King William School Board Sends Letter to Governor, Health Officials Asking for End to Mask Mandate

The King William School Board voted four to one to send a letter to Governor Ralph Northam and other top Virginia officials criticizing a mask mandate in schools.

“We believe that Senate Bill 1303 passed by the Virginia General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Northam is unconstitutional. In its current form, this law oversteps the authority of both the General Assembly and the governor by encroaching on the authority granted to school boards by the Constitution of Virginia. This law is just one of many recent examples of government overreach that infringes upon our ability to fulfill our duties and make local decisions for our community,” the letter states.

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Virginia Schools 2020-2021 Standard of Learning Tests Results Unsurprisingly Low

Virginia’s 2020-2021 standards of learning (SOL) pass rates are low: 69.34 percent for reading, 54.18 percent for mathematics, and 59.45 percent for science, according to Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) data released Thursday. The VDOE emphasizes that those results are due to COVID-19 and related factors, and followed national trends.

“Pass rates reflect disruptions to instruction caused by the pandemic, decreased participation in state assessment programs, pandemic-related declines in enrollment, fewer retakes, and more flexible ‘opt-out’ provisions for parents concerned about community spread of COVID-19,” the VDOE said.

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Virginia Senate Passes Amended American Rescue Plan Act Allocation Bill

RICHMOND, Virginia — The Virginia Senate passed its amended version of the $4.3 billion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation bill late Wednesday evening, after hours of debate on amendments. Although some Republican amendments, including a key law enforcement bonus proposal, were incorporated into the spending bill, many were not. Rejected amendments included a sweeping election integrity amendment and an anti-Critical Race Theory amendment. The final vote on passing the bill was 22-18. Many Republicans said that while they supported some elements of the bill, they disapproved of the process Democrats used, including a vote Wednesday evening to limit debate on each amendment to just three minutes.

Right before the vote to pass the budget, the Senate GOP caucus went into conference. When the senators returned, Minority Leader Thomas Norment, Jr. (R-James City) hinted that many of his caucus would vote against the bill. He said, “It is not so much about the substantive provisions of the budget that we have amended. Rather I believe that the vote you are about to see is going to be a reflection of the frustration and the indignation of the entire process.”

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Virginia House of Delegates Quickly Passes American Rescue Plan Act Spending Bill

RICHMOND, Virginia – The House of Delegates met, passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) by a 71-25 vote and adjourned in 30 minutes on Wednesday. Facing 107 pages of proposed amendments, a photo-op, and a series of lengthy recesses, the Senate had not completed its debate by press time Wednesday evening although it convened at 10 a.m.

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Primary Day: Democrats Pick Their Ticket, GOP Watches House Primaries in Districts 9, 83

Virginia Democrats have been voting for months, but Tuesday is the final day of voting in the Democratic primaries for governor, attorney general, and lieutenant governor. The races have highlighted a contrast between progressive and establishment wings of the party, with battles over identity, past scandals, and private versus corporate campaign funding. But Tuesday’s voting includes both Democratic and Republican primaries for House of Delegates districts across the state.

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Cox Calls for Small-Group and Individual Tutoring to Address Learning Loss

Gubernatorial candidate Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) agrees that schools need to be reopened immediately. But he says that’s not enough — policymakers need to address learning losses. Districts like Fairfax County have reported spikes in failing grades. Parents and medical studies have expressed concern over the long-term harms caused by a year of virtual learning. Cox is calling for tutoring programs to help students recover academically, and he says he is willing to be one of those tutors.

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Northam Acts on 552 General Assembly Bills from 2021 Sessions

Governor Ralph Northam announced the signing of 14 bills on Wednesday, March 31, which was a deadline for the Governor to take action on legislation passed in the 2021 General Assembly sessions. According to his announcement, took action on 552 bills with no vetoes, although he sent some back to the General Assembly with amendments.

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Virginia Wedding Venue Appears in Court to Fight COVID-19 Capacity Limits

Outdoor wedding venue Belle Garden Estate (BGE) appeared in court Wednesday in a lawsuit against Governor Ralph Northam. BGE’s lawyer Tim Anderson argued that Northam’s executive orders violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment, since religious weddings have no capacity limits, but secular weddings are capped by executive order. Northam’s lawyer argued that the right to have a wedding is not infringed, just the capacity allowed at a wedding. BGE sought an injunction blocking enforcement of executive orders that limit wedding venues differently from other businesses.

