Chamber Insider Blog

Governor Northam Addresses Phase II for NOVA and School Reopening

Post written by Grafton deButts, VP of Membership & Government Affairs

During yesterday’s press briefing Governor Northam announced that Northern Virginia will be moving into Phase 2, which lifts even more restrictions on business, and laid out the requirements for public and private schools to open for summer activities and the fall semester. Here’s a brief synopsis on this and other news from the Governor’s press briefing.   Thank you to our partner, Access Point Public Affairs Co-Founder and Partner, Mindy Carlin, for providing many of the details below.

Loudoun and Northern Virginia will join the rest of Virginia on Phase II on Friday
The changes from Phase I to Phase II include but are not limited to:

Indoor Public Spaces/Offices:
Phase I – Safer at Home. Social distancing and face covering are required. Teleworking is recommended.
Phase II – Unchanged.

Social Gatherings:
Phase I – 10 individuals.
Phase II – 50 individuals.

Phase I – Outdoor seating only.
Phase II – Indoor seating up to 50% occupancy with detailed cleaning requirements.

Fitness Centers:
Phase I – Outdoor exercising only.
Phase II – Open to 30% occupancy with detailed cleaning requirements.

Entertainment/Recreation Venues:
Phase I – Closed.
Phase II – Outdoor venues may open if they are able to follow the mandatory requirements. Indoor venues are closed.

Religious Services and Non-Essential Retail:
Phase I – May open to 50% occupancy and social distancing requirements.
Phase II – Unchanged.

Personal Grooming:
Phase I – May open by appointment only to 50% occupancy.
Phase II – Unchanged.

This is only a brief summary.  Use the following link for a full and detailed description of the Phase II permissions and requirements from Governor Northam for specific industries.

Governor Releases Guidance for Re-Opening Virginia Schools

Today, Governor Ralph Northam announced a phased approach that allows Virginia schools to slowly resume in-person classes for summer school and the coming academic year. The K-12 phased reopening plan was developed by the Office of the Secretary of Education, Virginia Department of Health, and the Virginia Department of Education and is informed by guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

All PreK-12 schools in Virginia will be required to deliver new instruction to students for the 2020-2021 academic year, regardless of the operational status of school buildings. The PreK-12 guidance is aligned with the phases outlined in the Forward Virginia blueprint and provides opportunities for school divisions to begin offering in-person instruction to specific student groups.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) convened numerous and diverse stakeholders through the Return to School Recovery Task Force, the Accreditation Task Force, and the Continuity for Learning Task Force this spring to inform strategies for reopening. Secretary of Education Atif Qarni held 35 strategy sessions with diverse groups of education stakeholders between May 29 and June 8 to gather their recommendations on how different reopening scenarios would impact their respective roles. The Secretary and his team engaged 800 individuals in these conversations, and heard from a wide range of perspectives including English language learners, parents of students with special needs, career and technical education centers, early childhood educators, students, school nutrition workers, private school leaders, bus drivers, school psychologists, the Virginia High School League, counselors, nurses, and more.

General Assembly Special Session

The Governor shared they expect to have re-forecasted budget numbers in July and he anticipates he will call the legislators back in early August.  Ongoing discussions with legislators related to social justice issues are taking place and some of these issues will be taken up during the special session.

Removal of the Robert E. Lee Statue in Richmond

The Governor shared that he believes they are on solid legal ground with respect to his authority to have the statue of Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond removed.

In response to questions about the action taken by the Richmond Circuit Court to delay removal of the Lee statue, the Governor’s General Counsel, Rita Davis, shared that they fully expected the injunction to be filed and that the administration has been preparing to take this action for more than a year and are well aware of potential legal challenges and the Governor’s authority on this matter.

The Lee statue is owned by Commonwealth and as such, is under the Governor’s direct authority to act. He shared that legislation passed during the 2020 session that provides authority to localities to determine how best to deal with statues, street names, building names and the like at the local level.