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Elections

The Richmond Public Schools Division Is Doing Terry McAuliffe No Favors in Virginia

Then-Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe addresses a church service in Charlottesville, Va., August 13, 2017. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Terry McAuliffe remains the favorite in Virginia’s gubernatorial election, but he’s clearly worried about his prospects, and one can only assume that stories such as this one from NBC are keeping him up at night:

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) – In an RPS Direct update on Wednesday evening, Superintendent Jason Kamras said the division will be closing school additional days the first week of November to help with employees’ mental health.

During the first week of November, students already had off Nov. 2 for Election Day, Nov. 4 for Diwali and Nov. 5 for virtual parent/teacher conferences. Now, the division will also close on Nov. 1 and Nov. 3, giving students the whole week off.

“I recognize I’m giving our families very short notice of this calendar change and truly apologize for the inconvenience it will cause. After very careful consideration, I made this decision because I think it’s essential for our employees’ mental health. And because of their mental health, I worry about significant staff absences on November 1 and 3, which could make it very difficult for us to follow our COVID-19 distancing protocols, putting student and staff health in jeopardy. Again, I sincerely apologize for the short notice and thank you in advance for your understanding,” Kamras said in the update.

Kamras said the decision comes after speaking with dozens of teachers and staff about how stressful the year has been so far.

This statement could have been designed in a laboratory to annoy parents. It has everything. The incessant repetition of “I” and “us”; unacceptably short notice; the rank prioritization of teachers over children; an acknowledgment that government employees often fail to do their jobs; and an absurd, safetyist rationale — namely, that if teachers don’t get even more time off, it will be “very difficult for us to follow our COVID-19 distancing protocols, putting student and staff health in jeopardy.” Oh, and later on, Kamras throws in an everything-is-the-pandemic argument for good measure, proposing that “many of our students faced multiple pandemics before COVID-19: poverty, racism, gun violence, and more.”

And all just in time for an election day that will, in all likelihood, be marked primarily by an ongoing debate over education. Lovely stuff.

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