Vaccine Rollout & Reopening Schools

Vaccine Rollout
 
Much of our attention this week was focused on Virginia’s effort to get the COVID vaccine out the door and into the arms of Virginians. Vaccine is moving from the Federal Government to Virginia, but the last mile — getting it out of the freezer and into arms — has been plagued with problems.
 
Thus far, the rollout has been a disaster. Our phone lines are jammed with people just like you, desperate for any sort of information about where and how to get the vaccine, or even how to get on a waiting list.
 
Unfortunately, Governor Northam and his team weren’t prepared for this phase of the pandemic. Other states, like West Virginia and Maryland, have done much better. I’ve heard of some citizens crossing state lines in an effort to bypass the local health departments.
 
Our local health districts are working as hard as they can, but they received practically no guidance from the Governor’s team, leaving them to stand up a mass vaccination program on their own.
 
Because of this failure of the Executive Branch, we are advancing legislation to try to address the situation.  Unfortunately, legislative action by its nature is not as fast as executive action, but we are trying to get more vaccines to Virginians that want and need them!
 
The instant I have more news about how and when you can get vaccinated, I will share it with you.
 
Reopening of Schools
 
We’re also working hard to get our schools back open as soon as possible. The longer we go with schools closed or in virtual learning, the more we learn about the terrible impact it has on our children.
 
Stories come into my office every day from teachers and parents who see children languishing on Zoom calls for six hours a day. They’re not learning — they’re just existing. In Las Vegas, a rash of elementary school suicides prompted the district to reopen to help children fight depression.
 
In Virginia, we’ve seen poor children and children in minority communities fall behind at an unacceptable pace. Some children simply need face to face instruction to succeed, and all children deserve the chance to learn in person and be around other children.
 
That’s one reason I’m supporting a measure that will tie school funding to in-person education resuming. If schools aren’t going to teach our children, they shouldn’t get state funding. The science is clear — schools, with proper procedures in place, are safe for kids and teachers. And just this week we learned that having kids in school may actually slow the spread of COVID by keeping children out of environments with higher rates of transmission.
 
The clock is ticking, but we’re not going to stop until schools are open again.