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Northam says it's 'absolutely' time for students to head back to the classroom

Governor Ralph Northam said students learn better inside classrooms, and schools have not been the source of widespread outbreaks.

NORFOLK, Va. — Governor Ralph Northam said it’s time for children in Virginia to return to the classroom.

The governor was in Norfolk, Wednesday afternoon, to tour a vaccination clinic for Norfolk Public Schools teachers and staff.

Asked whether he thinks it's time for students to return to in-person learning, Northam said: “Absolutely, we’re moving in that direction. But we must remember if we are going to get our children back to school, we want it to be done safely and responsibly. That’s why I have made teachers a priority in 1b.” 

School districts across Hampton Roads are in varying stages of returning children back to the classroom.

High coronavirus cases across the area have made ending virtual learning a concern for school leaders.

“We know they (children) learn better back in school and we’re doing everything we can to make that a priority," Northam said. “If one looks at the data one of the safest places to be right now is in our schools.”

The goal of the NPS event was to vaccinate about 1,900 people over three days, among them, according to Bayview Elementary School Teacher Kyleigh Hannigan.

“I’m ready to be a teacher again, I’m ready to be in the classroom with the kiddos," Hannigan said.

She said she got the shot, because she’s ready to work, safely.

“We all kind of need to do our part to get everything done, to get everything back to normal, and just kind of go on with our lives," Hannigan said.

RELATED: School board for Norfolk Public Schools makes in-person blended learning suggestions

Northam said the pandemic has affected everyone, especially children. And he knows families are anxious to return to normal.

“Across Virginia, a lot of the localities have chosen to put children back in school. I think it’s going to go well, we’ll certainly monitor that; But that’s the direction we need to take,” Northam said. 

The governor said when it comes to the pace of the vaccine rollout, he set goals and made adjustments and the results are paying off. 

He said as a doctor and a governor, he wasn’t satisfied and sensed the urgency.

“We need more doses," Northam said. "As you can see: we’re set up, whether it be here or rural Virginia. If we can get the doses that we need then we can get shots in people’s arm.” 

According to the latest figures from the governor’s office, Virginia is tenth in the US for the percent of the population vaccinated against COVID-19; ninth for the number of doses administered daily; and twelfth for use of supplies. 

And there’s a new partnership with CVS pharmacy.

“We will be receiving 26,000 additional doses on February 11th," Northam said. "They will be distributed to different CVS stores.”

Northam said he wants to partner with more pharmacies once they get more doses.

Right now, VA is averaging about 40,000 shots per day- more than ever. But the bottom line is that we need more doses.

“We’re getting about 120,000 doses a week, in order to vaccinate the entire population of Virginia by summertime we need 350,000," Northam said.