Virginia Introduces Stay-At-Home Orders and Social Distancing Measures

A Recap of Gov. Northam’s Recent Announcements

Madeleine Kysilko and Abigail St. Jean

During the past couple weeks, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has made drastic changes to the coronavirus procedure in the state. These changes come after a series of appearances, the first being on March 23rd, followed a week later by a March 30th announcement.

The first announcement ordered that all Virginia schools, public or private, must close for the remainder of the school year. Virginia becomes the second state to do so, following Kansas. Prior to this announcement, schools were set to reopen on April 14th, after spring break. The governor is also working on waivers to allow students to not take standardized tests for this academic school year.

Although schools will be closed, learning can continue to take place. State Superintendent Dr. James F. Lane said, “We’ll be offering numerous options…distance or remote learning, extending the school year next year, embedding some of that instruction into the curriculum in the next year if they don’t extend and maybe continuing instruction now.”

Dr. Lane also said that students who miss virtual learning may be able to receive extra remediation for schooling that they missed.

These options were presented to each school division. Each locality can make its own decision.

Northam highlighted the importance of social distancing as a technique to stop the spread of the virus: “Social distancing is the only path forward… our priority is to save lives.” The goal of these measures is to slow the growth of new cases and prevent hospitals from reaching their capacity.

Along with this announcement, Governor Northam rolled out new plans to enforce no beach or park gatherings and banned gatherings of more than 10 people. Northam also said restaurants can operate through carryout, curbside, and delivery only. Recreation and entertainment businesses must close, along with personal care, such as barber shops and spas. All bans and closings will be effective for at least 30 days starting on March 24th.

At the time of the announcement on March 23rd, Virginia had 254 cases and 6 deaths. As of midday April 3rd, Virginia had 2,015 cases and 46 deaths.

As of March 30th, the governor issued a stay-at-home order. This limits all nonessential activities, allowing Virginians to only leave the house for exercise, groceries, and medical supplies and care. Anyone holding a gathering of more than 10 people can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The stay-at-home order is effective through June 10th.