that will be needed for each student?

Last Name: Hall Organization: Select One Locality: Annandale

Please don't pass the 5-day in-person school mandate. It will take away the ability of schools districts to implement the safest and best educational opportunities for everyone. Texas and Florida both have such a mandate and have seen high COVID cases among students and staff. In Texas, over 113,000 in-person students have had confirmed COVID positive tests. Since only symptomatic students are tested, the number could be much higher. Almost 62,000 staff contracted COVID. Richmond shouldn't dictate how and when schools should open during a crisis. Please drop the bill completely or substitute the Van Valkenburg version. Thank you, Vanessa

Last Name: Keaney Locality: Lorton, VA

During this absolutely unprecedented time of global pandemic, on the day on which our nation has reached 500,000 deaths from COVID-19, it should be clear to all legislators that we need maximum flexibility in the coming months to be able to respond with speed and safety when changing conditions require it. Legislation that requires in-person schooling when safety recommendations are rapidly changing and new, more virulent and contagious variants of the virus are gaining momentum, and the science of contagion in schools is limited, is risky at best, deadly at worst. Schools must be able to follow safety guidelines and respond nimbly when conditions change, as they have done rapidly in the past few months. This legislation is dangerous and unnecessary and must not pass.

Last Name: Michaelsen Organization: Fairfax County Public School communities Locality: Fairfax County

As a single mom and teacher of 14 years in the county, I am feeling very frustrated by the lack of respect for my health, my daughter's health, and the health and safety of my parents whom we currently reside with. They have not been vaccinated yet. Many children come to school sick because their parents will get fired if they don't show up to work. Nobody wants schools to open more than teachers. We miss our students and our communities coming together. There is not enough scientific evidence to prove if school is safe or not. I am very uneasy going into my building twice a week, but pushing for 5 days? No way. Our students are doing so well and are about to start a brand new schedule. We don't need to change this again. Keep the safety of our students and teachers in mind as well as the families and communities they come home to when making this decision. Please do the right thing and keep our communities safe until the numbers are way down. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Corneliussen Locality: Providence Forge

I urge the members of this Committee to reject this bill. Localities should be able to look at their own health metrics and decide what is appropriate for their schools. Parents should have choice in whether their students return virtually or in person. This issue has become overly politicized. State politicians need to remember that a one-size fits all approach never works in education or in health. Please vote against this bill. I will not vote for politicians who chose political expediency over common sense and safety.

Last Name: Lawton Locality: Springfield

When you consider plans to reopen schools, please allow for the flexibility of local school districts to do what they need to do to make sure our schools are safe. Please do not mandate returning to school in person without the options of hybrid, virtual, and concurrent available for families and staff that need these options.

Last Name: Flowers Locality: Chesterfield County

As a public school teacher, I am extremely concerned about this bill. Forcing students to go back in person five days a week would eliminate the "Wellness Wednesdays" that my county is using to promote emotional wellness as well as provide time for thorough cleaning. Additionally, adding "normal" amounts of students to classrooms will make social distancing impossible. Many studies have shown that social distancing is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, we have already given our families the choice between in-person or virtual learning. Forcing these students to go back in-person would uproot their routines and possibly make them feel unsafe at school. Students who feel fearful or anxious at school will struggle to learn the content required of them. Many counties have already developed a strategy to get some students in the building for in-person learning. This bill will require schools to change their plans, which will cause additional stress for building administrators and teachers, who are already feeling overwhelmed and overworked. I strenuously object to this bill. I feel it is ill-conceived and does not take into account the measures many counties have already taken to increase in--person learning, as per Governor Northam's request.

Last Name: Flinn Locality: Chesterfield

This bill is an outrage and needs to die a quick death. Forcing students into classrooms 5 days a week for in person instruction while not considering community spread is an affront to recognizing how community spread of a highly transmissible viral infection works. Schools aren’t bubbles-they are hubs of neighborhoods and communities. To discount such a critical factor in the rush to get students back in school is shortsighted, dangerous, and setting Virginia up for another surge in Covid infections. Vote No on SB 1303!

Last Name: Park Locality: Albemarle

I am writing in support of SB1303. I have three children in public schools: two in elementary and one in middle school. The impact of denying access to in-person instruction for a year to these young children has been devastating. Relying exclusively on virtual instruction is inconsistent with the recommendations for in-person instruction from the Virginia Departments of Education and Health, the American Academy of Pediatricians, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, among others. Local school boards have revealed themselves to be ill-equipped to navigate this crisis. More direction from the state level is absolutely critical to ensure that data-based decision making is at the forefront. Keeping our school classrooms closed for nearly a year has been a shameful failure of public service. Virtual instruction should be a temporary measure deployed only as needed, not the baseline for instruction. I strongly support the passage of SB1303 to provide all Virginia students the option of five-day instruction.

Last Name: Leiter Locality: Springfield

Implementation of this bill ignores the health and safety measures outlined by the CDC. Furthermore, with nationwide teacher and substitute shortages it would be impossible to implement with fidelity. This bill is anti-public health, anti-family, and decidedly anti-education. It is unconscionable to put school staff into the position of having to choose between their family’s health and safety and their livelihoods and would exacerbate the already critical teacher shortage. It also falsely sets parents against teachers who both want school buildings to open safely and according to CDC guidelines. Finally, allowing alternative assessments to the SOL tests this year makes sense since families would have to compromise their children’s’ safety to allow them to take the tests, which must occur in person. High school students whose parents chose virtual schooling for them this year will be forced to go into school buildings to take SOLs for classes that require a passing score for credits toward graduation. If there was ever a time for caution, practicality, and compassion, this would be the time, when our country has already lost half a million people to the pandemic. This bill will only add more to the tally.

Last Name: Bolon Locality: Arlington

Don’t force 5 days in person.

Last Name: Smith Locality: Henrico County

This bill (SB 1303) may be the most irresponsible piece of legislation I have read. To ignore the lethal dangers of COVID-19, to students, staff, & their families, to throw out the most basic of mitigation policies (keeping people away from each other to prevent the spread of the virus), and force the removal the simplest of safeguards in place to declare a Mission: Accomplished will lead to deaths. It will direct cause children to die; the CDC says children have the same prevalence of catching this coronavirus as adults. This is a dangerous intrusion, again, by individuals who have no understanding about how a school operates. Please scrap this bill and listen to actual healthcare and education experts. Only a fraction of teachers are now vaccinated; not children, who will solely be in harms’ way if this is forced.

Last Name: Albert Locality: James City

I strongly oppose Senator Dunnavant bill. I have difficulty wrapping my head around why a Virginia Senator thinks Virginia Government knows more about our districts than we do. How many of you have actually spent time as a teacher. Do you think so little of students and faculty. Our district classroom average size is 26. During a "normal school year" during most classes students are less than 2 feet from each other. Tell me how that will work during a Pandemic when we should have 6 feet between students. We have teachers who are unvaccinated returning to the classroom. What do you think will happen if you fill their classrooms with 18-28 students. Do you not think we have the significantly increased the potential to infect a number or adults or students. How about instead of you passing such a ridiculous bill, you let the individual school districts determine what is best for their faculty and staff and most importantly their students.

Last Name: Vanderland Locality: Henrico

I am writing in opposition to this bill as a mama and member of the community. Our school systems are working hard to find ways to keep our students safe and provide excellent instruction. They should continue to be able to make the judgment calls that they need around how this can be done safely. We also must continue to follow the CDC guidance, including their guidance around community impacts, as we work to keep everyone in our community safe. Virginia has managed to maintain its status as one of the least impacted states -- what we are doing is WORKING. Please vote no on this bill, which rips control out of local divisions and establishes state control over schools while also decreasing student safety, family choice, and the ability to accommodate staff and students with specific needs.

Last Name: Brown Locality: Fairfax

Let’s be real, the woke movement Is driving this. Until every school district includes BLM and CRT, they won’t reopen fully. I can say this being that I am a Black woman. Cut the politics, reopen schools. Damage is done. It’s only making black kids WORSE off.

Last Name: Blevins Locality: Goochland County Schools, Henrico Resident

LISTEN TO SCHOOL PROFESSIONALS AND TEACHERS. This language is risky, unsafe and forces a one-size-fits-all approach onto school divisions with VASTLY different funding formulas, infrastructure, and populations. Additionally, discouraging classroom monitors as a temporary solution would place an undue hardship on school divisions who are TRYING to accommodate high-risk teachers under the ADA. They are doing this until community numbers come down and ALL teachers are fully vaccinated (we are not, still). No one wants to discuss how incredibly ableist it is to force teachers with disabilities to chose between their lives and their livelihoods, but it IS ableist, and it is against the law. Delegate Dunnavant, I am a public school teacher and voter in Henrico. YOU are my representative and I have written to you on behalf of myself and teachers multiple times and have yet to receive a response. STOP prioritizing profits over people and STOP making decisions about public schools without teachers at the table.

Last Name: Brooks Locality: Newport News

Passing this bill is down right dangerous for our communities, students, and staff and those proposing the bill have learned nothing about how this virus works. We continue to ignore the data from many European countries who are weeks ahead of us in this disease. Just as often as schools have opened fully, they have been closed just as quickly. To completely ignore community metrics is willfully ignoring data that NEEDS to be considered as schools open. Many children are asymptotic and we are not testing them, they in turn are spreading the disease to their families. Many children here in the US have died from Covid that they caught at school or school events. This decision should not be forced on districts, each one needs to make that decision based on what’s happening within their own communities. This bill is dangerous and should not be passed.

Last Name: Burger Organization: Teachers Locality: Chantilly

It is very concerning to me that SB1303-Dunnavant is proposing requiring in-person 5 days a week. This is not possible with current staffing, classrooms, and mitigation strategies. How in-person looks needs to be left up to individual localities for what they can safely do. Districts need to have flexibility if they are going to meet demands for students who want in-person. Do we all want to be back in-person 5 days a week, absolutely. It is not worth the risk to the community. Research shows that while students are more often asymptomatic, they do spread COVID. The places with more in-person have higher community spread. Not to mention children are suffering from long term side effects of COVID even when they are asymptomatic. Please do not make a short sighted demand that will do irreparable harm to our communities.

Last Name: Newton Locality: Henrico

I hope that you do not support this plan as written. It lacks key details on where the additional teachers, classroom space and funding will come from to support these guidelines while social distancing. Will the state pay for all necessary funding? School health metrics cannot be separated from the community health metrics. The students and teachers work and live in the community. This bill is a a reckless plan to get all schools open at any cost - even the life of students and teachers. School boards should be able to decide what is best for their community schools.

Last Name: Spencer Locality: Richmond

I am a teacher in RPS and I am urging you to reject this bill. We don’t have enough qualified teachers as it is and we have never had enough substitute teachers. Forcing our students and teachers to come back face to face flies in the face of science and medicine. How will we socially distance if all students and teachers are back in the buildings? Will this bill include more funding for nurses since more people will be getting sick? Will this bill include funding for counselors since more students and teachers will be dying and will need help coping? Are you or any of the people voting in favor of this bill volunteering in classrooms or schools? If no why not? If it’s safe enough for our students and teachers it’s certainly safe enough for those voting in favor to come volunteer.

