Supervisor pens open letter to governor

Published 7:26 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2020

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Governor Northam,

I’m not going to argue the facts surrounding this pandemic, its actual severity and threat to all humankind, how it’s spread, and the merits of wearing a mask in public or not. Nor am I interested in, for the purposes of this letter, debating the real issues that have been created by our Executive Branch as a result of COVID-19. Our devastated economy and job market, mental health and substance abuse, the never-ending rise in related expenditures, and the backbone of America, our now more than ever struggling small businesses. All very real and present concerns, however most important to me and thousands of other families with young children throughout our Commonwealth, and for the purposes of this letter, our educational system.

Chris Cornwell Sr.

The educational institution that we as parents grew up with and now depend on, no wait, more importantly, that our children depend on as a foundation for the rest of their lives hangs in the balance. As an end user of what we were forced to recon with as we concluded the 2020 academic year, I can attest to the fact that it has been an absolute train wreck. Yes, the children have academically suffered, consequently the toll isolation and “social distancing” has taken on their mental health will long outlast any pandemic we’ve been dealing with. The prospect of having to face similar educational environments as we enter into the fall school year is demoralizing at best. The resounding impacts on our children should we continue under your proposed course of action would be catastrophic.

The expectation that social distancing is even a reasonable possibility within our primary and secondary school systems is an utter farce. Furthermore, the guidelines outlined for bus transportation, especially here in rural Virginia, are wholly unfeasible. Though virtual classrooms might be a prodigious and reasonable alternative to conventional education in the metropolitan portions of our Commonwealth such as the City of Richmond they’re simply unfeasible for the millions of Virginians living in remote rural areas such as Southampton County. The rural broadband access America has become accustomed to, and dependent on, is simply not even available for this vast portion of our population as an option.

Politics has completely gotten in the way of what is best for Virginia’s young families, their children, and the future of our great State. Have you stopped to conduct a cost/benefit analysis of what long and short-term impacts this will have notwithstanding any advantageous political gain it may afford you? I deplore these reckless policies and with great trepidation believe that the severity of the long-term effects caused by them will prove to be far worse than any pandemic ever was.

I petition you to not deprive our next generation any longer. Open our schools back in the fall just as they’ve been for generations. Allow for the required provisions necessary for the further advancement of their educational careers, no one should ever be deprived of that opportunity, especially not here in the United States of America.


Christopher D. Cornwell Sr.

Southampton County Board of Supervisors

Berlin/Ivor District