Ralph Northam’s Unworkable Rules for Schools

by Kerry Dougherty

Last week I predicted that Gov. Ralph Northam would extend the present misery into the fall with unworkable, cockamamie restrictions on Virginia’s schools.

Sadly, I was right.

You might think that last year’s disastrous experiment in virtual learning would have convinced the governor that students needed to be back at their desks FIVE DAYS A WEEK as they try to catch up on everything they didn’t learn from March to June this year.

But you would be wrong.

It seems Virginia’s students are doomed. They will continue to fall behind as their six-month vacation stretches into September and beyond.

“To be clear, all Virginia schools will open for students next year,” Northam merrily announced last week. “But the school experience will look very different.”

You bet it will.

And none of Northam’s restrictions make sense, given that children are basically at low risk from COVID-19 and research shows they aren’t spreaders, either.

But, hey, Northam – the Science Guy – hasn’t noticed.

So students will get to experience the joy of staggered schedules. Closed cafeterias. Social distancing. Empty school buses. Virtual “learning” several days a week.

Oh, and they’ll be forbidden to mingle.

That sounds splendid, doesn’t it?

School divisions have the “freedom” to cook up their own nutty schemes to comply with Northam’s edicts, but they must be approved by Richmond.

Locally, it appears likely that the school week will be shortened to four days – hey, who needs five – with half of the kids attending school two days, the other half attending the other two days and online “learning” on the days they are home. Teachers will use the leftover day for planning.

This is terrific news for parents who are unemployed.

Working parents? Too bad.

If young people were in danger from Covid-19 this might make sense. They are not, according to a story from MSN.

Children contract the coronavirus less often and with less severity than the general population, and there doesn’t appear to be cases of a child passing Covid-19 to an adult, according to a new report.

This confirms an earlier study from Australia that showed the same results.

And online learning? It’s a freaking failure.

A study out of England yesterday revealed that British kids spent an average of 2.5 hours a day on school work while on lockdown. One fifth of the children did none.

At least American kids won’t be the only ones with stunted educations due to shutdowns.

In a piece headlined, “The Results Are In for Remote Learning: It Didn’t Work,The Wall Street Journal recently documented just how far behind American students have fallen after this disastrous experiment in distance learning.

With anecdote after anecdote from around the country the WSJ illustrated the problems.

A survey of Broward County (FL) students in grades 6 through 12 found that 52% don’t feel motivated to complete distance-learning assignments. About 45% said they almost never receive adult help at home to complete assignments…

Some students have simply gone missing. Early into the shutdown, the Los Angeles Unified School District estimated that on any given day in a week span, 32% of high-school students didn’t log in to learn.

When they closed schools in March, governors didn’t know much about COVID-19. They do now. With children at extremely low risk of becoming ill, students need to be back with their friends in the classroom.

Online learning, social isolation, loss of sports and friendships have been devastating for our children.

This is madness. Get the kids back to school.

This column was published originally at www.kerrydougherty.com.

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40 responses to “Ralph Northam’s Unworkable Rules for Schools”

  1. Hey, the good news is that Northam will continue his quest for social justice in Virginia schools. When learning goes all to hell, it will go all to hell equally for everyone!

  2. sbostian Avatar

    I know that many here chafe at my questioning of Northam’s benevolent intent in formulating his decrees. However, he has shown that he easily disregards the data in his “data driven decision making process” when the data contradicts what he wants to do. Obviously there is no data (and will be none) indicating that the large gatherings inherent in mass protests and rioting (sanctioned by Northam and those of his party) are safer than young people going to school. Democrats (I don’t think that Northam has expressed an opinion yet) are currently having a case of the vapors over Trumps Saturday rally in Tulsa, but encourage thousands of people to gather in tightly confined areas to “express their constitutional rights” to protest, riot and vandalize. In a perverse sense the demonstrations around the country are surrogate Democratic Party political rallies. To quote Chris Plante, a DC area talk show host, “If it weren’t for double standards, the left would have none.” I will refrain from opining as to why Northam wants to do what he does, but it is plain that he is pleased to have the Commonwealth operating under his oppressive imposition of a Kafkaesque lifestyle on its good citizens.

