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101 Year Legacy: Seeking Equality & Justice



Catherine Elizabeth Ausberry Kilby – October 15, 1918-May 20, 2020

The wife of the late James Wilson Kilby, a prominent African-American figure and leader during the Warren County Civil Rights Movement Era, dies at 101 years of age – in the midst of a pandemic, protests, and marches for equality and justice for Black people.

This African American pioneer woman was born on October 15, 1918, in Flint Hill, Virginia in Rappahannock County to Sarah Jordan and Frank Ausberry, both with roots stemming from slavery.

Her parents were married on March 29, 1902, and never left Rappahannock County where their ancestors were enslaved and there were vestiges of slavery, plantation life, the civil war, emancipation, and Jim Crow before moving into freedom. The reminder of Black subjugation was former brick slave quarters located only a few miles down the Ben Venue Road in Flint Hill, Virginia from the Ausberry farm. Blacks remained in these slave quarters as their homes and then as sharecroppers or tenant farmers working for former wealthy white slave owners until well after the 1870s into the 1900s.

World War I – Before her life began, the United States was in turmoil from World War I, which ended in 1918. During this same time period of World War I was taking place, the Flu Pandemic, known as the Spanish flu, infected around 500 million people, about one-third of the world’s population. The conditions of overcrowding and global troop movement helped the flu spread. The vulnerability of healthy young adults and the lack of vaccines and treatments created a major public health crisis, causing at least fifty million deaths worldwide.

During this time of crisis, racism and prejudice were predominant. Even though the United States experienced a severe shortage of professional nurses in the fall of 1918, the white establishment refused to use trained African American nurses to help combat the crisis created by war and a pandemic so being black, Catherine’s path in life was already charted by her black heritage and the color of her skin.

The 1918 Flu Pandemic –  The flu had a large death rate by killing an estimated 195,000 Americans across the country and people were dying at a rate where corpses were stockpiled for burial for more than a week. Cold-storage plants were used as temporary morgues and trolley car packing crates were used as coffins. Public health officials spread the news through education programs about the dangers of coughing and sneezing and disposal of “nasal discharges.” Stores and factories were encouraged to stagger opening and closing hours and people were forced to walk to work instead of using public transport to prevent overcrowding.

Many cities closed theaters, movie houses, and night schools, and public gatherings were prohibited to mitigate the spread of the virus, and persons serving the public had to wear masks along with a strong recommendation made for all residents to wear masks in public. Quarantine signs were placed on the front and rear doors of homes where occupants were infected with the virus.

The pandemic lingered and lasted through December 1920 but Catherine grew in a protected rural environment surviving and thriving through one of the deadliest pandemics in history. The average life expectancy dropped by 12 years. Men only lived an average of 36.6 years and women-only lived 42.2 years. A lot of this was due to the number of lives lost in the war and the number of lives claimed by the 1918 flu pandemic.

Despite all of these national setbacks both Catherine and the United States were flourishing. At the end of 1918, the United States was the world’s wealthiest nation and thousands of immigrants flocked to the nation in the “pursuit of happiness”. Black people in Virginia were still terrorized and compelled to fight their way out of starvation due to joblessness and poverty.

Early Family Life – Catherine, the eighth living child of her parents, was raised with eight other siblings on the family farm and orchards. She grew up working on the farm and had many arduous farm chores inside and outside the house. There was no electricity or running water in the family home. As she grew, she could do everything her brothers could do except more due to the role of the girls and women in cooking, cleaning, washing, and ironing. She rode bareback on the farm horses and drove a horse and buggy.

Growing up close to nature, she hated what she called “devilish snakes” but was not afraid to kill a snake with little armor. The farm had a “spring house” where freshwater from the mountain would settle.

In the summer, after playing or working, she along with her siblings and other farmers would lie on their stomachs and dip the cold water from the “spring house” to quench their thirst.

