The Virginia Department of Health won’t mandate COVID-19 vaccines in schools

BY: - December 6, 2021

A petition to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for school employees and all eligible students failed this week when the Virginia Department of Health opted to take no action on the request. In a decision posted Monday, the agency stated that it lacked the “clear statutory authority” to mandate the shots for employees. Under state law, the […]

Virginia teacher shortages spiked during the pandemic. Experts are worried about what’s to come.

BY: - December 6, 2021

John Reaves works as a high school English teacher in Henrico County but commutes 30 miles to work from his home in Louisa. The drive takes time away from his kids, including his young daughter, and the current school year has been tough on him. Henrico, like every division across Virginia, is back to in-person […]

Since virus hit, Virginia school enrollment has slipped nearly 4 percent

BY: - November 23, 2021

Enrollment in Virginia public schools dropped again this fall and is down more than 46,000 students since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The official headcount of students statewide plunged from 1,298,083 in fall 2019 to 1,252,756 in fall 2020 — and then dipped again to 1,251,970 this fall, according to data posted online by […]


Virginia’s toxic campaign season: life in the Divided States of America

BY: - November 1, 2021

In school board meetings, city council sessions and public hearings across the country – including here in Virginia – you see due process dissolve into red-faced rants, threats and arrests. On the grounds of the university Thomas Jefferson founded and in Charlottesville, we saw it explode in blood and death four years ago – a […]

In 2020, the legislature passed a transgender students rights law. It largely hasn’t been enforced.

BY: - October 29, 2021

In 2020, the General Assembly passed a law requiring local school divisions to adopt model policies extending rights to transgender students. But even as debates over those policies have convulsed school board meetings across the state and been debated by the candidates for governor, many districts remain out of compliance . They’ve either rejected the […]

U.S. attorney general defends FBI probe of threats against school board members

BY: - October 28, 2021

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Republicans grilled Attorney General Merrick Garland for more than four hours on Wednesday about a Justice Department investigation into threats made to local school board members in multiple states. Garland at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing declined to revoke a memo he wrote asking the FBI to meet with local law enforcement to […]

National school boards group apologizes for requesting probe of threats against local officials

BY: - October 27, 2021

WASHINGTON — The National School Boards Association is walking back its letter to President Joe Biden asking for federal help for school board members who have been harassed and threatened over masking requirements and discussions of race in public schools. Republican members of Congress led by Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley have raised strong objections to a Department […]

A storm passes over the Capitol. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury - Sept. 11, 2018)

$880 million pitch to General Assembly aims to match students and careers

BY: - October 15, 2021

A group of business and higher education leaders are pushing an $880 million proposal to make Virginia public colleges and universities more affordable and help industries facing worker shortages fill jobs. The $880 million Growth4VA proposal, developed by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, is split into two different categories: $300 million for career development […]


Virginia has the ability to fix our crumbling schools. Do we have the will?

BY: - October 14, 2021

By Keith Perrigan The school infrastructure crisis in Virginia is well-documented and longstanding. The most recent data provided by the Virginia Department of Education shows that the total cost to replace schools that are at least 50 years old would carry a price tag of over $25 billion. Unfortunately, school divisions that serve high poverty […]

Virginia lags many states in state education funding, analysis says

BY: - October 12, 2021

Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia are so close that Keith Perrigan, superintendent for Bristol Virginia Public Schools and president of the Coalition of Small and Rural Schools of Virginia, is reminded of his district’s lack of funding when he looks out his office window and sees the better-funded Tennessee system.  Even though Perrigan’s district pays […]

Petition asks the Virginia Department of Health to mandate COVID-19 vaccines in schools

BY: - October 11, 2021

A petition to mandate coronavirus vaccines for all eligible students and staff in Virginia schools has accumulated nearly 6,000 comments online — setting a record for the Virginia Department of Health’s typically sleepy regulatory process. The request was submitted last month as a public petition to the Virginia Board of Health. Under state law, any […]

GOP lawmakers push back against federal probe into threats against school board members

BY: - October 8, 2021

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans on Thursday objected to a move by the Justice Department to investigate violent threats made against local school board members and teachers, arguing that the federal agency is “policing the speech of citizens and concerned parents.” “Violence and true threats of violence should have no place in our civic discourse, but […]