Seven School Boards Sue Over Youngkin Mask-Optional Order; Sen. Petersen Threatens Legislative Action if Schools Don’t Find Mandate Off-Ramp

Seven school districts are suing Governor Glenn Youngkin over Executive Order Two, which requires schools to allow parents to opt children out of mask mandates. The lawsuit challenges Youngkin’s authority over school boards and his ability to override Senate Bill 1303, which requires schools to follow CDC guidelines.

“At issue is whether locally-elected school boards have the exclusive authority and responsibility conferred upon them by Article VIII, Section 7 of the Constitution of Virginia over supervision of the public schools in their respective communities, or whether an executive order can unilaterally override that constitutional authority. Also at issue is whether a governor can, through executive order, without legislative action by the Virginia General Assembly, reverse a lawfully-adopted statute,” Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) said in a Monday press release.

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Prince William and Virginia Beach School Boards Consider Changes to Public Hearings at Meetings

The Prince William School Board (PWSB) and Virginia Beach School Board (VBSB) are both considering changes to public hearing procedures, a move aimed at making meetings more efficient in an era of controversial school board decisions. The PWSB proposal includes an expansion of the citizen comment period from 30 minutes to 60 minutes, but limits speakers to two minutes for a total of 30 speakers. It also prohibits members of the public from having signs in the school board meeting room.

PWSB Chair Babur Lateef read that proposal for the first time at the Wednesday meeting. He explained, “The Prince William County School Board wanted to review the proposed revisions intended to improve our efficiency and safety of board meetings increase avenues of communications with the public particularly on agenda items and incorporate recent legislative changes to provisions of Virginia FOIA as they relate to the confidentiality of the personal contact information of citizens.”

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Falls Church City Public Schools Plans to Have All Students Back In-Person by End of January

Falls Church City Public Schools plans to have all students back to in-person classes by the end of January, according to a notice from Superintendent Peter Noonan.

“ALL students are slated to return in the month of January,” Noonan said on Monday. “We plan to return students in phases beginning on January 5, 2021, consistent with employee capacity to clean our buildings. We will open, starting with the smallest cohort and lead up to the largest cohort.”

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Three Republican Prince William County, Virginia Supervisors Leave Unconscious Bias Training

A Prince William County sensitivity presentation to the school board and Board of Supervisors (BOS) members exploded into a shouting match earlier this month, leading to three Republican Supervisors leaving the meeting. The “Raising Awareness of Unconscious Bias to Foster Inclusivity and Equity” presentation was part of a joint work session between the two boards.

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Some Districts Opt for Virtual Learning Instead of Snow Days

Northern Virginia received a range of less than an inch up to eight inches of snow, according to WUSA9.

As a result, Loudoun County and Prince William County declared snow days. But Arlington Public Schools and Fairfax County said classes would still be held online. That means that for some students, snow days are another casualty of COVID-19 precautions.

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Virtual Learning Outages Hit Many Virginia School Districts on First Day

School districts across Virginia struggled to cope with increased demand Tuesday, as thousands of virtual learning students logged on for their first day of classes. Districts including Chesterfield County Public Schools(CCPS), Virginia Beach City Public Schools(VBCPS), and Arlington Public Schools (APS) all suffered major system outages. Other districts reported a high volume of callers.

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