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Hanover Residents Hold Car Rally to Protest School Reopenings

Car holds sign
Hanover teachers and other demonstrators used the hashtag #OnlyWhenItsSafe to call for virtual learning in the fall. (Photo: Alan Rodriguez Espinoza/VPM News)

Teachers, parents and students drove their cars to the Hanover school board offices to honk their horns in protest of the county's school reopening plans.

Hanover families will have the option between online or in-person courses this fall. Students who attend school in person will be required to wear face masks and maintain at least three feet of social distance. 

“A lot of parents are excited that they have a choice, but a lot of parents and teachers are upset that the teachers don’t have a choice,” said Julie Stubblefield, a Hanover parent and one of the organizers behind the group Safe Return to Learn.

Teachers at the rally said their safety and concerns were not taken into consideration when the county drafted their reopening plan. According to a staff email, while teachers may choose to teach virtually, they will not be guaranteed their current teaching positions when they return to the classroom.

“We’re frustrated that it seems that they haven't considered the teachers’ safety in the plans that were done, and they aren't inclusive of their goals,” said John Scott, a Hanover parent who participated in the rally and whose ex-wife teaches for Hanover county.

A spokesperson for Hanover County Public Schools said in a statement that the county respects people's freedom to assemble, and that the health and safety of its constituents "remains a top priority."

"We will continue to solicit and evaluate feedback from all stakeholders, as well as all continuously review all official guidance that we receive," said HCPS Public Information Officer Chris Whitley. "We will make adjustments to our plan as necessary to meet the needs of our students, families, and staff."

Richmond and Chesterfield public schools will teach fully online in the fall. Henrico’s superintendent has also recommended virtual learning, and the county’s school board will vote on a reopening plan Thursday.

Editor's Note: This story was updated with a statement from Hanover County Public Schools, received after publication.

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