2021 General Assembly Weekly Update

January 15, 2021

2021 General Assembly Update
Key Education-Related Subjects
Week ending Friday, January 15, 2021
Fairfax County Public Schools, Office of Government Relations

Additional information regarding the education-related legislation described below, as well as for all other bills related to education can be found in the thirteen subject categories located on the web pages of the FCPS Office of Government Relations at https://www.fcps.edu/about-fcps/departments-and-offices/government-relations/virginia-general-assembly.  Bills in these categories are linked to the Virginia Division of Legislative Services web pages, which provide up-to-date summary, fiscal impact and bill status information.

The 2021 Session of the Virginia General Assembly convened on Wednesday, January 13th. The House of Delegates met remotely, while the Senate met in a large conference center near the Capitol. Both the House and Senate approved several procedural changes for this year’s Session.  The adopted schedule assumes that a special session will immediately follow the regular 30-day assembly session to extend it to 45 days.  Crossover day, the traditional procedural midpoint of the session when each chamber must complete work on its own bills, is set for February 6, just five days before the assembly would adjourn.  The budget committees are required to complete work on their versions of the budget by February 7.  The Senate Rules Committee voted to limit the number of bills members can introduce to 12 and the House limited the number of bills members can introduce to 7.   While many members have already introduced up to their bill limits, the last day to file legislation is Friday, January 22.

Fairfax Education Related Committee Assignments   

There are two members of the Fairfax County House of Delegates delegation on the House Education Committee: Delegates David Bulova and Mark Keam.  Delegate Bulova serves on the Standards of Learning (SOL) and Standards of Quality (SOQ) Subcommittee, while Delegate Keam is the Chair of the Post-Secondary and Higher Education Subcommittee.  The Fairfax Delegation will have four of its members serving on the House Appropriations Committee: Delegates Mark Sickles (Vice Chair), David Bulova, Paul Krizek, and Ken Plum.  Delegates Plum and Bulova also sit on the Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee of House Appropriations.

Four members of the Fairfax Delegation continue to serve on the Senate Education and Health Committee:  Richard Saslaw, Janet Howell, George Barker and Chap Petersen.  Senator Howell also serves on the Public Education subcommittee.  The Senate Finance Committee includes six members from the Fairfax delegation:  Chairman Janet Howell, and Senators Richard Saslaw, George Barker, Chap Petersen, David Marsden and Adam Ebbin.  Senator Saslaw also chairs the Finance K-12 Subcommittee of which Senator Howell is also a member.

K-12 Education Related Bills

Student Driver Education Program; Parent Participation Exemption HB 2119 (Keam) would exempt students who are at least 18 years old, emancipated minors, or unaccompanied minors who are not in the physical custody of their parent or guardian from the requirement that the student's parent participate in the parent/student component of a school's driver education program.

Definition of “Meeting;” Virginia Freedom of Information Act HB 1997 (Murphy) would increase from three to four the number of members of a public body meeting as an informal assemblage that constitutes a meeting under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

Electronic Meetings;  Virginia Freedom of Information Act HB 1931 (Levine) would authorize a public body to conduct through electronic communication means a meeting for which, on or before the day of the meeting, a member of the public body holding the meeting notifies the chair that such member is unable to attend the meeting due to a family member's medical condition that requires the member to provide care for such family member, thereby preventing the member's physical attendance. The bill would also clarify that participation in an electronic meeting by a member of ablic body due to the inability to attend because of a personal matter is limited each calendar year to two such meetings, which is current law, or 25 percent of the meetings held that calendar year rounded up to the next whole number, whichever is greater. This bill is a recommendation of the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council.

Advertising Related to School Quality HB 2003 (Samirah) would add as a prohibited practice under the Consumer Protection Act the use in any advertising of any information regarding the quality of any public or private elementary or secondary school other than information derived from the school quality indicators contained in the School Quality Profiles established by the Department of Education or information derived from a school's website or the website of the school's district. The bill would provide that the prohibition applies to real estate licensees.

