Public Comments for 02/22/2021 Education
SB1303 - Local school divisions; availability of virtual and in-person learning to all students.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Please pass SB1303. Children deserve better from our educators. Virtual instruction is not acceptable!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! https://frontlinemedicaldoctors.com/. It's time to live LIFE ... vote YES for SB1303 !!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Decisions about schools opening/closing/operating should be made by each locality.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/virginia-democrats-to-unveil-plan-to-reopen-schools-as-political-pressure-mounts/2021/02/13/c25917d2-6be2-11eb-9ead-673168d5b874_story.html 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Don’t force 5 days in person.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
I support Dunnavant bill and not the substitute bill by VanValkenburg in regards to reopening schools.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Open schools full time in person now!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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...
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.
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.
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!
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.
I support SB1303.
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!!!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
I am a student from willis elementary school an i dont like virtual i like in person school.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The option to have in-person learning should be required for all students.
In person learning should be an option to all students in Virginia. Make this more than just a request from the Governor. It's time for the state to set a baseline expectation in STATUTE for the most basic requirement of every school district in the Commonwealth: to offer an in-person education option for students.
Continued virtual learning is negatively impacting my children and children within my community. They need full day in-person school. We support SB1303 and demand that you do to.
My kids have struggled with virtual learning. So have their friends. I'm deeply worried about the social and emotional impact of nearly a year of virtual learning. But beyond the scope of my comfortable world in Vienna, Va, I am terrified of the achievement gap that online learning is making infinitely larger. We have to take care of those who don't have moms like me who can work part time from home. We have to take care of those who speak English as a second language and are at a loss as to how to help their children. We have to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to get these vulnerable groups back in classrooms. Our society cannot carry the burden that online learning will yield for us. As a former FCPS high school teacher, I've seen the achievement gap first-hand. Please put students first. Tell the teachers they are essential (we want to hear you say that). Help the teachers and students move beyond the unions' roadblocks and into the classroom. The kids need to go back and most teachers want to go back. Put a stop to this tragedy so we can get to work on the achievement gap between gap between the haves and have nots that just became the biggest problem our county has ever known. We have a lot of work to do to fix what's been broken. In the meantime, I am excited that my 6th grader and my 10th grader will be heading back to school in FCPS this March for two days of in person learning. I am also excited to return to the classroom myself, this time as a substitute teacher - a way that I can give back to the community and help us all get back to school. I am hopeful that we will quickly get to 4 or 5 days a week of in-person learning. Our society needs to get our kids back to school five days a week this fall. We need to move mountains to make that happen. Please don't stop fighting for the children.
I am urging you to please support 5 days in person. My kindergartener is struggling with virtual. He does not understand why he cannot go in person when his friends in private school have been attending school since the fall. This cannot continue for another year. All children are struggling academically as well as socially.
Please support this bill and offer 5 days in school option for all students and teachers. The local elected officials are paralyzed. They are not equipped to make these analysis and decisions. They are not working in the best interest of the children. Our children have been out of the classroom for almost a full year. We need for you to step and to help our children and teachers return to classrooms 5 days a week.
As an FCPS parent, I am writing in support of SB1303. It has been almost one year since my son has stepped foot in a classroom. He has lost hundreds of hours of instruction in a four-day-a-week, all-virtual learning environment. FCPS leadership has proven incapable of making decisions based on the interests of children, or on science, or on data that demonstrate the need to re-open schools and how it can be done safely. This public policy failure cannot be allowed to continue as our children pay the price. It was the Governor who shut down the schools, and we need Virginia’s leaders to act to save our children and salvage public education in the Commonwealth. Further, I would suggest that “in-person” instruction in a hybrid model that merely changes the venue of on-line learning from home to a classroom two days a week is not school and will not elevate the quality of education. Yet, that is the best FCPS can come up with after a year to plan. Our kids deserve better, and any elected leader charged with ensuring our children receive a high quality education in public schools cannot accept this model. We need five days a week of engaging face-to-face education that allows kids to learn and thrive socially and emotionally. This hybrid model will not correct all the predictable damage done by embracing an extreme policy of closing schools. Children will continue to fall behind. Parents will be required to forgo work — mostly women — to supervise their children’s learning three days of the week. Children whose parents cannot afford to stay home will still be left largely unsupervised, often in substandard learning environments. The mental health toll of isolation, uncertainty, a sense of abandonment by adults will persist for the most part. The physical toll of excessive screen time and inactivity will continue. Yet, the data tell us that schools can reopen with mitigation and not increase COVID risk. In fact, a plurality of schools across the nation are open five days a week for students (not hybrid). Why do our leaders in Virginia want less for our kids? This is not an issue of money. FCPS has all sorts of money and is sitting on millions in CARES funding. It is a matter of will and accountability. If these failing local school districts are held accountable, then maybe they can find the will to do what is right by our children, and follow the science to boot. There is no reason for the state to prop up failure by throwing money at local school districts who are not serving the interests of the families or kids they exist to support. Please do not accept words and mediocrity. You will be burned like the rest of us. We need action and consequences for failure. Our kids need school! Is that now an extreme statement? I surely hope not. Please support SB 1303 and do all that you can to get our children back in school — in classrooms, with a teacher engaging them in face-to-face instruction. Thank you. Lori S. Ring
Honorable Delegates, I'm writing to ask you to support this bill to require school districts to provide an in-person learning option for all families that desire one. I also support better funding for Virginia K-12 virtual to allow any family that wants to remain virtual to have that option and take that off the local school districts; they are not equipped to be providers of online education, that has become very obvious, When the Governor required schools to close in March 2020, the commonwealth provided no guidance to re-open and left that to local school districts. We have seen that these districts have no idea how to negotiate this re-opening and many are reticent to do so even as we see the negative impact on the children. It has become obvious that a statutory solution is necessary to get all school districts in Virginia to offer in -person education. Thank you for this consideration. I feel this is the most important issue facing the commonwealth right now. Leslie Adrian
First - thank you to all of our hard working legislature members who have supported this bill to get it to this point. You all are seriously my heroes. I have written many of you individually, and our family really appreciates your support. We are engaged as never before. And we are watching ALL of our elected officials as never before. Please please please continue to support this bill to give our children the option to return to in person school. Our state, up to this point, has failed us. Our Governor, up to this point, has failed us. Our local school board, up to this point, has failed us. Our children are suffering. Our families are suffering. We have sadly, as a society, lost track of what we are trying to do here in regards to covid. We have failed to look at any type of cost/benefit analysis of the policies, mandates, and guidance issued at both the state and local levels in regards to our children. Please look at the science. It has been disheartening, to say the least, that instead of looking at science and the cost benefit of each action, politics is politics - our elected officials continue to listen to those that have loud voices, deep pockets, and a ton of political influence on elections. I am tired of listening to Kimberly Adams, who stepped up in line FIRST to receive a vaccine, then changed the requirements for teachers to return to the classroom. Yes please, vaccinate our teachers, our administrators, our school staff - but require that they then get into the school building. Please support this bill. Please give our children an option to return. Have you looked at the numbers nationally? Last week - 35% of the school aged children in the US had virtual only school as an option. FCPS - my own school district, one of the wealthiest in the country, the main reason why we live where we do, is now the bottom of the barrel. That's how I see that number. I see children who don't have room in their own house to do virtual school in their own space, giving up. I see children who don't have reliable internet service, falling behind. I see my own children, who don't have food insecurity, who have their own school space and reliable internet, who have access to tutors and outside help, just not caring. There are days and classes where my youngest daughter (a high school freshman) doesn't even see her teacher's face on the computer. She's just listening to a computer voice trying to learn advanced material. She does not care any more - and how can I blame her? This sucks. And I'm not blaming the teachers, or the curriculum, or the methods - I'M BLAMING YOU. I'm blaming every single one of our elected officials from the local government up, who has failed to get our children back to school. We are looking at the one year mark. One year. This is UNACCEPTABLE. We are also watching. And we will be voting. Please help us get our children back in school. Make this the single most important thing you have ever done in your life. Our kids are depending on you. Their lives are depending on you. Do better. Our children - all children, deserve better.
Sir or madam, the state created our problem in March, 2020 by shuttering the schools statewide. It's time for the state to set a baseline expectation in STATUTE for the most basic requirement of every school district in the Commonwealth: to offer an in-person education option for students. The Governor's request last week that schools put kids in the buildings by March 15 is nice, but it isn't STATUTE. Please push the Education Committee to support this legislation!! My children have suffered. This is as serious as children being hungry, abused or ignored. We will organize next Election Day also. We all are watching. Support our children!!!!!!
Delegates, please support SB1303. The state closed schools in March 2020 and has provided no guidance on how to reopen them. Virtual learning in Fairfax County is not working for all families. I have three children in FCPS schools and they are all suffering academically, emotionally, physically and socially. They need to be back in school. Virginia children need to have the opportunity to be back in school five days a week. Local school systems do not have the expertise or resources to put together quality virtual learning offerings. Please provide a state-wide option for virtual learning, Virtual Virginia or otherwise, and direct our local school systems to do what they do best and what our kids need: teach in person.
Vote to pass this bill. Students and parents of FCPS demand in person instruction 5 days per week. Put the genie (teachers Union) back in the bottle for the sake of our children.
The state created our problem in March, 2020 by shuttering the schools statewide. It's time for the state to set a baseline expectation in statute for the most basic requirement of every school district in the Commonwealth: to offer an in-person education option for students. The Governor's request last week that schools put kids in the buildings by March 15 is nice, but it isn't statute .
Our children need to be in school with their teachers. We are generating a future educational and mental health crisis that will take years to undo. I pulled both my children from our beloved neighborhood elementary school so that they could thrive again. Our private school has had zero outbreaks since August 2020 with 400 students attending in-person, five days a week. 25 students per classroom. Virtual education is simply not possible with young children. They are not learning to write. They are not getting the attention from other trusted adults and peers that is critical to early development.
Honorable delegates, Please support this legislation. The commonwealth created this problem by closing schools in March 2020. Some school districts need state leadership to re-open and provide 5 day a week in school education for children: They must be required to re-open for 5 day a week school by statute. "Virtual school" is a curriculum delivery system, not school. It requires constant attention from caregivers- attention many working caregivers do not have. The current regime is harmful to children's education, mental health, and is horribly contrary to equity as many children without the privilege of a stay-at-home caregiver fall far behind. Please support this bill & so districts will provide the FULL education all children deserve, including those most vulnerable. Thank you
All Please vote yes for SB1303 today. Our kids are suffering because of overly political school boards and paralyzed district officials. The science has been clear in support of school openings for months. At this point the issue is one of the districts not wanting to have uncomfortable conversations with their employees. All at the expense of kids.
Please support this bill. The state created our problem in March, 2020 by shuttering the schools statewide. I am writing for the state to set a baseline expectation in STATUTE for the most basic requirement of every school district in the Commonwealth: to offer an in-person education option for students. The Governor's request last week that schools put kids in the buildings by March 15 is nice, but it isn't STATUTE. Please support this legislation. Children now are only to attend in person 2/days week meanwhile children of teachers will be 4 days. Things are being grossly mismanaged in FCPS. Please support students by passing this Statute.
Please support this bill. The state created our problem in March, 2020 by shuttering the schools statewide. I am writing for the state to set a baseline expectation in STATUTE for the most basic requirement of every school district in the Commonwealth: to offer an in-person education option for students. The Governor's request last week that schools put kids in the buildings by March 15 is nice, but it isn't STATUTE. Please support this legislation. Children now are only to attend in person 2/days week meanwhile children of teachers will be 4 days. Things are being grossly mismanaged in FCPS. Please support students by passing this Statute.
This bill is much needed. Fairfax County Public Schools and several others in VA have been closed since March 2020. Virtual learning does not work for the majority of the kids. Virtual learning is so bad that I had to place my son with autism and ADHD in a private school. He has gone from surviving at FCPS to thriving in his new school. I still have another child in public school and she needs to be back in person at school. She is totally unmotivated. If you haven’t already, I ask that you listen to SEN Chap Peterson’s speech in the senate in support of this bill. I also ask that you follow the science which says schools are safe and should be open. There is no reason not to require schools to open. Do it for the kids. They need to be back in school. Vote to support SB 1303.
We need the statute to have all schools with an option for parents for 5 days a week in person. We need to know that schools will be open 5 days a week in the Fall. Our public school children are falling behind daily, when private schools in the same area have been open for months, many all year. We need an in person 5 day a week option available for ALL children and our county has failed the children in being able to provide this so far. Fairfax county schools have been closed to in person instruction for the majority of children for 11 months. Please make the schools open.
The students are deeply suffering from school lockdowns since March of 2020 and that is fact. The CDC says is safe to open 5 days a week now and that is a fact. Virginia teachers have been offered the covid vaccine ahead of essential employees like myself who have been working in-person since the pandemic started.and I was ok with teachers going ahead of me as long as they returned to in-person teaching. It’s time to put the kids first and do what science says which is to offer full time (5 days) in-person education to all students who want in-person. Virtual Virginia is already in place for those who prefer distance learning. It is well past time for Virginia to put into statute a return for all students to in- person learning if they so should choose. Please, do your job like I’ve done mine since the pandemic started and get all students back into classrooms where they belong. Thank you!
I have lived in Virginia my entire life. I’m so upset that my county hasn’t figured out a way to give parents a choice with in person or distance learning. I expect children to be back 5 days a week this fall. My children have lost so much this past year. Please give parents the choice to have their child in school 5 days a week. Thank you
Please support efforts to reopen schools for in person learning. Local schools boards will not look for opportunities to keep the risk of covid at zero, which is not a realistic scenario and increasingly the data shows schools are not super spreaders locations by any measure. Please support giving students that want to return to school a chance to fulfill promises made by schools.
Our school board is not qualified to make decisions such as whether or not to open schools. Since the governor had the power to close schools, but not to open them, we now require your help in passing this bill. We have over 80,000 students with a significant deficit in learning. Northern Virginia is falling further and further behind other regions in terms of education. Data shows it is safe when proper safety protocols are followed, to open schools. In person learning should be the default, not the exception.
PLEASE vote to bring our students back to school NOW. Many large school districts have shown that it is safe and have been in school five days a week all school year! This has been a travesty and has opened our eyes to the politicians who are representing our children. Our children have lost one year of school and have received a subpar education while in isolation. Our family is researching to move to other states where our children will receive a quality education IN SCHOOL. Please vote for 1303 to pass. Thank you!
SB1303 ignores the differences in the various localities in Virginia in terms of covid community spread and ability to successfully mitigate transmission within school boards. The decision to open school buildings for in-person instruction should be left to local school boards with guidance from local health departments. Please vote NO on SB1303.
5 days in person
Please vote in favor of SB1303. I recognize that some parents believe it's not safe to send their children back to in-person learning. They are free to hold that opinion, and SB1303 does not hinder those families from choosing Virginia Virtual or their county's version of Distance Learning. However -- based on current scientific literature, my decades as an occupational health officer, and the education I recieved while earning my Master of Health Science degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, I am confident that it IS safe to send children back to school. Your support of SB1303 assures that I, too, have an option to choose the learning method that best fits my daughter.
Please support SB1303 !!!My Dyslexic Freshman is suffering on many levels; academically, emotionally and physically. Academically the learning gap is growing in a way that time will not recover. Emotionally the lack of socialization and face to face interactions are the cause for depression and isolation. Children are not prepared for mental health issues with out their supports of parents, peers and responsible adults that care. The lack of a consistent responsible active schedule in person presents hours and hours of sleepiness and inappropriate dietary intake. Abandoning children "assuming" that every child knows how to use a computer to gain an education is the WRONG POLICY to force on children. Pencils, paper, books or a computer is a tool and abandoning children virtually to be independent to access a virtual teacher on line which is not a stable solid connection is not a FREE APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION (FAPE). Our students need to be thriving in person pursuing the opportunity to gain knowledge in a whole child learning model. Open school and give our children their future dreams and power of an EDUCATION in person. Reading is a LIFE SKILL!!! SB1303 VOTE YES!!!
The push to return students to a physical school building does not take the safety and metrics of each county into account. A county in sSouthern Virginia may have a stark difference in cases compared to localities around Richmond or D.C. Is the state ready to provide the funding that this task will take, or are teachers expected to shoulder that burden once more?
We are in the middle of a public school crisis. Children, especially the younger kids, need to have the choice to return to full time instruction asap. Local schools are ignoring the research and science behind school transmission and need to be forced to prioritize kids education now. For those that disagree, keep the option for virtual learning. Many are fleeing public schools or are simply moving because how unsustainable this is for kids and families. This is a major crisis! Please pass the bill.
The covid situation is not the same across all counties. The decision to have in-person should be left to the school districts, to make based on covid rates within their own communities with the guidance of their local health department. Communities with lower spread may be able to return earlier than communities with higher spread. That should not be a state-wide decision, and school divisions should not be penalized for trying to keep their students, staff, and families safe. Virginia is too large a state with too many different types of communities for there to be a "one-size-fits-all" solution to a global pandemic. Please allow individual districts make the call to return.
Since the state shut down schools nearly a year ago, FCPS and Virginia have failed to educate my children. It’s a shameful disgrace that should have already ended. All counties MUST offer 5 days/week in person education NOW. This should have been done in September. Schools all across the country including private schools in Northern Virginia have been open for months. All of the science, the data, the experts confirm that kids belong in school. Failing to educate our children is a fundamental failure of government. This must change now. Please make it happen. No more waiting, no more excuses, no more supporting unions’ preferences at the expense of children and taxpayers.
Open schools! My 2nd grader even told me that he didn't learn anything since the school started. Stop suffocating kids with this useless online classes!!!Open schools!
Single Mother immigrant here. My kid is falling behind. All Virtual learning does not work for our family. Maybe they do for rich families but not for us. Please I beg you, open the schools 5 days a week.
Please vote NO on SB 1303. SB 1303 does not take a school district’s locality into consideration when making decisions about re-opening buildings for in-person learning. This important decision needs to be made by the district Superintendent along with the school board and needs to take into account a solid and verified plan, most importantly including safety mitigations as recommended by VDOH and the CDC. Forcing school districts to open will only result in school districts leaving mitigations incomplete. In my opinion, a smarter and safer way to get schools to reopen buildings for in person learning would be to require districts show verified data and proof that they have all safety mitigations in place. Instead, I’d like to see some more concrete guidance and support to school districts so they can ensure students have a safe return to school and most important that they can remain that way without interruption. Ventilation, including transparent data showing that a building is following recommendations from aerosol/ventilation experts such as the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health metrics. Immunizations for all teachers and staff completed (both doses) Testing and Transparency of plans that are in place, shared with the community, Accommodations for teachers and staff who are in a high risk CDC category for COVID-19, or live with someone who is. Lunch (and Breakfast) Outdoors or a solid plan utilizing upper germicidal UV in higher ceiling rooms such as gyms and cafeterias.
I am writing to ask you to support SB1303. I am a mom of 3 kids in FCPS, and 2 of my children have a 504 and IEP. My kids need to be in school, in person. I have a 1st grader, 6th grader and 9th grader. As you can imagine, they are each struggling in their own ways. Virtual school is not working for my kids and it isn't working for our family. I have watched my children struggle for almost an entire year. I have cut my work hours in half so I can sit with my 1st grader all day, keep her on track, and teach her the lessons. I am fortunate to have that option. Kids throughout our county deserve better. Schools around the country have figured out a way to get children back safely (even schools with more kids than FCPS), and we should too. Our children are falling behind and falling apart. Please help. Almost one year ago, our state created this problem by closing the schools statewide. It's time for the state to set a baseline expectation in statute for the most basic requirement of every school district in the Commonwealth: to offer an in-person education option for students. Please support this legislation!! Please support the children who need you to stand up for them and say enough is enough. Thank you for your time.
