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Photos: Rumors of War Unveiling Ceremony

The rains stopped as hundreds gathered on Arthur Ashe Boulevard in front of the VMFA to welcome Richmond’s newest statue Rumors of War by Kehinde Wiley.

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Virginia Governor Ralph Northam

“It’s taken more than 100 years, but the rest of Richmond residents finally have a monument of a man on a horse that looks like them.” – Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney

“There is something moving in the culture. There’s something changing in these winds. I think we’re all fed up with a lot of things.” – Kehinde Wiley

Art has always been about what we as a people say yes to, and these things change. Culture evolves. – Artist Kehinde Wiley

The moment the unveiling became a veil. As they attempted to unveil the statue part of the tarp was pierced by the riders hair.

The first attempt to fix the issue involved poking it with a stick.

Richmond Public Schools All City Marching Band

Richmond firefighter John Lukhard (reported by RTD) came to the rescue and removed the last bit of the tarp.

VMFA on Rumors of War:

As a direct response to the Confederate statues that line Monument Avenue in Richmond, Wiley conceived the idea for Rumors of War when he visited the city in 2016 for the opening of Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic at VMFA. Rumors of War takes its inspiration from the statue of Confederate Army General James Ewell Brown “J.E.B.” Stuart created by Frederick Moynihan in 1907. As with the original sculpture, the rider strikes a heroic pose while sitting upon a muscular horse. However, in Wiley’s sculpture, the figure is a young African American dressed in urban streetwear. Proudly mounted on its large stone pedestal, the bronze sculpture commemorates African American youth lost to the social and political battles being waged throughout our nation.

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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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Business

Councilwoman Gray hosting online Second District town hall, introducing two resolutions to help small businesses

Councilwoman Kim Gray (2nd District) issued a statement today calling for the City of Richmond to support small businesses, especially the hard-hit restaurant industry, during the COVID-19 crisis, through two draft resolutions.

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Councilwoman Kim Gray (2nd District) issued a statement today calling for the City of Richmond to support small businesses, especially the hard-hit restaurant industry, during the COVID-19 crisis, through two draft resolutions.

Gray’s first proposed paper asks the City administration for revised revenue estimates for FY 19-20 and FY 20-21, including any assumptions and methodologies used in the revised forecast, by April 3.

A second proposed paper calls for the Administration to find ways to administratively, legally or legislatively accomplish the following:

  1. Rescind the Richmond City meals tax for the months of February, March and April (March, April and May payments);
  2. Refund 50% of the 2020 Richmond Business, Professional and Occupational license taxes paid by restaurants prospectively to the City in January 2020 or later (given that estimates of future restaurant sales for the remainder of the year were based on normal operations, which is no longer a realistic assumption); and
  3. Re-forecast restaurant-related revenues for FY 19-20 and FY 20-21 to allow for timely amendments to the current and proposed annual budgets in order to offset any fiscal impacts.

Both proposed papers also call for the Administration to submit new budget recommendations based on the impact of the effects of COVID-19 to date.

“While the Governor is aggressively addressing the major health and education issues confronting our Commonwealth, City Council needs to prepare for the long-term battle and help pave the way for ultimate economic recovery,” Gray said in a news release. “First and foremost, we need to create a substantial contingency fund to address the many challenges that lie ahead. That will require a revised revenue forecast for the current fiscal year and the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2020. Creating such a contingency will also require hard choices and due diligence on each and every expenditure by the City.

Equally important will be meaningful and immediate tax relief for our small businesses and especially our restaurants. Richmond restaurants face perhaps the highest tax burden of any industry in the City, and its workers have been the most immediately affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Finally, the City needs to build long-term COVID-19 prevention into every decision. The dismantling of the Camp Cathy encampment is a case in point: With no long-term plan for the housing of these individuals, they, as well as the community at large, are vulnerable to further transmission of the virus.”

City Council should not be forced to make what will likely be very tough budget decisions on the fly with outdated information,” Gray said. “We need the city government to come together to meet the needs of its citizens, and that may very well require additional tax relief to the most threatened families, individuals and businesses in the City.”

Gray will host a Facebook Live session tonight, Monday, March 30, at 7 p.m. to discuss the proposals and hear from Richmond residents. View her page here.

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Community

Richmond Craft Mafia’s Virtual Craft Show

Spring Bada Bing is postponed but your ability to pick up wonderfully hand-crafted items will not be denied.

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One of the many ripple effects of no large gatherings of people is that local crafters have lost their ability to make some cash. Richmond Craft Mafia has come up with a nice solution, the Virtual Craft Show.

