RICHMOND, Va. — Northern Virginia and Richmond have entered Phase 2 of its reopening plan on Friday, June 12, Gov. Ralph Northam announced. Schools can reopen in the fall using a phased approach.
During Tuesday's news briefing, Northam said the move came as the commonwealth’s “health metrics are looking positive.” Positive tests are at about 10% and “trending downward,” he said.
Most of the state began Phase 2 reopening on Friday, June 5. Northern Virginia, along with the City of Richmond, has remained in Phase 1.
Northern Virginia – along with Prince George's and Montgomery counties in Maryland – was initially delayed from easing the restrictions that were imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, given the higher case rate in those regions.
Phase 2 lifts some restrictions on restaurants, gyms, sports, and outdoor entertainment.
Venues that can open under these restrictions include museums, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, and outdoor concert, sporting, and performing arts venues.
Both indoor and outdoor swimming pools can now allow exercise classes, diving, and swimming instructions.
Phase 2 for reopening in Virginia would mean:
- Stay-at-home for vulnerable populations only
- No social gatherings of more than 50 people
- Continued social distancing
- Face coverings recommended in public
- Further easing of business limitations
- All businesses still adhere to physical distancing guidelines, frequently clean and sanitize high contact surfaces, and continue enhanced workplace safety measures.
- Overnight summer camps, most indoor entertainment venues, amusement parks, fairs, and carnivals remain closed in Phase 2.
- Phase 2 guidelines for religious services, non-essential retail, and personal grooming services remain the same as Phase 1
The governor also announced that schools will reopen for the next academic year, with a mix of in-person and remote learning.
Northam announced a three-phase approach for how schools will move out of remote education and usher students back into the norm.
In Phase 1, most instruction will remain virtual, with the exception of instruction for special education students and childcare for working families.
The first phase starts this summer with summer school classes.
In Phase 2, schools can start offering in-person instruction for Pre-K students through third-grade students only, students with disabilities, and English language learners.
Phase 3 finally introduces the shift to in-person instruction for all students, but with stringent, physical distancing guidelines in place.
State leaders and education officials say schools will have to stagger class schedules, space out desks, restrict mixing groups of students, stagger the use of communal spaces, and require face coverings in most settings.
However, high-risk students, staff, and faculty and continue teleworking and remote instruction.
“What that looks like on the ground is most instruction is still virtual,” Northam said.
These suggested guidelines come as the officials 2019-2020 school year comes to a full close. Gov. Northam ordered that all schools would have to close on March 23 and ended up extending the closures to the end of the year.
“This approach protects and prioritizes the health and social, emotional, and physical health of students and staff as health conditions evolve," Northam said. "
“All Virginia schools will open for students next year, but the school experience will look very different."
The percent of positive COVID-19 tests have trended downward, with about a 10% positivity rate statewide, Virginia Health Department officials said during Tuesday's news briefing.
Health Department officials said there are enough hospital beds and personal protective equipment, testing capacity has increased and more contact tracers have been hired.
**Edit: Previous reporting said that Northern Virginia will enter Phase 2 starting Friday. Gov. Northam said that the metrics look positive and [NoVa] can move into Phase 2 as of this Friday. It is unclear from county and city leaders if Northern Virginia will reopen.**
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