I have watched the mental health of my children decline drastically over the past 11 months as they have been denied the option to go to school, socialize, and resume a regular routine with meaning and purpose in their lives. Recently our county voted for a hybrid return to school, which would allow my children in-person learning 2 days a week. Although they have yet to see the inside of a school building since the pandemic began, even just the hope that they can go back has brightened their spirits considerably. My heart aches to watch them suffer because the adults who are supposed to have the kids’ best interests at heart do not. The science indicates that the children are not spreading this disease. Why, then, are they the ones being most negatively impacted? Please allow them to get back to school. Their physical health would not be at high risk, but their mental health most certainly is if the school lockout continues. Please do not allow our children to shoulder the weight of this pandemic for the adults any longer.
I have an 8th-grade student at Gainesville Middle School. She is an excellent student in all advanced classes and has amazing teachers. She has maintained straight A’s throughout “virtual learning” and, despite this, she repeatedly says “school is just boring and I’m not learning that much“. This is a child who loves school and desperately wants to go back. She has always been a very happy child and I’m seeing a change in her. She is an only child who now spends all day every day staring at a computer by herself while I work. This is unacceptable. Public schools were not designed to deliver content to children virtually. Our children are not having their needs met with virtual schooling. Not only are they not getting the education they should be and are falling drastically behind, their emotional and mental well-being is at stake. Depression and suicide rates are skyrocketing. Kids are isolated from their peers and every study in child development tells you that this is doing them immeasurable and, sadly in many cases, possibly irreparable damage. I’ve seen teachers comment and heard many say they don’t want to return to the classroom, and I remind you that is where they were hired to do their jobs, until it is safe. However, they are making these claims with zero data to back that up. All of the science and data demonstrates that it is perfectly safe to return to the classroom. School systems around the world and around this country have been open for live instruction this entire school year and should certainly be serving as models of how it can be done safely and successfully. Here in Virginia we seem to have a huge problem with many teachers lack of willingness to go back and do their jobs in the manner in which they were hired to do them. We have unfounded hesitation and fear coming from school boards and superintendents who refuse to open the schools to our kids. This is a huge problem and while it is sad that it is come to the point of needing legislation to force them to open schools, it is necessary at this point. The CDC has said that teachers and all staff being vaccinated is not a prerequisite to opening schools and yet some systems are refusing to do so until their teachers and all support staff are fully vaccinated. There is zero evidence to support this is necessary. There is, however, a plethora of evidence to support opening schools at this point. Contact trace studies have been conducted in dozens of school systems and are showing that schools being open are not the cause of any outbreaks. Children have not been shown to be significant spreaders of this virus. The vast majority of all people who contract this virus will have mild to moderate symptoms if any at all. The risks associated with keeping schools closed far exceed the risk of Covid I beg you to support this bill because we need to get our children back in school by whatever means necessary and as soon as possible.
Our children need to be back in the classroom as soon as the teachers have their 2nd COVID vaccine shot. The kids are suffering mental health and learning loss. Schools all around the US and globe are open and operating safely, and there are no major risks for children and healthy teachers for full in-person teaching.
Now that our teachers have obtained COVID vaccinations, we are advocating for a full-time in-person return for ALL students. We strongly support this bill, and urge the House to take it up immediately. However, we recommend the House include two amendments: (1) stipulate that an in-person option must include full-time in person learning, not just part-time "hybrid"; and (2) include a clause that puts the measure into force within two weeks of signature by the Governor. Thank you.
I implore you to vote YES for SB 1303 to require all school districts to offer in-person in-school instruction to those parents who want it for their children. I am the parent of 3 children who should be attending the Henrico County Public Schools. My oldest was supposed to start Kindergarten at Nuckols Farm Elementary in September 2020 but when I found out it was going to be virtual I pulled him out and enrolled him in a private kindergarten because he does not (nor do most elementary school children) have the attention span to sit in front of a computer for hours a day. I knew he also could not learn to read or write on a computer when he doesn't have basic literacy skills to type at 5. I lobbied the Henrico County School Board all summer via emails, phone calls, and in person statements at their meetings to offer in-person instruction in the fall. I have watched in horror as they have pushed the date to resume in person learning 4 times and I have little faith that they will even stick to their latest announced start date. I believe that in order to ensure that our children physically return to brick and mortar schools in the fall it must be made a legislative requirement. The directive from the governor is not sufficient. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics have made it clear that children need to be in school for a plethora of reasons for their academic and emotional well-being. The science is clear that schools are not driving the spread of the Coronavirus. Not everyone can afford private education as an option and the gulf between those who can and those cannot has been blown wide open by the pandemic. Those differences will only continue to be exacerbated if you do not mandate that the public schools offer every student who wants it an in-person education. PLEASE VOTE YES FOR SB 1303.
Our children desperately need to be back in the classroom. They are suffering immense mental health and learning loss. Schools all around the he US and globe are open and operating safely.
PLEASE PASS THIS BILL!!!! Don't allow the unions to hold our children hostage. We are at one of the top elementary schools in the county and our children are working on the same material teachers were teaching in SEPTEMBER. I have a Kindergartner, 2nd grader and 4th grader (in addition to a new baby at home). My kids are bored, disinterested and sad. How far behind will we let the children of Virginia fall? Virginia has some of the best public schools in the country -are we willing to lose that commitment to the quality of education in Virginia? In addition, it is pathetic that we are letting our teachers hold our economy hostage. We are a military family - service is not something we take lightly. Teachers are PUBLIC SERVANTS. There will be sacrifices and hardships, but ultimately service is fulfilling a purpose and goal higher than that of the individual. That's what makes it rewarding. If teachers and administrators are not willing to be public servants time to find new people or pull funding. Please, pass this bill and set the bar higher for our Virginia educators and administrators. Our children deserve better.
Please support the return of our children to in person learning, 5 days a week. As the parent of a middle schooler and two high schoolers, I see first hand the negative impacts of nearly a year of virtual learning. Students are suffering academically, socially and emotionally, and this has simply gone on far too long. With the vaccinations now available to teachers and staff alike, the excuses to keep our children virtual have run out. A substitute teacher myself, I cannot wait to see the faces of students and help them learn effectively. Our children are falling behind the states that went back to in-person learning months ago, many 5 days a week. Please think of our children and their futures. They depend on us to protect and guide them. Please support SB1303.
Respectfully, I request that the delegates hear the pleas of parents across the state begging for schools to reopen. I have been on the fence as far as allowing my kids to return, but as we have seen the CDC indicate, there is very little danger for children returning to school. However, we must also continue to prioritize vaccinations for our school teachers and administrators, who are frontline workers in this pandemic. Please vote in support of kids - not teacher's unions who seem to be holding our kids hostage.
I come to you as a parent of two teen daughters who had the choice of face-2-face or virtual learning this school year. My daughters are F2F. Hanover County Public Schools worked hard to create a plan that would accommodate both options and they are executing it successfully. I am so thankful every day. My girls are not having the virtual experience that most Virginia students are having and we have been able to keep them mentally healthy and academically thriving in class. I am so sad that a majority of other districts did not pursue this for their students. The impact on students is enormous. The increased mental health issues and increased rates of suicide and attempted suicide are staggering. The kids who most need additional eyes on them are left alone, struggling and falling further behind. Please pass this bill and require school districts to offer a choice. Give students the opportunity to be face-to-face. HCPS has been highly successful in limiting spread amongst F2F students. Their plan is working. Look closely at it and use it as a basis for other school districts. Let’s get all of Virginia students back in F2F class. Thank you, Sandy Fisher
Please SUPPORT SB1303 and open schools to in person learning. I have lost faith in our local administration and feel that we need the state to intervene on our behalf. The social, mental and educational impact on our children will be felt for years to come. Students deserve better and families deserve a choice. Thank you.
Please support SB 1303. For nearly a year now, children around the state of Virginia have been robbed of normalcy, education, mental, social, and physical wellbeing largely because many teachers refuse to return to school if not vaccinated. Once vaccinated, there should be zero excuse to return. Statistics have shown that largely, children are at very low risk of spreading COVID-19 to adults or to other children, especially the younger the child. The burden on working parents and parents who have had to quit the workforce to accommodate “virtual learning” is too heavy to bear. The financial and larger economic burden is even greater if working parents have to find childcare to fill in the gaps. This has been going on FAR TOO LONG. There are several local districts that have been very successful with in-person learning options (Goochland and Hanover, to name a few), but are never mentioned in the mainstream conversation. It’s time to follow their example and get teachers back to work, as they are essential employees to our children, who desperately need to get back to school.
Please, pass this bill. The first fact is that remote learning is a disaster, especially for the younger and disadvantaged students. Children and families who are really struggling need it and for those people who are against the bill, they should have the choice to keep their kids home in virtual schooling – this does not have to be an either/or solution! The second fact is that in-person and full-time learning can be done safely with the right precautions. This may have not been clear last April but now study after study has shown that schools can be safe. A recent report from CDC just attested this fact. Private and some public schools have been running safely here and all around the country despite rising COVID-19 cases, with little to no evidence that attendance is spreading the virus. Our school leadership in FCC has said they have not had the leadership from the state, despite the guidance that Virginia issued last June for reopening schools. So, I would encourage some added requirements to this bill that kids should have the choice to return full time – not just hybrid. The hybrid model does not make sense from both an infection control perspective, and in terms of real teaching time to help kids get back on track. In our hybrid schedule the kids get less than 2 hours of in-person instruction 4 days a week. The school still has the full student body circulating through the buildings every day and the teachers are putting in a full day of teaching because they are accommodating the AM/ PM groupings. By having two groups circulating the building and the amount of busing for AM/PM groups every day, it adds complexity and more resources to do proper mitigation and makes contract tracing more challenging should there be an instance of COVID in school. A more effective “hybrid model” that could help the kids would be having the option for kids to go back full days Tuesday – Friday reserving Monday for cleaning and planning. The vaccinated teachers would still be putting in the same amount of time, but each kid would have a designated spot for learning, snacks, etc. The third fact is that this situation is especially devastating to the lower income population. Affluent families can flee the public-school disaster for private schools but that is not the case for lower income families. Last, on the most recent budget request for FY2022 from our Superintendent– it does not makes up for the investments (e.g., taxes paid) that we have made in our schools for the current tax year. Our City spends on average of about $19K per child/per year for education. Far higher than the national average and far higher than most VA districts. From a pure dollar spent standpoint, we do not feel that our children received the quality and level of education equal with the dollars spent. We also had 200 kids leave our schools this year. So, we ask ourselves - with our teachers now being fully vaccinated in February why is hybrid the only possibility being considered? Why not get our kids back full time? We have adequate space to fully socially distance and the data clearly tells us that with proper planning we can safely and fully open the schools. Why is it that our schools will be distributed funds for FY2022 (with a 2.5% increase) without any assurances that they will also spend the necessary time and money to fully reopen and catch our kids up for lost learning in 2020/2021. This commitment is paramount!
VOTE YES to allow us/ the parents to make the best choice for our family
Please pass this! Children belong in school buildings with their teachers.
Please pass SB1303! It has been nearly a year since our children have been in a classroom and not only is their education suffering, but the social and emotional toll has been devastating for so many. Even if school is different, there are so many that need the social aspect of in-person learning over the isolation of sitting alone at the screen for 6+ hours a day. This is a choice that so many parents and children need. Now that the experts have been able to show that schools are safe to open and should be prioritized, Virginia must follow suit and it must apply to all grade levels, K-12. Our county has completely ignored middle and high school students and that needs to stop. Our children deserve better. While teachers are working incredibly hard, the job is to provide in-person instruction. Teachers with valid health risks should be taken care of, but everyone else needs to get back to work just like millions of Americans who have already been back at work for months. There has been more than enough time for schools to prepare. If schools say they cannot open, require them to prove why they cannot open with specifics so those deficits can be immediately identified & fixed, within a time limit, and with the clear understanding that opening will immediately follow. No more moving the goal post for the re-opening requirements. Schools need to open now.
Virtual Learning is still school. I teach 6th grade (21 students) of various learning styles. My students have grown and flourished through the virtual platform. They are not faced with bullying, competing with the “have/have not” crowd. The students are able to learn more than what is written in a book. They are learning life skills, survival skills, communication, collaboration, global and creative thinking skills , all through virtual learning. Please, for the sake of unity, allow our students to continue to have this opportunity!
My 2 daughters are enrolled in Loudoun County Public Schools. They are in 8th and 10th grade, and neither has received in person education since March 11, 2020. I am asking you to please pass SB1303 for them, and for every other student in the state of Virginia. Every child deserves a full and complete education. VDOE and Governor Northam made the decision to leave it up to the individual school districts to decide whether schools should be all virtual, hybrid, or fully in person. The concept behind that is understandable, due to varying local health conditions. However, Loudoun County Public Schools is not following CDC guidelines correctly, and they are not involving the Loudoun County Health Department's guidance. 9 school board members, none of whom are health experts, are determining what to do during a pandemic. This is not their area of expertise. They are making decisions based on feelings, and under pressure from the LEA and VEA, when they should be making decisions based on science and facts. The CDC says not to use the core indicators alone as regulatory requirements, but that is exactly what LCPS did for months. Our mitigation strategies were successful, but that didn't seem to matter. When school districts are not listening to the CDC and local health departments, it's time for the state to step it. It is time for Virginia leadership to stand up and be hands on. The state has been hands off for too long. Those students and their families who have medical reasons to be virtual, or those who are more comfortable being virtual, can still make that choice. For thousands of students across the state, in person in necessary. School districts have the resources to implement proper mitigation strategies. Our district already did, but kept students out anyway. Virginia is obligated to educate its children. It is their right, and it as been withheld from thousands of them for far too long. Say yes to this bill. Say yes to educating every child in Virginia.
Open the schools
PLEASE vote to bring our students back to school NOW. I do not care to continue to pay taxes for DL. Kids are failing, are very depressed and many school districts have shown that it is safe. It is a shame that these children lost 1 year of school because of a few who are petrified of a virus that is 99.9% survivable. Many are moving out of VA to states that have the stomach for in-person learning. I can take my kid shopping at the outlet mall but not to school. Please vote for 1303 to pass. Thank you!
Please get our kids back into their schools so they can learn. Hold Virginia and FCPS schools accountable,. We can no longer afford to pay taxes to run FCPS schools (pay teachers and administrators), while doing the work of FCPS schools (administrators and educators) ourselves from our homes. If administrators and teachers no longer want to provide our children with the education to which they are entitled, in the school buildings we have funded, then let us have school choice. It is unconscionable (after a full year now) to continue to take money from families for a job that is no longer being done. Just because teachers are “working from home” doesn’t meant this is working for children or families. Public schools exist first and foremost to educate children (not to employ adults). If FCPS no longer wants to educate children in a way that works for the children and families in person, parents should have the choice to spend their hard earned tax dollars elsewhere to educate their children appropriately. We all have our jobs to do and it is time that the Virginia public schools get back to work on behalf of the children and parents they were created to serve.
Please PASS this bill! Our students have been deprived of a quality education for almost a year now. It's having a huge impact on their grades and on their attitude toward schooling in general, and because of the fact that the schools are closed - they mental health is at risk! The science supports that schools CAN REOPEN safely. So many offices and organizations never closed, the private schools and daycare centers have been able to function full time, and there is no reason for our schools not to be able to fully open and teach our kids in person! Thank you for your support!
I hope this bill doesn’t go through. My children are thriving, learning a lot, and being safe. Thanks to the dedicated teachers and the family support system. I will not lie, it’s not easy. However, in times of pandemic, we have to be flexible.
Please PASS this bill. Our children have been denied their right to an education for the last 11 months. Virtual learning is NOT an education. Children are expected to sit in front of a computer screen to “learn” for 6+ hours, against all screen time guidelines issued by the APA. Our school district tells us that based on test scores children have not declined academically, while this is good news, schools provide more than just academics. A child has social/emotional needs that are a huge part of their education. No test will tell you a child is suffering emotionally and the long term effects this will have on each child. We cannot measure the damage “virtual” school is causing our children. My academically advanced children are suffering. Get EVERY kid back IN school, IN person, EVERY day.
With a survival rate of 98% and with children being young and healthy immune systems we need the choice to have them in school. I have four boys their lives have changed drastically. I am in the front lines as I am a health care worker and those that have passed it is sad but if they had had the flu they would have passed also. We are not the ones that control how long people live and when they pass. This bill needs to pass to give children a choice of life and to live it. Three of my four sons have Lyme disease and they're in the immune compromised position. My college student that graduated with honors of 4.0 from a community college has now shut down It has severe depression and does not want to attend college or go to school because the media has made him so desperately afraid of this disease that he will die. This fear mongering has to stop. We need to not be afraid of living because of a disease that has 98% survival rate. My 17-year-old high school son also suffers now from depression. He went from being an a student in all of his classes and outgoing went in school to no friends and in the house virtually because our county won't open and has a FEA that does not want to have teachers back in school. He is now suicidal. He NEEDS to be back in school! My college son NEEDS to be in class! Electrical engineers can NOT learn virtual. Pass this bill and get our kids back in school where they belong five days a week not one not two five days a week! Kids need to have social skills they need to learn to work together with other people they need to be trained in different skill levels to thrive and become productive adults do not do this to our kids. If we're afraid all the time of living we might as well be dead already. Please for all our children's sake pass this bill. For our grandchildren that are growing up in a world so screwed up please pass this bill. Our children are depending on it and our future depends on it. Please do the right thing. Thank you!
Please bring our students back 5 days a week. Our students have suffered enough from both a mental health perspective and a quality of education perspective. The teachers have received vaccinations and other mitigating factors have been put in place. It is time for our students to be back to school 5 days a week. WJCC school board and superintendent have done a terrible job with no leadership and execution plan at all. It is a disgrace to our district and the state.
Please open our schools to in-person instruction - two options 5 days normal schedule (with mitigations) or 5 days virtual. Make it a family choice. All the fancy plans in the middle just don't get the job done - they are inadequate instructional choices. Require schools to open if they can meet the minimum standards - 3 ft. spacing between desks, masks, no sick kids allowed, and hand washing - instead of allowing systems to do virtual/hybrid because they are trying to meet the ideal standard 100% of the time - i.e. 6 feet spacing. If schools cannot open, require them to prove why they cannot open, so those deficits can be immediately identified & fixed. Our kids need to be educated. They need to be socialized. They need to be physically active. Big kids & little kids & everything in between. Get them back into school in-person - it has been nearly a year of virtual & it is failing our next generation miserably.
While the goals of this bill are admirable, providing in-person instruction needs to be done in a safe manner, when community rates of infection are low enough to make risk of transmission less likely and/or when broad-based community testing is easily available to catch cases early enough so that spread can be avoided. We definitely missed our opportunity to prioritize school opening last year, but let's not compound that error by putting teachers, staff, students and student families unnecessarily at risk now. Since community conditions vary widely across Virginia, a statewide mandate is not the smart way to deal with this situation. While not having access to in-person learning is a problem, not having access to friends and family because they die from Covid is a bigger problem that is easy to avoid.
Please open schools to in person learning. I have lost faith in our local administration and feel that we need the state to intervene on our behalf. The social, mental health and educational impact to our children will be felt for years to come. My senior has spent the last year "learning" from his bedroom and I'm quite frankly concerned for his readiness for college. As one senior stated when asked what they learned in the past year - they said: "I learned how to pass my classes without doing a thing." Is this what we really want for our kids? Please pass SB 1303 so that parents who choose, can send their children back to school.
Please vote in favor of bill 1303 and allow for a choice of in-person learning and virtual in all Virginia schools. Our kids need to go back!
A big NO to this bill.
We have failed our children in this pandemic for a year - it's time we do better. We have a chance to show our children, parents and families that children DO matter. They have taken on enough of the burden that it's time we put their interests and their education first.
Please pass SB1303! All we parents are asking for is a choice - a choice that was taken away from us and is now safe to offer. Not all students are thriving in a distance learning environment and their parents deserve the option to send them to receive an in-person education, to which they are entitled. Please stand beside Virginia families and pass this bill.
Schools have been closed for a lmost a year. Clear direction was not given at the state level to help them open. Many counties are now letting the education associations influence them. Kids are suffering from mental health issues and learning loss. Schools can be opened and need to be opened.