Local Arbitration Agreements; Virginia Public Procurement Act SB 1384 (Surovell) would allow a participating locality, for any procurement solicitation or contract exceeding $10,000 for goods and services, to require the bidder or offeror to disclose certain information regarding pre-dispute arbitration clauses, defined in the bill, in employment, civil rights, and consumer disputes, and provides that a locality may consider the policies and practices related to arbitration of each bidder and offeror. The bill would also provide that a participating locality shall require the bidder or offeror to provide written or electronic submissions to allow the locality to ascertain (i) whether the bidder or offeror requires persons with whom it is in a work relationship or prospective work relationship to sign or otherwise enter into a contract containing a pre-dispute arbitration clause that would cover an employment or civil rights dispute and (ii) whether the bidder or offeror requires consumers to sign or otherwise enter into a contract containing a pre-dispute arbitration clause that would cover a consumer or civil rights dispute as a condition of purchasing products or services, downloading mobile applications, or using websites. The bill would authorize a participating locality to cancel, terminate, or suspend, in whole or in part, the contract of any contractor that has violated a provision of the bill and to declare the contractor ineligible for further contracts with such locality for up to five years.

Guidelines on Excused Student Absences; Civic or Political Engagement HB 1940 (Rasoul) would require, subject to guidelines established by the Department of Education, any middle school or high school student who is absent from school to engage in a civic or political event to be granted an excused absence.

Lock-down Drills; Annual Requirement HB 1998 (Murphy) would reduce from three to two the minimum number of mandatory annual lock-down drills in each public elementary and secondary school in the Commonwealth.

Teachers' Licenses, Temporary Extension HB 1776 (Ward) would require the Board of Education to grant a two-year extension of the renewable license of any public-school teacher whose license expires in 2021 in order to provide the teacher with sufficient additional time to complete the requirements for re-licensure.

Cultural Competency; Teachers and Other Licensed School Board Employees; HB 1904 (Jenkins) and SB 1196 (Locke) would require teacher, principal, and division superintendent evaluations to include an evaluation of cultural competency. The bill would require every person seeking initial licensure or renewal of a license from the Board of Education to complete instruction or training in cultural competency and with an endorsement in history and social sciences to complete instruction in African American history, as prescribed by the Board. The bill would also require each school board to adopt and implement policies that require each teacher and any other school board employee holding a license issued by the Board to complete cultural competency training, in accordance with guidance issued by the Board, at least every two years.

Electric School Bus Projects SB 1380 (Lucas) would authorize electric utilities to partner with school divisions to implement projects designed to encourage the proliferation of school buses that are fueled in whole or in part by electricity, along with associated charging and other infrastructure, for the purpose of transporting students and that may also serve as electric grid stabilization or peak-shaving resources. The bill would provide that if an electric school bus project meets the requirements in the bill, then it is in the public interest and may constitute an energy storage resource. The bill would require an electric school bus project and its corresponding agreement to include a provision to compensate a participating school division for the use of the school bus battery by the electric utility as a grid stabilizing or peak-shaving resource and a provision that the electric school buses shall be titled under the participating school division, but the utility shall own the associated batteries and charging stations. The bill would also provide a tax exemption for electric school buses and associated charging and other infrastructure that is related or incidental to an authorized electric school bus project.

Electric Vehicle Grant Fund and Program HB 2118 (Keam) would require the Department of Environmental Quality to establish the Electric Vehicle Grant Program (the Program) for the purpose of (i) awarding grants on a competitive basis to school boards for (a) assisting with the complete replacement of existing diesel school buses with electric school buses no later than 2031; (b) the implementation of recharging infrastructure or other infrastructure needed to charge or maintain such electric school buses; and (c) workforce development and training to support the maintenance, charging, and operation of such electric school buses and (ii) developing education outreach to promote the Program. The bill contains provisions relating to grant applications, priority, awards, and uses. The grants would be funded from a $0.05 per gallon tax on dyed diesel fuel. Farmers would be eligible for a refund of the tax for dyed diesel fuel used for agricultural or horticultural purposes. The bill would have an expiration date of July 1, 2031.

Loudoun County School Board; Staggered Terms HB 1838 (Reid) would enable the Loudoun County school board to stagger the terms of its members at the November election immediately preceding the end of the board's term and upon the board's prior vote for staggered terms.

School Division Boundaries; Conditions and Considerations HB 2247 (Aird) would remove several conditions on the Board of Education's constitutional duty to determine school division boundaries, including the requirement that divisions or consolidations of existing school divisions be approved by affected local school boards and the governing body of the county or city affected.  In addition, the bill would require the Board, in fulfilling such duty, to consider equity in educational programs within and between school divisions.

