Civil War within the Northam Administration on School Reopening Guidelines?

by James Sherlock

Steve Haner wrote a very important essay today about the new workplace guidelines about to be published by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry(DOLI).

In a similar vein, the progressive warriors in the lower levels of the Northam administration are trying to offer stricter school reopening guidelines than the Governor. States this Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) document:

Public school divisions and private schools that submit their plans to the Virginia Department of Education to move to Phase II and Phase III that are aligned with CDC guidance (6 feet social distancing) for reopening of schools that provide equivalent or greater levels of employee protection than a provision of this standard and who operate in compliance with the public school division’s or private school’s submitted plans shall be considered in compliance with this standard.

An institution’s actual compliance with recommendations contained in CDC guidelines or the Virginia Department of Education guidance (now includes 3 ft. option), whether mandatory or non-mandatory, to mitigate SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 related hazards or job tasks addressed by this standard shall be considered evidence of good faith in any enforcement proceeding related to this standard.

They directly contradict school reopening guidelines updated July 1 by the Department of Education and published by the Governor on July 6.

DOLI stresses that only plans compliant with the CDC guidelines or greater levels of employee protection than a provision of this standard “shall be considered in compliance with this standard”.

The “evidence of good faith” paragraph comes into play in an enforcement proceeding.

So, what is the Diocese of Richmond or another private or public school system supposed to make of this?

This only emphasizes what Steve Haner wrote:

The third thing every employer in Virginia needs to understand about the standard is that complying with federal standards or specific industry standards may not protect you from state complaints or fines. Efforts to create a regulatory “safe harbor” for those who met similar federal standards were initially accepted, but in the end watered down under vast union pressure.

I expect the Governor’s Chief of Staff, who I expect had to get the VDOE to accept the WHO and AAP guidelines in their Jul 1 revision, is tired of being challenged on school reopening guidelines within his own administration, but I will ask him to wade in one more time.