Last Name: Jorgensen Locality: Henrico, VA

This bill is disrespectful to the health and wellness of students, teachers, parents, and all other school personnel. The idea of mandating that students return 5 days in person regardless of community spread is reckless. Education is so important but we do not exist in a vacuum where community spread does not effect schools. Where do you expect to find the staff to fill these classrooms? This bill is overreaching and is applying a one size fits all approach to teaching in a pandemic. DO NOT pass this bill. CDC guidelines for reopening schools exist for a reason, and to completely disregard them for political purposes does not keep people safe and alive. Ms. Dunnavant, I am a resident of your district and a parent in your district and this bill does NOT represent what I want at all; in fact it goes directly against logic when opening schools in a pandemic.

Last Name: Henderson Locality: York County

I am writing in opposition to this bill. In essence, requiring schools to be open 5 days a week to serve all students face to face yet also adhering to the CDC guidelines for keeping students, families and staff safe during the pandemic would cost too much money. Classes of 10-15 students maximum are required in order to maintain the 3-6 foot social distance (per the CDC )would require double the number of teachers and classrooms, overwhelming city and county school budgets. Most classes in Virginia public schools are anywhere from 18-35/40 students K-12 in pre pandemic years. Reducing the maximum number to 10-15 students in each class to align with CDC Safety Requirements for face to face instruction 5 days a week would simply be cost prohibitive given the number of staff and new classroom space necessary to implement this bill. Thank you.

Last Name: Dobson Locality: Fairfax

I am opposed to this bill. Decisions in this time of pandemic should be left to local school boards elected by their communities. Too much variation in circumstances and capacity to implement mitigation strategies to resort to this one size fits all approach. Let's work towards equity by reducing the spread of covid-19 and implementing a robust and efficient vaccination program, as well as catch up learning opportunities over the summer.

Last Name: Walls Locality: City of Richmond

The unintended consequences of passing this bill are enormous. For one, staffing of schools (during a nationwide teacher shortage) for in-person classes is a huge concern. Some employees will require accommodations to work remotely due to COVID-19. Technology has currently allowed these teachers to teach remotely while students are in the building. Removing this option for school districts is absolutely ludicrous and will cause an even greater shortage of qualified educators.

Last Name: Beery Locality: Harrisonburg

Most if not all of the school districts in VA are providing in person instruction for some students according the the health metrics and the Governor's mandates. To legislate that ALL districts have in person, 5 days a week with a total disregard for students/teachers/staffs health, and/or their families/communities health is callous and continues to ignore science. This is a bad bill and should receive no consideration. Thank you, Kathy Beery

Last Name: Martin Locality: Virginia Beach

I do not support any provision that would force virtual students who wish to remain virtual back into the classroom, no matter their academic performance. If that should pass, our family will file our NOI and homeschool until a children's Covid vaccine is approved. Not only will I file our NOI, I will unabashedly and actively teach other parents how to file homeschool paperwork. You are creating a double dilemma for districts with this legislation--exacerbating a pre-pandemuc teacher shortage and exacerbating budgets shortfalls that will occur because of dropping enrollments due to homeschooling. This legislation is short sighted and harmful. If anything you should be working on legislation and funding to continue virtual school for those that want it post-pandemic. Now is the time to take the best of pandemic adaptation and bring it into the new normal. My 6th grader thrives in virtual learning. In fact, he wishes it could occur live using Oculus VR. He has zero desire to go back to the prison like conditions of in-person schooling. And we have zero desire to send him back. Now is the time to think out of the box and about the future. It is not the time to attempt to retrofit a pandemic need into the old failing system of walled-in in-person education.

Last Name: Deloney Locality: Harrisonburg

SB1303 Dunnavant I oppose the Senate Bill 1303 Amendment in the nature of a substitute because local school districts should be able to determine the safest instruction methods while taking into account community spread (red zones) and school overcrowding.

Last Name: Lennox Locality: Herndon

This bill is not in the best interest of children. It goes against the science and puts the health of children and adults at risk for a selfish, political agenda. Bullying school districts by withholding funds for those that put safety first is wrong. Our children and their teachers deserve better.

Last Name: Hopkins Locality: Henrico, Virginia

I would like if staffing has been taken into consideration for this bill? We had a teacher shortage before the pandemic and now it is even worse. And I mean trained, licensed teachers not an army of unqualified volunteers. I would also like the decision of schools to remain with local school boards and not become under state control.

Last Name: Lamb Locality: Henrico

I implore you to VOTE YES FOR THE DUNNAVANT SUBSTITUTE SB 1303 that will require schools to offer full-time, in-person learning, 5 days a week for our students. As a mother of three young children in Henrico County, I've watched in horror and stunned disbelief as the Henrico School Board has delayed returning children to the classroom 3 times and now if they go back they will still be on their computer screens all day as their teachers attempt to "teach" children in the classroom and at home simultaneously. School boards all across the Commonwealth have repeatedly failed our children. It's pathetic that parents need to beg the legislature to legally require schools to be open and define in-person learning as teaching without computers, full-time, 5 days a week in order to ensure our children the opportunity to get a decent education. Don't you fail our children too. Honor the Virginia Constitution. Pass the Dunnavant Substitute SB 1303.

Last Name: Green Organization: FCPS Locality: Loudonn

As an educator this is absolutely ridiculous! Teachers want to be in schools teaching, when it is SAFE!! Clearly you have no problem with putting educators and their families in danger. This is not acceptable, clearly you have never been a teacher. How disgraceful of you to even put this out there. Anyone who votes in agreement with this deserves to loose their seat in the next election. This isn’t right, do right by your educators and their families.

Last Name: Economy Locality: Chesapeake

I am writing to express my support of SB1303, including Senator Dunnavant's substitution. I live in Chesapeake and have 3 teenagers. My 16 year old daughter has switched to homeschool this year. My twin 14 year old boys are freshman in high school. One goes to Hickory High and the other to Great Bridge High so he could participate in the JROTC program. They were honor students until covid struck. Virtual learning hasn't been effective for them and they have repeatedly told me that they can't learn this way. Their grades are horrible. Their attitudes are horrible. They're struggling with depression and often appear hopeless. Mental health counselors aren't readily available. I don't want to push medication on them because it truly will not solve the real problem which is that schools need to go back to full in person learning. Our district provided a hybrid schedule option a few months ago which in person learning would be 2 days/week and virtual 2 days. The 5th day is used as an asynchronous day. Prior to covid, high school block schedules had 4 -90 minute classes, 5 days/week, per semester. Since covid, high school classes are 4 -45 minute classes, 4 days a week and students are still required to learn the same amount of material. The in person, 90 minute class schedule is 20 minutes at your desk with your laptop, 45 minutes live instruction (if that), and the last 25 minutes with your laptop. The teacher is teaching the students in the class, but is also teaching the virtual students at the same time. My teens feel that the teacher is teaching to a screen and not actually acknowledging the live students in the class. They do not feel it is necessary to go to class and be there all day, only for 3 hours (if that) of live instruction. Why do we not have full 90 minute class time for our high schoolers? Even with virtual learning, the long gaps in between classes is ridiculous. They could finish the school day in 3 hours, but instead have classes with extremely long breaks in between. In my opinion, either put them in the classroom 4 or 5 days per week in person with full 90 minute instruction or cut their day in half so that they do not have to be sitting all day in front of the screen and could be available for other activities such as work or physical fitness. My son's JROTC experience was very disheartening. He has longed to join the military like his father and was very excited to start JROTC at a new school and meet new friends. JROTC is a program that includes teamwork, physical fitness, drills, uniforms, etc. What do you think his experience was doing JROTC virtually? It was sad. There were no activities, drills, or team building. It was not the experience he hoped for. Also, being a new student at school, he met no one. He attended school for 3 months, 2 days a week in person, and met no one. He ate lunch by himself as everyone is spaced apart. There is no interaction in the classrooms. No opportunities to meet his peers. Imagine being a freshman at a new high school, its halfway through the year, and you do not have any friends? How isolating is that to a child? As a parent, I don't know what else to do for them. I get emails from their teachers about missing work. I've told the teachers to let them fail as I need to keep the peace in my household. If I ask them about missing work, they get angry. They used to be honor students who are now failing and depressed and feel the schools have deserted them. Pass SB1303!

Last Name: Cobbs Organization: Franklin County Public Schools Locality: Rocky Mount (Franklin County)

One of the positive outcomes of COVID-19 is expanding the way we teach and how students learn. Some students from Franklin County have thrived in a virtual setting. However, many students have not. Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to engage with some students and their families. Unfortunately, I fear that some families who need us the most will use this bill as a blank check to avoid being accountable for their child’s learning and future. Districts should be able to collaborate with families about which learning model is best for the child. Therefore, I am writing today to ask you to vote NO to SB 1303.

Last Name: Galizio Organization: Fairfax County Federation of Teachers Locality: McLean

Local school boards need to be able to have the decision making control that would allow for going in-person, hybrid, and allow for going back to virtual if COVID 19 case counts rise. Local Community spread has a large impact on school metrics along with mitigation strategies. Please let local school districts continue to make decisions about what is best for them during the pandemic thank you

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

My name is Emily VanDerhoff and I am a 1st grade teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools. I strongly oppose Sen. Dunnavant's new substitute to this bill. This new version would require schools to offer 5 days of in-person instruction to any family who requests it. This is impossible to do while maintaining 6 feet of social distancing with the staff and building space currently available in any Virginia public school. The language "to the maximum extent practicable" would really equate to social distancing 0% of the time. With full classes attending in-person instruction 5 days/week in a school, there is almost never a moment that students are more than 6 feet away from others. 6 feet has been the standard established by health officials throughout the pandemic. Relaxing this standard puts students, staff, and their families at increased risk. We must not let pressure from a small but highly-organized and vocal minority demanding 5 days of in-person instruction with little-to-no mitigation strategies put the lives of our communities at risk. Virtual and hybrid options must remain available until community spread conditions greatly improve to allow for a gradual easing up of mitigation. Community spread cannot be taken out of the equation. All studies on the safety of in-person instruction include a statement that it is only safe when community spread is low. VDH sets a low bar for school risk, allowing a school to remain open until there are 2 separate but simultaneous outbreaks within the same building. It is too great a risk to wait for this to happen before considering closing a school in an area with high community spread. I am also concerned about the section in which VDOE would determine what success in virtual learning looks like. Virginia's educators are highly-trained professionals and can successfully assess the progress of their class. I am also concerned what the repercussions would be for a student who chooses virtual but may struggle academically. Would VDOE's standard force them into in-person against their family's wishes? What is the true purpose of this clause? This substitute is not feasible for our public schools. It puts students, staff, and families at unnecessary risk and it should not be considered by the Education Committee.

Last Name: Lewis Locality: Ashburn

Please vote in favor of Senator Dunnavant's updated substitute for SB1303, to guarantee families a choice in pursuing the method of learning that works best for them. The lack of genuine in-person learning has damaged my teen’s outlook and personality, and has rendered her Academies of Loudoun/MATA curriculum unachievable. She will enter college next year not having the background that Loudoun County committed to provide, but with more than half of her incoming freshman class having kept the rhythm of their in-person learning over the past year. In other words, despite the platitudes on yardsigns and social media, we are not all in this together. The path to unity and a viable education for all students must include a true choice. People who prefer, and even thrive in distance learning can and should keep that option through the appropriate Virtual school. Concurrently, people who function better with an in-person model should also be guaranteed that choice within VDH guidelines, on a full-time basis, as soon as possible. Senator Dunnavant's latest substitute for SB1303 will ensure that Virginians are afforded that choice. Thank you.