With Spring Bada Bing postponed we were looking for a way to support small businesses through this extremely hard time. We decided as a group to do a “virtual craft show” so you can support awesome makers while stuck at home.

The first vendor we would like to highlight is Bright Life Toys. They create funky kawaii plush toys and Waldorf movement toys. They believe in creative play for creative kids! I will be highlighting this adorable company all day on our Instagram. Make sure you are following us at @richmondcraftmafia

You can purchase products from Bright Life Toys by visiting their etsy shop at: http://www.brightlifetoys.etsy.com

The otter is the cutest thing ever.

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Education

Distance learning poses challenges for students, teachers

Students and teachers are transitioning from classroom to computer as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise. Not every subject lends itself to a smooth transition to distance learning, as students and instructors have discovered.

Capital News Service

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By Jimmy O’Keefe

Students and teachers at all levels of education are transitioning from classroom to computer as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise. Not every subject lends itself to a smooth transition to distance learning, as students and instructors have discovered.

“I think we’re all really frustrated,” said Jordyn Wade, a fashion design major at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. “But we know that our professors are doing what they can in a really unprecedented situation.”

Wade said that she and her classmates are now meeting remotely through Zoom, a video conferencing platform. Zoom allows students to meet virtually during a time when people can’t meet physically, but distance learning poses challenges for courses that require more than a lecture, like art classes and lab components of science classes.

Students like Wade worked mostly with industrial grade equipment.

“We kind of rely heavily on the school for supplies like sewing machines and the industrial equipment that can cost thousands of dollars,” Wade said. “Now we just stare at each other and they ask us,‘What can you guys do? Can you hand sew an entire jacket before the end of the month?’”

Wade said that one of the most frustrating aspects of distance learning is not being able to receive direct feedback from professors.

“We can’t ask our professors what’s wrong with the garment that we’re making, we can just send them pictures and hope they can figure it out from afar,” Wade said.

Chloe Pallak, a student in VCU’s art program said that many of her projects are being graded on whether or not they are complete.

“To get a grade for an assignment, you just have to do it,” Pallak said. “It really takes away the motivation of wanting to make art and not just complete the assignment.”

Courses that include lab components, such as classes in environmental science, also face challenges as classes move online. Griffin Erney, an environmental studies major at VCU, said that distance learning prevents students from accessing lab materials that are typically provided in the classroom.

“Before the class was online we would just do different activities and be provided with the materials,” Erney said. “Having labs online is more challenging, on top of all the work that we already have.”

On Monday, Gov. Ralph Northam issued an order that closed down all K-12 schools in the state for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

Davide D’Urbino, a chemistry and organic chemistry teacher at Clover Hill High School in Chesterfield County, said he plans on using computer applications to supplement labs that cannot be completed in the classroom. He said the school division requested that teachers hold off on introducing new learning material.

“The expectation was that you could teach new stuff, but then you have to go back in class and reteach it,” D’Urbino said.

D’Urbino said teachers aren’t allowed to teach new material online because some students may not have internet access. He said he understands why the school division has placed these restrictions but said it “feels weird.”

Distance learning has also presented challenges to teachers trying to adapt to lecturing online.

“Some people say teaching is 75 percent theater, you just go out there and do improv. You can’t really do that online,” D’Urbino said. “It’s very difficult to intervene and correct course if you realize something isn’t quite working out.”

Teachers have also scrambled for ways to continue instruction for students that lack access to the internet.

Janice Barton, a 5th grade science teacher at Honaker Elementary School in Russell County, said that about half of the 60 students she teaches have access to the internet. She said the school is using Google Classroom, a web platform that allows teachers to share files with students through the internet. For students without internet access, teachers create physical packets of learning content.

“We’re working as grade levels, we’re going in and working together to put the packets together,” Barton said. “We have pickup days and drop-off days, and that’s how we are working and dealing with this right now.”

Barton said the school uses phone calls, emails, and the app Remind, which allows teachers to send messages to students to keep in contact with parents and students.

While local school divisions are tasked with making decisions on how to pursue distance learning, the Virginia Department of Education issued guidance to help divisions continue instruction.

VDOE’s guidance to local school divisions includes offering instruction during the summer of 2020, extending the school term or adjusting the next, and adding learning modules to extended school calendars.

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane issued guidance regarding eight high school senior graduation requirements and will be issuing further guidance for half of those, which can not be waived outright.

Two other graduation requirements — training in emergency first aid and the completion of a virtual course — require action by the General Assembly in order to be waived.

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