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Dunnavant’s In-Person Learning Bill Moves out of Committee

The House Education Committee voted Monday to approve changes to Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s (R-Henrico) bill to require schools to provide in-person learning. After passing the Senate with bipartisan support, the House of Delegates Education Committee proposed a substitute that Republicans said would have effectively left the status quo intact. However, Dunnavant worked with the committee to create a new substitute including specific definitions for the in-person requirement, creating a compromise bill that received bipartisan support in the committee. The bill would be effective for the 2021-2022 school year — efforts to give the bill emergency status were shot down.

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Bipartisan Effort to Create an In-Person Learning Bill Slowly Moving Through the Virginia General Assembly

Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s (R-Henrico) SB 1303 requiring schools to provide both in-person and virtual learning options is still moving through the House of Delegates, but slowly. Dunnavant’s bill earned bipartisan support in the Senate, thanks in part to support from Senators Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) and Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond.) But a House Education subcommittee initially introduced several amendments to the bill that would effectively leave the status quo intact, prompting opposition from House Republicans

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General Assembly Votes to Give Virginia Teachers a Raise, Senate Passes In-Person Learning Bills

The House of Delegates and the Senate both voted to give Virginia teachers’ a pay raise in the budget bills passed with bipartisan support Friday. HB 1800, passed 68 to 30, features a five percent teachers’ raise for Fiscal Year 2022, while its counterpart SB 1100, which features a three percent teachers’ raise, passed 31 to eight. The Senate also passed an amendment to the budget that requires schools to provide in-person learning options in 2021-2022; however, the House defeated a similar floor amendment on Friday.

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State Senators Dunnavant, Petersen Call for Education Reserve Corps to Address Looming School Staffing Shortage in Virginia

Citing school staffing shortages, Senators Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) and Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico) are proposing the creation of an Education Reserve Corps in Virginia.

“As we’ve known, other than getting people vaccinated and keeping them alive, the most important issue, and we’ve been consistent about this, is reopening schools,” Petersen said on the Senate floor on Monday. He pointed to staffing parallels in the medical field.

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Legislation Requiring Virginia School Divisions to Offer In-Person Learning Option Advances in Senate

Legislation that would require local school divisions in Virginia to make in-person learning available to all students advanced out of the Senate Education and Health Committee on Thursday with some bipartisan support.

Senate Bill 1303, introduced by Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico), just barely passed out of the committee by an 8-7 vote. All six Republicans voted in favor of the bill and two Democrats joined, while the rest of the committee members opposed.

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House Passes Legislation to Help Virginia Administer Vaccinations, Senate Version Waiting to be Heard

The Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday passed emergency legislation to speed up the state’s slow vaccination campaign by expanding which health care workers can administer shots to citizens and locations serving as inoculation sites.

House Bill 2333, introduced by Del. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico), passed the House with bipartisan support from committee to a final floor vote in just one day, a process that normally takes multiple meetings of the body.

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Virginia Senators Push Bill to Help Speed Up State Vaccination Effort

A bill to help Virginia speed up its mass vaccination effort by expanding who is allowed to inoculate citizens and where those injections can occur is being pushed by a bipartisan group of state Senators.

Flanked by various medical professionals, Senators Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City), Todd Pillion (R-Washington), Jennifer Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach), George Barker (D-Fairfax) and Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico) held a news conference to discuss Senate Bill 1445 in Richmond on Thursday.

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Bipartisan Group of Senators Call for Governor to Reopen Virginia’s Schools

Three Virginia state Senators called for Governor Ralph Northam on Wednesday to reopen public schools across the Commonwealth and mandate in-person learning as an option for families struggling with virtual instruction. 

Just hours before the General Assembly kicked off its 2021 session, Senators Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond City), Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico) and Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City) held a press conference to discuss the matter.

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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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No In-Person Classes in Virginia’s Capital: Richmond Public Schools to Remain Virtual for Spring Semester

Richmond Public Schools (RPS) will continue with virtual learning only for the rest of the 2020-21 academic year.

During a Monday night meeting, the RPS School Board voted 8-1 to keep students away from the classroom for another several months after Superintendent Jason Kamras gave a presentation and recommended the school district remain virtual.

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Dunnavant: Lack of State Leadership Leads to Bad School Closure Decisions

As the 2020 elections fade into the background, Governor Ralph Northam has re-instituted capacity limits and restaurant curfews, but unlike in spring 2020, the governor has not closed schools back down. He has also not called for schools to open back up, leaving local districts to make their own decisions.

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State Senator Dr. Siobhan Dunnavant on Limiting the Executive Powers of Virginia Governor Northam and Reopening Schools

Monday morning on The John Fredericks Show, host John Fredericks welcomed Virginia State Senator (R) Dr. Siobhan Dunnavant to discuss limiting Governor Northam’s executive powers and re-opening schools.

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