  3. sbostian Avatar

    Sorry about commenting so soon after my first comment, however this bears repeating. The adverse impact of Northam’s school opening and operating plans will be felt most harshly by poor, minority students. It is indisputable that there will be disparate adverse racial impact resulting from his policy. As Jim and I noted in one of his recent articles on VCU, to the left, disparate impact on minorities constitutes unimpeachable evidence of systemic racism. Once again we see that the left has no problem with systemically racist policies so long as they see a benefit for their agenda as a result.

  4. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    “… children are basically at low risk from COVID-19 and research shows they aren’t spreaders, either.”

    Not settled. Not even close. What is known is that schools are Petri dishes for other respiratory diseases.

    Yeah, and HCQ is effective… on wait, no, it isn’t.

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      Schools were functioning in Europe weeks ago. Likewise in Asia. They’ve figured it out – I don’t see them spiking on the Johns Hopkins maps. We just saw Henrico’s notice to parents and it may stay totally virtual into the fall, an educational disaster, or split the classes so half can be in class and rotate week to week. This is where we should rise up and just ignore the idiots. What will Northam do, cut off their money? Arrest teachers and principals when we won’t arrest looters and vandals?

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        Yeah, in practice rather than in study. Hopefully, we can count on Florida or Alabama to open summer school. That would be cool. “After you ma’am.” Not just courtesy, but a damned good idea.

        But wait, didn’t those countries lie? Why should we believe them now?

        1. sherlockj Avatar

          Nancy, you have come from behind to win the prize as the most intellectually vapid person on this blog. Congratulations. The competition was tough.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            Don’t believe I’ve ever seen Nancy personally attack anyone… gotta be points for that, no?

          2. Nancy_Naive Avatar

            Aptly named. Both of us.

      2. Tom Banford Avatar
        Tom Banford

        I had no idea that there were so many education “experts” on this blog. This is a difficult situation based upon my 20 years as a public school teacher at the high school level. The primary concern in public education has and always will be the safety of the students and staff. Yes, they will tend to error on the side of caution particularly when there are so many unknowns with a novel virus. Personally, I am recently retired and need not worry about returning to the classroom in the fall. Many of my past co-workers have decided that this is the summer to retire or change professions.

    2. sbostian Avatar

      You should check the CDC and VDH data a little more closely about COVID 19 risk to otherwise healthy children. I thought the left is “data driven”.

    3. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      I said, “not settled” and it isn’t.

      Of all of the general knowledge we have about viruses, we known less about this particular virus since it’s new. We cannot say anything about immunity, for example. They continue to say “may have”. They cannot say if the virus is shed from the body, or goes dormant. Think HErpes. Then, what are long term effects if it does not shed? Think ovarian cancer and HPV.

      At this moment, those under 15 pose more questions than answers. They appear a low risk for severe cases, making up less than 2% of known cases, but it’s not conclusive about their eventual risk. As spreaders, it gets murkier, and for very researcher you can find, I’ll find another. There are bizarre cases of some kid in full blown COV2 who spent a weekend skiing, in school, and socializing without evidence of a single case.

      Meh, who wants to live forever? Nevertheless, no please, after you.

      1. sbostian Avatar

        With your towering intellect, I am sure that you know that “settled science” is essentially an oxymoron. Science is essentially a discipline of progressive discovery. If your assertion is that we don’t know everything that we would like to know Coronavirus, then I agree. Do we know enough to separate reason from hysteria? Many sophisticated, dare I say eminent, infectious disease scientists think so. It is really the case that many, mostly from the political left, choose to ignore any science that doesn’t support radical reduction of personal liberty.

        1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

          “I am sure that you know that “settled science” is essentially an oxymoron”

          Good. Then we are in agreement. Kerry, once again, has leaped to an indefensible position.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    How many other states are doing basically what Virginia is doing?