Last Name: Cruz Locality: Fairfax

This legislation is a mistake. Removing local control from school districts to make a one-size-fits-all approach for such a diverse state will be detrimental to the well-being of children from Abington to Arlington. Local districts have done an impressive job this year responding to changing situations, and there is no way that this rule, which aims to tie both hands behind districts’ backs, will allow that flexibility to happen again. Removing local control to make local decisions based on local facts is short-sighted and obtuse.

Last Name: Couch Locality: Alexandria VA

As a mother of two, I strongly oppose this bill. I am so tired of the political games that is being played with my children’s education. Of course I want everything to return to normal but now is not the time. I trust the CDC to provide the guidance to our schools on when and how to operate. I trust the professional educators in my district to make decisions that are in the best interest of the students even though I may not always agree with them. Politicians need to stay out of this. A bill like this would be harmful to the students and teachers in the long run. Students have been living through history. The learning has continued albeit not in the traditional way. Keep politics out of education. Do not pass this bill.

Last Name: Weeks Locality: Chesterfield

I support Dunnavant bill and not the substitute bill by VanValkenburg in regards to reopening schools.

Last Name: Genus Locality: Fairfax

This bill is extremely short sighted and dangerous. In order to implement, schools would have to disregard social distancing to cram all students back into the classrooms. Even Dr. Fauci has repeatedly stated that social distancing must continue for the next few months in order to curb the spread of the virus. The new variants have been shown to affect children more than the original. Many countries are closing schools once again because the variants are increasingly spreading among youths. Let the school systems continue on the path they are on to offer hybrid learning to those who choose it. This will keep everyone safe while allowing children to return back to the buildings in a safe manner. Do not legislate that parents put their children in a situation that is not considered safe!

Last Name: Thurston Locality: Vienna

I’m entirely against the legislation that has been floated around regarding usurping local control over schools. I have already vowed to vote against my state Senator, Chap Peterson, based on this issue and will do so forever. I will do the same to my delegate, again, forever. I voted for Peterson always in the past and will support a Republican before I support him. Same goes for my delegate should he vote for this.

Last Name: Landon Locality: Fairfax, VA

I find it horrific that politicians are grandstanding and are playing with our children's health. There is absolutely no reason to Force 5 days in person School at this point in the pandemic. This is political grandstanding and disgusting. Frankly it is making us rethink leaving Fairfax county. There are so many people leaving to go to other counties and the gross negligence of this bill is certainly putting fuel in our car to get out of here . The bill to force people to go in person is disgusting. perhaps if they feel this way they can go and work for the mayor of Texas who told people they were getting handouts when asking for help. If the pandemic is too inconvenient perhaps they can move to New Zealand.

Last Name: Thurston Locality: Fairfax County

I am sickened by the thought of this bill. It completely disregards the latest CDC recommendations for safe school reopening. It will put students, staff, and communities at great risk. It is a gross over-reach of the state government. Please vote no.

Last Name: Iannucci Locality: Arlington

This bill does not take into account that Virginia is an enormous state consisting of many different types of communities with vastly different levels of COVID spread. One county might be at safe levels to bring students into the building, while another county may be at dangerous rates of spread. Those counties that ARE able to safely return to the buildings should be able to, but school districts need to have the ability to consult with their local health departments in determining whether they are able to return to the buildings safely. I live and work in Northern VA, where there are more people living closer together and the rates are much higher than they might be in more suburban or rural areas. Trust that individual districts and counties WANT to return to the buildings as soon as it is safe, and that they and the health department will, or in many cases already are, working to return students to the building following safety protocols. This is a global pandemic and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution that will apply to every county in Virginia at the same time. Teachers differentiate their instruction to meet students needs. Please allow counties to make the choices to best meet their students' needs while keeping them, their families, and their staff members as safe as possible.

Last Name: Vestal Organization: Fairfax County Public Schools Locality: Washington, DC

In this school year in which students, teachers, and families have been through chaos and more both with school and personal lives we can not afford to say that learning can only be 5 days a week in person. It is simply not feasible from a health and safety standpoint for anyone, but also it is not realistic from a logistic and monetary viewpoint. I am not just talking about funding schools, I am talking about many of our families who are scared to send their children back, or simply can not afford to send their children back in person because they rely on their children to help at home while in virtual school.

Last Name: Quinn Locality: Fairfax City

I am an elementary school teacher and I want to express my opposition to this bill. Local school systems need flexibility to meet their unique needs as this remains a rapidly changing situation. In Fairfax County we simply do not have the space to follow CDC guidelines and distance all students at full capacity. Although the possibility of federal money to help with this has been dangled it remains elusive. Please keep student and teacher safety paramount and don’t ask us to assume even more risk. While students have a choice to return teachers do not.

Last Name: Dodson Locality: Midlothian

I am writing in support of Senator Dunnavant's substitute bill and ask that an emergency clause be included. My kids are struggling. Please vote yes on Senator Dunnavant's substitute bill. Thank you. Amy Dodson

Last Name: Prichard Locality: Albemarle

I am the mother of a special education student as well as a pediatrician. All children should return to school 5 days a week, in person (meaning the student as well as the teacher are both physically present in the same space) as of August 2021. Please support the original version of this bill which mandates that. Between the availability of COVID vaccines and the known effectiveness of mitigations strategies, such as masks, there is no reason this cannot be done safely. It is shameful it has not been done already. While individual teachers have done their very best given the virtual circumstances, the system as a whole has failed our children . Unfortunately, the most vulnerable have been the most severely affected. We can and should do better for our kids.

Last Name: Larkin Locality: Henrico, VA

Please support Senator Dunnavant’s substitute for 1303. Please support that an emergency exists and that this act is in force from its passage. Our children need to return to school. I am a parent of a Henrico County high school student. She would love to return to school. The student demographic has a low mortality rate from COVID 19 and the vaccine is already being given throughout the Commonwealth to teachers, elderly, and at risk population. Please learn from other schools who are currently and have been providing in person learning in the 2020-2021 school year to safely allow both primary and secondary students to return to school. Returning to school, activities, and sports is essential for mental health and at-risk student populations! Thank you, Kay Larkin

Last Name: Brockmeier Organization: Parents of public school kids Locality: Charlottesville

We MUST follow the science and not fear. It is long past due that we reopen our schools to all students k-12 five days a week. We can not allow teachers the option to work from home. We know this learning model is not as effective and hurting those we desire to protect the most, special needs, disadvantaged, and minority students. Additionally, by the Fall, there is no reason why a hybrid model should even be offered to students or teachers. We know, based on scientific data, that children do not spread Covid the same way adults do and that they are not as adversely effected when infected. Also, teachers are being given the option to be vaccinated as essential workers. Schools must spend all time, money and resources on opening schools five days a week for all students and getting kids back up to speed. Families who decide to opt out will have to decide whether homeschool or do private school. We can not continue to fail our students and children. K-12 must return to school full time five days a week now or at a minimum by the Fall when school reopens. As the vaccine continues to roll out, there are no more excuses to be made. Open our schools and educate all children (k-12, five days a week). The social and academic ramifications are already deep, let’s stop this now before it’s too late.

Last Name: Jones Organization: Pittsylvania County Schools Locality: Chatham

I am writing to respectfully request consideration of voting "No" on SB1303. SB1303 states that each local school division in the Commonwealth shall make [ virtual and ] in-person learning available to all students by choice of the student's parent or guardian. Response School divisions should provide in-person learning to all students and Pittsylvania County Schools has provided in-person learning for all students since September 28, 2020. The Division has also provided virtual learning for students whose parents chose to keep their children at home during the pandemic. As superintendent of schools, I have many reservations about virtual learning for all students in our county. First, for virtual learning to be effective, strong internet access is needed. Pittsylvania County is the largest county in the commonwealth and many families do not have access to broadband. While we are providing paper instructional packets and teacher led instruction on jump drives this year to families without internet access out of necessity, many of these children are not doing well. The parents of these children have to serve as teacher, and this is difficult. This year, our schools are open for in-person learning Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and teachers are working with remote children on Wednesday. When school divisions return to a five-day a week instructional schedule, classroom teachers will not have time to teach in-person students and virtual students at the same time. Also, current staffing cannot be divided to assign teachers to instruct in-person students and other teachers to teach virtual students. Second, for virtual learning to be effective, strong parental support is required. Third, for virtual learning to be effective, additional teaching staff is needed. Fourth, for virtual learning to be effective, divisions need leverage to bring students back to school when they are not making progress on virtual assignments. It has to be immediate so that students do not fall behind.

Last Name: Mattern Locality: Albemarle

Please support the original version of SB1303, not the Amendment. There needs to be a mandate of 5 days a week, in-person education with teachers present. The substitute Bill has too much gray area and does not define 5 days a week, leading School Boards to allow for the hybrid model again in the Fall 2021. All teachers will have had the opportunity to be vaccinated by the return of school next Fall, not to mention every adult in our country. School Boards are making decisions out of their own fear and not science and data. Continuing to let individual school boards make decisions for our students' well-being, based on their own personal and emotional feelings is not fair. It needs to be a unified order across our entire state. All studies show the damage of not being in school. As a society, we will have learned to manage Covid. All students need the opportunity to go school 5 days week!

Last Name: Winslow Locality: Albemarle County

We need to offer our students full time school at a minimum by August 2021. Statistics do not support spread of COVID in school systems that require masking. We are destroying the educational opportunities and the mental health of this generation. Please support a full return to school.

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

My name is Kristin Thomas and I am a parent of two high school age children attending Chesterfield County Public Schools. I have an 11th grade son who is high functioning Autistic & part of the group allowed to return to in person instruction in late September. I also have a 9th grade daughter who is an A/B, all Honors class student that is part of the group who has only been in a classroom for four days the entire school year. Both of my children have seriously impacted by these shutdowns. Even though my son was allowed to return the strictness of the routine, the lack of extra activities & loss of socialization have hurt his mental, emotional and psychological well being. For a child with Autism being isolated to this extent is more harmful than it is to a student without special needs. Autistic children already struggle with socializing but to force them to isolate in such manner exacerbates the issues and causes harm to learning & practicing social skills they’re supposed to be working on! As for my daughter it has nearly driven her to near mental breakdown. She is my social child and the isolation & loss of face to face instruction have harmed her in ways that I fear she may never fully recover. People wrongly believe my concern is about her grades, this is NOT about the grades. She is losing a much more valuable asset than good academic instruction, she’s losing mental, emotional and psychological wellness. And again I’m told that as a parent it’s my job to help her. That’s all I’ve done is to be here for her. Helped her with homework and class work even when we disagreed and cried over it. Held her when she cried and said she didn’t want to live like this anymore. Listened to her talk about wishing the world would just end. Console her when she said she had no hope anymore than nothing good ever happens. Prayed when she wished herself dead. Ladies and gentleman my child never spoke like this before these shutdowns. These are not normal comments from my 14 almost 15 year old child. And please don’t suggest that therapy will help. We’ve tried therapy & they recommended medication, she looked at me and said, “Mom this is just more empty words through a screen and there is no pill to fix this.” The only time I have seen a spark of life in my child is when she is with her friends, when we are out and about being active or those four fleeting days she was allowed back in a school building in November. Children and teenagers NEED the socialization that school in a building with their peers provides as part of the educational process to thrive. Isolation harms them in ways that covid never can or will. My entire family my 66 year old chronically ill mother included had covid this January. The worst symptom we had was lost smell & taste & being tired. My children aren’t lepers to be held at arms length ladies & gentlemen, they’re just two teenagers who are very tired of being forced to stay home & told they “might” be sick, society cannot survive the “cure” to this pandemic any longer. We NEED the choice of in person for the children. You claim to care about these kids, then please prove it. Vote against the virtual only option & give the parents & students a CHOICE of having virtual OR in person instruction every time!

