Virginia Gov. Northam’s decision to cancel school year came as surprise to school leaders, says Fairfax County superintendent

Fairfax County School superintendent, Scott Brabrand, said Gov. Ralph Northam's decision to keep Virginia public schools closed for the rest of the year came as a surprise to him and other school leaders.


Brabrand spoke with FOX 5 on Tuesday following Northam's press conference a day before amid growing coronavirus concerns in the state. "It was a surprise to all of the school superintendents across Virginia," he told us. He said that he learned of the decision when the governor shared the announcement Monday afternoon with the public. Brabrand said he and other school leaders only found out that Northam was going to address closures at all a few minutes before the announcement from Virginia's Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. James Lane.

"We know it's a disappointment to many of our students and families. But we certainly understand the governor – as well as all of Virginians – wanting to be sure that we're keeping Virginia safe and healthy for all of us," Brabrand said.

Brabrand said he expects more guidance from the Virginia Department of Education later today. "We're working to adjust now to that decision and we'll be sharing out with the community our distances learning plan later this week," he said. "We met with the school board in an emergency closed session last night and we will be rolling out our plan to move forward under this new information."

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"It's my understanding that the reason the governor made this decision was because the CDC had recommended eight weeks to close and to flatten the curve -- and eight weeks puts us into the middle of May," said schoolboard chair, Karen Corbett Sanders. "Many of the schools systems in the state of Virginia close at the end of May," she continued. She believes the decision was made to try and meet the needs of all districts.

Brabrand said school districts will work together to address childcare issues. "It's challenging. It's hard. Kids being stuck at home is a challenge," he said. Brabrand said his office is working on virtual learning opportunities and will connect with students by mailing them work packets soon to keep moving forward even though schools are physically closed.