In-Person Learning SB 1303 (Dunnavant) would require each local school division to make virtual and in-person learning available to all students by choice of the student's parent or guardian. The bill contains an emergency clause.

Open Enrollment Policy Required SB 1317 (Dunnavant) would require all local school boards to establish and implement policies to provide for the open enrollment to any school of any student who is eligible to receive free or reduced lunch upon the request of a parent or guardian, subject to conditions and limitations established by the local school board.

Standards of Quality School Equity and Staffing Act; Work-Based Learning; Teacher Leaders and Mentors; Principal Mentors; Certain Personnel Positions and initiatives HB 1929 (Aird) and SB 1257 (McClellan) would  make several changes to the Standards of Quality, including requiring the establishment of units in the Department of Education to oversee work-based learning and principal mentorship statewide in Standard 1 and requiring the Board of Education to establish and oversee the local implementation of teacher leader and teacher mentor programs in Standard 5. The bill would also make several changes relating to school personnel in Standard 2, including establishing schoolwide ratios of students to teachers in certain schools with high concentrations of poverty and granting flexibility to provide compensation adjustments to teachers in such schools; requiring each school board to assign licensed personnel in a manner that provides an equitable distribution of experienced, effective teachers and other personnel among all schools in the local school division; requiring each school board to employ teacher leaders and teacher mentors at specified student-to-position ratios; requiring state funding in addition to basic aid to support at-risk students and granting flexibility in the use of such funds by school boards; lowering the ratio of English language learner students to teachers; requiring each school board to employ reading specialists and establishing a student-to-position ratio for such specialists; requiring school boards to employ one full-time principal in each elementary school; lowering the ratio of students to assistant principals and school counselors in elementary, middle, and high schools; and requiring each school board to provide at least four specialized student support positions, including school social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, licensed behavior analysts, licensed assistant behavior analysts, and other licensed health and behavioral positions, per 1,000 students.

Standards of Quality Constitutional Amendment (first reference) HJ 548 (Hurst) would provide that it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth, rather than the General Assembly, to provide for a system of free public elementary and secondary schools and to ensure a high-quality educational program is established and maintained. The amendment would also remove the authority of the General Assembly to revise the standards of quality that are determined and prescribed by the Board of Education for school divisions.

Equal Educational Opportunities; Constitutional Amendment (first reference) SJ 275 (Stanley) would require the General Assembly to provide for a system of public schools in the Commonwealth with equal educational opportunities for all children and to ensure that all school-age children are provided with equal educational opportunities.

Reading Intervention Services HB 1865 (Delaney) would require reading intervention services for students in kindergarten through grade three who demonstrate deficiencies based on their individual performance on the Standards of Learning reading test or any reading diagnostic test that meets criteria established by the Department of Education to be evidence-based and aligned with the science of reading and structured literacy approaches, both defined in the bill, and to include the components of effective reading instruction and explicit, systematic, sequential, and cumulative instruction. The bill would require the parent of each student who receives such reading intervention services to be notified before the services begin and the progress of each such student to be monitored throughout the provision of services. The bill would also require the Department of Education, no later than the beginning of the 2021 - 2022 school year, to compile and provide to each local school division a list of materials, resources, and curriculum programs that are supported by the science of reading and based on instruction that is explicit, systematic, cumulative, and diagnostic, including evidence-based dyslexia programs that are aligned to structured literacy or grounded in the Orton-Gillingham methodology and evidence-based reading intervention programs, including programs that are grounded in the science of reading.

Economic Education and Financial Literacy Required in Middle and High School Grades; Employment Arrangements HB 1905 (Cole, J.) would add to objectives developed and approved by the Board of Education for economics education and financial literacy at the middle and high school levels the implications of various employment arrangements with regard to benefits, protections, and long-term financial sustainability. Employment arrangements would be defined in the bill as full-time employment, part-time employment, independent contract work, gig work, piece work, contingent work, day labor work, freelance work, and 1099 work.

