Gov. Ralph Northam today reported on the continued expansion of the commonwealth’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution and called on all school divisions to resume offering in-person learning by March 15.
He also reported that the first case of the South African variant of the virus was detected in Virginia on Thursday. It is the third state, along with South Carolina and Maryland, to find cases of the more transmissible and severe strain.
Northam noted the state would pass the mark of 1 million doses administered this weekend. Virginia also is getting more supply of the vaccine, up 23% this week.
Meanwhile, he reported that the federal program to begin shipping vaccines to pharmacies will begin next week at 36 CVS stores in Virginia, including one in Loudoun County. Details of that program have not yet been announced.
The focus of Northam’s update on the coronavirus response was to announce efforts to ramp up a return to classrooms for K-12 students.
After state and federal authorities revised guidance on school protocols last month to reflect evidence of low infection rates in school settings when safety procedures are followed, Northam said he has issued a “directive” for superintendents, school boards and teachers to resume in-person learning by March 15. That is near the one-year anniversary of his order to close schools at the onset of the pandemic.
Many school divisions—including Loudoun County’s—already are resuming or beginning hybrid learning as caseloads decline from the holiday spike.
“Children learn better in classrooms. That’s where they need to be,” Northam said.
Northam also encouraged school leaders to plan for expanded summer school options to provide opportunities for students to catch up following the documented slide in academic performance during the past year.