Dogwood Download: Things You Should Know For Thursday, March 4

By Megan Schiffres

March 4, 2021

Schools in Richmond are set to reopen, UVA says no to Final Exercises and cicadas are swarming.

Daily Number

71 – That’s the number of Confederate monuments in Virginia. The Commonwealth leads the country in the number of monuments celebrating the Confederacy within its borders, according to a report released last week by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In 2019, Virginia had 110 monuments to the Confederacy. However, protesters removed several during demonstrations for Black liberation and against police brutality over the summer.

Richmond Students Are Heading Back to Class

As of Monday, only two school districts remained completely remote. Now, it’s down to one. During their meeting this week, the Richmond School Board announced that kids will be returning to the classroom April 12.

  • Not every school will feature in-person learning. That will be restricted to five locations.
  • Blackwell Elementary, Huguenot High, Holton Elementary, Miles Jones Elementary and MLK Middle School will serve as in-person learning sites.
  • Any families can choose in-person learning, which runs through June 18.
  • Students & staff will have their temperature checked each day and go through symptom screening when they get to school.
  • Masks must always be worn, except when a person’s eating.

The decision leaves Sussex County as the only school district in Virginia currently operating without a specific plan to return. That could easily change as early as tonight, when the Sussex board meets.

No Final Exercises For Class of 2021 at UVA

Yesterday, we highlighted that Virginia Tech is going virtual for this year’s graduation. At the University of Virginia, however, things will look a bit different. UVA President Jim Ryan told students in a message Wednesday that Final Exercises will be canceled for this year’s class.

Instead, Ryan said school officials are looking at a couple options:

  • Holding modified events with just the graduates
  • Postponing graduation completely until all families could attend

“In either case, we will confer degrees and produce a celebratory virtual event for students, friends, and families this May,” Ryan said in the message. “The Finals 2021 Advisory Committee, composed of students, faculty, and administrators, will be surveying graduating students to inform this decision.”

So Hey, What Would You Like to Read?

Dogwood Download: Things You Should Know For Thursday, March 4

Now that the General Assembly has wrapped up its session, the Dogwood team is mapping out the next few months and we’d like your help. We want to know what kinds of stories you want us to tell and what form you like the best.

Do you prefer the short videos we occasionally drop here in the Download? Or what about the graphics on social media? Or do you enjoy the written stories, being able to just sit down and read on your phone? Just click on the vote photo below and it’ll take you to a quick survey. Or you can just click right here.

Wednesday’s Trivia Answer: Gater A Hotel Room!

Yesterday, we gave our newsletter readers a trivia question: What major landmark in Richmond was previously home to alligators?

This one is just a bit of fun local trivia, but The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond was once home to several alligators. These alligators were originally donations from hotel guests, according to The Jefferson.

The last alligator to live in the hotel, Old Pompey, remained at the hotel’s marble Palm Court pool until he died in 1948. Today, a statue of two alligators greets visitors at the entrance of the hotel.

Marsden’s Bill Protects Consumer Data

We’re continuing in our ongoing series, highlighting the bills that passed through the House and Senate in the special session. For today, that means looking at the Consumer Data Protection Act. Filed by Virginia State Sen. Dave Marsden (D-Fairfax), the bill doesn’t go into effect until 2023.

But even if it’s delayed, the bill does provide some assistance to help solve a longstanding problem, as Dogwood’s Amie Knowles explains.

State Plans to Study COVID-19’s Impact on Students

Virginia has received a $999,912 federal grant to study the impact of the COVID-19 virus pandemic on its public schools. Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said the project, called “Equity in Virginia’s Public Education System,” will help inform lawmakers on a state and local level.

“The research funded through this grant will be critical as our schools move beyond the immediate concerns of reopening and shift their focus to addressing the short-term and long-term impacts of the pandemic and school closures on student outcomes and school operations,” Lane said. “Our goal is to provide a series of evidence-based policy briefs that will provide practical and actionable information, and help shape policies that prioritize and promote equity during what will be a multiyear recovery process.”

Using Virginia’s Longitudinal Data System, the project will examine pre and post-pandemic trends among students in the 2022-2023 school year. This analysis will include student absenteeism, grade-level retention, enrollment in advanced courses, student mobility, and teacher retention.

Cicadas Swarming to Virginia

If you’re not a fan of creepy, crawly, buzzing, bug-like things, I have some bad news. This May, billions of cicadas will appear in Virginia and across 14 other states.

These thick, heavy, winged, red bug-eyed creatures are hard to miss when they come to town. That’s because they emerge from a period of long dormancy in vast numbers. On top of that, the bugs are famously loud.

Cicadas are periodical insects, which emerge from the ground after spending the majority of its life, either 13 or 17 years, in larval form. That’s according to the National Wildlife Foundation. All the cicadas on the same life cycle emerge within weeks of each other, which causes swarms. That means millions more bugs each week, every week, all summer.

Rashid: It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

Haven’t we seen this movie 100 times by now? Most Americans recall the economic collapse as President Bush left office in January of 2009. In February 2009, President Obama passed a $787.2 billion recovery plan, and did so with 0 votes from Republicans in the House, and only 3 votes from Senate Republicans. Do you see where we’re going with this?

Dogwood columnist Qasim Rashid argues when it comes to economic recovery plans, some things you can just count on. That includes Republicans rejecting it, even if it helps their voters.

Question of the Day: Is It Too Soon to Hold Events?

CATEGORIES: Uncategorized


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