Last Name: Amori Locality: arlington

Dear Education Committee, I am strongly against the bill to allow school boards to decide to keep schools closed. While my county, Arlington, has done a better job in the fall, compared to the spring, to conduct distance learning, I continue to see my kids falling further and further behind. I have a 7th grader, 5th grader and a PreK student. Regardless of their grade level, since March of last year we have been dealing with emotional disorders and regression. Depression in my oldest two, and behavioral regression in my PreK daughter to include things like wetting the bed at night and refusal to do simple things such as brushing teeth and more. The social engagement that they are missing is having a very real and negative impact on their lives. Regarding their education, my 5th grader has forgotten her multiplication tables, something that I'm sure would not have happened if they had more rigor and in person instruction, she has also forgotten how to do long division which I had to re-teach her the other night. She struggled with reading before the pandemic and is now even further behind despite how much we have to work with her. My oldest has been through 3/4 of a year of coding and computer science, and though she is getting an A in the class has no clue what she is actually doing and doesnt feel she's learned a thing. They cut spanish for elementary, have very little art (my 5th graders favorite class) and are generally short changed all around when it comes to their learning and development. We also know of many teachers from our elementary school (Discovery) who claim they fear for their safety and worry about the risk of covid exposure as the reason they dont want to go back in person, however they are happy to conduct in person, indoor, close contact (but masked) tutoring sessions throughout our asynchronous days on Mondays. There are 11 teachers I personally know doing this including a neighbor, friends from my bookclub, and tutors that have been hired by others I know. The teachers likely enjoy this set up because they are earning $50-$100 an hour providing private tutoring and pod study groups - why would they not enjoy earning the extra money on the side and want to go back to full time in person ? I also see teachers whose kids participate in league sports, have playdates, family get togethers. This is not all teachers I'm sure, but plenty of the ones I know, live next to and are friendly within the community. It is so disappointing to think they are gaming the system and jeopordizing the kids they claim to hold dear. This pandemic has exacerbated the inequalities found in our communities - with studies showing that minorities and lower income kids falling further behind, and those with money, who can send their kids to private schools (which seem to be mostly in person) or private tutoring continue to push full steam ahead. We are pleased to see GOV Northam put his foot down with a clear date on when VA schools need to be back in person. I couldn't have been happier. I am also VERY much in support of summer school to allow all our public school kids to catch up from the instruction they've missed the last year. Please put our kids first and help us get them back into schools in person. Thanks Margaret Amori

Last Name: Inge Locality: Albemarle

Please support the original version of SB1303, not the Amendment. There needs to be a mandate of 5 days a week, in-person education with teachers present - not on a screen with a monitor in the room. Most teachers have already had the vaccine, and there is no reason to continue this in light of the proven educational, mental health, and social effects of virtual learning. The damage this has done to my children and others is heartbreaking, not to mention the damage it has done to the parents who have been juggling homeschooling and work. I cannot believe these "educators" have such little concern for the well-being of our children or the feedback from the parents.

Last Name: Gretz Organization: Middlesex County Public Schools Locality: Irvington

I join the Virginia Association of School Superintendents in strongly opposing this bill. Local school divisions are not structured to support what this bill requires. We are not staffed to offer fully virtual, fully in person, and a mixture of both simultaneously, especially when the delivery is upon demand by the families we serve. The placement of students in fully virtual settings is a decision to be made buy those of us who are experts in both teaching and learning, and in knowing the students with whom we work. It is not different than the decision to place a student in a specific math class. It’s an instructional decision that should be made by those of us who work directly with our students and families and who are experts in instruction. The time has come for decisions about education to be made by those of us who are directly involved, not those who are removed from the process.

Last Name: Stribling Locality: Henrico

Please support SB 1303 with the definition of "in-person school" as FIVE DAYS A WEEK. As a parent of three public school aged children in Henrico, Virginia, I am appalled that the Democrats continue to try to "pull the wool over our eyes" by pretending to support a bill for in-person school when "in-person school" could just mean one day a week or a hybrid schedule come Fall 2021. We know you are being led by unions who have NO interest in our children's future. The fact that you continue to support them so blatantly makes most parents sick. Do the right thing, finally. It has been a year of sacrificing our children in the name of "safety" even though it is abundantly clear that most children and teachers under the age of 75 are at low risk from this virus. What happened to "following the science?" We all know that's not what is being followed.

Last Name: Walker Locality: Warrenton VA

In support of VA schools returning F2F rejection of new language added, the return should not be a maybe. Our children should be able to attend at the minimum 4 days a week. Please do not continue to make this political. Public schools should be opened, and I support appropriate virus mitigation efforts.

Last Name: Kaleta Locality: Arlington

All the science and research points to bringing kids back to school, 5 days a week and 3-6 ft apart, in and outside ASAP. The CDC and every academic and research institution as well as the American Pediatric Association says to bring kids back to school ASAP. As for equity, if VA and Arlington country truly care about equity, you will bring all kids back to school ASAP and 5 days a week. APSVA superintendent is purposely forcing minority and poor kids to fare worse than their wealthier and at times whiter neighbors who can afford private schools that have used science based methods to bring kids back to school since September. It’s a travesty that Arlington county has been allowed to stay closed for this long. APSVA superintendent should be fired and someone who believes in science should be hired to lead a diverse county and truly support equity by bringing all kids back to school.

Last Name: Gustafson Locality: Mechanicsville

As a parent in Hanover county VA, I am incredibly grateful for the face to face option that’s been in place for both of my public school children—one in elementary and one in middle school. Both is us parents are essential workers (one healthcare and one government worker in a neighboring county) and have safely continued to do our jobs in person since March. The success of Hanover’s school systems with its tracking and mitigation strategies should be copied by other districts. Even with adult support in our home, the virtual model is not successful. Our children deserve to learn AT school and be taught by teachers. It’s actually disgusting to me when I see the pressure specifically by the VEA to continually attempt to thwart attempts to get our kids back in school where they belong. Healthcare workers were not afforded the opportunity to work virtually or receive pandemic allowances to avoid covid contacts. Gratefully we were offered the vaccine and most of us accepted. However the option of a vaccine has now been given to the educational staff. I am also a parent of an Richmond City kindergarten teacher who has been forced to teach virtually from home since March from her 400 square foot studio apartment. She isn’t even allowed the option of using her classroom. Her children mostly speak English as a second language and her accounts of the absences and downright ridiculous rants from parents during her class is unbelievable. And to somehow consider this is working? She is told that if a child logs on they are considered present. Absolutely no accountability or support available to ensure learning of these same kids. It’s rather a joke if this is considered an actual education. Many of my healthcare colleagues have always believed that schools should have remained open. However their districts aren’t giving them the F2F option. Why is that those same kids can play school sports for the same county that can’t provide education in a classroom? And what I’ve read about NOVA is even more horrific. Hiring monitors to stand in a classroom at $12 an hour while kids learn virtually from a teacher not in the building? The data has now surfaced and has consistently continued to support that schools are not a driving vector for community spread. This leads me to believe that schools must open and remain open and give parents the choice of Actual F2F with actual present teachers! Again my own county Hanover has shown the state that it can be done. I’m so grateful and supportive of its leaders and teachers. It’s just a travesty that Hanover continues to be a minority. Our state needs to ensure families and children we value education. Every other business is open! Our teenagers can serve their teachers at restaurants and ring up Target purchases but somehow they are too risky to be taught in a classroom? Senator Dunnavants bill needs to be passed AS written. The school districts in Virginia have proven for this entire school year that they cannot be trusted to provide F2F learning. The state must require it.

Last Name: Silverbrand Locality: Arlingron

Open schools full time in person now!

Last Name: Strohecker Locality: Loudoun County

Please support the original form of this bill. Our children need to be in school. Six children have committed suicide in Loudoun County since last March. 891 children are registered in Loudoun but have never logged in to school. Children are falling behind and will struggle for years to come to catch up. My freshman has not had one test this year. How can she compete with kids that are in school full time when it is time for her to apply to college. We are hurting our children. Stop hurting our children.

Last Name: Thrift Locality: Norfolk

Please support the original bill by Senator Dunnavant. Our children need and deserve to be in school 5 days per week. Children of Virginia that attend public school are falling behind. Schools all over this country are back to full time in person learning; why isn’t every district in Virginia? Unfortunately, our state has school boards that think virtual learning is an appropriate replacement for in person learning. I can promise you as a mother of a 2nd grader it is not. My daughter has a wonderful teacher. And yes, she has learned this year but she would be learning so much more if she were in a classroom with her friends and her teacher. This pandemic has been hard for all of us. But let’s be honest, we have asked the most from our kids. Our kids have had to sacrifice more (time with friends, family, education) than they should ever have too. I am grateful my daughter finally gets to go back to school mid March. The hybrid plan is going to be a disaster. She will attend school for 2 in person and then the kids will switch and she will log into zoom and watch her teacher live while she teaches the other half of her class. This is not an educational plan that can be sustained for long. It’s not fair to the teachers or the students. Virtual learning and these crazy hybrid schedules are not only damaging our children’s education but also damaging them socially and emotionally. If our district starts the year hybrid, my husband and I are going to have to find a way to pay for private school. Many families won’t be able to find a way to pay for private school. And the achievement gap widens. Studies show that this will impact our minority communities the most. Research indicates that white students who have only virtual learning will be 4-8 months behind while our minority students could end up being 6-12 months behind. Personally I am not ok with any students being behind. And the truth is there are students that were already behind and would struggle catching up even under normal circumstances. Those students will likely never catch up. You all were elected to represent Virginia this includes our children. They need you to step up and force these districts to reopen full time. Some districts are not going to do it unless you make them. I think for some districts it’s just easier for them to stay virtual then to figure it out how to get our students back into the classroom. Please throw out the amendments to and vote yes to the original bill.

Last Name: Traylor Locality: Henrico

Please support the original bill as proposed by Senator Dunnavant, or amend the bill to say that schools must offer in-person learning 5 days per week, which cannot include students participating in the classroom by staring at a computer screen. The substitute bill as proposed makes everything worse and does nothing to advance the ball of getting our children back to school. Virtual learning does not work for most students - it is causing many educational, social and mental health issues for our children. By allowing the schools to define what "in-person" learning is, you are essentially giving them carte blanche to do whatever they want and keep our children in the failing virtual scenario. The school boards have failed many of us - please do not let the legislators fail us as well. Please be pro-education and pro-children, and do not cave in to the demands of the teachers unions, which are fighting against in-person learning. This is also NOT a political issue - you must put politics aside and do what is best for our children. There is no reason why our children cannot be back in-person 5 days per week. The majority of private schools and many public schools are back in person, so we know it can be done. We need to have a law that protects the right of in-person learning for everyone, as that will promote fairness and equality for ALL children. Please support the original SB 1303, or amend it to clarify that schools MUST offer 5 days per week in-person learning, which does not include staring at their teachers on a computer. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Jones Locality: Fairfax

Please support the original version of SB 1303 not the substitute which says Virginia schools should follow the CDC guidelines. As you are no doubt aware, the new CDC guidelines were written with input from the teachers' associations and do not take into account the numerous studies that show schools can and should be open with mitigation measures even in zones with high community spread. It is outrageous to put into an "open schools" law that 90% of middle and high school students should remain virtual. PLEASE follow the science that says we can reopen schools safely, and don't support the substitute version of this bill. Virginia students need to get back into school ASAP, not next school year.