Catherine’s father purchased or was given milk cows in exchange for services and all the children learned to milk the cows. The milk was stored in bottles or cans in the spring house to stay fresh and cold. Snakes would also come to the bottom of the water in the spring house. Her father was extremely resourceful and was summoned to farms all around Rappahannock to care for animals as a “lay veterinarian”. The family worked the farm and in their orchards, as well as, performed tasks storing or canning food from massive gardens to feed the family through the winter months.

Early Schooling – Classified as “Negroes”, Catherine and her siblings attended the colored one-room schoolhouse, using old books discarded by the white schools. She attended the Rappahannock County one-room school for coloreds in “Free Town” by walking miles or riding horseback to school through all types of weather conditions- snow, sleet, or rain to learn to read, write, count and what was called figuring.

All grades were in the same room with one schoolmaster teacher so her siblings that did not have to work on the farm were in the same classroom with her. Her teacher started noticing her brilliance and talents above the other students, promoted her, and suggested to her father that she was not only a brilliant student in her learning but had a special gift of common sense thinking and hard work, which was significant during this time in Virginia. She was considered a prize.

Catherine boasted of having two dresses. One dress for church and one dress for school, which she washed by hand with homemade lye soap to always be neat and clean. On the other hand me downs were both from her brothers and her sister and the good white folks. She maintained long hair and was always neat and clean and meticulous in her dress, a trait that followed her throughout her life. She only had one pair of good shoes that fit at a time, she wore them to both church and school until the soles were worn out and cardboard was taped at the bottom to cover the holes in the soles until a new pair would arrive from the mail order catalog. She wore boots for her farm chores and walked barefoot inside the home.

Working through many hardships, during her tenure at school, she was named “Miss Rappahannock” by raising money. Hard work was not foreign to her and learning was extremely easy for her so she completed all available educational grade levels that Negroes in the county were allowed to obtain in a segregated prejudice society. Making high marks, she made the best of her education that went to eight years which was considered higher than an eighth-grade education.

The trait of making the best of everything added to her character and reputation. Even though her father never learned to read or write and relied on his children and others to ensure that “no wool was pulled over his eyes”, the farm grew and was enhanced significantly by the Ausberry children’s contributions during the early 1920s; however, economic conditions that led to the Great Depression were creeping into society.

America experienced the highs and lows of life. The struggle for financial growth and survival did not deter the family from acquiring radio and Victrola to play gospel music for shouting and jazz music for dancing creating an atmosphere of weekend gallivanting for the Ausberry boys. After many years of education, Catherine served as her father’s bookkeeper and oversaw some of the farm’s finances and the family business thrived.

Many stories started to emerge about the Ausberry’s family during this period. The guest and frequent visitors were numerous and gravitated to the farm. To keep the boys on the farm to work, Frank not being a devout religious man went into another form of business, the making and selling of corn liquor called “white lightning”.

Prohibition in the United States created a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages which began in 1920. Prohibitionists attempted to end the trade in alcoholic beverages.

Blacks were not allowed to mingle with white folks in public saloons and bars, but as Frank became known for the quality of his product, both white and black stopped by the farm for purchase. This business was kept secret by the men so Catherine did not know until later in life about the alcohol. Catherine’s mother and her sister and other women were not outdone by the men and made grape and dandelion wine for formal Ausberry dinners, especially for Sunday meals.

Catherine loved the church and was committed to her faith in God and was never a part of all of the frolicking and so-called fun and wild worldly pleasures which was normal behavior for the Negro culture to escape the overwhelming stress of past slavery, racist treatment, and their celebratory rise out of poverty.

Great Depression – The Great Depression began in 1929 when Catherine was only eleven years old and the Wall Street Crash was in her birth month of October, the Ausberry family were undaunted and continued to flourish as Blacks primarily as farmers; however, the family had long arduous days of work and never equal in finances or wealth as neighboring white families that got their status from the backs of African slaves and not from their own hard work.

Even though there were some prosperous Black families like the Ausberry’s, a “well to do” black family was unheard of during this period in Virginia history evidenced by Blacks still living in Free Town.