I do not recognize Virginia anymore. I do not recognize my country anymore. The United States was built on the foundation of freedom! Freedom to speak, freedom of choice, freedom of religion, etc. The government is supposed to PROTECT OUR FREEDOMS and not take them away. Not allowing parents to chose whether their child can obtain in-person learning or distance learning is fundamentally wrong and does not represent the spirit of our country. We cannot give up our freedom so we can live inside shrouded in fear. Please join me in the fight for the mental, emotional and academic well being of our children. All we are asking for is a CHOICE. Clark County in Las Vegas, NV has had 18 suicides due to 100% distance learning and the youngest child was 9 years old. Doesn't that prove that staying home does more psychological harm than good? Are we going to wait for Virginia children to die from suicide before we open our schools?
My children have been in school since September. Get all the kids back in school! Arlington schools (supposedly the best schools in the state) have their kids sitting at home learning less than 2 hrs a day. My sister works full time and her 3 kids are online. Tell me how her Kindergartener is sharing, hands on learning, learning how to be a good citizen online! And forget that she has to pay a day care to supervise their online learning. Not all parents can sit at home and monitor their children. My daughter who was 5 this summer was depressed. She hadn’t been in school since March. She loved her teacher and cried that she would never have her again. She missed seeing her friends and going to school. She is an extrovert and needed to be around other kids. She would lash out in anger, call herself “stupid” and the “worst” for what seemed to be for no reason. She stopped skipping, humming, singing and dancing which was her usual MO. I am so glad Bedford County went back to school 5 days a week in September. I thank the Lord she is back with a teacher full time and with her peers. Her academics have been stunted, though, the absence of true instruction from March -May. I can’t even imagine if she had missed more. Her whole class is behind where they should be. They experienced the summer slide + 3 mos. Mental health issues for children is going to rise unbelievably. Give parents the choice. The choice for virtual or in person. The teachers in Bedford county want to be there. They aren’t scared. And they were given the option to teach online if necessary. We need teachers for both modes of instruction.
Please pass SB1303. I, along with many others in Falls Church City, have been advocating since last summer for a return to school. Local leadership has largely ignored our pleas, and it's pretty clear that we won't get our kids back in school without a push from the state. We are counting on you to pass SB1303 to help us locally, where we the citizens are feeling powerless to effect change without you. Many studies have shown that a return to school does not increase community transmission and in may cases, the transmission rates in schools are actually LOWER than in the community at large. Why is this being ignored? Our children are SUFFERING. They are being robbed of a quality education and important social experiences critical for their development. Further, private schools in our own jurisdiction and both private and public schools around the country (and world) have figured out how to open schools safely. By leaving our schools closed, you are causing the next generation of Virginians to woefully fall behind. How will our kids remain competitive when they are being denied a quality education for so long? You have the power to help by passing SB1303. Please do so and set our children on a path of healing that will allow them to recover, grow and ultimately succeed. Thank you.
Online learning does not work for our youngest learners. For new-to-school students, the greatest benefits of being in school are socialization with their peers and new friends, learning the routines and procedures, and essentially, learning how to be a student and part of a classroom community. As a former teacher, I know firsthand how important it is to build that classroom community, and it is not happening to its fullest extent when our children are isolated at home in front of a screen. Our son (and no doubt many other children his age) began the school year looking forward to starting kindergarten. He was excited to buy school supplies, pack his backpack, and pick out a new lunch box. He couldn't wait to meet his teacher, get on the school bus, and find out what friends would be in his class. He couldn't wait to be a big kid and GO to school. Now, several months into virtual learning, that enthusiasm is dimming. He does not look forward to sitting, alone, in front of the computer. He only knows his teachers and classmates through the screen. He feels lonely and alone, and his attitude towards school in this form is increasingly negative. I implore you, on behalf of our youngest learners: please offer an in-person learning option for the families and children who need the in-person connection with their teachers and peers.
Parents and more importantly students, need to have the option of being back in school 5 days a week. Those who are mot comfortable with being back in the building should have the option to continue DL from home. Kids mental health is just as important as adults. This has gone on far too long and at the expense of our children. The science and data needs to be followed. We’ve had many months to watch school districts that have opened before us and the CDC, AAP, etc all agree it is safe with mitigation in place. Time to get back to school.
Please, don’t allow this bill to pass. I would like my kid to stay healthy and my parents to be alive. The most most important lesson of this situation, is to learn to care for others. Almost 500,000 people died of COVID in this country so far. We don’t need any more funerals! Let the vaccine process make progress and then bring the students at schools.
Please support this bill. Our children are suffering from a lack of in-person school. Virtual school may be working for some children, but not for many others. They are essentially being deprived of a public education, not to mention the severe emotional and mental health problems that are occurring from this isolation. Dr. Avula and Dr. Fauci both say children should be back in school. The data and the science supports it. Many public and private schools have opened in-person and are thriving. There is no reason that all schools cannot open. Schools have spent thousands of dollars on PPE that they are not using. If you continue to fund the schools, they will have no incentive to open without a bill such as SB1303. Please put our children's interests first.
If public schools cannot commit to finding a way for kids to be in school 5 days a week, then parents should get the financial allotment to send their child to private or otheropportunities. Private schools have been in school 5 days a week. This school closure has put m8dfle-class and economically disadvantaged families in a horrible situation. Further, if the NFL can have 25 thousand spectators we can find a way to get kids back on the playing fields. Lack of sports is increasing the childhood obesity. These closures will have serious ramifications for decades, especially for the lost kids we will never get back. It's like politicians don't talk to their community social services, pediatricians, or law enforcement. All three entities can tell you the problemis caused by school closures. Appalling that the same politicians that claimed, "follow the science" now refuse to follow the science. We now know that it's "follow the science when it's convenient for the politicians, unions, or other groups we want money from."
Virtual learning has been detrimental to our children’s brain, eye & physical development. It has negatively impacted their social and emotional health, resulting in a spike in depression and anxiety. Academically, children are struggling & having more stress due to all the increased screen time and test retakes due to this inferior mode of instruction. Kids need face to face interaction with teachers and fellow peers for collaboration and better understanding of the academic subjects. In person education will allow more opportunities for our children to grow into well rounded individuals versus just the attempt to learn academic subjects through a screen. Forced, isolated virtual school is child abuse on the grandest scale & should not be allowed any longer. Please require the choice of 5 days a week traditional in person education. Thank you, Monica Bishop
Please vote for this bill. Children and their families need options and schools need to open. I expect that some parents will continue to select a virtual school but many parents and children need in person school to happen YESTERDAY. My own children have been in person 5 days a week since September at a Catholic school. Prior to that, we had to seek counseling and urgent assistance for them due to extreme mental health decline from school closures and lack of activities for children. Our school has been successful at being in person and my children are now thriving, however, their public school peers are not. They are lagging in behind in academics and, across the board, are suffering from isolation and mental health issues. The Arlington Public School Board is incompetent. They have repeatedly ignored the science and pleas of parents and have not made sufficient progress to re-open on any scale that is remotely acceptable. Even our "Level 1" special needs students allowed in school sit with an aid while their teacher is remote and they are unable to receive in person services. They and other Arlington students are losing time they can not simply make up. VOTE YES for this Bill.
Parents shouldn’t be forced to send their children back, if they don’t feel comfortable. Personally, my child is striving with virtual school. His anxiety is low and he feels happier and more confident. We, as parents, provide the social interaction with his close friends on a weekly basis. We take care of our in-laws who are older and have underlying health conditions (and we all Covid last year). Both grandparents had pneumonia and one ended in the ICU (with the Lord’s blessing, he pulled through and is home with us now). But, we don’t want to put our family at risk. Virtual education should be allowed from now on for parents like us. Particularly, when all Fairfax County Public Schools are overcrowded, HVAC systems are horrible (my kids were always sick when school was in person, pre-covid), and the school buildings are old and small for the number of students held.
I am a parent of a middle school student who has struggled this year, but I understand that things are not normal - we are in the middle of a pandemic that is claiming lives daily. I want my kid to return to school, but only when it is safe for her, teachers and administrators to do so. I believe that returning to school before we have met the basic health measures set by our school districts and state may be detrimental to lives. Let's all do our part and slow down the spread of this virus and return to school when it's safe. Otherwise, the message that we are sending to our kids is that they should not prioritize their health over production (school, work, etc.), and the message we send to teachers is that they don't matter. I also want to add that my kid has special needs and has an IEP, an element that increases her need to return to school, but not until it is safe for her to do so.
Please get our kids back in school!! I have a (current) 3rd and 1st grader and am a full time working parent. My biggest concern is that kids are learning to HATE school because of the current situation. My 1st grader cries daily. I know he will catch up in reading and math (but make no mistake that he is behind specifically b/c of time out of the classroom and is now taking extra resources from the school in the form of reading and speech intervention), but if we kill these kids love of learning, or inherent desire to want to learn - that is a deficit that we will never come back from. There are options for people who are not comfortable being back in person, and that's great and they deserve to make that choice for their family. But we NEED an option for people whose kids NEED to be back in school with educators who are vaccinated and ready to be there too. We deserve an option for our kids too that allows them to be in the classroom 100% of the time! My 3rd grader has been in school FOUR days in the last year. That is unacceptable to me. Please vote to return our kids to school full time!
Hello, I'm sending this email as a parent of Arlington Public Schools. Since June, hundreds of us have been working tirelessly to open our public schools. We have sent thousands of emails, spoken hundreds of times at school board meetings, and pestered our superintendent and Chief of Staff to ensure they are following VDOE, VDH and Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health guidelines for safe return to school. As a result, APS has met or exceeded ALL guidelines. We then priority vaccinated all APS teachers. They have their own designated tranche of vaccines. In fact, over 50% of the vaccines given in Arlington thus far have been given to APS teachers. Yet a vocal group of teachers, backed by the Arlington Education Association, still refuse to return to the classroom. Now they are apparently colluded with one of our school board members to create a sham survey to further prevent return to school. They are bullying other teachers who want to return into silence. They are asking for concessions far and above what is required for safe return. The level of insanity of what is going on is beyond my comprehension. I'm a lifelong Democrat and the daughter of a public school teacher. The degree of hysteria, disgusting privilege and entitlement on display by the teachers' association, and a group of teachers is astounding. Why would we prioritize them for the vaccine if not to return THEM to the classroom to teach as soon as possible? It has opened my eyes to the sick level of power deployed by teachers' associations, and I believe that nothing short of ironclad legislation will get them to a) follow the science and b) stop the endless concession-grabbing and open our school doors. I won't bore you with the overwhelming research showing in-person school is safe w/ the mitigations APS has implemented, or the devastating effects of remote teaching--I see it every day with my son. **PLEASE, I'm literally begging you: pass this bill! There has never been a more urgent need for our children's mental, physical and academic health, nor a more flagrant disregard for science, ethics and common decency by teachers (not all, but enough) and teachers' associations. People will literally die in Arlington because they were not able to get the vaccine, because it was given to teachers and they still won't return. We must MAKE them return, or else they must be terminated. Thank you.
Please vote in favor of bill 1303 and allow for a choice of in-person learning and virtual in all Virginia schools.
Our middle and high school students need full-time in-person opportunities IMMEDIATELY! Many classes at a high school level such as labs, music education, and technology courses are hand-on and require in-person learning. Virtual classes cannot replicate the soft skills and intrapersonal relationships that face-to-face education encourages. There is more to education than just learning facts. Our teens are missing out on fundamental knowledge and experiences that children in other states with full-time in-person learning are receiving. This is putting them at a great disadvantage when it comes to being competitive for college or even the real world. The science says kids aren't super-spreaders. There are so many reports out there are mental health decline and academic performance decline. The CDC, WHO, Dr. Fauci, our President all say it's safe to open our schools! Why is Virginia refusing to listen and acknowledge the science right in front of their nose?! All other essential employees are going to work and doing their jobs except teachers. Teachers want more respect and higher pay, yet they hide behind the VEA and their local agencies and refuse to do their jobs. Teaching has never been risk free! Teachers are now being offered the vaccine, so there are no more excuses! It's time to stop living in fear and do their jobs or quit. Teaching is about KIDS FIRST and doing what's best for the kids--not the teachers. It's time Virginia gets it's priorities straight and get kids back into the schools NOW!!! Stop making excuses and figure it out like other states have!
Please support this bill and get kids back in school 5 days a week. Follow the science. The CDC and AAP have said that you can open schools safely. Children and teachers can mask and maintain their distance. Scientists have said that schools are one of the safest place for children. Distance learning is NOT working for many students and they need an in-person option. It can be done and is being done all around us. Private schools in our area have been open since August. Daycares run by Parks & Rec in Loudoun County IN OUR SCHOOLS have been open this entire time. It can be done and we must start putting the children first.
As a healthcare professional who has been working in a hospital throughout the pandemic, I believe it is imperative for schools to open to any and all students that want to go back to in person instruction. Not only has virtual learning been ineffective in advancing students’ education, the lack of socialization and “normalcy” of being around teachers and peers has impacted the mental health of countless children. With masks, increased cleaning, start of vaccinations, and better mitigation strategies than we’ve ever had, it is now time that schools open and REMAIN open.
Requiring an in person learning option for those families that choose it is critical for our students. Especially for the younger learners in elementary grades who, as evidenced by the last year of distance learning, are falling behind in their progress and to which the hours of screen time required for virtual learning is incredibly detrimental to their development. Please pass this bill and require all local school divisions to make in person learning available at all times. The choice should lie with the parents to determine which choice is best for their child and family. Requiring distance learning for all children is not fair nor does it give equal access to education for ALL students.
I am writing in support of this bill asking for students to be back in the school buildings. Our students have missed a significant amount of education through distance-learning and that deficit is going to be difficult to overcome. The CDC and other guidelines have proven that there is little spread occurring in schools, and school systems should be required to offer five days, in person, learning for any family that wants it. Continue to offer distance-learning for any family who feels the need for that, but those that wish to be in the school building should be given that opportunity five days a week
Distance Learning is an inadequate platform to meet students needs. Students and families need the option for in person instruction, Making this a requirement at the state level would ensure that all students in Virginia are getting a high quality education. Currently only certain districts and private schools are providing in person education. This is a great disadvantage to our student. Countless studies and experts agree that schools are the safest place for our students. Continuing to allow schools to operate in an online only platform is unnecessary and a waste of money. I have watched my own children suffer trying to learn on a computer for nearly a year. They have become withdrawn and depressed. They suffer eye and back problem and dread school. Please help our children get back in school and back on track,
Please vote NO on SB 1303 SB 1303 does not take a school district’s locality into consideration when making decisions about re-opening school buildings to students. This important decision should be made by the school board in conjunction with the state and county health departments and guided by the CDC’s recommendations for safely re-opening schools.
Please support this bill and get kids back in school 5 days a week. There are no more excuses and our children desperately need it. CDC says it’s safe. CDC says teachers don’t need the vaccine. Kids are not affected by the virus like people with pre-existing conditions. The vaccine does not stop transmission anyway. Masks don’t work. We need to get back to normal. For everyone’s mental health. And to stay healthy and strong.
It is time to reopen schools. The experts have provided the knowledge of how to safely re open. It is being done successfully in other districts. We can do it safely. The children have suffered quietly long enough. It was imperative that the schools were once closed but it is time to re open. We are the adults, we can follow protocols, we can protect our children....this is what educators and communities have always done...it’s time to do it again. Teachers are vaccinated ...open the schools!
Please consider reopening schools to in person. As a parent of a 504 child, the online option is giving my 17 year old anxiety and stress that should not be placed on a child. Also not to mention the social isolation this causes. I feel there is a large loss in learning and we need to move forward with opening schools. Private schools have been functioning without any issues. I know the classes are smaller, but we need to go back to normal. Thank you.
It’s not about how kids are adjusting academically to online learning, it’s how it is affecting their mental health. They are lonely, isolated, not paying attention. Kids need their peers, they need to get back to being kids again. Online learning may work at the college level, but it isn’t working at the grade school level. Let the kids be kids again! Open the schools!
Please pass this bill. Our students deserve to have education in person.
Our kids need to be back to in school instruction. They are not learning well online, not at the level they would in person. The CDC has said it is safe. Our teachers unions are resisting it and throwing every excuse why teachers don't want to or need to do their jobs, but we need to force policy to back KIDS FIRST. Teachers need to step up or step aside and let our schools educate our kids. If we need to recruit more teachers, we can do that, but our kids are suffering while teachers are sitting at home and hiding behind covid. The vaccine has been offered to them and even without the vaccine CDC says kids in school are not the super-spreaders rumored that they would be. Many studies have supported this fact. Also we are ignoring mental.emotional health impact on kids forced to be in exclusion. They need the support they get from special activities, sports, and yes their regular teachers. Home is not a safe place for all of our kids and schools were that safe place for many who now are isolated, abused, depressed, anxious, and suicidal. Our local area has had 2 student suicides in the last couple of months but no COVID deaths for youth. We need to value our children enough to say that they are essential and their learning in person is also essential. Allow for online learning for those who don't feel safe but get the rest of our kids back to in person school 5 days a week NOW.
After schools in Arlington being closed almost a year, it is imperative that schools reopen for in person instruction. Private schools in our area have never closed, and have operated safely. Our kids are struggling academically and emotionally—-they need to be learning in person, at school. I have never considered myself a one issue voter, until now.
Please vote to support SB 1303. Students in LCPS have been learning virtually for almost a year and it does not work for every child. Experts say it is safe for in person learning and there are many school districts around the country providing this option to families. We need to start putting students first. Their education is vital for the future. As a former teacher, it is clear that valuable instruction time has been lost this past year. There are no opportunities for differentiation and critical thinking. Please support this bill so that students who need an in person learning option can receive it.
Please push to pass this bill. Our young learners are not able to sit in front of a computer screen all day. While our teachers are doing amazing, it is virtually impossible to keep 5-10 year olds engaged for hours on end staring at a computer. Young children need to be physically in school. Many school districts all over the world are putting the importance of in-school learning first- please require that every school district be required to have in-person learning five days a week! Our children are counting on wonderful people in public office to make this happen! Thank you!
Hello, On behalf of my children and other children in the state of Virginia, please consider supporting this bill. My young elementary-aged child would greatly benefit from an educational, social and emotional perspective with schools being fully open and taught in person by their teachers. We’ve seen success stories at private schools, daycares and public schools in other districts. Thank you, Caitlin and Matthew Cash
It is imperative that schools are open NOW. Virtual school is still going to be a choice to those families that insist their families continue to learn this way but not moving to provide safe, in person education to our children when all of the science says it is possible and recommended is a travesty. The toll virtual learning has taken on our children is heartbreaking from all perspectives; academic, emotional, and social. We have learned how to safely live with this pandemic present but will we recover from this true second wave pandemic that you have created?
Please vote to mandate in-person instruction for all students. The closure of PWCS for the past year has placed an unacceptable and unnecessary burden on working families. While families have ALWAYS had the choice to educate their children outside the public school system (i.e. homeschool, Virtual Virginia, private school), I never imagined I would be forced to be one of them. We loved our local school and - with the passage of this bill - hope we can again when it is reopened full time for my two little boys.
I am writing to plead your support to make in person learning mandatory. My son is a Junior in High School and has not stepped foot inside a classroom since last March-almost a full year! Our children need to learn face to face not by staring at a computer screen. The quality of the education he has been receiving is ridiculous. Many days, it is just 15-20 minutes of instruction when the class is scheduled to be 90 minutes. I know some teachers are trying hard but also know some are hardly trying. The social aspect is another reason as well. These kids need to develop relationships and understanding of each other. These are skills that will be used their entire life. My son should be looking at colleges right now but honestly may not be ready. Please allow him and force them (the school board) to be face to face and get a quality education. I am not asking for much- but please give him a chance!
Requiring face to face instruction is critical. Saying no to this bill and requiring face to face availability is the easy way out. The school board and superintendent need to find a way to "yes." Our children are suffering. We can do it!