Last Name: Williams Locality: Henrico

Please pass the original form of this bill. Our kids need to be back in school with normal in person learning 5 days a week. Not sitting in a classroom on a computer with a babysitter. Please. They have already endured so much damage this year – both academically and emotionally. Who knows if or how long it will take to recover from that and we cannot risk these school districts imposing another year like this one. They have moved the goal posts consistently and enough is enough! First, it’s not enough PPE. Then it’s no vaccines. Then it’s teachers need first shot. Then second shot. Then time to recover from shots. ENOUGH! The science does not support their arguments and we cannot keep ignoring the impact on our students’ mental health, which is just as, if not more, important than their physical health. The substitute bill does not provide a definition of "in-person learning." This means that school districts could define "in-person learning" as one day a week in-person and 4 days virtual and continue hybrid learning for the entire next school year. That is unacceptable. Our kids cannot have another year like this one. The future of our children – your children – is in your hands. Please do the right thing.

Last Name: Belak Locality: Virginia Beach

I am writing to support the original SB1303. The substitute to this bill is detrimental to Virginia students. Please make in person learning available to those that want to return to school. In person learning should be defined as an actual teacher, not computer monitor, actually teaching to students in person. Virginia students are being left behind as other states have had in person learning since August. It’s time to put the students best interest first. Support the original SB1303. Sincerely, Jennifer Belak Virginia Beach

Last Name: Kelly Locality: Arlington

Dear Committee Members, I'm writing to express my strong disagreement with the VanValkenburg substitute for SB 1303. This substitute language creates the opportunity for school districts to do what they have been doing all along: find excuses to keep our schools closed. Overwhelming data shows us that schools are safe to reopen in person, and that tremendous damage is being done to our kids from shuttered schools. We must open schools in VA now, and keep them open, 5 days a week, in person. I speak as the parent of 2 children: one in virtual learning with a closed public school, the other whom I fortunately was able to find a place for in parochial school back in Oct, when it was clear he could not access virtual learning successfully. So, I have seen both sides of the coin: VL has been a disaster for my 8th grader--he has gained 17 pounds, does absolutely nothing all day but stare at a screen and consistently voices loneliness and a desire to get back in school. My 6th grader goes to school full-time, in-person in a class of 24 in a private school of 640 right next door to a shuttered public school in Arlington. There have been 3 Covid cases all year (all students and no in-school spread). He is happy and thriving. It's deeply unfair that only children with means and opportunity are able to enjoy an in-school education. This is the gravest equity disaster in VA since segregation. We are sacrificing an entire generation to irrational fear and undue exercise of power by teachers' associations, and local school board and admin acquiescence and incompetence. Lest you think parents have a voice in return to school, let me assure you: we do not. I have been part of a group here in Arlington advocating for return to school since Sept. I have spent approximately 500 hours of my own time (in addition to working full time) along with hundreds of other parents attempting to get Arlington Public Schools to follow the data and open our doors. Our tireless work has gotten us exactly nowhere. We priority vaccinated our teachers and still they wouldn't announce dates!! The night before Gov Northam announced that he wanted schools in VA to offer in-person learning, our Superintendent announced that he would NOT be returning kids to school in APS. The next day Gov Northam made his announcement and--poof--our Superintendent announced hybrid dates the next day. It's obvious: they WILL NOT open the doors on their own. Only legislation--sticks not carrots--will get our kids back in school; otherwise, they will continue to find excuses, move the dates and impose ridiculous standards which have no evidence-basis. Kids are SAFER in school. Unfortunately, we need to force our districts to follow the abundance of science and data and recognize that fact. I hate making things political, but I must say this personally: I'm a lifelong Democrat. I fully expect this issue to decimate support for the Democratic party as I and my fellow Democratic parents are so totally disillusioned at how our elected Democrats are siding with teachers' unions instead of the science, and children's best interests. We are watching you, and we see how you vote. We share it widely. We know who is looking out for our kids, and who cares about donations from teachers' unions. And we will make our voices heard at the polls. Please our kids are suffering so much. Please REJECT the VanValkenburg substitute and PASS the ORIGINAL SB1303. Thank you. Sheila Kelly Arlington, VA

Last Name: Whitescarver Locality: Moseley

I am a teacher, and I have been teaching face-to face, 5 days a week for several weeks now. Opening schools has absolutely been the very necessary and right thing to do for everyone involved—especially for children. The restrictions in VA have negatively impacted my students, as well as my own children, who are still stuck at home. Because of these restrictions that have been imposed upon the people in the state of Virginia, there are not only people who have lost their businesses and livelihood, but now children are depressed, despondent, and now dying. This isn’t even addressing their educational losses and disparities the restrictions have created. Because of the restrictions upon schools, children are not going back to school in a proper manner, but sitting completely alone in their bedrooms in front of a computer every single day. On top of that, it is a travesty that middle and high school students in Virginia have no way to avoid this virtual situation even when they go into the classroom because middle and high school teachers must address their students both at home and at school, so the mode of learning for each and every one of them is still sitting in front of a computer screen. Why in the world would it make sense for students to physically go to school, while being required to wear a mask AND shield, while being forced to put headphones on and be taught in a virtual meet through a computer by a teacher who is sitting in the same room with them?!?!? In addition, children’s other accumulated losses have been devastating. They have lost out on sports, and other school activities that help them stay physically and mentally healthy. Kids who are actually granted permission to participate in these activities are forced to wear masks (which is very unhealthy and difficult while playing a sport) and have no one watching them compete or perform, although we see kids from other states have been successfully competing without these harsh restrictions. The multitude of so many new life abnormalities, coupled with the isolation children are experiencing as a result of the restrictions placed upon them, are directly causing anxieties, pain, loss, and depression—and in some situations, suicide. CHILDREN are NOT DYING FROM COVID, BUT FROM SUICIDE BECAUSE OF THESE DECISIONS! (There have been 4 recent suicides just in my area.) We all know that children have the capabilities and immunities to beat Covid (as many already have), so these restrictions are not necessary, rational, or making any sense for young people. Leaders have a responsibility to fully open this state, stop enforcing these irrational restrictions on schools, so that from this moment on, they are not responsible for the harm and deaths of children in Virginia attending public schools. There are fully open and operational private schools and states that are and have been functioning just fine without the overreaching and unfair restrictions their governors have imposed upon them. Please open schools without unfair restrictions. Citizens should be afforded the right to send their children to school. The lives of thousands of children in Virginia depend on it. Sincerely, Jill Whitescarver

Last Name: DesMarteau Locality: Midlothian, VA

Please oppose the harmful edits proposed and pass the original House Bill. The new CDC guidelines would force the majority of our Virginia schools back into a hybrid model as opposed to the five days per week that are currently offered. Please keep our children’s educational needs in mind when making this decision!

Last Name: Schlichter Locality: Fairfax

As a parent of a second grader who has been doing virtual school all year and a kindergarten student who is at private school, I have seen the total contrast between the in-person experience versus the virtual experience. It is time to open up public schools to 5-days-a-week in person for those who wish to choose that option. Many parents in Fairfax county and across the state are watching what the state legislature does in this space and we know that opening up schools 5-days-a week is in the best interest of the kids and is supported by science and the fact that private schools and schools in other countries have been able to function in-person all year without contributing to community spread.

Last Name: Moore Locality: Chesterfield

Article VIII-Section 1 of the Virginia State Constitution - The General Assembly shall provide for a system of free public elementary and secondary schools for all children of school age throughout the Commonwealth, and shall seek to ensure that an educational program of high quality is established and continually maintained. In Chesterfield County, an increase of 146% middle school students receiving 2 or more F's year over year is not a high quality education. An increase of 88% of 2 or more F's for high school students year over year, is not a high quality education. This is one of the largest school districts in the state. Virtual school is the reason for the failure. In school learning should not have to be defined. It is a teacher, in a classroom , with students, learning face to face. Virtual school failed. It is not providing a high quality education. The original bill by Siobhan Dunnavant, without the substitutions, needs to stand. Open the doors without restrictions, allowing parents to make the choice, not the government. And for those who choose, instruction can remain virtual. Thank you.

Last Name: Harrison Organization: Chesterfield County citizen/parent Locality: Chester

I don’t often get involved in politics, but this year has proven that I need to break my normal silence and speak up especially since those impacted most don’t have a voice in this matter. 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. Parents need to be given the option to have their children attend school in person. We are just beginning to see the evidence of all the negative impacts virtual education has had 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 that is offering it. All public schools should at this point be open for in person education. The science and data support the option for in person education. Our pediatrician spoke out in July 2020 providing evidence that clearly demonstrated that schools should reopen. Once we heard this trusted medical advice, we pulled our 1st and 3rd grader out of virtual public schools for the 2020-2021 school year. We saw then the lack of leadership at the highest levels and did not have confidence in how this year would be run. We hoped to return but after seeing and following the way everything has been handled we are hesitant to return. Please demonstrate servant leadership and make decisions to pass this bill to help the citizens, children and communities of Virginia. I believe all children in Virginia should have equal opportunities in public education therefore this bill is needed to provide access to in person education for all Virginia children.

Last Name: Kean Locality: Fairfax County

Please reject the harmful changes made to SB1303. Students need the right to attend school in-person now--not a "maybe for 2021-2022"--and attempting to tie a return to the political CDC document crafted with help from the teachers union is a counterproductive and intentionally harmful effort. The academic, emotional and social toll on the students has been astounding. Please make sure there are true "in-person" offerings that are not students just sitting in front of a computer screen with little interaction with their peers. Day cares and preschools and private schools have been open for months with little to no ill consequences. Decisions cannot continue to be made based on fear and anxiety. Our children are worth too much.

Last Name: Reeke Locality: Fairfax County

Please restore this bill back to the original intent - to get our children back into the classroom. The data, science, Dr. Avula, D. Fauci, the CDC, the Governor and even the President has stated that our children can go back safely. We need a bill to protect our children so they are able to have an in-person education. Virtual learning is failing miserably for most children. We need a law since some of our school boards are living in fear - they will keep coming up with excuses until our children never return to school. Do not let the unions dictate what is right for our children. The emotional health and well-being of our students is in suffering, as well as their academics. Please vote for SB1303 as it was originally proposed.