Built on the backs of slaves, rock walls as fences and slave huts were still remaining after slavery and the civil war. Catherine experienced food rations and the family hid sugar, salt, and flour in tin cans underground not to be seen as being productive or hoarders. The family was self-sufficient and churned their own butter and raised chickens for eggs and animals for meat. Due to a lack of trust and fear of white racism and poverty of other families, the family had to hide everything equated to success or wealth.

Since Catherine’s father was a light-skinned “malatto”, he learned life’s lessons from his white ancestors as well as his African side of his family. He knew his place and listened like a good representation of non-competitiveness or being a threat to whites.

The family did not use the bank to deposit money for most of their farm profits. Money was stored in bags and boxes in the walls of the home for easy access for survival and land purchase. When they had more money than needed to run the farm, it was also stored in tin cans with other assets. This was a way of life that was carried over from slavery into emancipation to avoid becoming tenant farmers.

Like her father, Catherine was fair-skinned, and depending on the environment outside of her world, she could easily wander into the white society with little notice. Her mother was more “African” with darker skin and African features so in Catherine’s Negro world she became more determined to stand up for what she believed was right because she had witnessed first-hand the racism, callousness, and disrespect of whites to Black women.

She knew of women from black-skinned to light-skinned during her time who were treated no better than animals. They were not protected. There were instances of women being violated from lowly workers to wealthy farm owners, having to work in the “big houses or in the fields while carrying their babies, giving birth under trees, and another house woman taking the baby while the mother of the child cleaned up only to be forced to go back in the field to work. The women that were designated to work as men in the fields started trying to disguise themselves as males, tying down their breast, cutting their hair, wearing men’s clothing, primarily overalls, and the wide brim hats to block out the scorching hot sun.

In Catherine’s eyes, these days were unjust and a nightmare period for Negroes, but the pain was multiplied for Negro women. Based on what she had witnessed with screams of agony of women in childbirth however conceived, Catherine vowed not to get married and go through the pain like her mother who had many children, one who child that died as a baby and one stillborn after Catherine was born making eleven births that she was aware of.

In addition, the abuse of other women who were used in such a horrific way as lowly animals made her determined to help others through this painful experience. When the mid-wife came, Catherine knew what was in store for the soon to be a mother. The birthing of babies was only tempered by her living close to the nature of farm life and witnessing the birth of cows, horses, pigs, and other animals and their survival and event of the baby animals for her care.

None the less, Catherine grew up happy because life was not as hard for her family as with some other Black families. Catherine and her siblings were spared some ravishes of racism by working for their own father. She felt valued being an asset to her father and equal to and in some areas surpassing the boys in work on the family farm. Serving as her one of her father’s bookkeepers overseeing the farm finances, she saw the family business thrive.

Early Spiritual Belief – Almost since birth Catherine knew about Macedonia Baptist Church surrounded by the gathering of other Negroes protected by free sacred land. As she matured, she experienced and found God for herself and her spiritual journey began to counteract the drudgery of taking care of a large family, house cleaning, cooking, dishes, and washing clothes by hand and canning and storing food for winter months. Butter was churned and all food prepared. Age was irrelevant but the capability was the identification for chores and at times her frail little body and raw palms were just worn out.

The church was the beautiful part of her escape into her world of relief and joy. She believed that she had an anchor for her life and the women played a major role. The women cooked the food for special church services and homecoming celebrations, visited and cared for the sick. She enjoyed working in Sunday school and participated in many activities and social events as a child and then at the age of thirteen, she was baptized in the Jordan River at Macedonia Baptist Church in 1931.

As Catherine continued to cry out and pray for a better and easier life, she soon yielded and understood her calling from God which was service and caring for His people, and if that had been easy she would not have recognized it as a duty. She realized what that meant and she humbly submitted. She became closer to God when she took care of her ailing mother who suffered a stroke before returning home from a horse and buggy trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her mother lost the use of one of her arms as a residual from the stroke which left her mother somewhat incapacitated.

Even though arduous work was not foreign to her, Catherine and her only sister Mary Jane who was older had additional endless work responsibilities. Mary soon married and started her own family.