School is open, educators are teaching, and students are learning. Just because physical buildings are closed does not mean schooling has flat lined. I have students who have are part of their school community and grown reading levels. I have students who are learning valuable 21st century skills as well as creative thinking skills. Teachers are not given much say in the decision making process in our county, yet we are scapegoated as the reason for pausing return to school building efforts. We love your children and want to go back to the buildings, but only when it’s safe. If you have children, please ask yourself - do you want your child in the building but still on the computer, in a full time mask and at least 6 feet away from friends who cannot play with in a traditional way? Do you want to commit to mitigation strategies in your own home with diligence so the school community can stay safe? Do you want your child’s teacher to fear for her/his life, which may cause unnecessary stress on top of the typical stress of teaching? Please consider what you are asking of your child and other members of your community if they come back to the school building during a pandemic.
Williamsburg James City County Schools has been in a remote learning setting for almost one year, as the schools closed in March 2020. With the exception of 8 days of in person learning last October on a hybrid schedule, we have been forced to stay home for education. Its been a complete disappointment to say the least. I have a second grader who thrives attending school in person. The past year has been extremely challenging for the entire family. I work part time so thankfully I can stay home to sit beside her and help with assignments, because that is truly what it takes to get her through a day of school at home. I also care for a child under the age of 2. The toll the pandemic has caused is devastating for so many. We need to bring back in person learning for these kids as soon as possible FULL TIME, five days a week. If we do not our kids with only suffer more academically and emotionally. I feel as if our school system has let us down this year and unfortunately there is no plan in sight for next year. Enough is enough.
Our children need to get back to school. All the science is saying it’s safe. Private and Catholic schools are doing it all over the county with no problem. Fairfax county school board has failed our children miserably but we need to move on from that. Please help us get a plan in please so we can start to reopen schools and get the teachers and students back. Especially now that the teachers are being vaccinated. Thank you
Please allow students to continue virtual learning until this virus is under control. My MS child is doing very well. She is able to learn without any distractions and can get extra help when needed. I'm concerned for those children who have compromised health and being exposed to the virus. We need to keep school a choice right now until the transmission of the virus is under control.
I ask that you support this bill. All kids need to be in school. I have watched my son deteriorate over the past year .. physically, mentally and socially. He is a Junior in High School and has not stepped foot inside a classroom since March 2020. I understand everyone has been doing the best they can, but this decision for education should not be left up to the individual school boards. We need help!! We need a promise of consistency. We need our kids in school!! Please help us!
Vote NO for SB 1003. The society has to commit to behavior that stops spreading the COVID-19. Among other factors, staying away from others is a key ! Schools are integral part of our community and viruses and other diseases don’t magically stop at the front door. Education is important but only healthy kids can learn. Also, kids cannot make progress if their teachers are sick or dead. Help overcome the pandemic.
SB 1303 does not take a school district’s locality into consideration when making decisions about re-opening school buildings to students. This important decision should be made by the school board in conjunction with the state and county health departments and guided by the CDC’s recommendations for safely re-opening schools. Please vote no on SB 1303.
SB 1303 attempts to use a one size fits all approach to to learning in a pandemic. There is no equity in forcing schools to provide in person instruction without considering differences between localities, especially when considering something like community spread. Decisions to have buildings open for in person instruction should be left up to local school divisions with guidance from state and local health departments. Please remember that schools have been open, it’s just looked different. While we all want some normalcy back in our lives, we aren’t guaranteed that simply by forcing an in-person option, especially one where mitigation strategies will force children to be learning in much the same ways they were virtually, for the sake of health and safety.
Please provide five days a week of schooling for our children. My oldest has turned inward and doesn’t know how to socialize and my youngest, with learning disabilities, is not thriving in this environment. Please reopen schools!!
Veterans with PTSD are at home with their kids during DL, even if hybrid was selected. Why? We served our country and simply desire our children to be taught in the classrooms to bring back a sense of normalcy. We served and protected our country, we humbly request public education do the same for our children. Serve them and protect them, in the classrooms, with a quality education. Don't make the children suffer because adults are failing them by not following the rules in the community. Show them that they matter too and aren't being left behind. Children are our hope and their hearts matter too. Our voice, our choice. Kids need to be back in the schools, it is inexcusable to have a year off of in person instruction because of failed leadership. Our kids need heroes too. And to not feel abandoned. Vote yes on SB 1303 and show us the respect our children deserve.
I urge the Education Committee to pass this bill to help clean up the virtual education mess it created last year and follow the science to affirm by statute public school students' right to a continuously maintained high quality (i.e full time, in person) education to which they are entitled under the Virginia constitution.
Please support this bill and get kids back in school 5 days a week. There are no more excuses and our children desperately need it.
I humbly ask that you approve this bill. Our children need to be back in school Full Time 5 days a week. We have had 7 suicides since the close of school. The most recent was an 18 year old on Feb 2. Please, put children’s academic and mental needs as a top priority. Our county is asking for more money for less students. This county is missing 500 students that they cannot find. We have school board members who do not care, who have been caught sleeping on camera during board meetings as children plead to get their schools open. I again ask you to approve this bill for our children. This is truly now a matter of every child being left behind. This is not what Virginia should have happen to the next generation of leaders. Respectfully Erin Roselle Poe
The state created our problem in March, 2020 by shuttering the schools statewide. It's time for the state to set a baseline expectation in STATUTE for the most basic requirement of every school district in the Commonwealth: to offer an in-person education option for students. The Governor's request last week that schools put kids in the buildings by March 15 is nice, but it isn't STATUTE. FCPS will allow some students to attend 2 days a week in March 2021,, but it's not teacher led instruction. FCPS is allowing the vacvinated teachers to stay home while the children in the classroom stare at her on their computers. T Please push the Education Committee to support this legislation!
All children need to be back in schools 5 days a week.
The Commonwealth created our current mess when it mandated in March 2020 that all school districts shutter for in-person learning for at least the rest of that school year without any plan or strategy to re-open, effectively leaving the local school districts, and specifically FCPS, to figure their way out of it. The Commonwealth's default position to "keep schools closed" has paralyzed local school boards, as COVID cases mounted and media stories emphasized new public restrictions. Parents and children seemed to have no chance or voice that's why it's imperative that a Statute requiring in person learning be passed. It is my opinion that it is the responsibility of the lawmakers within the Commonwealth, who originally created the school closure mandate, to send a STRONG message to FCPS and other school districts across the Commonwealth, as well as to the teacher's unions who continually move the goal post with their never ending demands to RTS; that they are INDEED expected to resume in-person (5-day week) education as soon as possible with no backsliding with the passage of SB1303. The VA Constitution, in Section VIII, requires the state to provide for a public school system AND that it "shall ensure that an educational program of high quality is established and continuously maintained." Virtual education has been clearly demonstrated to be suboptimal--and FCPS has clearly said that repeatedly at this point, evidenced by lost learning and failing grades. Not to mention the mental health factors facing our children being shuttered away from any social interaction. Due to these deficiencies in virtual learning, the Commonwealth has an obligation to live up to its constitutional requirement to ensure an educational program of "high quality" that is "continuously maintained." Respectfully, Mrs. BARRETT I have included some links for your review detailing new data and opinions of the Director of the CDC as well as detailed accounts by teachers of why it is imperative to have students in school.
I am in favor of continuing to provide online learning for any student/ family that requests or requires it. Families should have a choice in how they want their student’s educated. My child has flourished with virtual learning, despite it being a Pandemic ,and despite not being in close proximity to his friends. As a parent I provided peer interaction with quarantined classmates, I would also provide counseling and medical treatment for my child if he appeared depressed due to the Pandemic. I wish virtual instruction was an option for us at the start of his middle school career. He is able to voice his opinions, learn without distractions, receive immediate one on one instruction and rapid feedback. His teachers have been great with providing instruction in a way that he is able to absorb the information and demonstrate understanding. It would be inequitable to remove the option for virtual instruction, now that it is proven that it can be done and with fidelity. The parents that want in- person instruction have a choice, but it should not override my student’s choice. They do not speak for my child or my network’s children. Virtual instruction takes students closer to the 21st century and models how communication and learning may appear in college and the workforce. To take away this well funded opportunity would be taking a step back for many. Not every student with special needs, , nor honor student requires in- person learning . School systems have spent millions to equip students with technology , please do not take a step back and require all of them to sit the computer in the corner, in exchange for lectures and peer interaction. Every school ( middle and high school) after everyone receives the vaccine, and after Covid- should have a virtual school or academy option. Half of the parents despise virtual instruction, but what about the minority that saw the benefits of this type of instruction, and wants it to continue for their children. Families should have the right to continue the progress in the virtual environment, teachers should have the right to teach in a forum in which they received training and many mastered in a Pandemic. In- person has left many students behind, if you need evidence, refer to the SOL’s. Virtual instruction just made the fallacies of in-person instruction a reality for many parents that were not aware of their students’s ability or inability to engage, participate and comprehend instruction. Many are unfairly blaming virtual instruction when in fact their student is struggling , because they were also struggling in-person or they require teacher prompts and checking to attend, and no one at the home can provide that resource or incentive. Students that require socialization at the middle and high school level do not depend on it during their content learning, that is usually facilitated during lunch, hallway passing and activities. The same can be provided for virtual students that should have an option to participate in activities and sports. Please keep this vital form of instruction in place; and make virtual instruction a required option for all school districts to provide, and present to all of the families they serve. Virtual instruction should be a funded and provided choice during the 21-22 school year and beyond. Thank you for your time and consideration.
I support all children in FCPS returning to school. My daughter has been doing virtual leaning for almost a year and enough is enough. She is suffering academically and emotionally and FCPS needs to reopen.
If CDC says we can open all schools safely, then we can. Please open schools, mitigate safety precautions and get our children back to the learning they deserve. It’s time
Children have been out of the classroom for nearly a year. Many of them are struggling with the isolation of virtual school. There is a new pandemic, an insidious pandemic and the continued isolation is exacerbating it. That pandemic is pediatric mental illness. Cases are skyrocketing and access to mental health care is even harder to come by than ever. As a pediatrician I see kids being amazingly resilient and holding themselves together, I see them with headaches and stomach aches when they don’t have the words to tell me that they are sad and anxious, and I see kids abusing drugs and alcohol to make the pain go away. Depression and anxiety make up the majority of the patients we see right now. They want to go back to school. They need contact with their friends and teachers. Research shows us it is safe to be in schools. Safe for both students and teachers. Teachers are more likely to contract Covid teaching virtually than in the classroom. As a parent, I have kids who need sped services and gifted services. They are fortunate to have parents that can support both ends of the spectrum. What about the families that are not as privileged as mine? Families whose children need services that the school usually provides. Please leave virtual school in place for those teachers and children at the highest risk but for the vast majority of teachers and students the safest place is in school. We need to put the brakes on the mental health pandemic that is damaging far more kids than Covid. In person school needs to be provided so parents can return to work. In person school needs to be an option so we can close the equity gaps that are getting wider and wider. Please for the sake of our kids make in person school an option. It’s time.
I am dismayed by the push for a return to in person instruction and the discourse around educators. There has been a concerted effort to demonize teachers and other educators who do not wish to expose themselves and their families needlessly to a deadly and highly transmissible virus. There is endless talk of “mitigation” strategies, which basically forbid any kind of meaningful interaction between students or between students and staff. Covid-safe face to face learning is not more engaging than virtual learning. Those clamoring to “reopen” ignore those students who have thrived in distance learning and refuse to acknowledge that our educators HAVE been working hard to maintain educational continuity. It is hard to believe that policy makers have done an honest cost-benefit analysis of pushing a return to in-person. The ostensible benefits involve socializing, which is difficult when you can’t see half of someone’s face and your teacher can’t get close to you to give you individual support. The cost, meanwhile, is high. Besides the obvious increase in covid cases, there is the cost of building maintenance, of cleaning supplies, and of a higher carbon footprint both from the high usage of cleaning supplies and of the increased traffic, which will probably include a lower share of buses and higher share of single occupancy motor vehicles. People need to be brutally honest about their motives in pushing a return to in person. The only difference between covid-safe in person learning and distance learning is location. The disrespect towards staff of schools, meanwhile, is appalling. Educators deserve better than to have their lives gambled with. The governor thinks “parents deserve a break”. He needs to understand that most educators are parents too. They and their children deserve a break too. For too long, all society’s ills have been shunted to schools and there is apathy for the stress educators are under and downright hostility now that educators worry about the safety of themselves and their families.
Over the last 11 months our school board, administrators and local legislators have done everything they can to silence parents. We will not be silenced and we will continue to fight like hell for our children that are suffering. They have been thrown in the middle of a battle between politics and science and they just want to go to school!! Over the course of the past year the entire purpose of the existence Fairfax County Public Schools has been diminished. Teachers are working part time (my sons second grade teacher works 4 hours / week the rest of his day is independent computer work! He’s 8!!!) for full time pay, parents are doing a majority of the teaching while also working full-time jobs and juggling children that aren’t self sufficient yet. And for what? So our children can sit in front of screens all day learning nothing? How does a local school board get to decide that the best solution to education during a pandemic is shoving laptops in the faces of 5 year old children? They’re torturing our kids and then patting themselves on the back and calling themselves a “caring culture” during school board meetings?! Virtual learning has been absolute hell for our early learners especially those who haven’t even learned to read yet. My husband is a physician and has been saying since last April that the lockdowns were never intended for the schools. The sole purpose was to not overwhelm our healthcare system. Now given that our educators are taking vaccines from more vulnerable groups and the covid numbers in Virginia have plateaued and are on the downward trajectory it is time to fully open our schools 5 days a week and most importantly IN-PERSON. For over a year now our doctors have operated on covid patients while unvaccinated, private schools have been fully open and operating as normal with the exception of everyone wearing masks and there have been no major outbreaks. Unfortunately, this pandemic has shed light on all the fraud, manipulation and corruption in our public school system and overshadowed what’s actually important here - OUR CHILDREN! They NEED to be around other kids, they need to be in a classroom with a teacher teaching not a screen! Suicide is on the rise, these kids are suffering mental, physical and emotional damage that will take years to repair. We’re just trading one crisis for the next. Please follow the science. Please listen to the doctors. Please listen to the parents. We implore you to vote YES on SB 1303 and make sure our children receive their right to a full time IN-PERSON public school education.
The CDC, AAP, and VA AAP all endorse that schools can and should open safely with the use of mitigation strategies. FCPS has received millions of dollars in CARES funds in addition to its already robust budget. FCPS has the means to open our school safely! Why are our children being held hostage? Please support this bill...our country's future depends on it!
My daughter has not stepped 1 foot inside her school in nearly 10 months. In my opinion, her senior year is the most important preparatory year for life as a college student. The only thing she has learned this year is that she means absolutely nothing to her school, her district and her state. She has been dumped on the street without so much as a, “goodbye”. This past fall during the college application and performing arts audition process, she could not even get email responses from several of her teachers when trying to secure recommendations, let alone any assistance in the audition process. The sad thing is that she attends a “performing arts academy”. Now as she approaches the last 4+ months of school, she doesn’t even want to talk to other people. She has lost the majority of her social skills. She has gone from a musical theatre performer, to an introvert who doesn’t like to leave her house. This is not related to a fear of the Corona Virus, it is because she has had very limited interaction with people. The system has failed my child, when it appears there is no scientific basis for doing so. A political agenda took precedence over my daughter’s success, and for that, anyone involved should be ashamed. All of our children are suffering. Some do not know it yet, but this year of virtual education has had an effect on every child. For some, the effects are already notable. You have a chance, by passing this legislation, to do the right thing. Get our children back to school, and give them some chance to correct the damage that has already been done. Give them a sense of normalcy and some awareness that their teachers care brought to be present for them. I would be happy to speak to any of you personally about very specific examples of how this year has failed my child, including 3 year olds attending class with teachers for AP classes and teachers not coming to class because they forgot they had appointments. None of this would be tolerated in person, but in the virtual setting anything goes. No cameras are on, and all my child sees is a blank screen. What a year this has been. Please do the right thing, for her sake, and all the others just like her.
Please support SB1303. In-person learning needs to be available to all students
SB 1303 ignores the differences from locality to locality in terms of COVID community spread and ability to successfully mitigate transmission within school buildings. The decision to open school buildings for in-person instruction should be left to local School Boards with guidance from the local and state health departments. Please vote no on SB 1303.
I have 4 children, all of which have been impacted by the decisions our school board and superintendent have made in relation to the pandemic. My oldest, and only daughter, lost the last half of her senior year and is now a first year college student. My sons are a junior, 7th grader, and 4th grader. Each of them impacted differently by the decisions of our school board and superintendent. My oldest son has been impacted the worst. A 4.0 student, he is struggling to learn, complete his work or even understand the topics he is being tested on. Fridays were removed as instruction days so our kids have lost 20% of their instruction time each week. As a nurse and my husband being a firefighter/medic, we have not stopped working. While my husband has some days that he is off during the school week, due to Covid, he has been held over for mandatory overtime often in order to fill the absences related to Covid. Some weeks he works 72 hours straight. We aren’t home to teach our kids. We are doing the best we can. We have also seen how it’s possible to be open for business and keep people safe. Nobody In our district leadership seems to care that the kids are struggling. The amount of kids failing 2 or more grades has nearly tripled from previous years. These kids need to be in school 5 days a week. Now our schools are announcing yet again that the kids will go back to school in a hybrid manner for 2 days in school, 2 days online at home and no Fridays. They are also making all instruction days half days so they can get the kids out before lunch so now even more instruction time is removed. This is not an education. Our tax dollars go towards this and we expect more. Please vote to open the schools 5 days a week for anyone that wants in person learning. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
In-person school is critical to my children's learning. My children have received only 8.2 weeks of instruction from professional teachers since last March. That little amount of schooling is unacceptable for our children. Virtual has not proven to be effective with my children. My historically straight A child has failed Chorus and As are a rarity. He used to push himself to obtain straight As. Now he doesn't care. His words, "the school doesn't care, why should I?"
I'm writing in support of opening schools and giving the option to those that want it to have face-to-face in-person instruction. Schools have been shown scientifically to not be linked to community spread. With the right mitigation process, it is safe for our children to return to school. Many children, especially young learners, are not equipped to learn through a computer screen. Virtual teaching is not effective.
I’m a divorced mom of three school-aged kids. Please open our schools. The science from around the world has consistently shown that schools are not hotbeds of disease at all. Studies performed before a vaccine was available to school staff or the general population have shown that adults who work in schools aren’t worse off. Being in-person at schools does not present an increased danger to community spread or to teachers’ health. Being a home, however, definitely increases the danger of food insecurity and domestic violence for children. It has demonstrably increased youth incidences of depression and anxiety—not sadness and worry, but clinical-level mental health issues as well as sleep disturbances and loneliness among our kids. Kids have lost literacy skills, content knowledge, and the crucial social skills—from cooperation to self-control—that most parents and citizens rely on schools to provide. For many years, parents have been admonished to limit screen time, to be suspicious of personal devices because of what neuroscience tells us about the negative effects attention-spans, sleep quality, concentration, and reading comprehension that come with increased screen time. We know that the colorful interfaces and literal bells and whistles of “apps” produce tiny hits of dopamine for our brains—making screen use very much akin to other addictive behaviors. Since the pandemic, parents have been asked to ignore all this evidence and years of warnings about screens breaking down stamina for learning and the social skills crucial to success in education and in society. We have been asked to pretend that poising our children for screen addiction is fine because we didn’t have a way of doing any other form of learning that was “safe.” My kids are hurting educationally, emotionally, and socially. They are despondent on some days and restless on most of them. My finances are strained from paying for childcare or “pod” learning so that I can work all day from home. My ability to care for myself so that I can be a patient single mom with a positive outlook—despite a global pandemic in society churning with division—is also under strain from having to co-teach my children, counsel my children, play with my children, be tech support for my children, be all things to my children. Not everything can open, sure. But school can. And with the return to in-person learning, working parents will be able to concentrate on work. Children will be in child-oriented environments where their support system of adults and peers can begin to restore needed insulation between the world of adult concerns and the world of learning, play, and discovery. Our children will be attempting to recover a lost year of instruction, but opening schools puts a stop to the size of that loss growing every day. Keeping kids out of schools has the highest negative learning impact on our state’s most vulnerable kids. The science is in and has been for months. Risks and known losses to children who are not given the option to learn in school far outweigh additional transmission risks associated with opening schools (while using masks and other precautions outlined by the CDC). The risk to teachers and to the community is almost negligible when it comes to incidences of viral infections linked to in-person learning . The risks and accumulating costs of denying children an in-person learning environment are known—not estimated—and steep indeed.