Last Name: Yashar Organization: Open FCPS Locality: Dunn Loring

Please vote NO on the substitute to SB 1303. Forcing schools to implement the draconian and impractical guidelines of the CDC will be a death blow to in person education in this state for the next full year. Make no mistake, if you vote YES to the substitute version of SB 1303, you are voting to keep schools closed AND to close already open schools or at a minimum keep them hybrid next year. Delegate VanValkenburg should be ashamed of himself for proposing this substitution and then pretending like it was going to help get kids back in school. Shameful lying, Delegate. Similarly, Senator Dunnavant is a liar. Here is what Senator Dunnavant said about the CDC Guidelines during the subcommittee meeting on Monday morning, February 15: “The CDC Guidelines do make it very clear what schools need to do if there are increased acuity outbreaks but it is not based on community spread. Community spread is not relevant to school spread.. . . in the CDC [Guidelines] it is relevant to outbreaks in the school." She also called the CDC Guidelines “outstanding" and "nice." She either didn't read the CDC Guidelines, didn't understand them, or is a wolf in sheep's clothing and wants to keep schools closed. The CDC guidelines ARE wrongly tied to community spread. Please do not codify them into Virginia state law forcing all schools to comply with them. Also, please remove the entire section 3 that provides a loop hole for schools to close. With that included, the bill has lost all of its intent and restores the decisions back to the local school boards. It is the same as not enacting anything if that is left in. Well, not exactly the same if the CDC Guidelines are made mandatory under Virginia law--I can think of nothing worse for our children than our state making the CDC "Guidelines" that even our Vice President called "guidelines" and not laws, the law in Virginia.

Last Name: Sherlock Locality: Virginia Beach

There are four provisions in the bill that will change Virginia public schools, some forever. First, it introduces for the first time the concept of keeping schools closed to full-time attendance in school year 2021 – 2022. “Each school board shall offer, for the duration of the 2021–2022 school year, fully in-person instruction or a combination of in-person and remote virtual instruction to each student enrolled in the local school division in a public elementary and secondary school or a public school-based early childhood care and education program.” So, what exactly is the positive effect of this law? Answer – nothing. It brings the 2021 – 2022 school year into play and doesn’t direct the reopening of schools to full-time instruction for any defined period. One day a month in school is “a combination of in-person and remote virtual instruction”. Second, it does so even with language in the bill that: “Prior to the start of the 2021–2022 school year, all teachers and school staff shall be offered access to receive an approved COVID-19 vaccination through their relevant local health district.” So, all teachers and staff are to be “offered access” to vaccination. Why are not they required to get vaccinated as a condition of employment? Under state law children must have the polio vaccination as a condition of attending school. No difference. From Becky Pringle, NEA President: "Schools should be the safest place in any community. Now that we have clear CDC guidance, state and local decision makers need to be able to look educators, students, and parents in the eyes and ensure that they are safe with full confidence." Which, of course, is hogwash If she meant her union would oppose mandatory vaccinations for its members. Third, “Notwithstanding the provisions of § 1 of this act, any local school board may, for any period during which the Governor’s declaration of a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic is in effect, provide fully remote virtual instruction to (i) any such enrolled student upon the request of such student’s parent …” So, parents can declare they are uncomfortable sending their kids to school and school districts have to educate them at home? When did that become a right? This changes current Virginia law that requires parents to send their children to school or provide approved home schooling. As a practical matter, how can any school system provide that service to an undefined number of students in addition to accommodating full time in-school education? Fourth, and perhaps most disturbingly, "Nothing in this act shall be construed to prohibit any teacher or other school staff member who is permitted to perform any job function in a fully remote or virtual manner as a reasonable accommodation pursuant to Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq.) from continuing to perform any such job function in such a manner." This language, rather than defining a teacher’s place as in the classroom, defines as a “reasonable accommodation” letting a teacher claim ADA protection in requiring public schools to let him or her teach from home. ADA protections for public employees require accommodations for working at the place of employment, not from home. Defeat this bill and revert to the initial bill submitted by Sen. Dunnevant.

Last Name: Silver Locality: Arlington

2/2 Second, section 3 of the substitute is overly broad and permits a school board to close schools for in-person instruction indefinitely. In essence, section 3 renders the rest of the bill completely meaningless. To properly make offering in-person instruction the default, while giving school boards the flexibility to close in the event of outbreaks or staff shortages, section 3 should be stricken and replaced with the following language: "§ 3. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 1 of this act, any local school board may, during the Governor's declaration of a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, provide fully remote virtual instruction to— (i) any such enrolled student upon the request of such student's parent for the duration requested by the parent; or (ii) each student enrolled in in-person instruction at any such school or program if the school board determines, by an affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the school board, that— (I)(A) there have been several outbreaks, as determined by the Department of Health, at the school or program within a short time period; or (B) the size of an outbreak at the school or program is large or the scope of the outbreak is significant, as determined by the Department of Health, including multiple classrooms or grade levels have been impacted; or (II) the capacity of teachers and staff to provide in-person instruction at the school or program is critical based on— (A) the availability of teachers and staff to provide in-person instruction at the school or program; and (B) the ability of the school or program to maintain adequate staff for facility operations, transportation, teaching, and administrative functions. "§ 4. Any determination made under clause (ii) of section 3 shall expire and in-person instruction at the school or program shall be available on the date that is the earlier of­— (i) 72 hours after the date on which the determination is made; and (ii) the date on which the school board determines, by an affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the school board— (I) in consultation with the Department of Health, that it is safe to offer in-person instruction at the school or program described in subclause (I) of clause (ii) of section 3 of this act; or (II) in consultation with the superintendent of the school district, that the capacity described in subclause (II) of clause (ii) of section 3 is no longer critical. Any determination made under clause (ii) of section 3 may be renewed by the school board by an affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the school board. Such renewals shall expire on the earlier of the date described in this section. Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit an individual who tests positive for COVID-19, had close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, or who has symptoms of COVID-19 to return to a school building at a date earlier than the date it is safe for the individual to be around others, in accordance with guidance by the Department of Health."

Last Name: Silver Locality: Arlington

1/2 I am a resident of Arlington, Virginia, and am a member of Arlington Parents for Education, a nonpartisan group of approximately 1,0000 parents advocating for the best interests of students in Arlington. I and other members of the group have serious concerns about the VanValkenburg substitute to SB 1303. On Monday, the SOL and SOQ Subcommittee of the House of Delegates recommended reporting SB 1303 with a substitute that would give too much discretion to school boards, including the Arlington School Board, on when to provide in-person education and when to close schools. Section 1 of the substitute gives the school board unbridled discretion in defining "in-person instruction". Nothing in the substitute prohibits schools from defining in-person instruction as including having a student in a school building in front of an iPad while they continue virtual instruction. Clearly such instruction is not "in-person" in any meaningful way. To ensure that children are given real, live in-person instruction, the following language should be added to the bill: "In this act, the term 'in-person instruction' does not include virtual instruction in which a student and teacher are not in the same room."

Last Name: Duke Locality: Glen Allen

Please support SB1303 in lieu of substitution bill. Schools have been closed long enough and need a clear plan to re-open. Many will not do this on their own until they are required to by law. Legislate required opening of face to face will get the ball rolling with re-opening plans from all schools. Put Virginia children's needs at the table with teacher unions. Do schools exist to provide comfortable jobs for teachers, or DO THEY EXIST TO EDUCATE CHILDREN? The answer is clear, educating children is the reason for schools, and it is not happening adequately in the virtual format.

Last Name: Traylor Locality: Henrico, VA

Please restore this bill back to the original intent - to get our children back into the classroom. The data, science, Dr. Avula, D. Fauci, the CDC, the Governor and even the President has stated that our children can go back safely. We need a bill to protect our children so they are able to have an in-person education. Virtual learning is failing miserably for most children. We need a law since some of our school boards are living in fear - they will keep coming up with excuses until our children never return to school. Do not let the unions dictate what is right for our children. The emotional health and well-being of our students is in suffering, as well as their academics. Please vote for SB1303 as it was originally proposed.

Last Name: Steele Locality: Henrico

Yes we need to get our kids back in school dull time it's been way to long now the kids are hurting more ways then one please pass the bills and get our kids back in school asap

Last Name: McElduff Locality: Henrico,

Please see to it and vote so that our schools can open. Children need to be in schools. It is a detriment to their health to be home and also they need the in person learning and all that affords for them. Please vote to put kids back in school 5 days a week.

Last Name: Whitlock Locality: Louisa

Vote NO on SB1313. It is another way to prevent personal/parental choice of educational and related services. I think this year has clearly shown that a school board or similar body cannot or does not possess the ability to decide what's best for every child. Vote NO on the latest SB1303, but YES to the original SB1303 because these children and families deserve better than what they've been handed. I have read all of the emotional appeals from parents and families. You will fail in your duty to them, your community, and to the state of Virginia if you continue to deny what the tax-paying constituents want and demand. Other schools and localities are conducting classes in their buildings. Ask them for guidance. I'm sure they'll be happy to share.

Last Name: Dr. James Fedderman Organization: Virginia Education Association Locality: Richmond

The Virginia Education Association (VEA) supports the Amendment in the form of a Substitute to SB1303. We are on the right path to reopening schools for in-person instruction. Still, we need to be driven by the health and safety of, first and foremost, the students we teach and to ensure proper mitigation measures for our educators. We believe this substitute addresses our school communities' need to pay special attention to address this pandemic's mitigation in our schools. On Friday, the CDC released an operational strategy guide for the safe delivery of in-person instruction at K-12 schools. It's the first new school-specific guidance issued by the CDC during the Biden administration. It has been eagerly awaited by families and educators who want to get physically back to in-person learning as soon as safely possible. The guidance calls for "layering" five mitigation strategies essential to the safe delivery of in-person instruction. All five measures must be in place "to provide the greatest level of protection," the agency says. • Requiring the "universal and correct use of masks" by everyone in all settings; • Strictly enforcing physical distancing of at least six feet if community transmission rates are substantial or high and to "the greatest extent possible" where rates are lower; • Requiring hand-washing and respiratory etiquette and providing the necessary supplies and training; • Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including disinfection and ventilation; Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine. Educators have been among the true heroes throughout this crisis, continuing throughout the pandemic to educate our students. They desperately need our support across every Virginia community and at the Statehouse as well. We urge the passage of the substitute to SB1303 by Delegate VanValkenburg. Thank you.

Last Name: Everley Locality: Arlington

Please support the original version of SB1303, not the substitute. Every single scientific study points to kids not only being safer in school, but also that they need to be back in school. We all know it, but we pretend as if it’s a some kind of jump ball and it could go either way. It’s not. Our schools are supposed to teach kids the value of the truth; our laws and decisions affecting schools should also be based on the truth. The substitute language is intended to keep schools closed, under the bizarre suggestion that it will actually allow more flexibility for schools to open. The original bill was about giving power back to parents so their kids could get back in school where they deserve to be; the substitute is entirely about maintaining the status quo, where parents and children lose while a narrow. well-connected political constituency wins. We need a return to full in-person instruction, not sending kids back one day per week to stare at an iPad. That’s not reopening school; it’s a loophole, and our children deserve better. Our children should not be made pawns in a political game where decisionmakers celebrate themselves for “reopening schools” when they know for a fact that’s not what is happening. Please support the original version of SB1303, and reject the anti-science politics of the substitute. Let’s make Virginia an example by putting parents and students first. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Weis Locality: Stafford County (Rockhill district)

I am writing to support this bill. Although... I want to be clear that our children need to return to face to face instruction full time, in a classroom setting, with a teacher present in the classroom. 5 full days a week is what I’d like to see happen..... Private schools in the area have been operating in person all along. Some will say that’s a different story. Well Hanover County Public Schools - just south of Spotsylvania - has been doing the same. A 30 year veteran teacher commented: “I have watched the schools and the kids make it happen and it has been absolutely amazing! With the exception of the masks, everything rolls close to normal. All because of the amazing administration and teachers and staff.” Are we here in Stafford incapable of being just as amazing? I fully support continuing a virtual option for those high risk students or those simply afraid. I support pairing high risk teachers with these students. Notice I didn’t include afraid in my statement about teachers. We must resist this notion that being vaccinated is essential to working safely. Countless people in all kinds of industries have been working safely unvaccinated. Teachers are essential! And just like healthcare, trash pickup, and other essential workers, they cannot properly accomplish their work over a computer. We cannot continue to allow the minority (those legitimately high risk) to immobilize our children’s lives indefinitely! One of the articles I came across interestedly mentioned school cases don’t occur in a bubble so we must mitigate cases elsewhere like indoor dining. Tell me then why are restaurants open but schools are not. Why are our children last on the list! Aside from the academic detriment, it’s time we start weighing the mental and emotional implications remaining closed is having on our children. Yes the physical risks of being in person are there but the risks of remaining closed are exceedingly mounting. Please come together and put the needs of our children first in your decisions!