Found Purpose from Experiencing Two Life-Saving Acts – While other siblings were socializing, carousing, getting married and some leaving home, Catherine seemed out of place as a humble, serious-minded, quiet, calm, and demur young woman. Catherine, chosen by God, is credited with saving one baby from sure death that was going to be thrown out of a two-story window by the child’s angry father. She stopped him and saved the baby.

The second when Catherine and her father intervened to save a racially-mixed baby that was going to be destroyed in a fireplace from a white family because of being created out of societal boundaries. The child was taken to the Black community to be raised. Catherine was a pied piper, a magnet for children, and babysit for her youngest brother, Edgar, and children born under these same conditions to make sure they were cared for and walked with them miles safely to school to the Freetown Colored School.

World War II – A Second World War broke out by 1939 with the Nazi invasion of Poland, the biggest and deadliest war in history, involving more than 30 countries. While the family was in fear of the boys being recruited to serve in the war, Catherine was totally immersed in church work and her faith.

She admired her Uncle John, a preacher, for serving as a model to show her how to spiritually walk with Jesus. In turn, she ministered to and was successful in getting her own father in church life. Three of her older brothers, Raymond, Carter, and Robert later reported having a calling to preach. Despite the fact that the Jordan family, her mother’s people, and Ausberry, her father’s people, came out of slavery and still associated with Free Town, the family became known as the “pillars of a religious society” in Flint Hill and the Rappahannock County area with a number of preachers who were revered as men of God.

Catherine with James Wilson Kilby Married Life – Catherine’s life was full of memories and rich experiences. She met James Wilson Kilby at a Parent Teacher’s meeting in Flint Hill, Virginia. He was a thin dark smooth-skinned African-American man who was a resident of Peola Mills in Madison County, Virginia, and still lived with his Kilby family as tenant farmers in a small house in the back of the big white house.

The end of slavery, along with the destruction caused by the war, led to the break-up of many of the largest Virginia plantations and his family was unable to become progressive.

Catherine was fascinated by James with his ideas and wit. His life had been so different from her experiences. He talked about being a sharecropper, a system under which both landowner and tenant received a share of the crop. Landowners advanced sharecroppers seed, fertilizer, and provisions in exchange for labor. Sharecroppers planted and tended the crops and cared for livestock.

With a history as former slaves before emancipation, the Kilby family whose name came from the previous slave owner, benefited because they received food and shelter. However, James told Catherine, he was still poor and his family struggled for survival because his father was still subjugated and wedded to his white slave owner’s descendants and connected with them as trustworthy friends. He vowed to Catherine he was going to rise above all of that.

James was well-respected, worked in Nazareth Baptist Church, which he was best friends with the Pastor. He had a reputation for leadership and recognized as an independent thinker. He not only worked in the church but did jobs like trapping and skinning animals for sale and covering straw bottom chairs outside of the farm to buy a car. Driving became his passion and he used it as a source of income driving those who could pay for driving.

When James came into Catherine’s acquaintance, he was driving school teachers to PTA meetings. During this time, prohibition had already ended in 1933 and it was the worst economic crisis in the history of the United States with the Great Depression, but Catherine fell in love with her relentless suitor, James Wilson Kilby. After a somewhat lengthy courtship, Catherine and James got married on April 19, 1941. On the day of their marriage, James dug potatoes all morning and headed off from Madison County to Flint Hill to pick up Catherine to get married. Together James and Catherine with Mary Jane, her sister as a witness traveled to the home of Reverend Thomas L. Proctor, Pastor of Macedonia, in Front Royal, Virginia.

James did not wear a suit but Catherine looking like a young petite child wore one of her only two dresses sized for thirteen years old and her prized pair of shoes. Nannie Proctor, the pastor’s wife, played a song and Reverend Proctor married them. James gave Catherine a simple plain 14-caret gold band. They became husband and wife. Catherine stated calling him “Wilson” because James was such a common name and he was special.

