House GOP Leader Gilbert: Northam Should Add Emergency Clause to the ‘Open the Schools’ Bill

gshipley2021 General Assembly, Education, Governor Northam

Late last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance on social distancing in schools, lowering the recommended distance between students from 6 feet to 3 feet, clearing the way for schools to reopen in Virginia.

House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert issued the following statement:

“The new guidance from the CDC is crystal clear: schools can safely reopen using a 3-foot distancing standard. Science and experience have shown that the risks to both students and teachers in a school setting are minimal, provided that common sense precautions are followed.

“Senate Bill 1303 mandates that parents be given a real choice between 5-day, in-person education as soon as the bill becomes effective. Republicans worked to make that bill effective immediately, but House Democrats defeated that effort. Governor Northam should send the bill back to the General Assembly with an emergency clause added.

“In February, Governor Northam directed schools to reopen by March 15. Due to inaction by House Democrats,Virginia did not meet that goal. Every day we wait to reopen our schools causes children to not only fall further behind, but also sink further into depression and despair.

“As the President of the VA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics told the Fairfax County School Board recently, Children cannot survive on seven hour Zoom sessions for months at a time.

“It’s time to open the schools and give parents a real choice — not this fall, but now. I hope Governor Northam will act to protect our children.”