Blacksburg bans guns, Fairfax kids return to school and what exactly will the Assembly’s marijuana bill do?
1865 – On this date, the Battle of Waynesboro took place in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Union forces, led by Brigadier Gen. George A. Custer, wiped out the Confederate troops under the command of Confederate Gen. Jubal Early.
Blacksburg Gun Ban Takes Effect
If you’re heading into Blacksburg anytime soon, it might be a good idea to leave your guns in the car. The town’s new ordinance took effect Monday morning. As a result, guns are banned inside all public buildings. They’re also banned at all town events and meetings.
Town officials set up signs at all building entrances to make it clear. That includes places like the library and the rec center, along with town hall.
Now if you violate the no-guns rule:
- You’ll first be asked to leave the building or event
- You can come back in, just without the weapon
- If you refuse either option, it’s up to 12 months in jail or a $2,500 fine.
Fairfax Kids Return to School
Despite what some state lawmakers seem to believe, kids are going back to school across Virginia. One of the largest groups start back today in Fairfax, as 25,000 8,9 and 12th grade students return to in-person learning.
This is the second round of in-person returns for the district, as 7,000 Fairfax County kids returned last week. All county students who chose to return will be back in class by March 16.
As of today, out of 132 districts, only 15 are fully remote. In that number, 13 will be returning to in-person learning over the next two weeks. The other two, Sussex County and Richmond City, plan to remain remote.
Monday’s Trivia Answer: Schools That Are Fully In-Person
All that talk about Fairfax County is a perfect segway into our trivia answer. Monday’s trivia question asked what’s changed every week over the last two months, is currently purple and represented by Floyd, Carroll and Grayson counties? And the hint we gave was the number 20.
The answer is the number of schools currently fully in-person. At the time, there were 20 schools holding a completely in-person schedule. Six more joined the list between Monday morning and today. The best way we can explain the state’s overall picture is by sharing this graphic from the Virginia Department of Education.
It’s worth pointing out that graphic will be outdated within a week. All of the Fully Remote Group A and the Hybrid districts are preparing to send kids back by March 15. And for anyone asking “hey, didn’t the General Assembly pass some bill about this,” you’d be right.
The Assembly passed SB1303 last Thursday. It requires schools to offer in-person learning by July 1. However as you can see, most are already ahead of that schedule.
Did Virginia Legalize Marijuana? What Does The Bill Actually Do?
One of the biggest questions coming out of the weekend involved marijuana. Did the Assembly actually legalize it? Well, yes and no, but mostly no. In fact, State Sen. Jennifer McClellan sums it up best.
“The bill we passed today moves the ball forward, but let’s be clear: this is not marijuana legalization,” she said on Saturday.
So what does the marijuana bill actually do? Dogwood’s Meg Schiffres covered a lot of ground Monday, to get answers. You can read her story here.
Taking a Stand: Virginia College Faculty Unionize Despite Restrictions
It’s hard to start a union in Virginia, especially on a college campus. One of the biggest challenges is a state law barring public employees, such as teachers and civil servants, from collective bargaining. This would be part of the ‘Right to Work’ conversation the Virginia House declined to tackle in January.
But that hasn’t stopped workers at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), William and Mary, and other universities across the Commonwealth from speaking out against inadequate pay, unstable contracts, and lax responses to the COVID-19 epidemic. Dogwood’s Jakob Cordes shares the story here.
Question of the Day: Is It Time To Send Kids Back?
McClellan’s Criminal Reform Bill a ‘Good Step Forward’
he General Assembly focused on mental health last week, changing how pre-existing conditions are considered during criminal proceedings. The proposal, introduced by gubernatorial candidate and state senator Jennifer McClellan–didn’t get talked about as much as the death penalty repeal, but it could have just as significant an impact.
Dogwood columnist Eve Ettinger takes a look at the bill, which now goes to Gov. Northam for his signature, and examines what it could truly change when it comes to the state’s criminal justice system.
Johnson & Johnson’s Vaccine is Approved. What Happens Now?
Virginia just got 69,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. State officials and medical leaders from across the state say it’ll help in multiple ways. As you only need one dose, that cuts down on the number of appointments to schedule, which will help the state’s Vaccinate Virginia system.
But overall, what’s the impact? Where are these doses going? Who will get the one dose vaccine instead of the two dose version? Dogwood’s Ashley Spinks Dugan offers up some answers.