An unusual new school year starts, big shakeups in Portsmouth government, startling results from sewage-based COVID tracing, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• The first day of school was pretty weird and, in some districts, marked by tech glitches. “The only thing I can say about this school year with any certainty is that it will look unlike any other school year you’ve experienced,” said Amherst County Public Schools Superintendent Rob Arnold.—News & AdvanceVPMVirginian-Pilot

• The city manager of Portsmouth resigned and the city attorney was fired. No explanation was offered in either of the departures, which come amid ongoing turmoil surrounding the city police department and its decision to file criminal charges following the vandalism of a Confederate monument.—Virginian-Pilot

• In his new book, Michael Cohen ties Jerry Falwell Jr.’s endorsement of Trump in 2016 to Cohen’s role helping keep nude photos of the Falwells’ from becoming public. Falwell, recently ousted from Liberty, denied any quid pro quo. “Someone stole some pictures I took of my wife in the back yard. Topless. Big deal. OK?”—Reuters

• “An outside expert who inspected an immigration detention center in Farmville that experienced a massive coronavirus outbreak is recommending that some high-risk inmates be released after finding flaws in the center’s screening procedures.”—Associated Press

• Stafford County, one of four Virginia localities participating in experimental sewage-based COVID-19 detection, says recent results suggest up to 18 percent of North Stafford’s population may have the virus.—Free Lance-Star

• “A third member of ex-Rep. Scott Taylor’s 2018 campaign staff is facing an election fraud charge after being indicted today by a Virginia Beach grand jury.”—Virginian-Pilot

• The Richmond commonwealth’s attorney is asking for a special prosecutor to investigate whether Mayor Levar Stoney broke the law when his administration directed a $1.8 million, no-bid contract for removal of Confederate statues to a company linked to a political supporter.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• The House of Delegates passed a bill making it easier for local governments to take down Confederate statues by eliminating a 30-day waiting period.—Washington Post

• Richmond City Council voted to ban guns on public property during demonstrations and special events. Firearms at protests have become common since militias descended on Charlottesville in 2017.—VPM

• Bioluminescent algae in the Chesapeake Bay is creating waves that glow bright blue as they break on the shore.—Virginian-Pilot

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