Student Driver Safety and High School Student Parking Passes HB 1918 (Mugler) would adopt measures aimed at improving student driver safety. The bill would require curriculum for tenth grade health at public schools to include instruction on the dangers of distracted driving and speeding, to be developed by the Department of Education. Finally, the bill would require that a student show proof of a valid driver's license or driver privilege card before being issued a school parking pass at a public high school and that schools use a common application for such parking passes.  SB 1169 (Norment) would similarly require each public high school to require any student who applies to obtain a pass to park a vehicle on school property to provide evidence that the student possesses a valid driver's license or driver privilege card.

Health Standards of Learning; Advanced Directive Education SB 1190 (Kiggans) would direct the Board of Education to include advanced directive education in its curriculum framework for the Health Standards of Learning for high school students.

Family Life Education Curriculum Guidelines; Human Reproduction; Viewing of Ultrasound Video Recording HB 2244 (LaRock) would require the instruction on human reproduction contained in the Board of Education's family life education curriculum guidelines to include the viewing of a video recording of an ultrasound of a live unborn human in the uterus.

High School Graduation Requirements; Coding for Foreign Language HB 1947 (Davis) would require the Board of Education, in establishing high school graduation requirements, to provide for the substitution of computer coding course credit for any foreign language course credit required to graduate with a standard or advanced diploma for children with disabilities. Such requirement would replace a narrower provision in current law that requires the Board to permit a student who is pursuing an advanced diploma and whose individualized education program specifies a credit accommodation for world language to substitute two standard units of credit in computer science for two standard units of credit in a world language.

Computer Science Standards Review, Courses, and Pathways HB 1885 (Simonds) would require the Department of Education to perform a comprehensive review of the ongoing implementation of mandatory computer science standards in elementary schools and middle schools and the alignment of middle school and high school computer science courses and course pathways. The bill would require such review to include recommendations for implementation processes at the local level, profiles of implementation processes that have been successful for school divisions, a description of opportunities for enhanced collaboration with relevant computer science stakeholders to expand computer science education opportunities for all students in the Commonwealth and for relevant professional development for teachers, and examining methods of data collection annually from local school divisions pertaining to computer science implementation. The bill would require the Department of Education to prepare a report on its comprehensive review and provide such report to the Chairmen of the House Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Education and Health, the Secretary of Education, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction no later than November 1, 2021.

Individual Student Growth Standards of Learning Assessments; Reading and Mathematics; Grades Three Through Eight; HB 2027 (Coyner) would require, no later than the 2024 - 2025 school year, each reading and mathematics Standards of Learning assessment for students in grades three through eight to be administered three times per school year, at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of each school year, for the purpose of providing measures of individual student growth over the course of the school year and provide accurate measurement of a student's performance outside of his grade level through the incorporation, through computer adaptive technology, of test items at grade levels below and above the tested level. The bill would require any student growth data to include such measurement of outside-of-grade-level performance. The bill would require the Department of Education to ensure adequate training for teachers and principals on how to interpret and use student growth data from such assessments to improve reading and mathematics instruction in grades three through eight throughout the school year. The bill would prohibit the total time spent taking each such assessment over each of the three annual administrations from exceeding 150 percent of the time spent taking a single end-of-year proficiency assessment.

Core Subject Competency Assessments SB 1357 (Dunnavant) would direct each local school division to develop and administer a fall and winter diagnostic assessment and a spring growth measurement assessment to each student to assess the student's competency in each core subject, as determined by the Department of Education.

Standards of Learning Assessments; Reduction HB 2094 (O’Quinn) and SB 1401 (Pillion) would reduce the total number and type of required Standards of Learning assessments to the minimum requirements established by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended.

School Nurses HB 1736 (Adams) would exclude school nurse positions from requirements for student support positions and instead would require each local school board to employ at least one full-time equivalent school nurse position in each elementary school, middle school, and high school in the local school division. The bill would define a school nurse as a registered nurse engaged in the specialized practice of nursing who protects and promotes student health, facilitates optimal development, and advances academic success.  SB 1191 (Kiggans) would exclude school nurse positions from requirements for student support positions and instead requires each local school board to employ at least one full-time equivalent school nurse position in each elementary school, middle school, and high school in the local school division. The bill would also require the Department of Education to establish and administer a waiver process for local school boards for which the requirements of the bill create an undue hardship.   The Senate Education and Health Committee amended this bill to allow for a full-time licensed practical nurse to fulfill the requirement.