In love, James moved Catherine to Madison County but she realized that living his life of a poor destitute wife was more difficult and worse than the hard work growing up on the Ausberry farm as independent freed people. The owners of the land, along with Wilson’s father convinced Wilson and Catherine to stay on the farm and as payment, they would be given property with an old house and pounds of flour and sugar, as well as, a fat backside of pork. James and Catherine agreed to stay and work. (1) “The Kilby Legacy: I Stretch my Hands to Thee”

Catherine and child

Fleeing from Poverty – Catherine counted the days and after the agreed-upon time the contract for sharecropping ended, James asked for his deed to his earned property, but James was denied the property. Time was added so James had to continue to work off additional time and Catherine became pregnant and their first child born in April 1942, second in 1943, and by 1945, a third child was born.

Life had blessings with her new family, but it was hard and in reality, the sharecropping system worked to benefit the landowner. James was cheated out of wages and battles were in the landowner’s favor; therefore, the accumulation of debt and poverty made his control over his family as a sharecropper meaningless.

Catherine and James sought refuge with the Ausberry family and Frank became Wilson’s role model. Catherine’s mother died much younger, twenty to twenty-five years before her husband Frank, who did not pass away until February of 1965.

New Beginnings in Happy Creek, Virginia – James Wilson and Catherine created a strong family unit. As circumstances changed with the influence of Catherine’s father and brothers, changes in farming, and demanding needs of the family, James Wilson Kilby started to rise as his own man and meet his fullest potential as he had promised. Catherine’s bond and deep love for her husband grew so she elevated him and enduringly called him “Kilby”.

Along with Catherine’s brothers, Kilby obtained a factory job at the American Viscose Corporation (Avtex) in Front Royal for a better quality of life for the family. After working at the American Viscose, he moved his family to Happy Creek, Virginia, a Black settlement, three miles from his job in Front Royal, Virginia.

By 1948, Kilby joined with two other Black men who purchased one hundred acres of land and divided it for farming in Happy Creek. They built their first house and the fourth child was born.

The farm grew with cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, vegetable gardens, and fruit trees. Barns and silos were built for corn and hay to feed the animals. Together with her husband, they created a dairy farm. The milk from the cows became a valuable Kilby family business commodity, adding to the richness and culture of Blacks in the community. At times Catherine worked side by side with her husband to complete farm work and other times raised her children preparing three meals a day, including meals for the farmworkers. She handled the finances for the farm.

The Kilby Family

Catherine’s fifth and last child was born in 1951. They were raising three sons and two girls.

The Building of Hope and Faith – Despite all of the hardships and handicapped by racism and prejudice, Catherine grew as a strong Black woman. Shortly after marriage, Kilby had become a Deacon and Catherine a Deaconess at the Macedonia Baptist Church in Flint Hill.

In this spiritual role, Deacon James Wilson and Deaconess Catherine Kilby became the strongest supporters and decision-makers within the church. They joined with other church members to create a viable and resolute African-American church to improve the Rappahannock and Warren County Black communities. They raised the children in a God-fearing home.

Catherine participated in every facet of church life from singing in the choir to organizing various helping-hand clubs, ways and means, and auxiliaries, and serving as assistant church clerk to maintain accurate church records. She helped the church to accomplish many goals, supported church improvements, and was relentless in her dedication in service to God, his people, and church work.

The Kilby family also participated in and supported the two Black churches located in Happy Creek, Mount Nebo Baptist Church, and Saint Paul Primitive Baptist Church. The family children enhanced the culture of the community by leading and teaching Sunday school, writing plays, and coordinating holiday programs. They patronized the other Black businesses that were developed within the community and particularly supported the 4-H Club. The 4-H Club became the “community socialization hub” and united the Black men and families together for a stronger community.

Catherine was not the only mother to her five children but she opened her home to other extended family members and some stayed short-term and others stayed long-term to go to school. She cooked three meals each day and was noted for her famous elegant cooking and baking.

On holidays all of the family and extended family members would gather at the family home to create family memories.

