Va. Gov. Northam announcement due Friday: ‘We want to extend our classrooms to this summer’

The specifics aren’t clear yet, but Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said he will make an announcement Friday, with the goal of helping students whose school years have been complicated by the coronavirus.

“We want to extend our classrooms this summer, to allow our children to catch up, so that everybody will be ready in the fall,” Northam told The Washington Post.

An administration official told WTOP that Northam will stress the need for students to be back in school, and that Dr. Anthony Fauci and President Joe Biden have said it’s possible to do so safely.

Northam will repeat his call for school systems who have no in-person options to move quickly to make safe in-person education available to those who choose.

“He will also be calling on localities to offer in-person instructional opportunities over the summer,” according to the official.

Northam had previously floated the idea of year-round school this year, as the state attempted to balance student and staff safety with education. “We’ve been working with our teachers, our school boards, our superintendents,” said Northam.

Contacted by WTOP, several Virginia school systems and boards chose not to upstage the governor’s Friday announcement.

Northam did expound on one reason summer learning is needed.

“Our kids need to be back in school — our parents need a break, too,” Northam said. “We’ve asked a lot for the past year from our children and our families, and now it’s time for us to help them — to give them some extra time this summer to get them prepared will be in everybody’s best interests.”

Virginia’s Senate on Tuesday passed a bill requiring every local school division to make both virtual and in-person learning available to students.

The bill, SB 1303, is now headed to the House of Delegates. Supporters of the measure said Northam backs the bill and wants it to take effect as soon as it reaches his desk.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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