Today, U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger held a roundtable discussion with U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and leaders from Chesterfield County Public Schools to hear directly from local administrators and school board members about the challenges facing Central Virginia schools as they reopen amid the ongoing pandemic.
“Opinions about school reopening vary widely across our Central Virginia communities, and the challenges facing each family are often very specific and personal. There are some things, however, which we all agree on – we want our children to succeed and be safe,” said Spanberger. “I appreciated the opportunity today to learn from school leaders in Chesterfield County about how they’re working to make virtual learning the most effective, engaging, and rich experience it can be for our kids. I thank them and our teachers for their tireless efforts and great flexibility this year. I also appreciated Senator Warner’s perspective from the other side of the U.S. Capitol. With three school-age kids of my own, I know how precarious the balancing act between a full-time job, virtual learning, and in-person school can be for working parents. Many of my constituents have voiced their frustration about the slow pace of action on Capitol Hill, and this is frustration that I share. I will continue pushing for a coordinated response from the federal government, and a new relief package that takes into consideration the needs of students, families, and teachers.”
“It was great to meet with folks from the Chesterfield County School Board to learn more about the work that our public schools are doing ahead of the first day of school next week. With the fall semester just around the corner, schools participating in distance learning have the responsibility of ensuring that students are fully able to participate and that educators have what they need to provide an immersive learning experience,” said U.S. Senator Warner. “As the Senate heads back into session, I’m going to continue working to support students and schools all across the Commonwealth. This includes pushing my legislation to prevent the Trump Administration from reducing or redirecting critical education funding for schools that determine they cannot safely reopen for in-person instruction in the fall.”
Since the pandemic began impacting Virginia communities in March, Spanberger has fought to secure the emergency funding for broadband internet access that would make virtual learning a realistic option for more Central Virginia students.
In August 2020, the U.S. House passed a Spanberger-led initiative to close the digital divide, provide up-to-date information about internet access disparities, and address broadband internet inequities that have been laid bare during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In July 2020, Spanberger helped pass legislation that included once-in-a-generation funding for the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate program to increase wireless service to existing school devices, as well as to hotspots for students who lack internet access at home. The Moving America Forward Act also included Spanberger’s amendment to ensure that networks are built to last in the years to come, with upload and download speeds that reflect the needs of future students, business owners, and healthcare professionals.
Since the early weeks of the pandemic, Spanberger has sought out the feedback and input of parents, teachers, and students in Central Virginia. In April 2020, she held a telephone town hall focused on the concerns of families with school-age children alongside Holly Coy, Deputy Secretary of Education from the Office of Governor Northam; Dr. Tomikia LeGrande, Vice Provost for Strategic Enrollment Management at Virginia Commonwealth University; Dr. Paula Pondo, President of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College; Dr. Mervin Daugherty, Superintendent of Chesterfield County Public Schools; and Dr. Amy Cashwell, Superintendent of Henrico County Public Schools.