    This stuff from Kerry is basically along the lines of “we’re fed up and we don’t care what happens, just open back up or we’re gonna verbal poop all over te place”.

    nice adult behavior.

    If you check around and I mean just a little bit – like asking teachers themselves, not only in Virginia but across the country- they’re not thinking like Kerry. Yeah, I know, what can you expect from a bunch of leftists , right?

    The funny thing is the same complainers about COVID-19 also complain about public schools, “social justice”, “indoctrination”, blah blah blah. and one would think – this is the perfect opportunity for them to pursue that better path they’re always blathering about…but nope…as bad as public schools are said to be – open , closed or in between!

    Oh yes.. the private schools are in the same boat – and I ask where is all that innovation and creative destruction at?

    Yep – according to the complainers – we’re screwed no matter what and yes, it’s Northam and his merry band of like-minded leftist “fault”.

    what are you gonna do, can’t please em no matter what…they were born to complain! It’s like a never ending verbal poop storm.

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      One of your less impressive rants…

      So here is how we get lied to. Was watching NBC during my Y workout (hooray) and they had a demo on how masks work. Reporter coughed on petri dishes, some with cloth covers and some without. Yucky stuff grew on the uncovered dishes, but not the covered ones. Great, right? Oh, yeah, somewhere in there they mentioned that the petri dishes only show bacterial growth, not viral. Bacteria are way larger, in some cases by order of magnitude, than viruses. That proved NOTHING about the effectiveness of masks against Corona….but the typical viewer won’t have caught that….

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Geeze Steve – all kinds of “stuff” gets said on TV and heckfire social media and the internet… YouTube.

        Part of being an adult means you use your noggin to discriminate between various different things you hear.

        You do that instead of just call everything you disagree with a “lie”.

        I know, I know.. it’s tough… and it’s so easy nowdays to spout out “liar liar pants on fire” but really it’s not a good thing… at least for adults.

        1. Steve Haner Avatar
          Steve Haner

          I didn’t disagree with it. It was factually wrong, and since it was intentional, therefore a lie. (Well, now, true, perhaps everybody at NBC who looked at the story as it went through processing was so stupid they didn’t know that what blocks a bacteria might not block a virus….so the choices are now lie or stupid.)

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            It’s a lie if there was intent to deceive.

            There are lots of folks who get facts wrong and then go shout it to others and then we got folks who call things they don’t like – lies… etc…etc…

            Anything on TV or print media or heckfire just about internet anywhere nowdays… it’s jaundiced eye… I don’t trust anything I do not see different sources on – and no not just a different media using the same source…

            The name of the game is find the truth… and it ain’t easy.

        2. Nancy_Naive Avatar

          No, he’s correct Larry. Big difference between bacteria and viruses. But, it’s a cheap demonstration and shows that masks do something. Maybe nothing effective, but something.

          OTOH, Steve, those viruses don’t just come out like dust. They come out in big globs of snot, and atomized snot is way bigger than even a bacteria. Plus, unlike ionizing radiation — no safe exposure — it takes more than just one virus to do the job.

          OTOH, Petri dishes are like Bermuda to newlyweds.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            ok mea culpa… … but media is a big swirling mass of different folks with different ideas and yep..some of them are not exactly scientists but they’re pretending to be…

            heckfire…. everyone’s a scientist now days.. if you can read – you’re a scientist , right?


  6. John Galt Speaks Avatar
    John Galt Speaks

    This additional time will give these products of government de-education more opportunities to gather in the streets with their brethren in BLM and Antifa and reek more mayhem and destruction of lives and property. What a sad, sad state of affairs. What is happening within our Constitutional Republic can only be properly described from the movie, “Apocalypse Now,” and final words emitted by Marlon Brando…”The horror! The horror!”

  7. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    Remember, IF school-age children can spread the disease then they will spread it to the 2nd highest susceptible group, 35 to 55, with devasting effect on family finances. If you think being jobless sucks for a family of 4, imagine how devasting it is for a newly created family of 3.