Last Name: Mojica Locality: Stafford

I forgot to mention in the other comment I submitted is that our kids going hybrid isn't enough. They go twice a week for three hours, that's equivalent to a preschool with in school instructions. Also, if stores can be open, bars, etc. Then so can schools. I also have a letter from my kid's therapist and pediatrician, would be happy to submit those letters to you if it helps in anyway. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Mojica Locality: Stafford

Please pass this bill. Please let it be for full-time, in person instructions. Our kids continue to suffer academically as well as emotionally. Majority of kids don't do well virtually. My kid who has learning disability is forced to do virtual... for my kids it didn't work a year ago and still doesn't. I hear that some teachers prefer this new schedule but it's at the expense of our children. They belong in school full-time, with a teacher in the classroom. It's unfair how our kids have been placed on the back burner. Please help us advocate for these kids. I honestly feel this has turned into a sick political game. If other states with public schools open and private schools then so can our schools. The school system is failing our kids. Please help them...

Last Name: Hawkins Locality: Fairfax, VA

House version of SB1303 is terrible and will keep schools closed. Section 1 allows school boards to offer in-person OR a combination of in-person/virtual. House version of SB1303 should require school boards to offer 5 day in-person (and parents choosing virtual should be allowed that choice as well). Without that requirement, school boards will continue hybrid 2-day programs 2021-2022. Section 3 completely neuters the bill and allows school boards to close any/all schools at their discretion. FCPS will close all schools. Please reverse course on this bill and maintain a bill that will require school boards to offer a full 5-day in-person option for parents choosing that option. It's time to put our children first.

Last Name: Nelson Locality: Henrico

As a pediatrician, mother to 2 school-age boys, and a former teacher, I'd like to voice my support for offering all Virginia families this option of in-person learning. I've seen first-hand the damaging effects when virtual education is the only option-- from social and emotional problems, to migraine headaches, and increased obesity. In the midst of the current health and economic crises, schools can provide tremendous support for children and families, and promote resilience. Without such support, I fear that we will see long-term health and mental health problems associated with prolonged school closures. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are strongly in support of reopening schools in person, with safety measures in place to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission. We now have nearly a year of evidence that child care centers and schools are not high-risk places in terms of transmission and increases in community spread of this virus. I support making schools a priority and providing the additional funding and supports needed to open safely, but we cannot afford to wait.

Last Name: Mankins Locality: Henrico

I'm writing to voice my support that SB1303 be tied to five day in person funding. We moved to Henrico County specifically to enroll our daughter in what we believed to be the best school district. Sadly, we have had to pull her out as staring at a screen for countless hours, alone in a room, was no way for a second grade child to learn or thrive, academically or emotionally. My heart breaks for the thousands of children who're experiencing so much social, emotional and academic loss going on A YEAR now. Most don't have any other options. Yet, they see the rest of the community going to restaurants, gyms, etc. I hope you will make the right decision to place the needs of these children first and get them back in to school five days a week. Thank you!

Last Name: Janssens Locality: Reston

SB 1303 How we treat our children speaks of who we are as a society. It is shameful that, unlike other developed countries, the US is not able to put its children first by opening schools. They have been waiting for a year now. It is time somebody stood up for them.

Last Name: Aimone Locality: Vienna

I support SB1303.

Last Name: Moberly Locality: Herndon, Fairfax

I’m an writing to voice my support that SB1303 be tied to 5 day in person funding. We specifically moved to Fairfax County because of the top notch public schools. My two older kids graduated with honors and both are thriving, one at VT and the other at Auburn. My youngest is currently a freshman suffering through a year of virtual school. This 4 day a week virtual experiment is in no way up to the same rigor as the 5 day in person education my older kids received. She is suffering not only from a learning gap but also from the emotional harm of not being in person with their peers and teachers. The fact that 64% of the nation’s schools have figured out how to safely return their students to in person school proves it can be done! Please be an advocate for our children and tie school funding to 5 day in person school. A majority of schools have been doing this all year without the vaccine. With the vaccine rollout there can be no more delay!!! Our children’s future is at stake!!!

Last Name: Bartee Locality: Lorton (Fairfax County)

I would like to voice my opinion that SB1303 money should be tied not simply to schools being open in-person but more specifically to them being open for in-person education 5 days a week. Countless schools districts around the country figured this out a long time ago. There’s no reason we can’t! Meanwhile our children get further behind academically.

Last Name: Stribling Locality: Henrico

I am a mom of four young children (ages 4, 7, 9 and 11) within Henrico County. Many parents in Virginia whose children have had NO option of in-person learning for nearly a year are desperate, like myself, for our beloved VA public schools to open. I pulled my 7 and 9 year old out of school in September and now teach them on my own because watching them stare at a screen all day was truly depressing. Do you remember your childhood and years in school? So many vivid memories. This is not a way for children to live or be educated. My 11 year old middle schooler remains virtual and asks daily, "When will they let us go back to school?" I have no answer for her. I have supported Democrats in the past. Why has it become Democrats who are opposed to opening up schools? I thought we supported lifting up those who truly need it. Keeping schools closed sure seems like the opposite. We know that you're being led by teachers' unions. We know. We wonder when adults are going to put children's needs above their own. Many leaders in other states are. Private schools are open here and many of your colleagues send their children to them but continue to use our "public school kids" as political pawns. I'm asking you to do the right thing and support SB1303. And NOT for a hybrid schedule or some other ridiculous definition of "being open." We need our children back with the option of in-person school in Virginia ASAP five days a week. Make this bill clear and concise for a five day a week in-person option within public schools: all we want is a CHOICE. The local school boards cannot be allowed to continue to hold our children hostage in the Commonwealth. I know many families fleeing VA for states where their schools are open; my family is considering the same. We cannot continue to allow our children's childhoods to be stolen. DO THE RIGHT THING and allow families the choice to have their children back in school FIVE DAYS a week. And NOT in a prison-like environment. If most adults are vaccinated, you KNOW covid is not problematic for children. Mental health is more problematic currently for children than covid. We should be able to get back soon to life as it was prior to covid VERY SOON. Thank you for listening, Julie Stribling

Last Name: Welling Locality: Annandale

Children deserve an in-person 5 day a week education. My family decided to trust FCPS with their plans for the 20-21 school year and it left our family (K, 2nd and 4th) depressed, overwhelmed, angry, tired, lonely, stressed, careless crying every day/night and feeling like there was never an end to virtual learning. School was not accessible for two of my children and one just gave up. We found a spot at a private school nearby in November and we won’t be looking back at FCPS. They have destroyed my children and deprived them of a real education. This is on going for the 160,000 students that couldn’t find a way out or don’t have the funds to do so. So, please! For the children, stand up and do what is right. Require schools to offer in person education 5 days a week. Thank you.

Last Name: Conrad Locality: Fairfax County

Our schools need to be open now. I walk down the street and see gyms open where masks are actually optional, people dining in restaurants, people traveling on ski vacations, etc. but there is a claim by some that we can't open our schools? What are our priorities, Virginia? Several families we know who opted for private school in September or moved away altogether, have had in-person education 5 days a week for their kids with minimal or no issues. For anyone watching, the data simply does not support keeping the schools closed. With the right measures and precautions, we can make this work. IF we want to. Further, it's a disgrace that these administrators and teachers are continuing to draw FT salaries for PT work from our tax dollars while families and children are suffering. What has happened in Fairfax County is a disgrace. This will be a single voting issue for me in the future and I am a proud Democrat.

Last Name: Parmiter Locality: Fairfax

My husband and I support SB1303. Please get our kids back in schools. The school board has refused to make it happen so it’s time for the state of Virginia to step up.

Last Name: Andary Locality: Fairfax County

Please support SB1303 so in-person public education is protected in Virginia. We have seen the deleterious effects of the school shutdown for the past 11 months on our children's education, mental health, grades, and well-being. They are paying a heavy price for the decision to shut down schools at the state level last March without any expectation or accountability for local school districts to open up. FCPS is the biggest offender. They have failed to provide in-person education to hundreds of thousands of kids, not to mention special education services. Virtual learning is a disservice to the majority of students, and frankly two days a week is not sufficient. We need to aim for five days a week for Fall 2021. My elementary and middle school age children have suffered low grades (some HS level credits) and regression on so many levels. I hope to see bipartisan support for SB1303.

Last Name: Wagner Locality: Fairfax, VA

Hello, I hope you support SB 1303. To be frank, I think the Fairfax County School Board and Superintendent are having a tough time charting a path forward and this would give them a push. They are stuck in analysis paralysis and some parents simply want a option for in-person learning. We don't want to do away with virtual, we just want an alternative. Thank you! Bethany Wagner 5236 Inverchapel Road Springfield VA 22151

Last Name: Dooley Locality: Fairfax County

School systems were created to deliver in-person school instruction principally and primarily. All of the supporting systems built around the core delivery of school instruction are done so with the in-school students in attendance including bus systems, the cafeteria system, athletic programs, even vocational / technical schools designed for in person education. As a parent of students of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) - the 10th largest school district in the country with a $3B - that's B as in Billon- annual budget, there is no justification for requesting a similar budget next year or any year that is not based upon 100% on near 100% in school instruction. Therefore, I'm urging you in the strongest possible terms to support this bill which requires school districts only get funding commensurate with the delivery of in person education. FCPS already has a virtual school that students can opt for so unless FCPS can demonstrate they plan full return of students in Fall, do not support of funding of their budget. Students and families deserve better than being bullied by teachers unions and feckless, spineless administrators who won't act in the best interest of children they proport to serve. Hold our public school systems, admin, teacher union & SB members accountable.

