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Take a video tour of VCU’s new practice facility

Still lots of work but you can get a good idea of how it’s shaping up.

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VCU’s spent $25 million on their new practice facility take a peek inside amongst the ongoing contruction with this video.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Downtown

Senate panel shoots down bill that would make mask and vaccine mandates illegal

Democrats in the Virginia Senate voted down GOP legislation Monday that would have classified mask mandates and vaccine requirements as illegal discrimination.

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Democrats in the Virginia Senate voted down GOP legislation Monday that would have classified mask mandates and vaccine requirements as illegal discrimination.

The measures, proposed by Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, drew unanimous support from Republicans on the Senate’s General Laws Committee.

“It’s time to give people the freedom to breathe and the freedom of choice,” Chase told the panel.

Her bills would have prevented schools, businesses and other public places from requiring people to wear masks or disclose their vaccine status.

Witnesses who spoke in support of the legislation said they opposed masks for a variety of reasons. One mother told lawmakers that masks gave her child nightmares. One man said that masks gave him seizures. A third witness said masks made her dizzy.

“We are being discriminated against,” said Doris Knicks, who spoke to the panel remotely.

On vaccines, Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico, a practicing OBGYN, called it “egregious and a complete violation of an individual’s right to privacy” for businesses like restaurants to require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We shouldn’t be using this as a litmus test for people to be able to get into stores,” she said.

Democrats on the panel noted vaccine requirements are not unique to COVID-19 and said businesses should have the authority to take steps to keep their employees safe.

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Education

Governor Signs Executive Order Lifting Mask Mandate, RPS and Others Plan to Keep Masks in Schools

Covid-19 is still here and masks are one tool in the arsenal to prevent sickness and in some cases death.

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In 2020, with support from both sides of the aisle, the legislature signed a law requiring schools to follow CDC guidance. That guidance currently recommends universal mask-wearing in schools. The CDC can’t “require” any measure but leaves that up to the schools. This weekend the new Republican Governor Youngkin signed an Executive Order stating that parents must be allowed to decide whether their child wears a mask in school, regardless of federal or district-level rules. This new rule will go into place on January 24th.

Sixteen school districts including Richmond and Henrico have stated their intention to keep mask mandates in place.

  • Arlington
  • Montgomery
  • Fairfax
  • Loudoun
  • Henrico
  • Richmond
  • Alexandria
  • Prince William
  • Roanoke
  • Pulaski
  • Charlottesville
  • Albemarle
  • Norfolk
  • Chesapeake
  • Fredersicksburg
  • Nelson

RPS Superintendent Jason Kamaras issued the following statement yesterday. The statement also touches on another Executive Order that is attempting to fight the non-existent boogeyman that is Critical Race Theory.

Dear #RPSStrong Family,

Normally, I wouldn’t be sending an RPS Direct this evening, as we’re closed today. However, in light of recent events at the state level, I felt it was important to reach out.

Masks – As I shared via social media this weekend, RPS will maintain its 100% mask-wearing policy for all students, staff, and families. The science is clear: masks are safe and effective. Per the CDC“Experimental and epidemiologic data support community masking to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2…The relationship between source control and wearer protection is likely complementary and possibly synergistic, so that individual benefit increases with increasing community mask use.”

Despite the Governor’s Executive Order #2, we believe we have the legal authority to maintain our mandate. Senate Bill 1303, signed into law last year, stipulates that Virginia school divisions must offer in-person instruction, and: “[P]rovide such in-person instruction in a manner in which it adheres, to the maximum extent practicable, to any currently applicable mitigation strategies for early childhood care and education programs and elementary and secondary schools to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 that have been provided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” 

Therefore, we are actually mandated by Virginia law to follow CDC guidance, and to do so “to the maximum extent practicable.” Given the CDC’s clear position on mask-wearing in schools, our charge is clear: maintain our mandate. Towards that end, School Board Members Burke and Doerr will be introducing a resolution to reaffirm our 100% mask-wearing requirement at tomorrow’s School Board meeting. 

Updated Isolation and Quarantine Guidance – One of the key topics that came up last night during the town hall hosted by Chair Harris-Muhammed and Vice-Chair Gibson was confusion over isolation and quarantine protocols, given evolving guidance from the CDC. To clarify matters, we have updated our guidance in collaboration with the Richmond City Health District, and will be implementing it starting tomorrow. If you have any questions after reviewing the updated protocols, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

“Divisive Concepts” – The Governor’s Executive Order #1 bans the teaching of critical race theory and other “divisive” concepts. First, as has been widely discussed in the news media over the past year, critical race theory is a graduate-level framework that’s not taught in K-12 schools. As for the far more nebulous prohibition against teaching divisive concepts, all I can say is this: At RPS, we will continue to honestly study the fact that the Commonwealth of Virginia was literally created on the backs of enslaved Africans, and we will continue to help our students understand the connection between that history and the injustices that still grip our community today – in education, housing, healthcare, the legal system, and more.

To quote Dr. King in honor of today’s celebration: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.” That’s what we’ll continue to do no matter how painful the truth of our past may be. It’s only by fostering a deep understanding of how we arrived at the present will we equip our students to create a more just and equitable future.

With great appreciation,
Jason

Yesterday the Virginia Chapter of Pediatricians spoke out in favor of keeping masks in school

 

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Downtown

Virginia lawmakers propose decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms

“It is increasingly a recognized treatment for refractory depression and PTSD,” said Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, a nurse practitioner whose legislation would also decriminalize peyote, a cactus that contains the psychedelic compound mescalin. “It’s changed people’s lives.”

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By Ned Oliver

Two Virginia lawmakers have introduced legislation that would end felony penalties for possession of psychedelic mushrooms, citing the drug’s growing acceptance in medicinal contexts.

“It is increasingly a recognized treatment for refractory depression and PTSD,” said Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, a nurse practitioner whose legislation would also decriminalize peyote, a cactus that contains the psychedelic compound mescalin. “It’s changed people’s lives.”

The legislation would reduce the penalty for possession — currently a Class 5 felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison — to a $100 civil fine.

Sens. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Chesterfield, and Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

The bill would put Virginia at the forefront of a nascent decriminalization movement that has primarily been limited to cities, including Washington, D.C. So far, Oregon is the only state to legalize medicinal use of psilocybin, an active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms.

The bill likely faces long odds, especially in the House of Delegates, where the newly reinstated Republican majority has historically resisted efforts to loosen drug laws. That said, Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, who leads the chamber’s Courts of Justice Committee, said he is open to hearing arguments in favor of the legislation.

“That is not something we’ve taken up before,” he said. “I’d be interested in hearing what (Adams) has to say.”

Even if the legislation were to pass, the drug would remain illegal, albeit with reduced penalties. That makes it unlikely medical providers in Virginia would embrace psychedelics as a treatment option, but Adams said it would nonetheless be a step in the right direction.

“If we decriminalize it, it allows people to learn,” she said. “It doesn’t egg people on (to use the drug). It tries to open the door for us to continue to study the positive effects on people’s mental health going forward.”

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