Petersburg students return to class, a Roanoke company shows little class when dealing with layoffs and we talk about a 38 minute war.

Daily Number

9 – Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It began yesterday on April 12, and will last 30 days, ending at sundown on Tuesday, May 11. For anyone wondering what exactly Ramadan is, Dogwood’s Qasim Rashid answers questions in this week’s column.


Virginia’s Third-Largest Newspaper Lays Off Staff

The news wasn’t good Monday morning for employees at the Roanoke Times. The third largest paper in Virginia, behind the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Virginian Pilot, announced plans to lay off nine people in the newsroom. That takes the Roanoke staff from 46 reporters down to 37.

However, in a truly bizarre and tasteless move, prior to announcing the layoffs the Roanoke Times Twitter feed ran a “story” about “how to have a flawless exit” when being fired. The story turned out to be a link to the City of Roanoke’s help wanted page.

The move comes as Iowa-based Lee Enterprises, who owns the Roanoke Times, shifts away from written content to video, changing to what they call “niche content platforms.”

The cuts include four reporters, three editorial assistants, one copy editor and one digital editor. That includes the beat reporter for Virginia Tech football, as well as the Roanoke higher education and general education reporters.


Arlington County Sets Up No Cost COVID-19 Testing

Some people with COVID-19 symptoms haven’t been to get a test simply because they can’t afford the doctor bill. Arlington County officials have a solution to that problem, one that opens its doors today.

The county is setting up a no-cost, no-appointment COVID-19 testing kiosk. It’s located in the parking lot at Courthouse Plaza, 2088 15th St N. If you want to come by, as of today it’s open Monday through Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.

“This site means daily access to testing in an especially dense, walkable part of the County where many people live and work”, said Dr. Aaron Miller, Director of the Department of Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management.

You don’t need a doctor’s referral or any kind of identification. If you have insurance, you’ll be asked for it so insurance providers can be billed. However, Miller was clear there will be no co-pay from anyone who comes for a test.

Again, you can walk up and do it, but if scheduling for a certain time works better, residents can also make an appointment.


Petersburg Students Head Back to Class

A Look At Virginia Schools
A look at the current condition of Virginia school districts, courtesy of the Virginia Dept. of Education.

 Another Virginia school district brought students back to class on Monday. Petersburg reopened Blandford Academy, Vernon Johnson Middle School and Petersburg High for the first time in just over a year.

Students weren’t forced to return. Parents were given the option to either have their kids stay virtual or return to a physical class. An estimated 400 students overall chose the in-person option.

Currently, only three school districts in the Commonwealth are still remote. Those include Portsmouth, Sussex and Richmond. All but Richmond plan to reopen by the end of the month. Richmond, meanwhile, has a plan the city’s school board will vote on in the weeks to come to reopen on Sept. 8.


Question of the Day: Should Virginia Eliminate Qualified Immunity?


Virginia Restaurant Association Receives State Grant

A free training program for Richmond-area restaurant and hospitality industry workers will soon be available. That’s thanks to a grant from the Commonwealth.

The Virginia Restaurant, Lodging, and Travel Associated received $132,500 from Virginia’s Growth and Opportunity (GO Virginia) for grants on Friday. GO Virginia is a regional economic development group, according to reporting by the Richmond Times Dispatch.

The grant will fund the Virginia Restaurant and Hotel Workforce COVID Recovery and Upskilling Program. This training will help industry workers enhance their skills in their current role, including food safety and alcohol training. They can also use the training to identify where in the industry they want to advance to, such as management, and how to train for those roles.


Virginia Beach Now Offering Same-Day Vaccinations

Walk-in registration and same day vaccinations are now available at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. That’s according to reporting by WTKR.

Though walk-ups can get appointments, their access has limits. The convention center is encouraging registrants to schedule an appointment beforehand to guarantee receiving the vaccine. Those they can also schedule in-person, which means Virginia Beach residents don’t have to wait for a phone call from the Health Department to schedule a vaccine appointment.

Walk-up registration is available at the convention center between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on April 12, 14, 15, 19, 21, and 22. To schedule an appointment online, visit this link.

According to WTKR, on the first day of same-day vaccinations, 200 people arrived for a dose. At the end of the day on Monday, the clinic still had another 800 shots available.

Anyone 16 or older can receive a vaccination from Virginia Beach’s Department of Health. That’s because they’ve moved to Phase 2 of the Commonwealth’s vaccination plan.


Survey Says Virginia Nonprofits Haven’t Received COVID-19 Funds

Over a quarter of nonprofits in Central Virginia who responded to a recent study by the Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE) say they have not yet received any COVID-19 relief funds.

According to CNE’s survey of 247 nonprofit organizations in Virginia, 27% have not received any COVID-19 relief funds from the federal or state government. The same survey found that most of the organizations who responded had an operating budget of less than $100,000 and about six months of operating reserve funds.

COVID-19-Relief-Funds
From the Center for Nonprofit Excellence

University of Virginia Constructs Monument Honoring Enslaved People

A memorial honoring the enslaved people who were forced to build the University of Virginia has been erected on campus.

The memorial, which forms a broken circle of stone walls engraved with some of the names of the people who labored on the campus. That’s according to reporting by The Washington Post.

The university held a virtual ceremony dedicating the Memorial for Enslaved Laborers on Saturday. The memorial is in the shape of a broken shackle, according to the Post.


Yesterday’s Trivia Answer: The Anglo-Zanzibar War

We seem to have stumped people a bit with this one. What was the shortest war in history? And in fact, we’re talking super short. It was three fifths as long as an NFL game, so we’re talking a 38-minute war. This was the conflict between the United Kingdom and Zanzibar Sultanate of 1896.

The trigger was the death of Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini, who was a supporter of the British. His successor, Sultan Khalid bin Barghash, wasn’t as big a fan of the queen and her subjects. Why was this a big deal? Because on June 14, 1890, Britain and Zanzibar signed a deal, causing Zanzibar to become a British protectorate.

The terms of the deal required Zanzibar to get the permission of the British consul for any candidates to ascend to the throne. Nobody had asked permission before allowing Sultan Barghash to take over. The British issued an order, telling Barghash to have his forces stand down and leave the palace. Instead, Barghash barricaded himself inside the palace for about an hour.

Eventually, Barghash escaped to East Africa and a sultan approved by the British was installed.