Click on "Education Empowerment Scholarships" below to send prefilled email to all Delegates on the Education Sub-Committee in support of HB 2225. You can also amend the email with your own verbiage. (Please be sure to add your mailing address to the email so they know you are a resident of VA)
In order to provide direct comments on the bill, just go to this website and select the box HB2225 and then press next. You will be able to provide direct comments. Additionally, I have been informed that this will first be heard in subcommittee.
Del Glenn Davis of Va Beach is sponsoring a bill (HB2225) that will allow state tax dollars to follow the student. Specifically, it would allow state money to be allocated to students with special needs and students of active duty military members who choose to remove their children from public school. Currently, the average per student State allocation is approximately $4100.
Students with special needs often do not receive the services they need in order to succeed. Additionally, military students often do not have a choice of what school they can attend and may be forced into failing schools without any other options. Under this legislation, these students would have an option. With these Education Empowerment Scholarships, parents could use this money for their children to attend private school, homeschool, therapy services, tutors, etc.
This legislation will soon be heard in Sub-Committee. Please consider sending an email of support for this legislation. Full bill details can be found here. HB2225.
Summary of 1/12/20 School Board meeting on the topic of returning Option 1 students to school:
* Original motion made was to approve the Superintendent's amended plan that was changed just a few hours prior to the meeting. There was consensus among Board members that we didn't want to give him the authority to make changes to dates that would be set. Original motion was never voted on
* I made a substitute motion to approve the plan presented to the Board last week that has been supported by over 30 local esteemed physicians. Failed 4-7
* Ms. Weems made a substitute motion to approve Dr Spence's amended plan provided a few hours before the meeting to change the start dates by 2 weeks but to remove his authority to change the dates. I made the second to approve. Motion never voted on
* Ms. Owens made another substitute motion passed to her in a note by Bev Anderson. This motion was to approve the amended plan with start dates for first group of Feb 1 and second group Feb 22; however, there are stipulations. All 5 mitigations strategies must be met AND infection rates must have a 7 day decline before students are allowed to return to school. No details were given in the motion regarding the details of how those 7 days are measured. Motion passed 6-5 (nay votes-- Weems, Rye, Manning, Hughes, Franklin).
At the last minute, just hours before the School Board meeting, the Department of Health Director changed her view and stated that she could not support the plan proposed last week because her office could not do proper COVID tracing during the current metrics. Dr Spence told us late in the night that prior to the holiday break, he asked the VB Dept of Health if there was anything that VB Schools could do to help with contact tracing. It is now weeks later and he still has not received an answer from them. I fear that this organization will continue to prevent our students from returning to school and feel that we are letting 1 person's voice drown out the advice from over 30 other physicians who have indicated that students are safer IN school and that they believe community metrics could decline with students back IN school. Additionally, Chesapeake has already begun their employee vaccinations. VB will not even begin for at least 2 more weeks (possibly more) and there must be 4 weeks between the 1st and 2nd dose. City Council in their meeting last night expressed their frustration with the VDH vaccine rollout in VB.
If you want to get students back to school contact your state legislators to let them know this is not acceptable. Legislators on both sides of the aisle have called for not approving additional funding if students do not return to in person learning
I just received permission from these physicians to share this letter publicly. I have received numerous additional letters of support similar to this.
I have received quite a few emails from physicians in support of returning students to the classroom. They have indicated that it is safe for both students and staff. Here is an excerpt from one of the messages I received from a local ER Physician not associated with the current medical team advising our School Board.
There is also another new release from Harvard Doctors on the topic
THERE WERE NO CASES OF CHILD-ADULT WITHIN SCHOOL TRANSMISSION.
From a local ER Physician:
I was actually surprised to find that the evidence is overwhelming in demonstrating that in person learning is SAFE for both students and staff. In fact, a new study just came out on January 8, 2020 in the American Journal of Pediatrics that I believe is very relevant to the opening of schools. I want to the highlight the following from that study:
- This study examined 11 school districts in North Carolina (with nearly 100,000 students/staff) open for 9 weeks of in-person instruction.
- The study tracked secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the local health department.
- Through contact tracing, NC health department staff determined only 32 out of 773 infections were acquired within schools.
- There were no cases of child-to-adult within-school transmission.This means not a single child gave a teacher an infection.
- Most of the cases of secondary transmission in ABC district were related to absent face coverings.
- The counties housing the school districts had considerable community transmission at the time.
- The author concludes,“Our data indicate that schools can reopen safely if they develop and adhere to specific SARS-CoV-2 prevention policies.”
During an ongoing pandemic with widespread community transmission, cases of COVID-19 will occur regardless of whether schools are in- person or not. A key question exists for the Board: Is the within-school spread of COVID-19 greater, equal to, or less than that observed in the broader community??? I can tell you with certainty that studies unequivocally demonstrate that it is less and it is actually safer for children and teachers to be in school, where mitigation is consistent.
The School Board will meet and discuss proposed changes to the "Fall 2020 Reopening Plan" on Jan 5th at 4pm. The proposed changes have not yet been presented to the Board. However, we have received the demands from the VBEA Union (see below).* The VBEA is a subsidiary of the NEA and has been fighting hard to keep our students out of school. The most recent list of demands are arbitrary, unreasonable and not based in science. Several current School Board members have very close ties to the VBEA including continued membership in the organization.
Multiple physicians recently advised our Board that keeping children out of school is causing harm and that COVID spread is NOT occurring in schools. VBCPS, through the CARES Act, has spent millions of dollars to be able to safely return our students back to school (plexiglass, PPE, cleaning supplies, and more). Yet our classrooms remain empty and our children and families are suffering.
Nowhere in this message below from the VBEA President does it mention the long lasting negative impacts of continued closures on students. Achievement gaps continue to widen, anxiety and depression continue at all time highs and obesity in children will all have a lasting impact.
I do not blame teachers for the decisions that have been made. Most teachers want to be back in the classroom and I do not believe the VBEA represents even close to a majority of teachers. I believe most teachers are making lemonade out of lemons. However, students are continuing to fall behind and are NOT receiving the same type of instruction they would in-person. Especially our students with special needs and students in specialty programs such as Vo-tech.
**** The VBEA wants to "adjust curriculum standards and pacing guides"! Our students are already behind and the VBEA wants to continue to lower the bar??
**** VBEA wants parents/taxpayers to pay for childcare for employees. How many other employers are paying childcare expenses for employees while parents have to be home with their kids? The funding comes out of the taxpayers' pockets--- it doesn't grow on trees! What about parents and students?
You can provide your input regarding the VBEA demands to the School Board at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*I always get comments that state: "VBEA is not a union". They are a subsidiary of the NEA (National Teacher's Union). If you are a member of the VBEA, you are automatically a member of the NEA. See photo