RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — On Thursday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that as of this week, all of Virginia’s 132 school divisions are now open for full-time, in-person learning.
“Students learn best when they are in their classroom, and I am proud that all of Virginia’s school divisions are now providing safe, in-person instruction,” said Governor Northam. “The Commonwealth’s teachers and families have worked hard to adjust to virtual and hybrid learning during the pandemic—because of their continued work, Virginia’s children are now safely back in school.”
The announcement comes as First Lady Pamela Northam wrapped up her annual Back to School Tour. This year she visited 28 schools, 26 school divisions, and all eight superintendent regions.
“After four years on the road at over 200 schools and programs, we have never seen students so excited to be back in the classroom totally engaged in learning with their peers,” said First Lady Pamela Northam. “Thanks to superhero educators, Virginia’s children will emerge from this pandemic stronger and more resilient than ever before.”
Reopening schools safely has been a priority for the administration over the past few months.
In August, Northam announced that all students and staff in K-12 schools are required to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. The order, applied to public and private schools, will remain in place until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for schools change unless the order is amended or rescinded sooner.
“We all share the same goal of keeping our schools open and keeping our students safe,” said Governor Northam in a press release last month. “That’s why the General Assembly passed this law with overwhelming bipartisan support. This Public Health Order makes it very clear that masks are required in all indoor K-12 settings, and Virginia expects all schools to comply.”
School divisions across the Commonwealth are receiving a total of $3.6 billion in federal support for recovery and reopening under three federal pandemic relief acts:
- the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act,
- the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020 and
- the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
Northam says that school divisions are also receiving $205.8 million in state funding this year to mitigate the impact of declines in per-pupil funding due to the pandemic, as well as $40 million in state funding to address unfinished learning.
“I have been traveling across Virginia and welcoming students back to in-person learning since July when Hopewell Public Schools reopened under their new year-round calendar,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “At every school I visit, I am impressed by the determination of principals, teachers, and support staff to overcome all of the challenges they face and maintain safe, in-person learning for their students.”
There are more than 1.2 million public school students in the Commonwealth.