Possession and Administration of Undesignated Stock Albuterol Inhalers and Valved Holding Chambers HB 2019 (McQuinn) would requires each local school board to adopt and implement policies for the possession and administration of undesignated stock albuterol inhalers and valved holding chambers in every public school in the local school division, to be administered by any school nurse, employee of the school board, employee of a local governing body, or employee of a local health department who is authorized by the local health director and trained in the administration of albuterol inhalers and valved holding chambers for any student believed in good faith to be in need of such medication.

Seizure Management and Action Plans; Biennial Training SB 1322 (DeSteph) would provide for the submission and utilization of seizure management and action plans for students with a seizure disorder. The bill would require that school nurses and certain school division employees biennially complete Board of Education-approved training in the treatment of students with seizure disorders. The bill would provide immunity from civil liability for acts or omissions related to providing for the care of a student under a seizure management and action plan.

Participation in the Afterschool Meal Program HB 2135 (Roem) would require each school board that governs a local school division that has a student population that qualifies for free and reduced-price meals at a minimum percentage of 50 percent in the prior school year and simultaneously offers educational or enrichment activities and is consequently eligible to participate in the Afterschool Meal Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Child and Adult Care Food Program to apply to the Department of Education to participate in the Afterschool Meal Program for each such school to subsequently and simultaneously serve federally reimbursable meals and offer an afterschool education or enrichment program, pursuant to FNS guidelines and state health and safety standards. The bill would require the Department of Education to administer the Afterschool Meal Program on behalf of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The bill would provide that the Superintendent of Public Instruction shall issue a waiver to this requirement upon determination that participation is not financially viable for a school or group of schools. The bill would require the Department of Education to develop a process and criteria for evaluating such waivers. The bill would have a delayed effective date of July 1, 2022.

Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board HB 2130 (Lopez) would establish the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board to advise the Governor regarding the economic, professional, cultural, educational, and governmental links between the Commonwealth and the LGBTQ+ community in Virginia and sets out the powers and duties of the Board. The Board would be composed of 21 non-legislative citizen members, at least 15 of whom shall identify as LGBTQ+, to be appointed by the Governor, and the Secretaries of the Commonwealth, Commerce and Trade, Education, Health and Human Resources, and Public Safety and Homeland Security, or their designees, who shall serve as ex officio members.

Early Childhood Education; Quality Rating and Improvement System Participation; School Readiness Committee HB 2105 (Bulova) would delay until the 2022 - 2023 school year the requirement for all publicly funded early childhood education providers to participate in a quality rating and improvement system to be established by the Board of Education by July 1, 2021. The bill would also delay from the fall of 2023 to the fall of 2024 the publication of initial quality ratings for such providers. The bill would reinstate the School Readiness Committee and alter the composition and scope of the work of the School Readiness Committee.

Teacher Compensation: At or Above National Average HB 1915 (Mugler) would require that public school teachers be compensated at a rate that is at or above the national average. Under current law, compensation at such rate is aspirational. The bill would require state funding to be provided pursuant to the general appropriation act in a sum sufficient to fund a 4.5 percent annual increase for public school teacher salaries, effective from the 2022-23 school year through the 2026-27 school year. The bill would have a delayed effective date of July 1, 2022.

JLARC Study of the Costs of Education SJ 294 (Lewis) would direct the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to study the true cost of education in the Commonwealth and provide an accurate assessment of the costs to implement the Standards of Quality.

Severe Weather Conditions and Other Emergency Situations; Unscheduled Remote Learning Days HB 1790 (McNamara) and SB 1132 (Suetterlein) would provide that when severe weather conditions or other emergency situations have resulted in the closing of any school in a school division for in-person instruction, the school division may declare an unscheduled remote learning day whereby the school provides synchronous or asynchronous instruction, or some combination thereof, to all students in the school in lieu of in-person instruction without a reduction in the amount paid by the Commonwealth from the Basic School Aid Fund, provided that the school division has established an unscheduled remote learning day plan that ensures that every student is provided instruction and services on such unscheduled remote learning day that are comparable in quality to the instruction and services provided to learners on any other remote learning day.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors HB 1823 (Askew) would require each building that was built before 2015 and that houses any public school classroom for students, licensed child day program, or other program that serves preschool-age children to be equipped with at least one carbon monoxide detector.