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      Oh, 35-55, so you mean the group that will be sick for a while, but lacking an underlying condition that triggers the big immune response explosion, will get better and go back to work. You are fear mongering again, ignoring the narrow categories who really need to fear this. Remember, your go to scare line is that they will kill their grandparents! (But street protestors won’t.) Seriously, the reason you see people acting as if they are not afraid is because they have been misled, lied to, seen the politicians blow off their own advice, been abused in so many ways that they don’t even listen to the valid recommendations. Credibility was totally lost.

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        Yeah, apparently. Mea culpa. Seems you have to attain the tender age of 55 to enter the danger zone

      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        Teachers don’t have underlying conditions?

        I know about some countries in Europe. Are there ANY states in the US where K12 is going back like it was before? There may be some but from what I read – this is still a problem across most of the states.

        It’s just not a Virginia-only issue.

    2. Teachers have excellent insurance and paid leave programs. So what’s the impact on family finances? The kids have been home with their parents, going with them grocery shopping, exposed and exposing others all along, so why would it be any worse if they go to school?

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        The impact is to staffing at the schools as well as the family the teacher lives with.

        If COVID-19 infects several staff at a school – what happens next?

        Insurance won’t keep you alive if you are 50 with diabetes and get COVID-19. Are we just going to pay teachers with those conditions to stay home and go hire some younger and healthier ones also (assuming there are enough of them to replace all the teachers who would be at risk?

        If teachers – even younger and healthier ones get COVID-19 and take it home to their families – what happens?

        People are frustrated and mad but the anger is misplaced. This is not leaders making wrong decisions unless we want to say that all across the country – all leaders are making the same wrong decisions because it appears this issue about schools both K-12 and Higher Ed is widespread – it’s not just a Virginia/Northam issue and to characterize in those terms is just not an objective and accurate assessment.

        As far as I can tell, almost no school systems across the country are planning to return to the way things were before.

        Many of them are talking about “hybrids” , split-shifts, alternate day weeks and distance learning, etc..

        How that will “work”, no one really knows, but some of this sounds like in order for the parents to work – we need a place for the kids to be and oh by the way – they also get educated…. some say “indoctrinated” with leftist philosophies, etc… the competing narratives is interesting… You’d think now is the time for changes.

        1. sbostian Avatar

          Why do our friends on the left succumb to the vapors over the virus risk attached to something as peaceful and wholesome as education of our children, yet express no concern over the epidemiological impact of violent “protests” wherein thousands gather in close quarters, mostly without masks and fail to socially distance. Surely some of them live with vulnerable family members or friends. Perhaps those vulnerable friends and family don’t have good insurance.

          As others here have mentioned, there will be disparate racial impact of the Governor’s education plan. For example, the city of Richmond which has a 30% high school dropout rate will certainly see an adverse impact on its most vulnerable children. It is hard not to see the Governor’s plan as adding yet another layer of systemic racism in the Commonwealth, which in the future members of his party will blame on ordinary citizens of the Commonwealth.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            If this were only liberals and liberal Governors, then maybe you have a point.

            But what say you about GOP-led states that are pretty much doing what Virginia is doing?

            The strategy from the right seems to be attack Governors of states individually and try to get one to fold then hold him/her up to the others as a state that has opened schools.

            So far, not a single state GOP or DEM has said that they are going back to school the way it was before…

            Now… some folks will say that liberals are still at the root of it because science is a bunch of liberals also…blah blah blah…

            sorry Charlie… the reality is there is a virus and it don’t care if you are GOP or Dem.

  8. Our kids need to get back to school!

    VDH STATS: 0-19 NO deaths. 92 hospitalizations. 5037 cases
    Virginia population under 18: 22% of 8.5 million = roughly 1.87 million.
    5037 cases is 0.27% of children under 18. Since the count includes up to 19, the actual percentage is less.

    While it’s good for doctors to be aware of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, exactly 2 cases have been recorded since May 19 when the first case was reported. Not a reason to restrict school attendance.

    The SOL reports come out two years after they’re taken. The 2018 – 19 for Mathews shows shows 6th & 8th grade reading at 66 and 61% pass rates; 8th grade writing: 59%. Grade 6 math 67%, Grade 8 math 38%.