Please move forward with the push to open schools for K-12 . Thank you.
This is to encourage support this bill for all of the children of Virginia. I am concerned and quite frankly appalled that we’ve let this virtual “learning” go this far. Teenagers amd younger are having a hard time with this, not just the learning challenges, but that should be enough. I’m talking about mental health. How can a whole year out of a middle or high schooler’s life be taken away? It’s horrific how many children and teens have been coming to the emergency rooms a daily basis. It is multiple daily for emergency medical mental health care. Get the kids back in school we’re having some major problems out here. Teachers running the show ? Who’s the priority here?
The Commonwealth of Virginia closed schools statewide in March 2020. It's time for the state to require every school district in the Commonwealth to offer an in-person education option for students without further delay. Please support this legislation in statute to compel our school districts to take action to return students safely to in-person school. The future of our children depends on it.
We ask that you vote to pass this bill many children, my two included, have suffered greatly because of virtual leaning. Not only have they regressed educationally, they’ve been negatively affected mentally.
I have 3 kids in virtual school in Arlington and it is not working. They are falling so far behind. We’ve had to get a tutor for my 8th grader. My 5th grader is a very bright student and completely not engaged. It is impossible to differentiate instruction in a virtual environment so they are being taught to the lowest level. Older students are very depressed and lacking healthy social interaction. It was sufficient to do virtual school when we didn’t understand the virus. But, now we know so much. Teachers should only be offered a vaccine if the commit to return to the classroom. I volunteered to substitute even without a vaccine. It is so important to open the schools for those for whom virtual does not work!!
As an educator in Virginia’s public schools it is deeply troubling that this bill wants to force teachers back into school in person when many won’t be fully vaccinated and there is so much uncertainty with the new variants. Many schools in Europe are having to return to virtual, so is it really wise to close off that possibility? I understand that many parents are chomping at the bit and proclaiming they should have the choice of in person school. Teachers aren’t being offered that choice though. We didn’t sign up to be frontline workers. Please respect our right to protect ourselves and our families so we can continue doing what we do best, educating Virginia’s children. Think carefully about the message you would be sending to educators with the passage of this bill. Many teachers already have one foot out the door after the last challenging year. Don’t make it worse. I can’t wait to be back with my students when it is safe. Now is simply not that time.
Please support in person school. I have four boys, three of which are elementary age. Distance learning does not engage them and their emotional health has plummeted. I know that they need the structure and routine and a different adult and peers to learn and be healthy mentally. I found a suicide note from my oldest. He's 10 and in 4th grade. This darkness had been triggered from isolation and forced learning through a screen with lack of community and belief that he is not valued. The negative thinking festers while I'm busy trying to help my 2nd grader navigate his way on the Chromebook or entice my kindergartener to try a short bit of his class. We have a stable home. My heart hurts and I worry for children and situations less stable. We don't make enough money to pay for private school. Public education should be a quality education available to ALL.
Please support bill SB1303 so that all students have access to an in person education. The emotional and social toll virtual learning is having on so many students is heartbreaking and cruel. Being alone on a computer all day is not school. With the proper mitigation strategies in place school is safe. Safer than being home alone, being on a computer for 6+ hours a day or being in an abusive home. Schools exist for teaching students, not for employing anyone. The rights and needs of the students must come first. Students need to be in school and in school for 5 days a week. This is not a local issue but a state issue as the state funds a good % of school budgets. Please pass this bill so ALL students have access to in person education and not just those families who can afford to send their children to private schools.
Please pass this bill. The CDC director is saying it is safe for students and teachers to be back in school buildings— without the teachers being vaccinated first. We need to give students, teachers, and parents the option of in-person schooling. Virtual school does not work for a lot of our children, who are falling behind and are experiencing a great deal of emotional and mental anguish. Please show strong leadership. Our children need you. Thank you in advance.
Vote no to this Bill. Schools need to follow a phased and methodical reopening plan. Teachers are providing PPE for students and themselves. Not all staff have had their second vaccine and MSC is on the rise. With new variants in our community and elderly family at home we need to exercise caution in reopening. 450,000 dead Americans is enough.
Good evening---My name is Jenna Hamilton and I am a resident of Fairfax County (Alexandria). I'm writing today as a parent to express my very strong support for SB1303. The bill would set a baseline requirement of the most basic expectations that the state has for local school districts--the requirement that they offer an educational option for in-person education to students in their jurisdictions. Our current situation--almost a year in Fairfax County without in-person education--was begun when the *state* shuttered the schools statewide in March, 2020. We now need the state to take a stand to reopen the schools and set the requirement that schools offer in-person education as a baseline. The Governor's guidance issued last week, while appreciated, is not the same as having *statute* that expresses the expectations of our government in Richmond. We cannot continue to have school districts paralyzed with analysis paralysis, refusing to offer students who need in person education the opportunity to access it. Even here in FCPS, where on Groundhog Day they offered yet another timeline for a return to partial in-person education, parents cannot count on it. They have offered timelines 3-4 times before, only to pull them back before implementation. There is no trust in the system anymore. We need the state to set a statutory expectation for a bare minimum. Our kids are struggling--study after study, pediatric experts, medical experts, mental health experts and our own Governor all agree that we are doing significant long-term damage to the kids in our community when we do not return them to school. We have to face the reality that there is no such thing as a "zero risk" environment. And that we have to learn to live in a world where COVID exists and where children still attend school. COVID is not going away. But our teachers, now prioritized for vaccination ahead of older, more at-risk people in our community, must return to teaching students. Parents are asking for your help. As the Education Committee considers this legislation, I implore you to remember your obligation to support the education of children. The children in the system have no one to speak for them. Please do not let them down. Thank you.
Please follow science and let the school open 5 days a week for in person, teachers and school staff are receiving their vaccine so no more excuses for teachers and Unions, parents who are concerned to send their kids to in person have the virtual, online and homeschooling options. Our kids needs to be in school in person for their mental emotional and educational health, depression and suicide rate between the kids is going high, schools are safe to reopen like all other private schools and school age centers in the area, these schools didn’t shut down since May 2020 and functioning very well and it didn’t spread the virus to the community, please follow science and open schools 5 days a week, instead getting summer school or extending the school year, let the teachers teach in Monday, why Monday is not anymore a school day? Our kids education is being jeopardized and our kids being neglected by FCPS. Families with two parents working outside, essential workers, their kids are failing with no supervision, hot meals or taking care off. Education system was built to help the kids to become better citizens and they are the future, now the future citizens are becoming mentally and emotionally destroyed and educationally way behind their peers in private schools and other open states, Please open schools for in person 5 days a week. We don’t want another Gabriel Fernandez in VA
Please support this bill and get our children back to in person learning! My child is a Junior and has never had a "C", until this year. This may effect her college choices and has definitely effected her mental health. All of the current science and guidance says it's safe. It's been a year, it's past time.
Hysteria has been substituted for logic, and it is a failing equation. Arlington Public Schools (APS) acquiesced to concerns and worries about COVID in the fall, and the goal posts have continued to move since then, with no real end in sight. APS ignored the science in September when the case numbers were low, and COVID told us that it would follow the same seasonal pattern of the coronavirus family--building in the fall and winter. APS can now harness hindsight, and see how flawed and shortsighted the operational decisions were at that time. Is APS now really prepared to once again ignore the science of vaccines--even as teachers are bumped to the front of the line---and honestly continue to debate the possibility and necessity of in person learning? The state of Virginia has manufactured an educational crisis where our students are approaching one year of being out of the classroom. Countless red flags tied to learning, mental health, and overall child well being have been waving for months to warn us that we have been moving in the wrong direction, and must urgently make a course correction. It is challenging to fathom how APS can even attempt to defend it's approach when confronted with the reality that countless public school districts across the country, with similar or higher COVID caseloads than NOVA, have been and continue to remain open. It is unconscionable that we have denied our students the ability to return to the classroom when so many other schools and places of employment have forged ahead with bravery and conviction. APS has cowered in the face of a great challenge, failed students in a time of crisis, and made a mockery of our school district. Enough now. Open the schools for in person learning.
Vote no on this bill. School should and will resume 100% in-person 5 days a week when it's safe to do so. There are very good reasons that it has not been safe and has been in the best interest of children to be at home during this global pandemic. Public schools cannot ensure that all students are safe and healthy and were unprepared to do so. This is a pandemic, many have died and many of those are children. Schools can and will provide in-person education when it is safe to do so and the resources are there to make it work. No school system is trying to keep students out of the buildings for anything other than protecting kids. Everyone is tired of the pandemic but it is no reason to lose all sense of what is most important - our lives.
It is time to focus on the children's needs. A large part of that is opening schools & letting their lives normalize & stabilize. Please start the process.
I encourage you to support both of these bills. As our Governor stated, it is time to get our children back in the classroom. After losing 3 months of school in the spring of 2020 and many districts remain virtual, our students are not receiving the education they need and deserve. Most teachers are trying but there is no way students that are learning virtually are getting the same amount of instruction as students in a classroom. I know some students are flourishing but most are not. I know families that have changed residency to other states where they kids can get in person learning. I have friends struggling because they are paying for private school because their child(ren) need in person instruction. SOLs for all grade levels should be done away with. They are without a doubt the worst thing that’s happened to education. Ow teachers teach to a test. I hear from so many teachers that they don’t have time to do all the fun stuff they’d like to because they have to make sure students are prepared for the SOLs. I know this bill only deals with 3rd-8th grade but it’s a start. Growth based assessments are certainly more appropriate especially after all the school that was missed because of COVID. If you are unsure on how to vote regarding SOLs, ask a teacher. They will tell you that SOLs need to go!
In person education is crucial for the academic, social, and emotional development of children. Virtual learning has been shown to be woefully inadequate in providing a meaningful, rigorous education to our students. Children of color are most likely to suffer with virtual learning. In person school should always be available to those children who need it for safety, social and emotional well being, food and for their education. Children need to be in school. They should not be ever left at home staring for hours on a screen. Please make sure schools always offer in person education
Support this bill. Our kids need to be in school. We returned from Sweden last summer and our kids didn’t miss one day of school last school year and can’t understand why they can’t go to school here. My kids have not met classmates, have no activities to meet friends, and have suffered so much since we moved to Va. They are now at huge disadvantage for college admission compared to their peers who live in states with compassionate leaders who cared enough about the children to keep schools open. The closing of schools is causing higher suicide rates and increased loneliness. Stop killing our kids and destroying their future. If every other business is open, many requiring closer contact than schools (hair salons, nail salons, martial arts, massage therapists, doctors, dentists, etc), then why are the schools not open? Do we not value our kids in the way we value the adults running these businesses? Stop forcing the kids to pay the price of some political war with the union. Kids are not pawns to be used for negotiation. They deserve an education and do not deserve to be left behind their peers that live in more compassionate states. Vote to put the kids back in school 5 days a week to give them some small chance to recover from the failures of the last year.
It’s pretty bad this has to be a bill. Our school district now has 7 suicides and near 500 children filed as missing persons. Meanwhile our union pushed to the front of the vaccinations lines and is still saying it’s unsafe. Our children are suffering and dying and our county employees are hiding in their homes with the vaccinations while senior centers struggle to get them. What a mess. Open schools now. This is a ridiculous failure. How many more children need to die?
Please give the families who want to have their children back in school the option to do so. If there are families that wish to stay virtual, they still can-there are many options, even to the point the public school system doesn't need to be involved in offering a virtual option. Our children need to stop being shut away and with their peers and teachers face to face. As a working parent, it is impossible for me to supervise or even help my child during his school day. I have found him playing around during virtual classes and not paying attention. He has always loved school and excelled and now he can't stop talking about how much he hates it and can't wait for summer.
Please open school 5 days a week NOW! Full time In person needs to be an option!!!! Please support SB1303. Our kids need you, Virginia has let them down. 7 school systems bigger than FCPS have been in person 5 days a week! Please follow the science. Mental illness has become a pandemic among children. Please support our kids!
Please vote yes to SB1303. Get kids back in school 5 days a week please. No hybrid for the fall. No back and forth in opening and closing due to infection rates.
Please support this bill requiring school systems to provide both virtual and in person learning to all students so each student can choose what works best for them. Our school system FCPS does not currently participate in Virtual Virginia as they claim FCPS Online is comprable. However, this school year FCPS did not enroll all virtual students in FCPS Online and is planning to have teachers teach students concurrently in the classroom and at home. There is no way teaching like this can be effective for both groups. Please pass this bill in such a way we don't see school systems attempt to have one teacher teach one class on two platforms. This is wrong for our teachers and it is wrong for our students. To right our students, FCPS needs to have in person students in the classrooms 5 days and leave the virtual teaching explicitly to FCPS Online and Virtual Virgina. I support forcing all school systems in the Commonwealth to participate in Virtual Virginia even if they have their own online teaching model. Thank you for your time.
Before this passes I would want more information or parameters. Educators have been working hard to connect & educate students from a distance during an unprecedented pandemic. This is different than a snow day or hurricane or other natural recurring anticipated situation. Do not support this blindly.
I implore you to support SB 1303 when it comes before the House Education Committee. While virtual school is right for some students, the data shows that it does not work for most. There are many students living with food insecurity and living in abusive homes for whom school is the only safe place. The CDC reported in December that since schools have been closed there has been an uptick in child abuse. Additionally, there is also an abundance of data that shows that COVID spread comes from within the community rather than from within our schools. The science is compelling that the risk of spread in school is almost non-existent (latest CDC Schools Report) but the data is overwhelming that the risk of keeping schools closed is great. In Virginia alone, there has been a significant increase in suicides and self-harm ED visits in the 10-19 age group. The most important aspect that I would like you to consider when deciding on how to vote on this bill is EQUITY. Education is the foundation upon which all else is built. Please vote Yes for the students who are home alone doing virtual school, for the students who are responsible for taking care of younger sibling while also trying to do virtual school, for the students in abusive homes, for the students living with food insecurity. A quality public education is THE way to end systemic racism. The disparities between the districts who have had in-person instruction (such as Hanover County) and between the haves and have-nots, will continue to grow to a point of no return. The right to a quality public education is enshrined in the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and local school boards have been failing our children for nearly a year now. School boards across the Commonwealth have had nearly a year AND CARES Act funds to put in place mitigation procedures to make in-person education safe for staff and students alike. Yet, many school districts have not given a choice for in-person education. In the case of Henrico County, there is not even a return date on the horizon. It is time to send them a message that our children belong in school and it is safe for staff and students to re-open (with mitigation strategies in place). We often talk about acting on the right side of history, and this is your chance. Sincerely, Yael Levin-Sheldon A concerned Henrico parent.
I support this legislation because all children need to be in school, in person.
I would like to express my support for SB1303 and all similar bills that guarantee our children the education that is mandated they get by the VA State Constitution but that, sadly, has been denied to most Virginia children for nearly a year. Virtual learning - staring at a screen with black boxes for peers for 7 hours a day - is not school. It does nothing to help children develop independence and social-emotional schools and is of dubious academic value as evidenced by the vast growth in failing grades throughout Virginia. Even for those students whose grades suggest they are doing well, remember that curriculums have been massively reduced in rigor. My son basically gets an A for showing up most days and turning in about one assignment per week per class. This is not learning. Leaving it up to local boards to decide on school reopening is NOT the way to go. Local boards have repeatedly gone against the wishes of the majority of parents in northern Virginia and have continued to keep schools closed. Neither of my children has been in a classroom since last March. Not only do the schools deny my children education, but their subsequent closure to all the community groups that rent their facilities at night has denied my children access to the non-school activities that depend on school facilities to run. Schools should not be receiving funding if students are not allowed in the school building. And I don't mean "open for the most needy kids" (subjective) or "open for 2 days in a hybrid format" (risking covid for almost no learning reward), I mean open for 5 full days per week just as was done prior to this pandemic. Fairfax County Schools now gives teachers a day off (Monday) each week for teacher planning, so even if my child goes back to school, he will only get 2 hybrid days (Thursday and Friday) and nothing on Monday. Since when did school equate to 2 days per week? Furthermore, in order for schools to bring students back 5 days a week, 2 more important things must occur - the social distancing "guidance" must clearly be stated that 6 feet is NOT required between desks or between kids at all times. In northern VA, the districts are insisting on 6 feet of separation, which means that all children will not be allowed back into the building for a 5 day week. They are telling us that this may be the case even in the fall! Also, the state needs to mandate that all students who wish to continue to stay virtual in the fall must use Virtual Virginia or a similar online public school rather than sap the resources of their local districts. The teachers of Fairfax County are not online curriculum developers. Their huge waste of time to reinvent the wheel and teach online when online public schools already exist that can do this better is harming the students who wish to be IN school receiving an in-school education. A teacher cannot effectively teach if she is tied to a computer screen staring at half the class over cyberspace. Please pass SB1303 and mandate that schools must offer 5 day a week full time instruction for all of their students in the fall. Young people have sacrificed everything this past year for a virus that is of virtually no threat to them. They have lost social events, leadership opportunities, arts/theater, sports, clubs, motivation for learning, friendships, mental health stability, and much more to "protect" those who should be protecting themselves. Do the right thing. Make the schools do their job.
Please support in school learning five days a week. Many parents and students are struggling in a distance learning environment. Our children’s mental health is at stake. It’s not enough for them to just survive this pandemic, they are our future and they need to THRIVE. Please help get them back in school full time. Thank you.
Please support this bill, children across this country have safely been going to school since last Fall. Friends and family of ours in other states are astounded when I tell them my kids haven’t been to school since last March. Virginia is not maintaining a high level of education. Our children are falling behind other states who figured this out months ago. Hybrid school is a failing solution and needs to not be an acceptable option. My daughter in hybrid school goes to school two days a week with no instruction on the other days. That is NOT sufficient. Full time school or full time distance. Please pass this bill to provide full time school effective immediately. The data shows they can safely return. Private schools have shown this too. The distance between those with money to pay private school and tutors is growing, I see it happening in my neighborhood. Please help stop this madness.
My husband and I have lived in Vienna, Virginia ( Fairfax) most of out lives and our kids (age 8 and 11) are going to the schools we attended as kids. We have a 4-year old who will be starting Kindergarten in the fall. A big reason we close to stay and raise our kids here is the schools. But why should we stay now? We love our schools and our kids desperately want to get back to in-person learning. Their education and mental health are suffering while at home. Virtual learning was needed temporarily; but science and experience shows that the risks to kids and staff are low. I’m extremely disappointed with how Fairfax has handled the “return to school” planning. It is a total FAILURE so far. Please don’t let this school year be wasted. Please give our kids the opportunity they deserve to see a classroom this school year. Please approve SB 1303!! Thank you!!
Kids need to be back in school 100% full time. Superintendent is the sole entity keeping our schools closed. School Board has zero voting power. We are disenfranchised because we chose to have in person learning but our needs are not being met whereas those choosing virtual get all the accommodations. Kids are collateral damage because of the inability for Williamsburg-James City County Schools to be proactive, bold and mitigate risk. They’ve had months to implement protocols but chose to ignore the science and cited rising Covid numbers. Other school districts nearby were able to bring students back hybrid for months already. Our kids are prisoners to agendas, teacher push back and politics. Our kids are suffering mentally, emotionally and socially. Life is going on all around us but our kids are in limbo. Open our schools NOW!
