Dogwood Download: Things You Should Know For April 15
By Brian Carlton
April 15, 2021

Martinsville makes a decision on spring sports, Henrico citizens read a tweet, Virginia tigers test positive for COVID-19 and we talk #ThisIsVirginia.

Daily Number

1964 – For Eastern Shore residents, this was a big day. On this day in 1964, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel opened after three years of construction. For people who’ve never been over that way, it linked the Shore with mainland Virginia for the first time. 

No Spring Sports For Martinsville

Martinsville students are back in physical class and Superintendent Zeb Talley wants to keep it that way. Cracking down in an attempt to avoid virus surges, he and other district officials announced this week their teams will not play in spring sports. 

While 95% of schools in the state are taking part in spring sports, Talley points to another number. An estimated 48% of new COVID-19 cases have been spread through recreational activities, Talley pointed out. With a month left in the spring semester, Talley wants to avoid any potential disruptions, since he just got kids back in class. 

Spring sports include baseball, lacrosse, softball and track & field. 

Henrico Citizens Learn About Fee Hike Through Tweet

It’s not exactly how you want to find out that fees are going up. After the Henrico County Board of Supervisors met Tuesday night, their social media staff let people know what’s changing. 

“The Board has approved an ordinance increasing water & sewer rates and connection fees for residential customers, effective July 1, to keep pace with service and maintenance needs,” the county’s tweet reads. 

Basically, fees are going up across the board. County officials estimate that most residents will pay an extra $6.10 for each billing cycle. Home connections, meanwhile, will up to $230 for water and $280 for sewer. 

Virginia Zoo Says Tigers Test Positive For COVID-19 

Two of the Virginia Zoo’s Malayan tigers tested positive this week for COVID-19. According to a statement from the zoo, Stubbley and Osceola both developed mild respiratory symptoms. Zoo officials started noticing that the tigers had a dry cough and were wheezing last week. 

The symptoms, zoo officials said, were “consistent with previous cases of COVID-19 in big cats diagnosed with the virus at other zoological institutions.” 

So how do you test a tiger for COVID? Pretty much like you would a human. That means zookeepers had to use nasal swabs and collect fecal samples. 

Now even though there’s been no evidence humans can catch COVID-19 from tigers, all three cats were taken away from the exhibit. The zoo says no other tigers show symptoms of COVID-19 and both tigers are recovering. 

#ThisIsVirginia Project Continues For Dogwood

Don’t Plan Long-Term Hikes on The Trail

Officials with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy ask people to hold off on any long-distance hikes you may have planned. Now yes, all parts of the Trail, including the stretch throughout Virginia, is open for any day hikers. But the ATC asks long-distance groups to wait until: 

  • The CDC declares the pandemic is under control
  • The vaccine is fully distributed
  •  The year 2022 arrives

The request comes from concern. COVID-19 restrictions differ from state to state and ATC officials are concerned someone may infect another hiker, who then could travel into multiple states and infect others. 

ATC officials also warn hikers that all shelters on U.S. Forest Land, including the portions here in Virginia, remain closed. If you do plan an overnight hike, bring your own tent and gear.

Wednesday’s Trivia Answer: A “False Fruit”

We’ve heard of false friends before. Now let’s talk about a false fruit. That’s what botanists call strawberries.

Why? Because a strawberry is actually a multiple fruit which consists of many tiny individual fruits embedded in a fleshy receptacle. The brownish or whitish specks, which are commonly considered seeds, are the true fruits, called achenes, and each of them surrounds a tiny seed.

State Plans to Study COVID-19’s Effect 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.

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