Today is more of a dive back into COVID, to go over several things, so we can keep abreast of the latest information you are seeing. This is to make sure you have factual information that will help you sort through the insanity that is being thrown at us from all sides so we can make good decisions.
Let’s start with Virginia. I’ve just reviewed Virginia on the VA Department of Health site, and we are in great shape. Death rates are way down. We have evidence that our percent positive rate is staying well below 10%. That ticked up a bit, but we are still hitting our benchmarks. Our hospital capacity is outstanding, we have the ability to take care of a lot of patients if they get sick. The important things to look at in Virginia are going well. I would also suggest that the panic over what is happening in other states may be a little overblown. We’re going to go over some state information in a little bit.
I want to take a minute to talk about K-12. I’ve been doing a lot of work for K-12 over the last week. I’ve connected with the movement of parents across the state that have been advocating for returning to school for five days. For a synopsis, I’m talking to a lot of people at the state level, superintendents across the state, and talking to others deeply involved in this, let’s review.
Most all private schools are submitting plans to the state to return to school 5 days a week. They’re submitting plans that allow them to do that, and to do that in a safe way. Almost no public schools are entertaining that. The few that are, are going to address that head on with the state why there are so many snags for the phased reopenings for schools that the state has sent down. Basically, the state has said that school boards can figure out how to open 5 days a week on their own, and the state hopes they do that, but if the state is in phase III, the state wants to know how schools will reopen and follow guidelines. That’s just not possible. What we’ve learned from superintendents and school boards is that their legal counsel has told them that they must follow the guidelines from the Department of Health for schools, and if they don’t, they’re going to lose their immunity. Not only as a school board, but also as individuals. This has put them in a terrible vice to provide their constitutional requirements of education, and to meet these criteria. School boards are calling for the state to change its criteria, and I think that’s the right thing to do.
Let’s talk about why this is such a mess. The state tells me that they fully expect we’ll be past phase III and all this planning will be for naught, this is basically a contingency plan. In my mind, that is how this should have been presented. They should have said schools should plan for phase IV, but have contingencies for phase III because they’ve created a panic among parents who are trying to figure out how to get a better education for their kids, but also get back to work themselves.
This is an overstep of the state. If you look at the constitution, the obligation for education rests solidly with the school boards without interference from the state. I’d say the Governor has vastly overstepped his powers in an emergency situation. Right now, looking at the actual language in the code regarding emergency situations: “A public emergency is only triggered when the Governor must act quickly because the Assembly is either not in session or cannot be summoned in sufficient time.” We got time. We are willing and ready to meet the needs of the state, and do things only the legislature can do constitutionally, which includes appropriation. The Governor is overstepping the guidelines to work unilaterally. The guidelines for schools are an overstep for what the school boards are allowed to do, and that’s put them in a terrible vice. The private schools are able to work around that and reopen, and that puts our kids in public schools in an untenable disadvantage.
Furthermore, if you look at the science, there is so much scientific data coming in right now that shows that kids are far less of a vector than others. Looking at the age group of the people who got the virus and how many people they contaminated, kids are not giving it to other people. It is a very low acuity and transfer rate. All the kids in Virginia that have been sick, only 55 have been hospitalized, and they all went home and were fine. Most kids don’t get hospitalized at all. We know from a scientific standpoint that it is okay to go back to schoo