    They’ll be in 8th and 10th grades now. They need all the help they can get in the form of full-time education to catch up so they can function in the real world. A few grades did okay, a few more in the 70s… but that’s a lot of kids who don’t need any more delays in learning. The cost of that is far worse than the risk of getting the virus.

    It’s not just Mathews either. Statewide in reading, grade 3 –71% pass rate. grade 4, 75%. Grade 8 writing, 70%. Grade 7 math 46%!!

    Richmond City: Grades 3 to 8, the highest reading score was 62 in 5th grade; the others ranged from 50 to 56%.

    Check your own school division here:

  9. sherlockj Avatar

    Sacrificing children on the altar of a progressive desire to dictate every minute of our lives is cannibalism – of our own children.

    Is there anyone on this blog that thinks children in general, but especially poor children, will be better off at home than in school?

    If so, speak to that directly, in yes or no terms, and don’t change the subject (Larry and Nancy) and set fire to a rapidly dwindling supply of straw.

    I know that asking for a yes/no answer to a simple question has never worked before here, but I am an eternal optimist.

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Well, if it’s of any comfort to you, Pennsylvania universities and colleges are preparing for business as usual in the fall, perhaps even 2nd half summer semester starting next month.

      In truth, the economy won’t open until the schools open, and so, for better or worse, your fears of extended closure are probably unfounded.

      BTW, once you’re out of straw, you can always set your hair afire, cap’n. Well, maybe not you specifically.

      1. sherlockj Avatar

        No answer to the question.

        1. sbostian Avatar

          No answer might signal a reluctance to be air true opinions about the welfare of poor children. My limited experience (since the 1960’s) with the political left indicates that they only have affection for oppressed classes when they can be used as battering rams to assault their political opponents. When a particular oppressed group ceases to be politically useful, it slides off the radar screen of the left.

        2. Nancy_Naive Avatar

          Which question? Your strawman about slaughtering children on altars? Geez hyperbole much?

          Better off at home? Hmmm.

          Don’t know the answer Boss, but I’m sure you do, and are just dying to tell everyone.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            Jim’s “questions” are variations of the ” have you stopped beating your wife yet” to those who disagree with his premises and any responses other than “yes” or “no” are – “strawmen”.

            We’ve got this virus thing going on – and it has GOT TO BE someone’s fault… and woe to anyone who points out the realities – nope – someone HAS to be responsible for this outrage!

            It reminds me of the 5-year old who gets told there is no more ice cream and it is so “unfair” and someone has to be “responsible” to blame. wah wah wah.

            Newflash. The virus is not some diabolical liberal scheme to bedevil conservatives but it does well illustrate how different folks respond to realities that we cannot control.

          2. “The virus is not some diabolical liberal scheme to bedevil conservatives but it does well illustrate how different folks respond to realities that we cannot control.”

            Larry, you are hallucinating.

          3. LarrytheG Avatar

            Listen to yourselves, Jim! Kerry is your leader but it’s a close contest between ya’ll….

    2. LarrytheG Avatar

      If the premise is to return to schools the way they were before the virus – good luck on that.

      My assessment is fairly simple and that is that when we look around the country at the 13,000+ school districts, I don’t see too many if any that say they are ready to go back to the way they were before the virus.

      I totally agree, the disruption is almost equal to the closing of restaurants and barber shops , etc and most of the proposals I’ve heard tend to be along the lines of split shifts and split weeks, etc which still leaves working parents with big issues.

      But to continue to blame this situation on individual governors as if each governor has made a unique terrible decision is just not dealing with the realities that most all governors are faced with the same dilemma including folks who just refuse to deal with the realities and want what they want and are going to pitch a fit if they dont get what they want.

      In the end, they’re going to open – but not like it was before and if it goes well and no outbreaks then they’ll go revert more and more but if there are outbreaks – like we are seeing now in some states economies…we’ll have to deal with it along with the habitual complainers and whiners.

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