Establishment of Gun-Free Zone Permitted HB 1909 (Subramanyam) would permit any school board to deem any non-school zone property that it owns or leases as a gun-free zone and prohibit any individual from knowingly possessing any firearm designed or intended to expel a projectile by action of an explosion of a combustible material while such individual is upon such property, except certain individuals such as law-enforcement officers and qualified retired law-enforcement officers.

Individualized Education Programs; Identification of Necessary Additional Services and Referrals HB 2211 (Plum) would require individualized education program teams to identify any children with disabilities who may need additional services outside of the school setting and refer them to the local family assessment and planning team.

Special Education Administration and Oversight SB 1288 (Dunnavant) would require the Department of Education and the Board of Education to develop new policies and procedures and effect numerous modifications to existing policies and procedures to improve the administration and oversight of special education in the Commonwealth.

Certain Children with Disabilities; One-year High School Extensions Permitted. HB 2277 (Bell, R.B.) would require any child with a disability who receives special education and related services, reaches age 22 after September 30, 2020, and is scheduled to complete high school in the spring of 2021 to be given the option for an extension to attend high school for the duration of the 2021-22 school year.

Court-Appointed Special Advocates; Information Sharing HB 1866 (Delaney) would permit court-appointed special advocates to participate in and share information with family partnership meetings and in meetings of family assessment and planning teams, multidisciplinary child sexual abuse response teams, individualized education program teams, and multidisciplinary teams related to child abuse.

Children's Services Act; Special Education Programs SB 1099 (Stuart) would expand eligibility for services under the Children's Services Act to students who transfer from an approved private school special education program to a public school special education program established and funded jointly by a local governing body and school division located within Planning District 16 for the purpose of providing special education and related services when the public school special education program is able to provide services comparable to those of an approved private school special education program and  the student would require placement in an approved private school special education program but for the availability of the public school special education program. HB 2117 (VanValkenburg) and SB 1313 (Mason) would require that funds expended for special education services under the Children's Services Act only be expended on educational programs that are licensed by the Department of Education. The bill would add children and youth previously placed in approved private school educational programs for at least six months, who will receive transitional services in a public school setting for no longer than 12 months, to the target population for eligibility for the state pool of funds. The bill would require the Secretary of Education, in conjunction with the Office of Children's Services and the Department of Education, to establish a work group (the Work Group) with appropriate stakeholders to develop a detailed plan to direct the transfer of Children's Services Act funds currently reserved for children requiring an educational placement in a private special education day school or residential facility to the Department of Education and to develop a standardized reporting process, template, and reporting requirement for private special education day school tuition rates to ensure that tuition rates can be accurately compared across schools and over time. The bill would require that the Work Group submit its plan and recommendations to the Chairmen of the House Committee on Appropriations and Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations by November 1, 2021.    

Children's Services Act; Eligibility for State Pool of Funds; Expands Eligibility for Use of the State Pool of Funds Under the Children's Services Act to Services That are Provided in a Public School Setting SB 1114 (Peake) would expand eligibility for use of the state pool of funds under the Children's Services Act to services that are provided in a public-school setting. SB 1133 (Sutterlein) would expand eligibility for use of the state pool of funds under the Children's Services Act to services that are provided in a public school setting and requires that private day schools be approved and licensed by the Department of Education or an equivalent out-of-state licensing agency to be eligible for the state pool of funds. The bill would require the Department of Education and relevant local school boards to develop and implement a pilot program for up to four years in two to eight local school divisions in the Commonwealth. 

Children's Services Act; Effective Monitoring and Implementation HB 2212 (Plum) would require the director of the Office of Children's Services to provide for the effective implementation of the Children's Services Act (§ 2.2-5200 et seq.) in all localities by regularly monitoring local performance measures and child and family outcomes; using audit, performance, and outcomes data to identify local programs that need technical assistance; and (iii) working with local programs that are consistently underperforming to develop a corrective action plan for submission to the Office and the State Executive Council for Children's Services.

Children's Services Act; Eligibility for State Pool of Funds HB 2289 (Austin) would declare eligible for the Children's Services Act state pool of funds any child or youth (i) who was previously placed in an approved private school educational program for at least six months and who will receive certain transitional services in a public school setting for no longer than 12 months or (ii) whose individualized education program team has determined that his placement in a private special education day school, residential program, or other out-of-school placement could be prevented by his receipt of specialized or intensive services and supports delivered in the public school setting if such services and supports are estimated to have an annual cost that is more than three times the average annual cost of educating in a public school setting a student who does not require special education services and supports.