As a teacher and parent I am urging you to pass this Bill. I teach kindergarten and had the opportunity to see the effects virtual learning had on my students. I watched students have emotional breakdowns, become withdrawn, and struggle to focus on learning. This was in stark contrast to how they were when we were going face to face. In the classroom the students were engaged in learning, happy, and well adjusted. Parents should be able to send their children to school. Public school divisions have an obligation to open the schools for students. This can be done safely.
Please support this bill. The science and the data show that schools can be safely reopened with precautions, yet local school districts have not listened to this science and reopened fully, even after teachers are to be vaccinated. This issue unfortunately needs Richmond to intervene or else out kids will continue to be gravely harmed by local districts' failure to take bold and competent action on behalf of the children who need schools to be opened.
I encourage you to support this bill to reopen schools. Children are experiencing real and lasting harm to both their educations and mental health. Science shows that with proper mitigation, the risk from COVID in schools is very small. Nothing will ever be risk-free, but the risk is manageable and must be considered against the actual harm that is already happening.
Delegates, I urge you to support SB 1303. I am a school psychologist employed in a public elementary school (that is currently fully remote learning), and parent of children who have been forced to participate in school on an iPad for over 300 days. My kindergarten student has never even set foot in her school. I am uniquely poised to understand my child/students learning needs from both the parent and educational perspective. I know that they need to be in-person to benefit from a high quality education. As a parent, tax payer, and educator, I am asking for the option for an in-person education. Experts and data agree that schools can reopen safely. That choice has been denied to my children for over 300 days. This bill balances the educational programming being offered to the needs of each individual student. Please advocate for the right of children to a high quality education of which an in-person option must be available.
Please allow parents the choice of in person learning 5 days a week. Hybrid is not enough. My 1st and 2nd grader have been out of school for almost a year now while every private school is open. While many public schools in other counties and states are open. The CDC has said on multiple occasions schools are safe! Our schools have had a year to prepare! Please put our children back in school. The learning loss is real.
Please support this bill to hold out schools accountable for being in person. So far, Fcps has been remote for a year. Classes have been in our experience less than the curriculum.5 days a week is the only acceptable option.
Please help our kids go to school! My kids are not learning and are on the computer too much! They are lonely and depressed!
Kids need to go back to in-person learning. Please support this bill. Our children deserve better. Go back in-person with the proper mitigation strategies is key to stop behavioral issues, anxiety and learning loss. We need your vote. Virginia Children need you now!
Support for this bill means putting Virginia children first. It means supporting their education, their mental health and believing the overwhelming body of evidence that supports in person instruction and proves it can be done safely now. This is the BIGGEST issue of our time -- how we treated our children will be our legacy. They have borne the burden of this pandemic for far too long and its time to turn this situation around. Arlington County is the shame of the Commonwealth -- first to close and last to announce reopening dates. Please vote IN SUPPORT of this bill. In person education for ALL students k-12- NOW. Thank you.
Parents need to have the option of either in person or virtual education. My daughter is a junior, arguably the most important year for college-bound students. Virtual learning is not working for her. She has had a total of 2 days in person instruction. This is completely unacceptable. I understand that virtual works for some, and that's why there needs to be a choice. Please pass this bill so students like my daughter can get back in the classroom!
Stop the madness. Please pass this bill and allow our children to go back into the classrooms FIVE days a week. The damage being done to our children is unacceptable and worsens by the day. We have learned so much since the early days of Covid, yet we are behaving as if it's all still a mystery. A handful of people in positions of power are allowing themselves to be paralyzed by fear and our children are being held hostage. Decisions for the fall need to be announced in time for families to leave public schools and enroll in private. That is exactly what I will do if my high schoolers cannot attend 5 days a week in the fall.
With mask wearing, hand washing, proper distancing, committed teachers and conscientious parents our school buildings can and must re-open for all students that want to attend. I understand that every family has its own risk tolerance and for many, virtual learning is the best or only option. I respect their choice. I think parents should make the best choice for their child. Students have been out of the school buildings for nearly a year, while districts across the state, around the country and private schools around my county of Arlington have provided in-person learning to children. Data has shown and numerous experts have agreed, that schools can and must open and operate following safety guidelines. Teaching children in- person while following the basic safety guidelines works.
I am an arlington parent of a kindergartner and a 4th grader. And a homeowner and a psychologist. Our children are facing a public health crisis and APS isn’t doing anything about it. I am not talking about the pandemic, I am talking about the psychological crisis our children and youth are having from isolation and loneliness. Many of your inside voices right now are saying, “but everyone gets lonely and children are more resilient and adaptable than adults.” My response as a psychologist is yes and no. Children can better weather hunger, poverty, and homelessness but not isolation. Youth require, not just need, social and emotional engagement for their psychological health and growth. They are still learning how to interpret their thinking and feelings inside and constant social comparison around them is critical. Think about old school homeschooling, it produced children who struggled to adapt to life after schooling, until they moved to essentially what we now call pods mixing home learning with small social group activities. A great recipe if you have someone not working outside of the home to teach them inside of the home. The CDC found that, from April to October 2020, hospitals across the U.S. saw a 24% increase in the proportion of mental health emergency visits for children ages 5 to 11, and a 31% increase for children ages 12 to 17. Children are having severe panic attacks, are cutting, increased thoughts of suicide and actually attempting suicide. Before the pandemic, there was already a shortage of in-patient psychiatric beds for children. Just last week, I listened to multiple teachers tell this to the school board in response to my sharing this message about bed shortages. That shortage has only gotten worse as hospitals cut capacity to allow for more physical distancing within psychiatric units. There is also a shortage of therapists for children suffering from depression and anxiety from virtual schooling. They cannot connect with teachers, find the internal motivation they need because they have yet to develop that, and feel like they are disappointing their teachers and failing as learners. Why is this ok? Children waited for treatment before the pandemic so they can just wait longer now? Our priorities need to change back to students first! Let’s talk about the V word, virtual. Virtual screens and interactions can never mimic properly real human engagement for social and emotional growth, or even learning. APS and the AEA have never said that virtual school is good for kids, yet apparently it is good enough if it means not operationally preparing or upsetting staff. We have played by the rules! Our children have waited their turn, and absorbed ALL the risk for over 300 days. It is time for the adults to take on the risk instead and provide everything for our children’s educational, social, and emotional needs. APS school board and leadership have wanted staff to WANT to come back. It’s never going to happen, real leadership requires making tough decisions and today, finally that decision should put our children first! Lastly, Have you heard? Teachers unions want Fall 2021 public school to only be hybrid learning, not 5 days in-person. Enough is enough! Students and teachers need to return to the classroom, not students on screens with teachers still virtual. Teacher unions should not be more powerful than our children’s needs. No other field gets their desired accommodations.
I am a graduate of CCPS, the daughter of a retired employee, the sister of a current teacher & the parents of two CCPS high school students. I am extremely sympathetic to the situation the teachers and staff have been facing trying to navigate this school year during the pandemic. I know this has not been an easy time for them and they have done their best in the midst of an insanely stressful time. But with that said, I think the school system has gone out of their way to accommodate the teachers to the best of their current abilities. Even though the voices that have spoken in favor of remaining in all virtual classes has been among the loudest, they are also the minority. The fact is more parents and teachers have wanted a choice of virtual OR in person instruction & we have been conveniently ignored for the last 5 months. All we have ever asked for is the option of either & that has been denied. The risk is OURS to take. The evidence proving that students & schools are NOT super spreaders is now abundantly clear. My oldest is a junior and is Special Needs & in corresponding classes it is due to that he has been able to attend class in the building but he has still been impacted by the exclusion of extra activities, the loss of socialization with friends in other classes or across the school. My youngest who is a freshmen is still on all virtual and she has struggled horribly. Her mental health has collapsed to the point of threatening to drop out of school, lost all hope and wanting to quit living. This is a child who has never even had a C in her entire academic career until this year. Last quarter she had two D’s and had missed 17 days of class time, assignments and struggles to manage her work & classes. She has lost the interest and motivation to succeed or even try to do her work and she has been physically impacted by the shutdowns. She’s suffered loss of sleep, anxiety and decrease in appetite due to the stress, I’ve tried to seek help for her but it hasn’t been easy during the pandemic due to an overwhelming need for therapists and the closure of many offices. The only time I found my daughter improved was the short few weeks our county was allowed to return for a 2 day hybrid before Thanksgiving. In just those few short days there was a significant improvement in her mood, work and grades. She was back with her brother and she was back with friends and in a familiar better routine that suited her needs. Even my son was doing better because there was some life back in school for him. Once we were forced back on all virtual again the depression, anxiety & disinterest returned and it was worse than before. I don’t think our children can stand much longer what is happening to them with these closures. Virtual may work for some students but it cannot be denied that it doesn’t work for all. Like my children. It is those children who deserve, who NEED the option of in person. We need it yesterday. We need it NOW.
Please pass this bill! Our kids need to be in school, in person. Right now we are not even being given that option. I am concerned about the educational achievement of my kid and other kids in Virginia if they are kept in distance learning any longer.
Please support this bill to give parents the freedom of choice. We moved to Fairfax county because of the amazing public education system. Our 5 year old was regressing tremendously with virtual learning. We had to enroll in a private in-person school, but we are anxious to return to public school. Please for the benefit of the students and families support SB 1303 this week to require Farifax county to offer in-person education. Countless private schools and public schools across the country have proven in-person education is safe during the time of COVID. Help us help our children.
Please please allow children and parents the choice to return to in person school. My daughter has not entered a school building since March 13, 2020. This is 11 months of NO CHOICE for individuals who desperately need in person instruction. My son is in private school and has been in person this entire school year with NO issues. Private school acceptance decisions will start in mid February. If public school students are not in the building by then they will be losing hundreds of students to private schools. Less students = Less funding.
Education on a statewide level is in disarray, none of the counties are in the same educational level. Leaving a decision like this to the school boards has only provided proof that they are woefully inept at making such decisions. They have disregarded facts, parents, teachers and students. There are many counties where connectivity is a huge issue and a lot of children are being left behind. This is not an education, this is setting our children’s future up for failure. As parents we should have the right to make the decision of how our children receive an education, this should not be forced on us as it does not work for many. Our economy is in upheaval, many parents have had to quit their jobs in order to stay at home to teach their children. It is also furthering the gap of social classes, the financially well off families shouldn’t be the only ones able to give their kids a decent education. Anything short of children getting the education they need full time, in the manner they need it, is NOT an education, it is NOT equitable. Schools not operating in person full time is doing our state, our economy, our families, our children and our future a grave injustice.
Never in my 70 years have I witnessed such a harmful act by our government such as the closing of schools. Since when do we as Americans ask children to protect us.? You must pass this bill in order for our grandchildren and their grandchildren to have fighting chance of a decent public school education. They deserve to be in a classroom with their friends. Teen suicide is on the rise. A vote in favor of this bill may just save the lives of suicidal children in VA who have been harmed by the public school system. The poor have no choice to attend public school. This is also an equity issue. - Thank you.
Please pass this bill. Follow the science, the research, the experts and the president and get these children back in school as soon as possible. With mitigation, our schools are safe. Families are suffering, children are suffering. If we truly care about our kids’ education and well being we will get them back to learning in person immediately.
It is unethical to sit young learners in front of a computer screen for 6 plus hours a day. My child is suffering socially, physically and mentally. Please open schools to allow for family choice.
The unsubstantiated claims that schools needed to close in order to reduce community spread during this pandemic has added catastrophic damage to families across this state, to families and primarily to children and their caregivers—moms. It’s crippling everyone’s ability to function and all due to politicized fearmongering that refuses to accept the overwhelming scientific evidence that spread does not take place among school aged children in settings that put in place commonsense mitigation, which at this point is not rocket science—it’s being implemented in every indoor setting AROUND THE WORLD. My kids were luckily in private preschool when this happened and through two months of preparation, was able to reorganize its 20-year old program to mitigate COVID. We were among the first families to return when they reopened June 15, 2020, and they have been successfully operating for months. Further, my family was again able to function without major mental health and economic implications—I certainly would have had to quit my job if the closure went in any longer. Further, my son had sensory processing issues and virtual school did not work for him, if anything it created more stress and issues in our household, so my stomach truly turns to imagine what parents of autistic or other disabled kids are going through. This is flat unacceptable and I not only believe schools should reopen to be in person 5 days a week, but families should be reimbursed the wasted tax dollars that went towards near useless programming for an ENTIRE YEAR.
It’s been over 10 months and 315+ days since our students have had in-person school. The teachers have been doing a great job in a tough situation. Despite everything teachers are doing, the young learners just can not sit in front of a screen for multiple hours a day. APS has published a large amount of data that virtual learning is not working for our most vulnerable as well as many other students. The learning loss, increase in mental health issues, increase in failing grades is real for all students. Though community infection rates are higher now than they were in September, we also have much more information showing schools and children aren't super spreaders and there are examples of many public school systems of how to ensure a safe environment for our teachers, staff, and children. American Academy of Pediatrics, CDC, and so many other notable organizations have provided a strong recommendation that children need to return to in-school learning. Like many families in Arlington, we purposely moved to Arlington for its school system and have been proud to send our two children to Arlington Public Schools—a small, well-resourced, well-run, progressive school system attentive to the needs of its students. We have stood by the county through the pandemic, and while we could afford put our kids in private school and abandon the public school system, we have declined to do so. Every child deserves the right to have a choice of in-person learning. We need legislators to mandate 5 day in-person learning for all Virginia public school systems by a certain date (and if those counties don't abide then state funds should be withheld).
I am the working parent of three children, one of whom is special needs, and all of whom are suffering irreparable, avoidable harm due to the extended closure of our schools. My oldest daughter, who is 12, has begun expressing self-harming thoughts. My 10-year-old son, who has ADHD and impulse control issues, is unable to accomplish any work at all without constant parent monitoring. Due to my job and my husband’s job keeping us in meetings most days, we cannot supervise him adequately most of the time, and his grades have dropped drastically. His IEP also is not being followed, as he receives almost no special support. My 7-year-old daughter has emotional breakdowns on a daily basis, crying over the kind of small things that haven’t upset her since she was 4. My children all are bright kids who want to grow and learn. Without the nourishment of a proper learning environment, their hopes are shrinking, their souls are fading, and there is simply no need for things to be this way. I call upon you to support SB 1303 as an important step forward to getting my and other children back in physical classrooms where they belong.
Please vote yes to providing in-person learning to children. Their social development counts on being around their peers. There is a mental health crisis going on. Please keep their education a top priority and support their need to attend school.
An increasing amount of data shows that with mitigation measures in place schools are not a significant source of CoVid transmission. My children attend three different schools in Chesapeake and in their schools mitigation measures are being followed and there have been no cases if in-school CoVid transmission. The school has been a safe environment for my children and the staff. Some local boards have shown no intention of bringing students back into the classroom at all this school year, such as Norfolk and Porstmouth. Those school districts have a large minority population and lower income residents. I am concerned that the inequities that existed before the pandemic will be exacerbated by the lack of in-person instruction. I am also concerned about the risk of abuse and neglect that can go unnoticed when children are not in school. There is also a risk that children are not having access to meals. I know that some families are unable to pick up their children’s free meals due to their work schedule. I am afraid that if school districts continue to wait until “it is safe” to bring students back many children will have suffered irreparable academic losses and a decline in motivation. Depression and suicide attempts among children will continue to rise and abuse will continue to go unnoticed. In every decision we make we must mesure the risks and benefits. Families should be able to choose to send their child to school for in-person learning if it is in the best interest of their family. CoVid is a real threat to all of us, but 95% of CoVid deaths have happened among people older than 50 years old. For some families the risk of depression, learning loss, and income loss is higher than the potential risk of severe illness from CoVid. Please allow families to have the choice to send their kids to school. I ask you to support SB 1303 and advocate for the children who need in-person schooling the most.
Please open the schools. It has been over 325+ days and he has received no services.
I am the parent of 2 children who attend Arlington public schools. I trust that the Education Committee and members of the House are familiar with the growing body of research showing that schools can safely remain open during the Covid pandemic. I also trust that you are aware of the incredible burden being borne by working families, and most especially by the many children whose parents or caregivers are unable to provide the daily support and supervision that virtual learning requires. Since I have been working full time in healthcare throughout this last year, I have been experiencing this firsthand, and can say that the last 11 months have been a near-daily struggle for us. We had opted to send our kids in the fall for hybrid learning, an option which has been repeatedly denied. For families who cannot safely send their kids in person, or who are uncomfortable with the extensive mitigation efforts detailed by Arlington Public Schools, I am glad that a virtual option exists. However, for those of us who chose otherwise (though, to be frank, it has not often felt like a choice), we have been repeatedly denied. At this point, it is unlikely either of my children will see the inside of a classroom for more than 25 days this school year. Looking forward, I’m increasingly concerned about the future of public education in the Commonwealth, and strongly urge you to support this bill to allow us to begin recreating school for those of us who desperately need it.
I implore you to support SB 1303. I am a parent of two children in Arlington Public Schools. Our family opted for hybrid instruction back in Summer and we continue to eagerly await the announcement of dates when APS’s hybrid option will finally begin. The Superintendent and school board keeps ignoring the science and data and delaying the return to school. This is unacceptable! Like other APS students, my 2 kids -both English-learners - have not set foot in a classroom or seen their teachers in person for more than 300 days. They are falling behind academically and I am worried for their mental health and social skills. My 4th grader does not sleep anymore and my Kindergartner cannot remain engaged with a screen. They need to be back in school as soon as possible. Distance-learning is not working, especially for the youngest and most disadvantaged. The CDC and countless international and domestic studies have shown that in-person learning is the best environment for children and that it can be done safely. Please help us get our children back in the classrooms!
Please support SB 1303. My two Virginia Beach children have not stepped into a school building for face to face learning since last March. VB administration and school board gave families a choice at the beginning of the school year, but when it came down to it we weren’t given a choice. My children were sentenced instead to stay home to do virtual learning. I am a private school teacher who has been working face to face with my students since last August. As of today my school has had no issues because we have set in place all the protocols that are needed to succeed. Public school students deserve to be in the building like their public school counterparts to get the education that they deserve and socialization. Please support this bill and let’s get public school students into schools 5 days a week.
Please support this bill. I am a mother and physician. I have been strictly following the science and can not stand silent while fear is standing in the face of our children’s well being, education, development, and in some cases, safety. Being a frontline worker who had been in the face of the pandemic, I acutely aware of the concerns, but studies have repeatedly shown classrooms are. It the source of spread. My children need to be in school. Many of my patients are suffering. Children can not be the victims of the exaggerated fear of a few. Two days is insufficient. Classroom monitors instead of teachers is laughable. Five days of in person instruction with a teacher is what our kids needs and deserve. It is time to put them first.
Our children have suffered the most during this pandemic. It is so incredibly sad to see some school districts back and others not. My daughter finally got the chance to go back in person, but my nephews just a few counties over are still virtual...since March. I can only hope that the governor’s statement changes the minds of their school board, and if it doesn’t, this is why we need to pass this bill. Our children deserve the best! The science supports in person learning, it needs to happen. Our children are falling behind at the hands of local school districts. “Figure it out!”
Please pass this bill. Our schools should have been open since the start of the school year. Without this bill, the local school boards will continue to put the weight of this pandemic on our children. Their solution of forced distance learning is far more detrimental to our kids’ overall well-being than the virus itself. We can keep kids and teachers safe in the classroom where they belong. The distance option can remain but the children need be able to be in the classroom 5 full days a week ASAP. This is vital to their mental and social well being. Please vote in favor of this bill. It’s not partisan. Everyone should vote to take care of the most vulnerable.
Our families need the option of in person learning for every child in Loudoun County Public Schools. Our SB is doing a horrible job and have been called out in National news sites. They are ignoring parents pleas. They are ignoring the science. Our entire BOS and SB need direction from the stare. NOW. How many more children in LOCO have to commit suicide? 6 isn’t enough?
