COVID and In-Person Instruction: SB1303 Background
February 26, 2021
February 26, 2021
As reported in the Friday Leaders Report, the VEA stood behind SB1303 when Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg made significant changes to protect students and educators through a substitute amendment that just passed the House and Senate over the past few days.
SB1303, in its original one-sentence posture, would have required each local school division in the Commonwealth to make virtual and in-person learning available to all students by choice of the student’s parent or guardian in perpetuity. It was very evident that the bill as it left the Senate would have done nothing to address return to in-person instruction for the immediate future. It was a blatant overreach of power primarily used by some politicians to spread misinformation and spur further division amongst parents, educators, and community members.
As SB1303 made its way to the House of Delegates, and in VEA’s consultation with Delegate VanValkenburg, the opportunity was seized to turn this one-sentence bill into a substitute bill with five critical priorities.
Here’s what you need to know:
The VEA pushed for these critical protections to be added for teachers and school support staff and for the safe and responsible re-opening of schools. No one wants to return to in-person instruction more than the educators who dedicate their lives to help their students succeed – but we must do it safely and responsibly. Educators have been leading from the start. We’ve been adapting, innovating, and showing up for our students every single day — our work has never stopped. Students know this, their parents know this too — and the small number of loud folks blaming educators should be taking up their concerns with the few politicians who have relentlessly blocked the critical resources needed to actually reopen safely.
We are on the right track to re-opening schools for our students and school communities and appreciate the collaboration among educators, parents, students, and school communities to do this in a safe and responsible manner.
Read the full language of the substitute bill here.
Also, I have provided a video of the debate from the floor of the House of Delegates on the substitute bill to SB1303.