Last Name: Dr. James Fedderman Organization: Virginia Education Association Locality: Richmond

The Virginia Education Association opposes SB1303, which strips decision-making and authority away from local school divisions while putting Virginia students, their families, and the Commonwealth's educators at greater risk of harm from the COVID pandemic. There is simply no question that, in normal times, providing instruction in-person is the right approach for nearly all Virginia students. But these are not normal times. VEA members and representatives of Virginia school divisions and health departments have been working diligently across the Commonwealth to offer instruction inappropriate combinations of virtual and in-person instruction based on community health factors and the schools' capacity to provide a safe environment. We are on the right path, but we need to be driven by students' and staff's health and safety as our first priority, not arbitrary timetables. Virginians do not favor a rush to in-person learning. Polling this month by the Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University surveyed Virginians about reopening schools to in-person instruction. Forty-five percent of the public said public schools are reopening too quickly, and 30 percent said the pace of reopening is about right. Only 25 percent said schools are reopening for in-person instruction too slowly. In every school division in Virginia, teachers and support staff are doing everything they possibly can to help students amid this health crisis. Those educators need to be supported because those educators are the ones we rely on to shoulder the educational load during this health crisis. And they are frustrated with the lack of support they and their students are receiving. They are pleading: • If there are issues with technology and Wi-Fi, let's get them figured out! • If there are additional funds or equipment needed to make school buildings safe, let's get the funding and the equipment and put it to use! • If there are vaccine shortages or delays in making vaccines available to school staff, let's get that problem fixed, and fast! Educators have been among the true heroes throughout this crisis, and they desperately need our support across every Virginia community and at the Statehouse as well. The path toward returning all students to their classrooms is well on its way, as educators have risen to the enormous challenge posed by a global pandemic and taught, delivered meals, served as technology coaches, and provided a caring ear when students or parents needed one. The number of students being served in-person is trending up, and many educators are receiving their vaccines. SB1303 is an overreach and a diversion our public schools cannot afford. The VEA urges its defeat.

Last Name: Vargas Locality: Prince William County

I'm hoping kids are allowed back to school but the option for virtual remains. My son has done not so good when he's in school due to all his diagnosis but now that he's doing virtual schools, he's getting straight As. My kiddo suffers from anxiety among other things and he's comfortable learning from home.

Last Name: Burhon Locality: Loudoun county

Schools must open! Stores, bars, restaurants, public transportation, doctors and even sports are back - but schools are still not! Please withhold all of the funds until schools are fully open 5 days a week. Thank you

Last Name: Turpin Locality: Floyd

As a student of of Willis elementary school I believe that both in-school and virtual are good it just takes a certain type of student for both of them. Some students don't understand in a full virtual environment while others are more comfortable in their homes and learn better there. I believe that both are good and should be accessible.

Last Name: weaver Organization: willis elem Locality: floyd va

I am a student at Willis Elementary and I think that we should go every day and not virtual it is very hard for me to learn virtually I can learn a lot more from in-person school than I can in virtual school STUDENTS NEED TO BE IN SCHOOL EVERY DAY I can not learn as easily in virtual. also in-person school helps with social skills virtual doesn't help with social skills

Last Name: Blankenship Locality: Willis VA

I am currently going to in person school only 2 days a week and by grades are suffering because of it, I suggest we start going to school 2 days a week.

Last Name: Robins Locality: Floyd, VA

I myself am a 13 year old kid who has 3 virtual days and 2 in person days. I find that I do better when in person than I do virtual. My grades are worse than they ever have been and that's why I'm supporting going back 5 days a week. Also, I've found my social interaction has gotten alot worse.

Last Name: Diamond Locality: Floyd

I am a student from willis elementary school an i dont like virtual i like in person school.

Last Name: Peters Locality: Hanover County

I fully understand that in-person learning is more beneficial than virtual. However, we need far more control over this pandemic before we begin forcing students back into classes. The problem I see is that virtual options are put together quickly, without enough planning and with limited resources. But what happens if a pandemic worsens or happens again? We may be forced into a full virtual environment again, and we need better preparation. More internet access for everyone. Better options and alternative for special needs learning. Alternate safe locations for those without parental or guardian supervision, with proper distancing and better setup than schools allow. Improved ventilation in all schools. Adequate computer equipment for everyone. Better training for teachers to teach in all mediums, including virtual. Better planning at the state level. The current pandemic is not yet over, and there's no reason to believe another one will not happen. This school year doesn't have a lot of time left. We can learn valuable lessons from it. Our children may be at a disadvantage now, but I believe in their and in teachers' ability to recover from much of this. Kids are adaptable. Let's spend the time now learning from the response to this pandemic and determining how it can be improved upon if this gets worse again, or if another one happens. Think longer term, please.

Last Name: opach Locality: Chesterfield, Midlothian

Virtual Learning does not work for every learner as indicated by increase in failing grades throughout the state. Public schools and low income areas are particularly hit by the lack of in person education. In order to make education equitable there needs to be more than one (only virtual) option especially since private schools and colleges are providing in person education.

Last Name: Moore Locality: Chesterfield

We have tried learning on a large scale in the virtual environment. Due to no ones fault it is a failure. The failure rate for two classes in Chesterfield County on the highschool level increased over 100% since last year. Our children need to be in school for in person learning. The state constitution states that children will be provided a high quality education and the the virtual environment does not provide that education. Our students need the interaction with their techers and the teachers need the interaction with the students. The ones that choose to remain virtual have a choice to remain virtual.

Last Name: Rivera Locality: Prince William County

I believe kids need to get back to school. Teachers and students who choose to, should be allowed to return to school and those that want to remain virtual, should be given this option. They should be afforded the choice, not mandated either way. At least until COVID is under control. My child wants to return to school; he doesn’t want to attend virtual school. He dislikes virtual more each day. I think if he can at least go to school twice a week for now, he will have a better outlook.

Last Name: Whitney Locality: BURKE

Please vote yes for SB1303. Government at the state level directed schools to close in March of 2020 and now it is up to them to fix the problem that has been created. We must put schools in a position to direct all their power to physically open schools and to teach children in person. If not, we are leaving behinda generation of kids. It is chilling to think of what my county will try to get away with if this bill is not passed.

Last Name: Pasquetti Locality: Asbhurn

We expect most adults in Loudoun County, VA will have the vaccination available to them by August. All teachers, people 65+ and high risk adults will already be fully vaccinated. The Commonwealth of VA’s Health Department recommends 3 feet of social distancing with masks. And we don’t know if we can open 5 days per week with teachers in the classroom, WHY??? Because BB & Co are insisting on 6 feet separation. Okay, instead of recreating the wheel and funding another virtual school, send DL kids and Teachers to Virtual Virginia and build temporary modular classrooms to use for overflow created by spacing. OPEN THE SCHOOLS! Private schools are operating 5 days a week without problems! Get it get together

Last Name: Jennings Locality: Ashburn

I am a working parent who has been paying since last September for private full day care at s Learning center for my son so he gets support and does not fall behind when he should be going to public school. While my tax dollars are not being used for him to go to school normally, I have to spend this extra money every month so he gets some type of socializing and does not fall too behind. Reopen schools 5 days!

Last Name: Lomqx Locality: Falls church

It is imperative that our children get back into school full time for face to face learning. The virtual learning environment doesn’t work for all students, especially some of our different learners. Please support the passing of this bill so that local school systems will put in place the necessary arrangements so our schools can be fully up and running as soon as possible. My children are really struggling with at home learning and need to be back in person for full time learning. Thank you.

Last Name: Connor Locality: City of Fairfax

Thank you to the legislators who have stepped and pushed for this bill. All families and children deserve the choice to have an in person education 5 days a week. Our children are suffering emotionally, mentally, physically and academically from virtual learning. They need to be in the classroom, hands on, away from a computer screen now. A year will have gone by, by the time my kids will step foot inside a classroom. This is not acceptable, not healthy and is destroying our kids. Please do the right thing and give families the choice to have in person schooling.

Last Name: Daigke Locality: Broad Run VA

I understand the risks of having my children in school but there education is more important. They need to be back in school 5 days a week. Thank you.

Last Name: Macchi Locality: Fairfax County

Honorable Delegates, I am writing to ask you to support this bill to require school districts to provide an in-person 5-days learning option for all families that desire that. Online learning option does not supplement in-person social interaction, emotional growth and academic education. Students and parents of FCPS thank you for your consideration. Please support the children and our families.

Last Name: Niethamer Locality: Fairfax county

The option to have in-person learning should be required for all students.

SB1313 - Children's Services Act; funds expended special education programs.
Last Name: Duke Locality: Glen Allen

Please support SB1303 in lieu of substitution bill. Schools have been closed long enough and need a clear plan to re-open. Many will not do this on their own until they are required to by law. Legislate required opening of face to face will get the ball rolling with re-opening plans from all schools. Put Virginia children's needs at the table with teacher unions. Do schools exist to provide comfortable jobs for teachers, or DO THEY EXIST TO EDUCATE CHILDREN? The answer is clear, educating children is the reason for schools, and it is not happening adequately in the virtual format.

Last Name: Whitlock Locality: Louisa

Vote NO on SB1313. It is another way to prevent personal/parental choice of educational and related services. I think this year has clearly shown that a school board or similar body cannot or does not possess the ability to decide what's best for every child. Vote NO on the latest SB1303, but YES to the original SB1303 because these children and families deserve better than what they've been handed. I have read all of the emotional appeals from parents and families. You will fail in your duty to them, your community, and to the state of Virginia if you continue to deny what the tax-paying constituents want and demand. Other schools and localities are conducting classes in their buildings. Ask them for guidance. I'm sure they'll be happy to share.

Last Name: Asip Organization: Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE) Locality: Powhatan

Good morning chairman and members of the subcommittee, I am Like Asip, speaking on behalf of the Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE) more than 400 members who supervise the special education services of more than 164,00 0 Virginia students with disabilities. VCASE supports SB1313 and the companion bill of HB 2117 is efforts to provide flexibility with CSA funding toward strengthening the return of students from private placement back to the public school programs. We look forward to the workgroup providing support for CSA funds being available in efforts to mitigate the private placements through preventative supports in the public schools. Thank you. Mike Asip

Last Name: Schettine Organization: disAbility Law Center of Virginia Locality: Richmond

My name is Jenny Schettine and I am with The disAbility Law Center of Virginia (dLCV). dLCV is the Commonwealth’s designated protection and advocacy system for individuals with disabilities. dLCV has concerns with S.B. 1313 as it amends the eligibility for state pool funds to include children and youth previously placed in approved private school educational programs in a public school setting for no longer than 12 months. dLCV proposes that these funds be allocated to public schools for student services past the 12 months transition period, as we believe this would provide a continuum of services across school placements, allow for children and youth to receive services in the least restrictive setting, and afford public schools the opportunities to build more services and resources for their localities. dLCV seeks to afford equity in public and private school education for students with disabilities. Thank you for your consideration and your work on behalf of Virginia’s children with disabilities.

SB1357 - Standards of Learning; reading & mathematics assessments for students in grades three through eight.
Last Name: Duke Locality: Glen Allen

Please support SB1303 in lieu of substitution bill. Schools have been closed long enough and need a clear plan to re-open. Many will not do this on their own until they are required to by law. Legislate required opening of face to face will get the ball rolling with re-opening plans from all schools. Put Virginia children's needs at the table with teacher unions. Do schools exist to provide comfortable jobs for teachers, or DO THEY EXIST TO EDUCATE CHILDREN? The answer is clear, educating children is the reason for schools, and it is not happening adequately in the virtual format.

Last Name: Steele Locality: Henrico

Yes we need to get our kids back in school dull time it's been way to long now the kids are hurting more ways then one please pass the bills and get our kids back in school asap

Last Name: Harris Locality: Floyd

Im a student from floyd i hate online school because it is harder and i dont get to see a lot of my other friends.Its been hard and i hope this all ends so we can see all of our friends again and for things to go back to normall again.

End of Comments