Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam wants schools in the state to focus on reopening soon and safely, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Northam, speaking during a news conference Thursday, said his decision was partly influenced by a visit to T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, where he saw teachers receiving the coronavirus vaccine, WTTG-TV (Channel 5) reported.
Northam pointed out the vaccine isn’t a necessity for schools to reopen. A physician by profession, the Democratic governor said anti-coronavirus measures such as wearing masks, cleaning and social distancing can take place in schools.
“All of our school divisions need to be making plans about how to reopen schools,” he said, WTTG reported. “It’s not going to happen next week, but I want our schools to come from this starting point: How do we get schools open safely?”
Two Northern Virginia teachers’ unions, the Loudoun Education Association and the Fairfax Education Association, responded that safety for students, staff and educators amid the pandemic should be the priority instead of rushing to return to in-school classes, WTTG reported.
As of Friday, Virginia has roughly 423,000 coronavirus cases and 5,700 related deaths, according to the state health department.