109 – In 1864, 109 Union prisoners tunneled out of Richmond’s Libby Prison. Only a little over half of them made it, as Confederate soldiers recaptured the rest.
Fairfax County Schools Set Date to Bring Students Back
First the Virginia Senate called for schools to open up again. Then Gov. Ralph Northam weighed in. Now Fairfax County is rolling out a plan. The district is one of the first to propose a unique tiered system for a return to class.
The first round of students return to their schools on February 16. That includes elementary students for Burke School, autistic preschool students, those on adaptive curriculum programs and career prep classes. In order to get in the building, however, students have to bring a signed health commitment form from home. It basically says parents or guardians promise to keep kids at home if they’re sick and agree to perform daily health screenings before sending them to class.
The next round of students is set to return Feb. 23. That includes Early Head Start infants, pre-k and kindergarten students and those with intensive special needs. Grades 8, 9 and 12 return March 2. Grades 1-2, 7, 10, and 11 come back March 9, with Grades 3-6 returning March 16.
VMI Reports Spike in COVID-19 Cases Among Cadets
Virginia Military Institute will go through some changes over the next few days, due to COVID-19. In a letter to parents and cadets, Interim Superintendent Major. Gen. Cedric Wins said a spike in cases caused him to take precautionary measures.
First off, the post is now closed to all visitors. Also, all visitation within the barracks has been suspended. During training, there will be a strict 10-foot separation rule for cadets and suspension of march downs.
Administrative staff will work remotely, Maj. Gen. Wins said. Also, anyone who comes in contact with a person who tested positive will go into a 14-day quarantine.
As of Monday morning, VMI had 80 confirmed positive cases.
City Council Moves Ahead With VCU Deal
Residents asked the City Council to say no. They lined up to speak at the meeting, tagged council members in tweets and stood on the street corners, holding protests. Despite this, the Richmond Council agreed to let Virginia Commonwealth University’s police department share Richmond’s new records management system.
The deal, which was approved 5-2, allows VCU’s police department to have access to Richmond policing data. That means highlighting where “hot spots” of crime are in the area. Residents are concerned this will lead to overpolicing and targeting of Black and Brown communities.
The concern partly stems from the fact SOMA Global, the company that provided the new system, is known for “predictive policing.” That means examining data about previous crimes to predict where future issues will happen. The idea is to then allocate more police resources to those areas and fewer resources to other locations.
Local residents believe it will just lead to more profiling of Black and Brown communities.
After incidents over the last year, especially the Jan. shooting of Orlando Carter, residents have zero trust. They see the new database system as an algorithm that will target their communities and leave others alone.
After the vote, Chief Smith and several council members promised to hold public hearings about the new system, to try and establish trust.
Important Dates Coming Up
- Special Election for Local Offices in Southampton County (2/9)
- Joint Meeting of the House Judicial Panel and Senate Judiciary Committee (2/9)
- General Assembly Special Session Begins (2/10)
- Charter Day Ceremony for William & Mary (2/11)
Del. Joshua Cole (D-Fredericksburg) spoke in a Virginia House committee meeting Monday, but he was talking to Black women across the state.
Cole took the virtual floor and thanked Black women across the Commonwealth for their sacrifices, for their beauty and for being America’s backbone. He also gave an example, sharing the story of Nannie Helen Burroughs.
CVS Delays, Reduces Vaccination Plans in Virginia
On Feb. 12, CVS will join the effort to get Virginians vaccinated against COVID-19. Thirty-six CVS locations throughout the state will receive 26,000 doses of vaccine through a partnership with the federal government. Vaccination appointments will become available on Feb. 11.
But while that’s good news, don’t expect a massive rollout immediately. According to CVS Health Senior Manager of Corporate Communications Amy Thibault, the pharmacy chain is “expecting to receive 26,000 doses a week in Virginia for at least the next few weeks.”
As more supply becomes available, CVS will expand to more locations and offer additional appointments, Thibault said. What does that mean? We explain here.
The ‘Panic Defense’ is The Ultimate in Victim Blaming
The House of Delegates passed HB 2132 on Friday with a vote of 58-42, beginning the process of ending the “gay/trans” panic defense in Virginia.
But what do we know about the ‘panic defense’? For one, Dogwood columnist Eve Ettinger points out it is the ultimate victim blaming attempt: because the victim of the attack was queer, the attacker lost control and couldn’t help themselves. Hence, “panic.”
Is it a problem? Consider some of the numbers.
- In 2020, an estimated 50 trans women were killed in the U.S.
- In 2021, we’ve already seen three trans women killed.
You can read Eve’s analysis of the ‘panic defense’ here in their Tuesday column.