Right to Work HB 1755 (Carter)  would repeal the provisions of the Code of Virginia that, among other things, prohibit any agreement or combination between an employer and a labor union or labor organization whereby nonmembers of the union or organization are denied the right to work for the employer, membership in the union or organization is made a condition of employment or continuation of employment by such employer, or the union or organization acquires an employment monopoly in any such enterprise.

Prohibition on Striking; Exception for School Board Employees HB 1780 (Carter) would exempt employees of a local school board from the prohibition on striking, and from termination of employment for striking, by public employees.

Collective Bargaining: Prohibited Considerations During Negotiations HB 1794 (Davis) would prohibit any local ordinance or resolution granting or permitting collective bargaining from permitting consideration during collective bargaining negotiations of any action or discussion regarding the hiring, firing, or disciplining of a local employee. All such actions and discussions would be exempt from all collective bargaining negotiations.

Abusive Work Environments HB 2176 (Torian) would define, for the purposes of mandatory school board policies relating to abusive work environments, the terms "abusive conduct," "abusive work environment," "physical harm," and "psychological harm."

Virginia Human Rights Acts; Discrimination on the Basis of Disability HB 1848 (Sickles) would add discrimination on the basis of disability as an unlawful employment practice under the Virginia Human Rights Act. The bill would also require employers, defined in the bill, to make reasonable accommodation to the known physical and mental impairments of an otherwise qualified person with a disability, if necessary to assist such person in performing a particular job, unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer. The bill would also prohibit employers from taking any adverse action against an employee who requests or uses a reasonable accommodation, from denying employment or promotion opportunities to an otherwise qualified applicant or employee because such employer will be required to make reasonable accommodation to the applicant or employee, or from requiring an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided to the known limitations related to the disability. The bill would create a cause of action against any employer who denies any of the rights to reasonable accommodation afforded by the bill and permits the court or jury to award compensatory damages, back pay, and other equitable relief.

Impact of COVID-19 on Virginia's Public Schools, Students, and School Employees; JLARC Study and Report HJ 549 (Guy) would direct the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to study the impact of COVID-19 on Virginia's public schools, students, and school employees, including examining and determining reasons for barriers to student success in virtual and hybrid models as well as the overall impact of COVID-19 face-to-face learning restrictions on previously existing student achievement gaps, student achievement, and student well-being, including any disproportionate impact on at-risk populations; determining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on staffing levels, including the impact of teacher and school employee retirements and resignations on delivery of instruction and the ability of local school boards to fully staff their needs, employment levels, and local budgets; determining the short-term and projected long-term changes in student enrollment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of such changes on funding levels; determining the impact of implementing COVID-19 health and safety measures in public schools;  evaluating public schools' level of emergency preparedness to face another pandemic or statewide crisis and making recommendations to help guide planning for such events and examining programs that can address learning loss and identifying barriers to implementing those programs, including resource gaps.

Pandemic Remediation Task Force HB 2184 (Wilt) would establish the 22-member Pandemic Remediation Task Force (the task force) as an advisory task force in the executive branch of state government, to be administered by the Department of Education, for the purpose of making recommendations on strategies for improving public education in the Commonwealth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that can be implemented in each region and local school division in order to achieve a measure of uniformity in such improvements across the Commonwealth. The bill would require the task force to (i) develop recommendations for policies and funding that would assist public elementary and secondary school students impacted by school closures and the remote learning environment during the COVID-19 pandemic to adequately obtain core educational material that they may not have otherwise successfully retained during the course of such pandemic; (ii) develop a uniform strategy for public elementary and secondary schools to effectively identify students in need of remediation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and provide remediation coursework and resources to such students; (iii) consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student achievement gaps and make recommendations on the interventions and additional services, such as tutoring, mentoring, and services from private educational service providers, that may be necessary to ensure that such gaps do not widen further beyond pre-pandemic levels; and (iv) submit to the Governor and the General Assembly, no later than December 1, an annual report on its work. The task force would sunset by July 1, 2024.