The Fight for Equality and Civil Rights – Catherine was a strong wife and mother dedicated to raising and providing a good education for her children. As such, to stem the fear of the ravishes based on stories about the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), she and her husband supported and worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Warren County and the Parent Teacher’s Association (PTA) at the Front Royal Colored School during a very tumultuous time in our history. She became a life member of the NAACP.

Integration Movement – By the 1950s, Kilby had become a well-known activist and leader of the Blacks in Warren County while serving as President of the NAACP and later the NAACP Education Committee chair. Catherine had learned lessons from her father about how to protect the family so she was a reluctant participant in waging a “war on society”.

However, she was her husband’s greatest supporter and was determined to fight for his causes. She stood by his side to bring about equality, justice, and change, primarily in the areas of education and job opportunities for people of color.

During the Warren County court cases to integrate Warren County High School, she opened her home, entertained and cooked meals for Civil Rights leaders and NAACP lawyers and served meals at her kitchen table in her home. She stood firm with other Happy Creek and Warren County mothers and families in the desegregation of the schools (1958-59). She participated in sit-ins to eat at lunch counters, as well as picketed businesses and marched for equal employment opportunities.

During one of the court appearances to integrate the schools in Warren County, which she attended with her husband, she believed the antagonists were abusing and treating her children unfairly, she became distraught and raised and started swinging an umbrella she held in her hand to show her retribution against the racist perpetrators. Her husband and the attorneys had to hold her back as she proclaimed “no one was going to hurt my children”.

Along with the other families, her family was attacked and suffered many hardships and setbacks.

Catherine witnessed the destruction of her world as she knew it. The attacks on her husband, continuous telephone threats, killing of farm animals, pets, and watchdogs, shooting at the house, bloody sheet on the mailbox, lynching noose on her porch, and crosses burned in her yard and loss of jobs and wages.

Due to retaliation from being a part of the civil rights movement to integrate Warren County High School, citizenry actions to destroy the Kilby livelihood rendered the farm no longer profitable and it basically in time become insolvent. Not defeated and in an effort to support her family, she personally took on the battle to recover.

Supporters in Virginia and around the country as the news spread came to know Warren County since Warren County’s hard-fought legal case for equal education resulted in the closure of the first high school to be closed to test Virginia’s “massive resistance” laws so her greatest loss was to allow her children to live in Washington, D.C. to be educated until the courts reopened the school.

The consequences in the fight for equal education were severe and impacted many fronts in life. This caused Catherine’s great grief and changed the dynamics within her family only leaving her two youngest children home until Warren County High School opened to the Black students and her other children returned home. (1)”The Kilby Legacy: I Stretch my Hands to Thee”

During the darkest and most desperate times in the family, Catherine rose up as a resourceful determined role model and entrepreneur. She left her two youngest children to travel seventy to seventy-five miles one-way, collectively more than a hundred miles a day in the dark of morning to clean houses for survival pay while collecting used clothes for her children to wear and food products to bring home to generate family income to counteract total devastation. She worked for this survival and family rebuilding for nearly fifteen years.

Black Woman-Owned Business – From the sixties to the seventies, Catherine while seeking equality blossomed and reached her peak as a dynamic businesswoman capitalizing on her financial skills from her experience during the depression.

Forced to work on behalf of her family and a generous desire to also uplift other families, she became consumed with an entrepreneurial spirit. She had never gotten a driver’s license and could not drive, but she used her savings from working to purchase a nine-passenger station wagon, hired a driver, and organized a riding force to travel to the Washington metropolitan area to work.

This became so lucrative, she added a second vehicle to her business and employed a second driver and expanded the employment opportunities for others to bring money and resources back to Happy Creek and the Front Royal community.

Civil Rights: Education, Protests, Marches, and Sit-ins – Catherine and her husband not only marched and participated in sit-ins in Warren County, but Catherine followed Martin Luther King and participated in the March on Washington in Washington, DC in 1963.

After the marches and sit-ins for equal employment opportunities, a racial trailblazer and barrier breaker, Catherine became the first African American woman to become employed at McCrory’s retail store in Front Royal, Virginia.