Our supposedly excellent schools have failed our children. While many other districts all over the country (and the rest of the world) have put children first, ours has put children last. The School Boards' failing of our children is not based in science, but on emotions. That, combined with an astonishing lack of qualified leadership, has paralyzed FCCPS. The district needs to be forced to offer meaningful in person learning or be at risk of losing all available funding. This bill is a good start but does not go nearly far enough to remedy the "distance learning" disaster or the emotional toll wrought by denying children meaningful education with their peers . Our children are victims. The harm that the school board has imposed by their ignorance (at best) or willful defiance of science (at worst) is irreparable and they need to be stopped from imposing further harm on our littlest victims. There is no need to have children vaccinated prior to a return to in person learning and our children need to be in school in person yesterday.
I support this bill. Children and parents are suffering unnecessarily. The data and science shows us that schools are safe and students and teachers can safely be in a room together. Tbia is the biggest education issue virginia has had to face since desegregation. Send the neasage that we value our children and they can't be used as political hostages.
I support the bill. Kids need to be educated for they are the ones to run this world soon. We invest in them it’s an investment in our everyone’s future.
It is past time to get our students back to school face-to-face 5 days a week. We cannot expect there ever to be the “perfect” time when we aren’t concerned with some sort of virus or flu. Our communities are opened up and our students needs to be where they thrive the most snd that is IN the classrooms. We cannot admit that the students are falling behind in virtual learning, see the need to expand summer school services and them still make our children participate in virtual learning. They are falling behind on a daily basis. Let’s get back to in person learning NOW!
Kindly, support SB1303 - putting children personally back in front of the teachers they need to thrive. Virtual school wrecks mental health. I have one child in a panic every day about being lonely and failing. Another child who cannot connect to virtual in the slightest. One year - zero connection. He's ten. The Norfolk School Board is tone deaf. The virtual school rhetoric falls flat. It doesn't work. Stop kicking the can down the road. My children are tired and sad. Our family is fed up. I'm gutted. Virtual school is criminal. Open the schools. Please.
Our students deserve to attend schools face to face at their home school. As a teacher and a parent, I know the mental well-being of our children depend upon interaction with their peers and trusted adults to support their learning. Covid 19 mitigation strategies are far more fatal to our students than the virus itself.
Our Grandchildren need to return to school NOW. Being out of school this long is causing harm to their grades not to mention the emotional psych and too many children are taking their own because of the isolation. It’s. It healthy. If you can shop at the malls and grocery store everyone can return to school.
I am a parent of two secondary students that reside in the Suffolk Public School (SPS) District in Western Tidewater. I have been told by the Chair of the Suffolk School Board that, as the largest employer in Suffolk, SPS has an obligation to provide a safe work environment for the employees and that they are unable to do so if the students are back in the classroom. I have been told repeatedly that SPS students will not return to school until it is safe. The SPS School Board Chair and the Superintendent have indicated that the studies and data provided by experts regarding transmission by children are not reliable as they are not long-term studies nor are these studies factoring in the data of hybrid and virtual learning students. It is my opinion, due to denial of study reliability and a failure to develop an effective mitigation plan that can be agreed upon, that the SPS Board will not deem it safe to return to classroom learning until every single teacher and student is vaccinated or this virus disappears. Therefore, after attending school virtually for the last eleven months, the students of SPS will remain in this virtual Learning environment for the long haul with zero end in sight. For lack of better words, SPS is digging their heels in and has no intention of bringing students back to the classroom anytime soon – this is unacceptable. This past weekend I took my thirteen-year-old daughter to the Emergency Room due to actions and thoughts she has had regarding harming herself. My once bright eyed girl easily excitable lover of life daughter is depressed and riddled with anxieties. My daughter said she does not want to live anymore. The ER said they see three to four similar cases a day. This is a direct result being forced to autonomously learn in isolation for the past eleven months. The Governor recently mentioned that the VDOE has provided the guidance, safety precautions and funding necessary to make in person learning possible to the school districts of Virginia. It was stated that the experiences of school divisions across the state, daycare centers and early childhood educators have demonstrated throughout the year that it is possible to return to the classroom safely. It was stated that the CDC, Dr. Fauci, President Biden have said it is possible to do this safely. With all of this being said, each of my correspondences with the SPS board have indicated that it will not be possible and there is no intention of moving forward with in-person learning until COVID releases its hold on our locality, and for that they have no control. I fear if districts such as SPS are not provided a mandate, as SB 1303 would provide, the children will continue to have Virtual Learning forced upon them and continue to have their education and mental well-being deteriorate.
I have two elementary school children, fourth grade and first grade. They have attended Williamsburg James City County Schools. I am writing to you in strong support of the Senate Bill 1303 to get schools to open for in person learning for all families who choose it, immediately. Many parents and children in our community are suffering. Our school board continues to kick the can down the road and say that they just don't have enough resources or contact tracers, even though this is not true. Our superintendent has come up with every excuse she can think of to keep schools closed. They are allowing a choice of remaining all virtual, but are not allowing a choice of in person learning. All of our teachers and staff are vaccinated, but they still are only talking about offering 2 days a week of learning with a teacher, even in September! My fourth grader was allowed to attend three days in person learning since March, and that was for the MAPS standardized testing. At their previous early January meeting one of our school board members said that "it's no big deal for kids to miss a year or two of school and that the kids will be all right and parents need to take it down a notch". This is what we are dealing with! No urgency or care for the children! They had two doctors come to the school board meeting and tell them that they need to open schools immediately and that in school transmission is not a major concern with mitigation, but that there are major concerns about obesity, depression, suicide, and anxiety. The school board listened to these doctors, their own health team, and then decided to continue to delay any return in any way of in-person learning until the community spread is less, even after the teachers are now vaccinated! We are a wealthy school district with all the resources. Our school district spent many thousands of dollars on special cameras for quarantining students to zoom in, sanitizing machines, gallons and gallons of sanitizer. They have at least two masks for every student in our school district laying around in the buildings and yet they refuse to open for families who need and choose in person learning. Our district has repeatedly put out dates of intent to return to in person learning only to repeatedly delay those dates throughout the school year. The most recent dates they have put out are yet another delay. Do not believe WJCC when they tell you that students will be coming back because they have been telling us this since October and then continually push back the date. Many times this has happened! It's just a way to get us to be quiet while they continue to keep schools closed. The science is clear we do not need to wait for community spread to decline to go back to school. I urge you to support the Senate Bill 1303.
I am writing in support of SB 1303, in person learning in Virginia public schools. My children are in desperate need to be back in the classroom with live tea her interaction. My children are very good students, but have all said they are not learning and retaining what they should be. They have indicated the amount of cheating going on in all their classes. Other school systems and counties in Virginia and around the country have been able to implement safety protocols for their teachers and students to come back in the building, I believe all should have the same choose and right. We are part of Williamsburg James City County Schools and our superintendent has continually pushed back the date for our kids to come back. Only K-5 has been back in on a 2 day a week hybrid schedule for a couple of weeks. My children are middle school and high school and have not set foot in their school since 3/13/2020. I am begging for our children to be returned to in person learning FULL TIME, 5 days a week. Teachers claim they do not feel safe, yet I see these teachers at locals gyms working out, grocery shopping, taking vacations. They are essential workers that need to return to the classroom for the mental and emotional stability of our children.
Please support this bill and vote yes to mandating an in-school choice for all a Virginia students. This is your duty, as a representative body, to help put clarity at a time when information has been evolving, confusing and conflicting. School boards have had to decipher information and make decisions that are way beyond the scope of their roles. As well-intentioned as they might be, it has left the state of education in Virginia in a very inequitable place. Protect Virginia’s reputation of having outstanding schools by supporting this bill so that children who need to be back in the classroom to learn academically and socio-emotionally, have the choice to do so.
Please support this bill. Hold our local school board accountable. Please help get children back in school 5 days a week. Virtual learning has been terrible for my two children, my second grader in particular - he previously loved school and now falls further and further behind. The excessive screen time is harming my children. They need to be back in person, where all studies agree they can safely learn with the appropriate mitigation strategies. Please vote to get our children back in schools.
Our children are losing skills to compete in the academic and working world. Other districts or states that are are allowing in school education are doing the nod ALL schools should do. The teachers has been allowed to ignore our children. Suppose health care workers all stay home and care for patients virtually, would they get the best care. Our future is in our children’s hands. Give our school’s what they need. CDC is supporting return to in school learning. What happened to mandatory days or hours in school??
The majority of Loudoun County students have not been inside a school in almost one year. This is a year of education they will never get back and they will never recover from. After a year of social isolation, the children have sacrificed enough for the adults. Now is the time for them to resume in-person instruction if they learn better that way. No data or evidence supports keeping schools closed. The only ones who want children to remain in isolation are the teachers unions, but they will never "feel" like it is safe to return. No one is planning on returning every child every day; instead we want to return some of the kids with every mitigation measure you can possibly dream of, including masks and distancing. Our district has a $1.3 billion budget yet we cannot get our schools open without your help. Please vote yes on SB 1303 if you value the rights of children to be educated.
Yes please get our schools back open in person, these kids are paying the price not the school board or Henrico county superintendent she could care less about the kids. So please help us get our kids back in school. Thank You
Please support this bill. Children have been distance learning for way too long and the local school boards need this push to get them back as soon as possible. Thank you.
We need schools open 5 days a week to save the next generation of va children. The local school boards have been completely ill equipped for this. Please hold them accountable
Schools need to be offered in person, 5 days a week, NOW. The science supports it, tje government agencies support it, and the students NEED it. Over half the country is doing it since the fall. It's not fair to the children. Please support this. It's the right thing to do.
Please pass this bill. I have two middle school children who have been suffering mentally, emotionally, socially, and educationally long enough. My 7th grader is now in counseling (and mental health is so backed up now it’s a month before you can get an appointment) and my 6th grader sits and cry’s in front of her computer daily. Our family is first responders and have stepped up and been at work since day one - you have let the teachers sit and enjoy life at home in their pajamas earning a paycheck. They now have their vaccine opportunity, science 100% backing the opening of schools, and yet we bow to the teachers refusing to work. You need to open the schools and if the teachers won’t return - fire them and find folks that will. Enough is enough. Our children shouldn’t have to suffer anymore.
As you are aware, FCPS has been closed for over 300 days, which means that children who cannot afford private school remain without any education. Let not fool ourselves and be honest: virtual education is not working. Notwithstanding what teachers association, School Board are telling us, we all know that our kids are not receiving education at all. Let's not forget some of the back story of why (as I understand it) the state government doesn't have the kind of power that others might have to mandate in person school. Virginia, in its participation of the "massive resistance" to desegregation, pushed a lot of the authority to local school districts to make their own decisions. That is still in play today. The state doesn't want to tell the counties what to do, the county board of supervisors won't tell the board what to do, it's a mess. Because of that lack of ability (or political will?) to create a state mandate, Prince Edward County kept public schools closed for FIVE YEARS just so they wouldn't have to desegregate. FIVE YEARS. White families created their own academies and partially funded them with state monies and grants and tax credits. Black families (and poor white families once a federal court ruled public monies couldn't be used for schooling when public schools were closed) either kept their kids home, tried their own very poorly funded academies, moved, sent children to live with relatives, or other solutions. The effects are still there today. It's a travesty and a school desegregation case that I had never heard of until last year in the context of the power vacuum in Virginia. Today we are approaching a ONE YEAR anniversary since our schools were opened last time. If you don't vote for the bill SB 1303, you will place yourself on the part of history that promotes racism and segregation in our county. Yes, most of the white children are now back in school for in person education in private schools that are open in our county 5 days a week and successfully managing Covid. Minority children are left behind. Do you want to be remembered as a Representative who failed to stand up against racism and segregation? If not, please, vote for SB 1303 to ensure that our schools are open 5 days a week for in-person education to offer equatable. education for all children in Virginia.
We need SB1303 passed for our students across Virginia who NEED face-to-face education. I believe the following reasons are important to consider reopening school for face-to-face instruction. I am not linking articles to each of my points but trust you can find the data to support my assertions with a simple google search if interested in learning more. 1. Mental health. Remote learning has isolated students and has increased depression, anxiety, suicide, and a host of mental health issues among our students. Social interaction with peers is critical for emotional wellbeing and virtual education will continue to erode student mental health the longer it is allowed to continue. 2. Lack of interaction in the classroom decreases engagement, hinders teambuilding skills and collaborative learning, and disrupts learning about diverse perspectives. Working together in the classroom allows students to work together in real-time, without the option of "logging off" or "checking out" during a virtual presentation or workgroup. It encourages critical thinking in a group environment to solve problems collaboratively. 3. Many classes cannot be experienced adequately without hands-on opportunities. For instance, my son is a trombone player, and band has been quite difficult for him on his own. As a support instrument that doesn't play the melody, it has taken a large part of the joy and engagement of working together with a band as he cannot see how he contributes to the whole. In addition, I have two students taking STEM classes. Instead of building circuits and doing other projects that would be dangerous doing at home on their own to learn certain skill sets and education modules, they have spent a lot of time viewing YouTube videos and watching STEM instead of engaging in STEM. I know of several other students who can't enjoy their vocal music or theater classes as well, and then there are the students who want to study the trades and are missing valuable hands-on experience the trades education requires. 4. All COVID-19 data points to virtually no risk of serious illness or death to people under age 20. In addition, in school districts where in-person education is offered, school transmission rates are extremely low or non-existent. We are holding our students hostage and asking them to sacrifice their education by keeping them virtual. 6. Virtual learning puts an incredible burden on low-income, single-parent, and dual working-parent families, especially those with students in the earlier grade levels. Virtual learning requires parents to pay for childcare, and in many cases, students will be left unmonitored and unaccountable, except in the grade book. This scenario will not encourage students to reach their full potential by any measure. It is time to stop allowing fear to dominate our decisions and to instead move forward in providing the face-to-face instruction students need for their overall academic and mental health. A lot has been learned in the past few months to allow for our students the chance to return to some normalcy, in an environment that challenges them academically, grows them socially, feeds them emotionally, and refreshes them physically. Important growth metrics and many opportunities have been lost the past 10 months by Virginia's students, and it's time to work towards helping them make great strides forward again in their education. Thank you.
We need our elected leaders to listen and perhaps even break the party line to do what it right for those who don’t get to vote yet, the children in our public schools. Virginia children need to be given the option to attend school in person. We are seeing evidence of all the negative impacts virtual education has had and continues to have on our youth. It’s time to level the playing field for all children in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It shouldn’t be that in person education is available for those that can afford it or live in a certain locality in Virginia that is offering it. All public schools in Virginia should at this point be open for in person education. Please take action and support Bill 1303 so all children in Virginia have equal access to public education.
Getting our children back in school is imperative. I have a 5th grader and 8th grader, both with ADHD, going 2 days a week. Our school system states that even with their ADHD and plummeting grades , they still can’t make it work to get them in school more days. Both my husband and I work outside the home so our children are left at home multiple days a week to teach themselves. They lack in executive function, making this even more challenging. It impacts our jobs and mental well being more than necessary!I thought the motto was “No child left behind”, that has been totally thrown out the door. We also live in a county with limited access to internet, a school system that could only provide laptops to a small percentage of students, yet they EXPECTED all work to be done online. How is this acceptable??? They’re closing days every week for teacher work days, holidays, snow days and days to get vaccinations . It feels like they are doing everything they can to keep the doors closed, and placing everything on the parents and students to do on their own. There needs to be more accountability set at a state level to define what is and isn’t acceptable. We pay our taxes and expect the services we pay for! Put our children first and get them back in school!
When the governor left school opening to the districts and boards he failed our students and empowered education associations to play political games with public education. My secondary kids have seen the inside of a classroom for a total of six days since March of 2020 - they are both struggling while our school board keeps moving the goalposts and denying them their rightful education. Virtual schooling is not working, our kids are failing in record numbers not to mention an uptick in mental illness, self-harm, and sadly even suicide, especially in our secondary. Please, parents and students across this state need your help, we need our elected officials at the state level to push school boards to open our schools. The Virginia Education Association and their chapters have been enabled and empowered to destroy public ed for their own political gain for long enough. Please pass this bill for our kids!
Please return all students to in person learning. Distance learning was never sustainable and as time goes by I am increasingly concerned about the educational health of the little ones and the mental health of the older ones. Each level has different needs and no ones are being met. This complete overreaction and overreach has been a disaster for students. Thank you.
Gratefully I’m in Hanover county and my 4th and 6th grader have been able to be F2F five days a week since school started. Our county needs to be an example of how other school districts need to open. It’s a travesty that Hanover is only one of 2 counties in the state to have openF2F five days a week schools. Our data can show that open schools do not drive community spread. Community spread does drive school spread but with mitigation strategies schools can make adjustments as needed and not force all of the children in the county to suffer. Please support this bull.
Please support this bill! Our kids need to be back in school. We have a 2nd grader and a kindergartner and had to opt for private school for our youngest, taking a big financial hit. In a few short weeks it will have been a full year since my son stepped foot in his school. Virtual learning is just not working, especially for our youngest students.
My son is a sophomore in high school. The complete lack of interest in his school is disappointing. 2 days a week of education with the rest at home busy work is not an education. We started school 100% virtual in August and on November 9 he started Hybrid. We had one month of in person learning then returned to virtual until 1/19/21. The reason we could not start hybrid was the lack of staffing. Simple lack of staff. County schools should not make schools virtual because they could not manage the hiring of staff. This is not an excuse. Unacceptable.
While the availability of virtual learning is wonderful in some instances (in the cases of students needing to be homebound for medical reasons such as a cancer diagnosis, etc.), for the most part, it is failing our children that need in-person education. The Commonwealth's constitution states that Virginia will provide a free public elementary and secondary education AND that "seek to ensure that an educational program of high quality is established and continually maintained." The latter has not been provided to our students, and in-person is the only way to ensure that this occurs.
A significant number of children are hurting and floundering in the virtual setting. Schools need to be accountable for having concrete plans in place to let these children know when they can count on getting back to school. There has been too much uncertainty, changing plans, decisions made based upon emotion/feelings and pressure by pseudo-unions. Our children DESERVE to know our schools are focused on THEIR well being, and that students who need an in-person option are no less important than students who excel in a virtual environment.
Our kindergartner has been clearly harmed emotionally by being forced to endure virtual learning, all while being in person at a daycare. Her daycare has the same student to staff ratio as her kindergarten class, and has mitigated COVID-19 successfully since the state reopened in June, yet FCPS has refused to allow her classroom to go in person. The school board is so risk adverse they are willing to harm the children of essential workers by forcing damage through virtual learning. Please mandate an in person option so students like ours can go to age appropriate in person school without forcing essential workers to pay out of pocket for day care or private tuition. Thank you.
As the mother of a middle school student and a high school student, I have seen firsthand the toll virtual learning has taken on the mental health of the students in my community. The lack of socialization is becoming increasingly hard on these kids. They do not understand, nor do I have an explanation for them, why adults are allowed to go to work and people are allowed to go to restaurants and shopping, yet they are not allowed to go to school. It is overdue for them to return to the classroom for face to face learning. Please think of the immediate and long-term effect this will have on our children in Virginia and support bill 1303.