Reporting Outbreaks of COVID-19 SB 1362 (Lewis) would require employers to report for each worksite with 30 or more employees, or for any multi-employer worksite with 30 or more combined employees, to the local health department when the worksite has had three or more confirmed cases of COVID-19. The employer is required to make such report within 24 hours of becoming aware of such cases. The bill requires the State Department of Health to compile such reports and to make a weekly report available to the public with the compiled information. The bill contains an emergency clause.

Immunizations; Religious Tenets or Practices SB 1116 (Peake) and SB 1117 (Peake) would allow a parent or guardian to object to the vaccination or immunization of a child on the grounds that the administration of immunizing agents conflicts with his religious tenets or practices, even if an emergency or epidemic of disease has been declared by the State Board of Health, which is not allowed under current law.

COVID-19 Immunization; Prohibition on Requirement; Discrimination Prohibited HB 2242 (LaRock) would prohibit the State Health Commissioner and the Board of Health, the Board of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, the Department of Health Professions and any regulatory board therein, and the Department of Social Services from requiring any person to undergo vaccination for COVID-19 and prohibits discrimination based on a person's vaccination status with respect to any COVID-19 vaccine (i) with regard to education, employment, insurance, or issuance of a driver's license or other state identification or (ii) in numerous other contexts. The bill also would prohibit the inclusion of any patient immunization information in the Virginia Immunization Information System (VIIS) unless the patient has consented, in writing, to inclusion of his information in the VIIS.

COVID-19 Vaccination; Voluntary HJ 573 (LaRock) would express the sense of the General Assembly that any vaccination for the COVID-19 virus shall be voluntary within the Commonwealth of Virginia and that it fully supports the practice of medical informed consent.

Empowerment Scholarship Accounts HB 2225 (Davis) would permit the parents of certain children to apply to the school division in which the child resides for a one-year, renewable Empowerment Scholarship Account that consists of an amount that is equivalent to a certain percentage of all applicable annual Standards of Quality per pupil state funds appropriated for public school purposes and apportioned to the resident school division in which the student resides, including the per pupil share of state sales tax funding in basic aid and any state per pupil share of special education funding for which the student is eligible. The bill would permit the parent to use the moneys in such account for certain education-related expenses of the student, including tuition and fees at a private elementary school or secondary school that is located in the Commonwealth. The bill would also contain provisions relating to auditing, rescinding, and reviewing expenses made from such accounts. NOTE that two other related education voucher/savings account bills (HB 1732 Webert, and HB 1770, Freitas) have already failed to report from subcommittee.

Establishment of the READ Fund and READ Programs HB 2090 (Cox) would establish the Reimbursement for Education Access Decisions (READ) Fund (the Fund); permit any school board to establish a READ program to provide, during the state of emergency declared by the Governor in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, funds to any parent or legal guardian who meets compulsory attendance requirements by having his child taught by a tutor or teacher of qualifications prescribed by the Board of Education and approved by the division superintendent in lieu of enrollment in the local school division to cover certain costs of such education; and permit any such school board to apply to the Department of Education for an award from the Fund to reimburse the school board for half of the cost of making reimbursements to parents pursuant to its READ program. The bill would provide that the school board is responsible for covering the remaining half of the cost of its READ program with such federal and local funds as may be available for such purpose. The bill would permit the Department of Education to establish such rules and procedures as it deems necessary for receiving applications for reimbursement and making awards from the Fund. The bill would also provide that if federal funding is provided pursuant to an Act of Congress with regard to relief from the COVID-19 pandemic and such Act does not preclude such federal funding from being used to make awards from the Fund, the Governor shall reserve a reasonable amount of such federal funding to be credited to the Fund to fully support reimbursement requests from such school boards.

Home Instruction and Private School Tax Credit HB 2243 (LaRock) would create an individual, nonrefundable income tax credit for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2021, but before January 1, 2026, for amounts paid by the parent or legal guardian of a child for the child's home instruction expenses or tuition for attending an accredited private school in Virginia. The credit would be equal the lesser of the amount actually paid in the taxable year for such costs or half of the average state standards of quality funding per student per year. The credit could be taken for instruction-related materials, courses, or programs used in home instruction or for private school tuition. The credit would be available only to the parents and legal guardians of children who did not attend private school or were not home schooled in the previous year in Virginia. The credit would be available for two years per child and can be carried forward for five taxable years.