SVHEC Executive Director Dr. Betty Adams has been appointed to serve on the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Work Group. This Group is tasked with charting a path forward for re-opening Virginia’s schools.

On May 18, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam announced a diverse set of education stakeholders participating in the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Education Work Group. SVHEC’s Executive Director, Dr. Betty H. Adams, has been appointed to this important Work Group tasked with charting a path forward to determining how schools can safely reopen later this year. 

SVHEC Executive Director, Dr. Betty Adams
SVHEC Executive Director, Dr. Betty Adams

“It is an honor to be selected to serve alongside such a distinguished group of educators. With Secretary Qarni’s thoughtful leadership, we are focused on the critical task of how to safely get Virginia’s educational system back to work,” Dr. Adams stated. 

The COVID-19 Education Work Group is comprised of representatives from Virginia’s public and private early childhood, K-12, and higher education systems, coming from every region of the Commonwealth and representing the whole of Virginia’s education system.

Secretary of Education Atif Qarni formed the work group and chaired its first meeting on April 23. Since then, the work group has been focused on developing recommendations to align policies throughout the Commonwealth’s preK-20 education system and ensure continuity of learning.

“I am deeply grateful for Virginia’s educators, administrators, school nutrition workers, support staff, parents, and students for the ways they have adapted to new learning environments over the past two months,” said Governor Northam. “As we make decisions about the path forward, this panel will help ensure that we are best supporting rural students, English language learners, students of color, and students with special needs. School closures have been necessary to protect health and safety, but lost class time has a disproportionate impact on Virginia’s most vulnerable and economically disadvantaged students. That’s why equity will remain at the forefront as we determine when and how we can safely and responsibly return to in-person learning.”

“As we begin to think about how Virginia’s education system can operate in the summer and fall, it is crucial that we have the advice of a diverse, thoughtful group of education leaders,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “This group will use their expertise to guide our approach and help ensure that all voices are heard and all recommendations are made through the lens of equity.”

On March 13, Governor Northam directed all K-12 schools in Virginia to close for a minimum of two weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. Virginia’s COVID-19 Education Work Group will develop recommendations on key issues schools must address before reopening and help determine how to ensure continuity of learning for Virginia students from cradle to classroom to career. After this guidance is developed, the work group will transition to focus on long-term recovery plans to include addressing learning gaps and social emotional needs of students resulting from school closures.

In the coming weeks, Governor Northam will outline a roadmap for Virginia schools, colleges, and universities to return to in-person learning in a safe, equitable, and responsible manner. The data-driven and science-based approach will include recommendations from the COVID-19 Education Work Group, and will be coordinated with the Forward Virginia plan to gradually ease public health restrictions. The Forward Virginia plan is grounded in federal CDC guidelines, and includes specific goals to contain the spread of the virus through increased testing, contact tracing, and ensuring adequate medical capacity.

Click here to view the list of members of the COVID-19 Education Work Group.