Our children need to go back to school

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Our second full week of the 2021 General Assembly session has come to an end, and I wanted to take a moment to update you on what’s happening in Richmond.

Much of our attention this week has continued to focus on Virginia’s effort to get the COVID vaccine out the door and into the arms of Virginians. The vaccine is finally moving from the federal government to Virginia, but the last mile — getting it out of the freezer and into arms — has been plagued with problems.

Last week Gov. Ralph Northam held a press event about his floundering vaccination program, indicating that his team had failed to anticipate what were easily predictable problems. Well over a month into the vaccination program, Northam announced that his team was creating a new vaccine registration portal. This came only after weeks of complaints about failures by the local health districts he tasked with overseeing the program.

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Now major hospital chains are canceling vaccination events as the vaccine is routed to local health departments — which cannot handle the load.

I co-sponsored a bill that would require the Department of Health to establish a process to allow qualified health care providers to volunteer to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. This would put more people on the front lines administering shots to people who need them. This bill has an emergency clause that would make it go into effect immediately should it receive approval of the General Assembly and the governor.

My office and I are keeping a close eye on the vaccination rollout and will keep you up to speed on new developments. You can also check out resources regarding the vaccine at the following website: https://www. vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/

The evidence is growing every day that our children need to be back in school. Not only is it safe for them to do so, it is safer than keeping them out of school. The science is consistent and getting more clear by the day. Our kids need to be back in school as soon as possible.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Fauci have gone further than just, “It’s safe to open.” On Thursday they reported that it’s safer for kids to be in schools than it is to be out in the community.

And that makes sense. Kids don’t tend to transmit the virus to each other or teachers.

The systems we’ve had open in Virginia have done very well — cases come into the school from outside, they’re identified, contact traced and quarantined. Teachers unions are pushing hard in the other direction, though.

In Fairfax County, teachers asked to be vaccinated before they go back. The county agreed, and that’s happening now. But the president of their union said they don’t want to go back until teachers and children are vaccinated. Considering there’s no vaccine approved for children, that’s a tall order.

The damage being done here is just unimaginable. Our testing results are coming in, and our kids are falling behind in reading. There’s an epidemic of “F’s out there as kids who don’t have the complete support system they need are failing.

Kids are fighting with depression in virtual schools, and it’s no wonder why. Can you imagine being stuck on a six-hour Zoom call?

DEL. TOMMY WRIGHT can be reached via email at

DelTWright@House.Virginia.gov OR (804) 698-1061.