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Northam orders recreational businesses to stay closed until May 8; College Board to offer at-home SATs

RICHMOND — Recreational businesses in Virginia, including gyms and movie theaters, will remain closed under the state’s order until May 8, Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday.

Northam expanded an executive order issued on March 23 that was slated to expire April 23.

Northam said he based the decision on new projections, from the University of Virginia and others, showing that social distancing is helping slow the spread of the disease in Virginia, but that lifting restrictions too soon could ramp up the spread and overwhelm hospitals.

“I want everyone to know the sacrifices that you have made are helping slow the spread, and giving us more time to plan and prepare,” Northam said.

The list of businesses includes museums, concert venues, indoor sporting facilities, beauty salons, barbershops and other personal care establishments.

At the same time, Northam said that the state’s stay-at-home order will remain in effect until June 10, despite models from the University of Virginia that the state could see cases peak in August.

“I don’t have any intentions as of today to extend that,” Northam said, adding that the situation is fluid and that models change daily with new data.

He said it would be hard to predict two months in advance whether the order would be extended. He suggested that if the situation in the state improved, it could be lifted sooner.

“I know that’s frustrating. I love data, and I want to be exact,” Northam said. “But I’d ask all of your and our viewers to be patient.”

– Mel Leonor

College Board will offer at-home SATs in ‘unlikely’ event that schools don’t reopen in fall

Students could take the SAT at home if schools don’t reopen in the fall, something Gov. Ralph Northam said he’s confident won’t happen if state residents continue to practice social distancing.

The College Board, which administers the college entry exam, announced Wednesday that it is canceling the SAT testing scheduled for June 6. It had already canceled other tests this spring because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, there will be weekend SAT tests every month, starting Aug. 29, with the addition of a September testing to go along with previously-scheduled tests on Oct., 3, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5 "if it’s safe from a public health standpoint."

“We know students and educators are worried about how the coronavirus may disrupt the college admissions process, and we want to do all we can to help alleviate that anxiety during this very demanding time,” said College Board CEO David Coleman.

In the "unlikely" event that schools don’t reopen in the fall, though, the College Board said Wednesday that it will provide a digital SAT for students to take at home. It’s something the New York-based organization has done this year for Advanced Placement tests.

"Like the pencil-and-paper test, a digital, remote version of the SAT would measure what students are learning in school and what they need to know to be successful in college," the College Board said.

In a statement, the College Board said it "fully supports" college admissions offices, such as Virginia Tech’s, who have opted for test-optional applications because of the pandemic.

“Our commitment to students is to give them as many opportunities as we can to show their strengths to admissions officers, while relying on the guidance of public health officials,” Coleman said.

Students who had already registered for the June SAT test and juniors who haven’t taken the SAT will have early access to register for the August, September, and October tests, the College Board said.

The organization also said that, assuming schools reopen in the fall, it will offer the SAT in schools this fall to replace the SAT School Day normally held in the spring.

Gov. Ralph Northam said on a town hall Tuesday with WJLA in Washington, D.C. that he is "confident" that Virginia schools, which are closed for the rest of this academic year, will reopen if Virginians continue to practice social distancing and "continue to do what we’re doing."

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane is serving as the co-chairman of a new regional Education Recovery Task Force to help states determine how to re-open K-12 schools, among other things.

The task force, which will operate under the Southern Regional Education Board, will have representatives from 16 states.

– Justin Mattingly

6,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Va.; 195 deaths

The Virginia Department of Health reported Wednesday that 195 people have died in the state as a result of the coronavirus. Also, 6,500 people have tested positive for COVID-19.

That’s an increase of 41 deaths from the 154 reported on Tuesday, and confirmed cases increased by 329 from 6,171.

The VDH also said that 44,169 people have been tested for the virus in Virginia and 1,048 have been hospitalized

On March 19, state health officials said there’s a lag in the reporting of statewide numbers on the VDH website. Figures on the website might not include cases or deaths reported by individual localities or local health districts.

Locally, the Thomas Jefferson Health Department will be reporting on the number of cases on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. As of Monday, April 13, the region that the TJHD oversees saw 53 cases in Albemarle, 34 cases in Charlottesville, 62 cases in Fluvanna, four in Greene, 27 in Louisa and five in Nelson.


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