It became evident to Blacks who were fearful about upsetting white folks that boycotts and picketing for equal employment opportunities were ultimately worthwhile for future generations. She worked for ten years until she retired after all five of her children had completed school or college.

Family Education – All five of their children received a high school diploma from Warren County High School, the high school Kilby fought to integrate and get an equal education for his children. Catherine wanted the best education for her children.

Her second son, John, was exceptionally bright, tested high on his SAT and was accepted at Fisk University. Her youngest daughter, Patricia, was also a high achiever and was accepted at colleges in Virginia; however, Catherine had become acquainted with Howard University during the civil rights movement and the integration cases with Thurgood Marshall, Spotswood Robinson, and Oliver W. Hill so when her youngest daughter expressed an interest in attending Howard University, she took her to Washington, DC for a meeting at Howard.

Even though her daughter had not previously been notified of her acceptance, during the meeting, Catherine asked the Howard registrar to discuss her application and before the meeting ended her daughter was not only accepted but registered.

Catherine did not like city life and since she felt responsible for her daughter’s matriculation at Howard, she formed a close bond and called her daughter every day for a progress report. She would prepare care packages with her famous applesauce cake for her daughter’s roommates and best friends. Catherine not only forged a close bond with her own daughter but her roommates as well.

Her youngest son also attended the same university.

Catherine’s Diploma – Catherine and her husband believed it was never too late to get an education and they attended night school to get a GED. They were awarded their Warren County High School diplomas in 1991.

Volunteer Involvement and Voting Rights – While employed, she had a membership with senior citizen organizations such as AARP, which she served as treasurer. She volunteered with the Warren Memorial Hospital Organization.

Early on in Catherine’s life, she heard her family talk about Negroes did not have the right to vote. This denial was instilled in her that Negroes could not vote so she wanted to change that for her children so Catherine supported voting rights. She believed in exercising citizens’ rights, campaigned for elected officials, and worked on the voting polls. Catherine lived through eighteen presidential administrations from President Wilson to Trump. She cited Presidents Kennedy, Carter, and Clinton as favorites; however, her greatest excitement and joy came with the election of President Barack Obama, the first African-American President, who she called “her President”.

100 Year Museum Portrait

Catherine’s Inspirational Life and Legacy – Catherine’s legacy is quite extensive. Her marriage to James Wilson Kilby spanned sixty-two years until his passing on May 2, 2003.

She has led four generations of the Kilby family lineage: including five children, James, John, Betty, Patricia, and Gene; twelve grandchildren; twenty-seven great-grandchildren; six great-great-grandchildren.

As the only living Ausberry sibling, she became the valiant matriarch of the Ausberry family and the surrogate mother to generations of the Ausberry relatives.

Historical Contributions – Together with fortitude and tenacity, Catherine and her husband made significant historical contributions that impacted the life and culture of Virginia. They forged an extensive legacy during that civil rights period of time in changing the course of education with the integration of Warren County High School, teacher recruitment, sit-ins and protests for equal employment opportunities, programs in housing from construction to weatherization projects in housing.

As Catherine and her husband grew older, they experienced life by traveling all over numerous states up and down east and west coasts of the country meeting with NAACP representatives. They also traveled to Mexico, Canada and in the Caribbean with family members.

With the loss of her husband, Catherine kept the faith, continued the family legacy, and preserved in changing history for seventeen more years. Her life slowed and changed, but she did not give up her beliefs and kept building her own legacy.

Before the passing of her husband who was not only a civil rights leader but also a visionary and supporter of fair and equal housing for all, especially poor people of color, he assisted families with weatherization projects, building and purchasing newly constructed housing. She continued to be instrumental in carrying out his legacy and vision to create a housing subdivision on the land that they had acquired early in life in Happy Creek, Virginia. Currently, the Kilby vision and legacy was envisioned by “Village Court”.