Im asking you To support Bill SB 1303. Our children and families in Virginia desperately need your help. In March of 2020 All of the schools closed down leaving many children at home . Many children have parents Who needed to continue to work outside the home . Since then the school board's have continued to delay opening in person opportunities for children who desperately need it. There is a mental health crisis going on the numbers and statistics are just starting to come in but the number of children self-harming and the number of children seeking Mental Health Services has skyrocketed. I believe the suicide Rate will quickly go up In the coming months and years. A lot of children Are suffering in silence locked in their houses. Most families are doing the best they can but their income does not allow them To put their children in private school or to quit their jobs to stay home. Many counties have opened Across the country and in our state. Statistics are showing That schools are not big transmitters of covid-19. Many of the counties already have all the PPE and cleaning supplies they will need for proper mitigation However the school boards continues to ignore parents . The school board is listening to the teachers unions and not taking the best interest of the children at heart. They are asking for additional funding while not providing in person opportunities for the children who desperately need it. They need to be held accountable for their actions. I am a hospice CNA my husband works for Lowe's. We do not make a big salary . We have been struggling to provide for our youngest Child to go to private school Since we cannot leave her at home alone we have been forced to leave our 10 and 12 year old home to navigate virtual school. We are emotionally Exhausted. We pay our taxpayer dollars To fund the schools . By Virginia state law you are required To provide free accessible education. Virtual school is not accessible for a lot of people. Its Against the law to not provide free accessible public education.Also 504 plans and IEP's are not being followed also against VA state law. Internet providers have more than tripled the cost Of service and the hotspot the counties are providing are not reliable. The service is very spotty and cuts out leading to more frustration by children and alot of children unable to attend school at all. The numbers of children failing Are staggering. It is evident that virtual school is not working for a lot of kids. It will take years for these kids to catch up . The school board is put in place to teach our children it is supposed to be for our children in the best interest of our children not their employees. All other Jobs you have to make a decision whether you will work Or quit your job. The teachers feel that they are more important than everyone else in the community struggling. We should be working together throughout this very difficult time. The school boards Have shown their incompetence To lead. They have not gotten our children back in school . The time has come Where we need help . We need you to save our children. Please support this bill.
I implore for all to supporr SB 1303. The WJCC School Board has been working on everything but getting kids back into the schools for learning. The local data as well as around the country has shown that distance learning is not working for the majority of students, and it has contributed to a huge increase in anxiety, depression and suicides. Our school districts should be doing what is best for the academic success and overall well-being of students. Our kids need to be back in school 5 days a week!
This bill is important for all students learning in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I am the mother of a 5th grader and 7th grader. The mental toll being out of in person school has taken on them is immeasurable. I implore you as a citizen of this great state, please consider the needs of our children. Please pass this Bill.
I strongly support this bill and I hope it passes. Children, especially children with disabilities, need to be in school full time. The Virginia Department of Education has totally abandoned special needs students in the name of "local control", an archaic bit of legislation that was written into the Virginia Constitution so the state could turn a blind eye to white supremacist school boards practicing racial segregation in the 1960's. It's time for local control to go the way of segregated drinking fountains. Some clarifications might be in order, in that "in person" should mean 180 school days in person, rather than two days per week in person at best. Also, Virginia K-12 should satisfy the requirement that a school district offer virtual learning. There's no need for each school district to run its own virtual learning program when the state has an excellent one available to all students.
Please support SB 1303. The Loudoun County School Board has been working on everything but getting kids back into the schools for learning. The local data as well as around the country has shown that distance learning is not working for the majority of students, and it has contributed to a huge increase in anxiety, depression and suicides. Our school districts should be doing what is best for the academic success and overall well-being of students. Our kids need to be back in school 5 days a week!
I am the parent of two beautiful children, one in MS and one in HS. They both tell me they are learning absolutely nothing in the virtual environment. The virtual platform is a joke and a huge disservice to our children. Both their grades have slipped. Of particular issue are the grades of my HS child slipping. His grades will determining his college opportunities and any scholarships he may have available. He does not have the time in his HS career to make this up. My MS child’s English teacher is mandated by the district to use Lexia, an English teaching, virtual platform, to teach concepts that will not be able to be covered in class. She is in literal tears trying to get through this program. My district only conducts 4 days a week for school. The children are literally losing 20% of their education for an entire year. How is this even meeting minimum standards? If as a parent, if I kept my child out of school 1 day a week, I would be taken to court; so why is it acceptable for the very same behavior to be mandated by the district? Studies across the nation has proven the abysmal failure of the virtual platform. An overwhelming majority of students, at all grade levels, are doing worse than my kids. Additionally, as the governor said in Friday, significantly more children are ending up in mental hospitals and being prescribed mind altering anti-depressants all over the unfounded fears of teachers. Making children protect adults is disgusting and sacrificing our children over these fears, is something expected in a 3rd wold country, not America. The science and statistics, both support in-person learning as far as safety for everyone involved and the harms of remaining virtual. If the very teachers, who are teaching children science and statistics cannot follow them themselves, then I seriously question those teachers abilities to properly teach any children. Teachers were put ahead of many older people, to receive the vaccine; regardless of the science that is clear that the risk of covid death increases with age. The goal of teachers receiving vaccines, ahead of older people, was to specifically to return to the classroom, in person. The continued grandstanding of the VEA and teachers who still advocate for virtual learning is abhorrent. They have cost the lives of children due to suicide, put older people at risk because their profession put them ahead of other age groups and have robbed an entire generation of a quality education. Clearly, the school boards need to be pushed to do what is right by our children. I have little hope they will make that right choice without the threat of withholding funds or a major lawsuit. Please vote yes in this bill and return our children to the classroom.
I hope you will fully support this. It is of extreme urgency and importance that we get children back in school full time ASAP. Science and data backs up the need for in person school and how safe it is for all involved when following Safety mitigation procedures.
Already sent a written response to support this bill. I would like to mention for in-person instructions by the teacher, not on a camera. ... no virtual learning from school. It's a disaster for so many students.
I strongly encourage the House to vote in favor SB 1303. As a parent of two Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) students, it has been maddening to watch restaurants, bars, and gyms open while my kids' schools remained closed. Superintendents and school boards have demonstrated they are unqualified to weigh risks and make decisions concerning public health. The state must intervene. Distance learning has been a disaster for my family. My daughter, in kindergarten, is too young to engage with a computer. My son, a third grader with ADHD, cannot sustain focus on a screen for hour after hour, and the frustration now causes him almost daily meltdowns. And yet, we are among the lucky: my wife works from home, we are financially secure, and we have local family members available to help our children during the day. What of the families who must choose between supporting their children and an income? What of children who lack secure housing? Schools provide safe and stable environments for students who may not have them at home. Meanwhile, study after study have shown schools can open safely with safeguards in place. The head of Virginia's vaccination program and the CDC director both said schools can safely open without teacher inoculation as a prerequisite. Schools across the US are open, educating students, and helping them navigate the crisis; but FCPS and its neighboring systems abandoned their students and communities. The conclusion is inescapable. Local school leaders failed, and Virginia children are paying the price. The state has an opportunity and responsibility to demand schools serve students. Please do the right thing.
Please vote “yes” on SB1303. No one is asking for distance learning to be discontinued, simply that for families for whom this is not working have the option to send their children to school. The vaccines are available and being distributed. Teachers can and are being vaccinated. Spread in schools is low. The CDC recommends schools open. Private schools have been safely open, many since August.
The majority of kids are suffering due to virtual learning. It has been a disaster since day one. CDC says it's safe to open but in Stafford kids are going in-person twice a week for a total of six hours a week, it's equivalent to preschool hours. Kids cannot connect through a screen... just because they're staring at a screen doesn't mean they're absorbing what's being taught. Children are losing interest with virtual and have a hard time focusing. Our kids are being used as leverage and the school board stands behind them. It's not fear to kids who are visual learners, they're being forced to learn virtually when it's not working. Schools in Stafford have all the precautions set in place but ignore the fact that kids need to be in building. Please vote on this bill and have parents chose what's best for their kids. It's taking a toll on the kids academically as well as emotionally. My 10 year old cries on a daily basis from virtual. She loves when she can go in classroom. My other kid is in IEP. They keep getting on him about keeping his camera on but he has higher anxiety now. It's causing so many issues. Please pass this bill for the future generation. Please put kids first. Thank you.
Please support this bill. We are a military family and chose to live in Fairfax County in large part because of the schools. However, our school board and teachers are failing my children. I work in a 7,000+ capacity federal building. I show up to work, taking reasonable precautions just like teachers can. Link school funding to in-person enrollment now!
Please vote YES on SB 1303. Unfortunately, local school boards have proven themselves to be beholden to small teachers unions and unwilling to follow the vast preponderance of evidence that schools should be open for in-person learning. The long-term harm being done to many students is going to reverberate for decades. School is not just for academic learning, but also for the socialization children desperately need to develop in our society.
I cannot believe we have not had in-person school here in northern va for a year. Both our college art debts and k-12 students need to get their educational opportunities back immediately. They are suffering terribly and they cannot puck up where they left off. Please vote yes on SB 1303.
The FCPS school board has turned Fairfax County into an elitist economy where only the families that can afford private school are worthy of a high quality in person education. The board is gridlocked with indecisiveness and unable to forge a path forward based on science and data. Please open the schools. Only fund 5 days in person education.
In March I was happy to support closed schools. In April, May and June we tolerated it. In July we were hopeful for 2 days In August we were hopeful for 2 days. In September we started to loose hope In October we started to get Angry. In November In December In January . . . We are angry Under the VA constitution children have a right to public education. Virtual learning does not qualify as public education. Public education must be in a school with a teacher in the room. It is the best way and only high quality way to deliver public education. The school board has ignored all scientific data that supports school reopening. The school board does not even mention the best interest of children in school board meetings. Our school board has lost all purpose and direction on the back to school issue. Not once in 12 months have they considered a plan for 5 days. When a parent asks "how are 5 days offered safely in other U.S. jurisdictions but not here." They ignore the question. In letter after letter, town hall after town hall they have 100% ignored any parent question on how other schools are open but we are closed? Our school board IS NOT INTERESTED IN RESTORING 5 DAYS OF EDUCATION. This is proven as there have been 0 agenda items or discussions on this. The school board cannot solve problems it doesn't even try to solve. FCPS is destined to be closed indefinitely without intervention. You cannot in good conscience based on the science known today fund any school that is not opened 5 days. Please help FCPS "figure it out" and vote yes on 1303. We need your help. Our children deserve your help. Support 1303 and restore our children's rights.
Please pass this bill. Students and parents should not have to fight for free education in America. Rich families who can afford private school shouldn’t be the only ones learning on level academics instead of the “essential standards” the public schools have done this year because they know they can not teach all that needs to be learned in a virtual setting. The time for fear mongering is over. This is not March 2020 when there was so much we didn’t know. If the school systems, for whatever reason, cannot figure out how to open schools to all students, or have perhaps backed themselves into a corner— please help them by passing this bill. Passing this bill will help us find our way out of this mess the school boards have created. Please help our kids. Help my kids ages 5, 7, and 9. Learning behind a computer is not only inappropriate for their age, but also damaging to their health. Please see and understand this. You have the vote that can save our kids from even more pain than they’ve already experienced. They are just kids. Please vote yes to this bill and encourage districts for five days a week in person school. Thank you
I support SB1303. Mask up and get back in the classroom! Full budget = 5 day in person learning!
My name is Kristen Powell and I live in Crosspointe, in Lorton,VA. My 4 kids in grades 4-8th are struggling and losing ground because of prolonged virtual school. Please support the passing of Bill SB1303. This bill will help, although without the emergency clause it won't help soon enough. Please support the reopening of schools as soon as possible, for the older grades, as well as younger. Please advocate for returning to a 5 day in person option as soon as possible. Virtual learning is not the quality education our kids deserve. They need in classroom teachers and peers. My 4th grade son who had a 504 plan will most likely be returning to an IEP now that he has spent all of this time without the type of support that he can only get in a classroom full of other children and a teacher who sees him in person daily. Today when I checked on my 6th grader, I saw that he has changed his google classroom profile photo to three bold words: “ONLINE SCHOOL SUCKS” While I’m mildly embarrassed, I’m also proud that he’s doing what he can to communicate how this feels to him. My 8th grader moved here this summer and has yet to hear the voice or see the face of any of his classmates because the privacy rules do not require middle schoolers to turn on their cameras or mics. He will not recognize anyone by sight or voice when he does enter a school building for the first time despite having been in class since September. Our kids need in person school. If we could afford private school for 4 kids, we would do that, as it is evident that the private schools have figured out how to educate our kids despite the pandemic. I look forward to your response and your advocacy on behalf of my 4 children. Thanks, Kristen Powell
Please support SB 1303 to require FCPS to offer in person learning - you have heard from many how our kids are suffering from isolation and reopening can be done safely. Our kids need to get back in school - if FCPS doesn't get a push from the state they will keep our kids stuck on their screens the rest of this school year at least with one excuse after another. The School Board has completely lost our trust with their continuous displays of incompetence. They are calling their proposed hybrid concurrent model "in person" even when teachers are at home and low wage monitors are the ones in the classroom with the kids. They are only offering 2 days per week at best for most of our kids, unless you work for FCPS then your kids can have 4 days. Please specify that "in person" means 5 days a week, with an actual teacher in the classroom. Please help us to make sure they actually open and get a plan together to offer 5 days a week in person instruction, as our kids deserve. Thank you.
The FCPS school board is plagued with conflict of interests with the FEA in violation of their fiduciary responsibility to make science based decisions regarding return to school. Two board members Ms. Cohen and Mr. Frisch have openly supported via their Twitter accounts expanding the authorities and control of the FEA even though the FEA has acted as the leading obstructionist in making reasonable return to school decisions. Should they have acted within their fiduciary obligations they would call on the FEA to support a reasonable return to school plan instead of obstructionist tactics. The FCPS school board has no plans to restore 5 days of in person education. They have not once considered 5 days as an option in 100s of hours of school meetings. Ms. Meren has repeatedly spent her allowed time during meetings advocating for the teachers, without any regard for the children. Our school board is incapable of making strategic scientific decisions and without assistance from you FCPS will be closed indefinitely. In March we closed based on science. Today we are closed due to political self interests. Vote yes to 1303 and restore the rights of our children. Please help.
Please heed the data from the last 11 months and require schools to reopen! Children are suffering when they could safely be in schools. Now that teachers are vaccinated, we should be back in person five days a week!
Please advocate for our most vulnerable children and all kids in Virginia by passing SB 1303. Our kids desperately need the stability and interaction of in person learning, as virtual learning has harmed not only their test scores and overall education, but their mental health as well. We must do better.
I support SB 1303 and and effort to return our children to in person education 5 days a week. Our children go to FCPS and while their teacher have done a tremendous job of making the most of the situation, virtual learning is just not an appropriate long term learning method for young children and children with IEPs (special education). My children are lucky in many ways, they have 1 parent working from home, a nanny, private OT, extracurricular activities and the option for private school next year in case FCPS can not provide 5 day in person learning. I have lost confidence in our school board to do the right thing and the way they have dragged their feet I highly doubt in person 5 day a week is even going to be an option come fall 2021. We need the state to intervene. To get schools back on track and to make in person learning a priority. Honestly, it’s not just my kids I worry about, it’s all kids. Because certainly many families don’t have the resources to provide alternatives for when public education has failed our children, which virtual learning for a full year is a major failure of the public education system. So the educational gaps will surely only increase if schools continue in a hybrid model. Please consider supporting SB 1303 and any efforts to get our children back in person 5 days a week for all of the Commonwealth’s Children! See Virginia Constitution Article VIII Section 1. You are charged with maintaining a high quality education and our children have that constitutional right. Virtual learning and hybrid learning with classroom monitors are not a high quality education.
Please pass this Bill. My children have suffered so much in virtual school. My high school son who is all honors and who never has gotten less than a B average , was failing out at cosby high school. We had to move him to a private school so he could have in person education and now he is doing great. My other kids still in the public school setting are suffering and miss seeing their peers and teachers. This bill needs to become a law because the horrible effects of virtual education on our kids will last a very long time. This bill will help us and our kids never have to suffer again like this. Thank you for taking the time to read my comments.
SB1303 is not a political bill. It has bipartisan support. It merely offers a choice. Those who opt for virtual learning may do so. This bill allows teachers and students who wish to benefit from in-class learning the option to do so. Currently, thousands of Virginia children are suffering and they have no option other than to continue to struggle. Look at any county division and you will see FOIA results showing large increases in self-harm, depression, failing grades, students who don't show up at all, etc.... There is a waterfall of medical evidence to show in-class learning is imperative for students and that open schools do not increase community spread. If you follow the medical experts from Harvard and Brown or the CDC, they are telling us that schools should be open. Governor Northam recently sent a request to open, but it is merely a request. We need legislative action to ensure children have a choice in the future. This bill does not force teachers and students to attend in person if they feel it is better to remain at home. But currently, we are forcing teachers and students to remain at home and suffer for those who need in-class instruction. This bill is about choice. That is all it is legislating. We need your yes vote on SB1303 because many districts are comprised of a school board without experience in these matters and they look to legislation and our government for guidance. Please vote yes on this bipartisan bill.
FCPS has failed to provide IEP services responsive to my son’s IEP. They have fought paying for alternative private services and represented that COVID is a sufficient excuse to not be bound by special education requirements. FCPS leaders are aware of my son’s circumstances and refuse to change their countywide position that “equity” demand everyone get the same virtual education regardless of individual needs. Only defunding the schools will change their behavior. They have not even spent all the CARES Act monies provided last Spring hoping to gift those to teachers and their unions. Why would the State of VA continue to fund such a self interested group of public employees?
Virtual learning is not working and a FCPS return to a two day hybrid school schedule is NOT a substitute for five , day in person with an actual teacher (no computer.) Children are not meant to learn this way and are being held hostage in their own homes. They are crying, frustrated, depressed, failing academically, and some even killing themselves from isolation. Children around this country and state are BEGGING to return to school. Please please please do the right thing and mandate that all Virginia schools, need to return 5 days a week, all day, all grades, all abilities, all languages, no matter the need. If the state is not clear and concise with the wording in this bill, districts will read between the lines and only adhere to what they think they can get away with to reduce in person learning and provide the bare minimum. Your bill clearly needs to state that the definition of return to school, is full time , five days a week. Children should receive nothing less than full time, in person, five day a week with their teacher (especially if vaccinated) and those who want to remain virtual can. However, there needs to be a separation between virtual and in person because hybrid is not sustainable. The computers need to be put away and children need to return to paper and pencil. Please help hour children.
Support families And kids by requiring in person learning with teachers five days a week!
I hope you support SB 1303. It would ensure every school division in Virginia to offer in-person instruction to every student, based on the preference of the student's parent or guardian. SB1303 takes decision-making away from local school divisions—who are indecisive, working outside of their scope of duties to make public health decisions. They disregard local VA health officials recommendations to return to in person learning and react with fear, not facts. Educators and community members all agree—we want in-person learning now. Health mitgiation measures used by other public schools and local private school demonstrate safety can be assured. Local school divisions are responsible for providing the conditions for in-person learning, and they should comply. Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has closed their doors to students with disabilities, refusing to provide in-person interventions written in the students' legal binding IEPs, but these same schools are open to SAAC, childcare for a fee, in the same school buildings for the past 10 months for the general population without any outbreaks! They've proven mitigation strategies work in their own buildings. On 2/2/21 FCPS approved allowing some students to return to in person learning two days a week by March 16th, 2021. They are prioritizing elementary children of FCPS teachers, their children can return 4 days a week. Why did they not allow this children with special needs or who are failing or self injuring to return? The hypocrisy is palpable. Furthermore, FCPS is allowing vaccinated teachers to stay home, teach remotely whe the student is in the classroom with a paid monitor. The monitors are untrained baby sitters. Our school board is boasting they are getting children back in the classroom, but not the TEACHERS? FCPS was able to convince VA education department to use last years enrollment numbers to sustain 2021-2022 state funding, but they'll encounter a significant loss of funds in 2023-2022, which will tell the true story of their failures. More than 17,000 children disenrolled in FCPS this school year as of October 2020, and many more who can afford it are leaving by the masses. Military families refuse to sign military subsidy paperwork allowing additional VA funds to support military children since they are getting no support. It may be a financial hardship to get these teachers and administrators to FINALLY do the right thing for our children. Please SUPPORT 1303
Unfortunately the current school year has demonstrated that some school districts need outside motivation to offer the highest quality form of education - in-person learning. Despite academic, physical health, and mental health harms, too many districts quibbled in the face of clearer and clearer science from the AAP, CDC, WHO, UNICEF, and others. That said, as written this bill requires districts to stand up separate virtual schools (or do concurrent learning, which is unideal all around) when VDOE already has a virtual campus. It also allows districts to do a hybrid form of instruction for all and fulfill the whole bill. This bill needs to be amended, but Virginia needs forward motion on in-person learning for all but those medically unable.