Correction: Article now includes correct date for the start of Phase Two, June 12.
ALEXANDRIA, VA – Gov. Ralph S. Northam (D-VA) announced in a press conference today that Northern Virginia can enter Phase Two of his “Forward Virginia” plan this Friday, June 12. The majority of the press conference was spent outlining the reopening of Virginia schools this fall. He said that Virginians are in a new normal and children should return to the classroom to continue education.
June 12 will be another step toward progress as Northern Virginia enters Phase Two. Northam is allowing the move because health data has shown a downward trend in the spread of coronavirus. In this phase, restaurants can offer indoor dining at 50 percent capacity. Social gatherings of 50 people will be permitted. Face masks and social distancing are still highly recommended. To learn more about Phase Two, click HERE.
Schools will open in phases, similar to the Commonwealth’s reopening phases. Physical distancing and various other safety measures will be put into place. When students return to classes, six feet will be placed in between desks and group work will be limited. Staff must wear face masks when appropriate distance with students cannot be maintained. It is recommended that students wear masks but not required.
“Closing our schools was a necessary step to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of staff, students, and our communities,” said Governor Northam. “Our schools have risen to the occasion and found ways to provide remote learning opportunities, keep students engaged, continue serving meals for children who otherwise would have gone hungry, and support students and families through an immensely challenging time.”
During each of the three phases, a combination of distance learning and classroom instruction will be employed.
“This approach to reopening our schools protects and prioritizes the health and social, emotional and physical health of students and staff as public health conditions evolve,” Northam said.
In the first phase, the majority of learning will occur virtually, but as stated above, students in special education may resume classroom instruction.
In the second phase, students in pre-school through the third grade can return to the classroom.
In the third phase, all grade levels can return to classrooms. However, physical distancing and face masks will still be crucial in preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Health screenings will take place and different schedules may be utilized. Remote learning will be offered to high-risk students and staff.
Local divisions and private schools, In Phase Two, must submit plans to the Virginia Department of Education that include policies and procedures for implementing Virginia Department of Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mitigation strategies. Schools, regardless of operational status, will be required to outline their plans for instruction.
To view the CDC guidelines that schools must follow in every phase, click HERE