Mother of Macedonia Baptist Church- oldest and longest standing member of the Macedonia Baptist Church with membership for eighty-eight (88) years, serving as a Deaconess for more than seventy-seven (77) years

Catherine Elizabeth Ausberry Kilby, a woman of distinction within the community is celebrated and held in the highest esteem with a remarkable and inspirational life touching many lives based on her role to bring about change and enlightenment for the people of Virginia. Her reputation and character as a stately, classy, impeccably dressed lady was ever-present as a role model and teacher for the younger African American women in the church and community.

A woman blessed with many hats was her trade-mark; she exquisitely matched them with every outfit and wore them proudly as a crown of the witness for her love, dedication, and trust for the God she served.

Over the years in her role as Deaconess, she reached out in compassion for others in feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, encouraging the hopeless, and providing guidance, while holding her family and friends close to her. Catherine was full of love that she not only loved her family but also everyone she met.

Leaving a Trail for the Next Generation – For her last accomplishment, her late husband had left his vision and financial means for her to take care of herself so she continued to fulfill her husband’s desire to create the “James Wilson and Catherine Kilby African-American Historical Museum” in Happy Creek, Virginia, which she witnessed the restoration of the structure and the beginning of the artifact collection in 2019 as a work in progress.

History Repeats Itself: End of Life’s Journey during COVID-19 Pandemic, Protests, and Marches for Equal Rights and Justice – Catherine lived surviving through a period of the Flu Pandemic in 2018 at the beginning of her life and endured and now with the emergence of the coronavirus-COVID-19 worldwide pandemic at the end of her life.

The same as in 1918, the pandemic virus has had a large death rate by killing millions of people around the world. People dying at a rate where corpses were stockpiled for burial for weeks. Cold-storage plants and skating rinks were used as temporary morgues and wooden crates for use as coffins for mass burials. Public health officials spreading the news through the media about the dangers of coughing and sneezing and disposal of “nasal discharges.” Stores and factories are encouraged to stagger opening and closing hours and people are forced to walk to work instead of using public transport to prevent overcrowding. Many cities closed theaters, movie houses, and night schools, and public gatherings are prohibited to mitigate the spread of the virus and persons serving the public are wearing masks a strong recommendation was made for all residents to wearing masks in public.

Quarantine signs are placed on the front and rear doors of nursing homes where occupants are infected with the virus. There is an acute awareness of inequality and injustice for Black people creating political unrest and chaos. Protesters are marching in the streets around the world to protest this injustice, racial inequality, and the killing of young Black people. The country has high unemployment rates and people have lost jobs and there are food shortages and lines and stimulus checks for financial survival.

As a pioneer, Catherine left a road map for us to follow. Her story and legacy are so relevant and meaningful because she completed life’s journey to lead the way for the next generation to emulate how to bring about change-Catherine experienced it all, fought, and thrived from 1918-2020 and has left the world a better place than when she inherited it. Even though Catherine’s cause of death is still unknown, she continued to serve God until the end.

During Catherine’s pandemic burial at the James Wilson and Catherine Kilby grave site in the Panarama Gardens Cemetary, Patrica Kilby-Robb is holding the “Together Forever” picture honoring the life and legacy of her parents. (May 29, 2020)

A Memorial Service will be held later this year.

Patricia Kilby-Robb (Daughter): Excerpts from recollections, “The Catherine Elizabeth Ausberry Kilby Story”.

1. The James Wilson Kilby Story is in the book entitled, “The Kilby Legacy: I Stretch my Hands to Thee”, written by James Wilson Kilby and Patricia Kilby-Robb, 2000. His history is a part of the archives in the “James Wilson and Catherine Kilby African-American Historical Museum” located in Happy Creek, Virginia.

2. The Catherine Elizabeth Ausberry Kilby Story and historical chronicles from her “Life and Legacy” will become a part of the archives in the “James Wilson and Catherine Kilby African-American Historical Museum” located in Happy Creek, Virginia.

3. Photographs by Deacon Mike Coward, Macedonia Baptist Church.
The stories and pictures are the property of the James and Catherine African-American Historical Museum and permission must be requested for reprinting for publication use.

The Kilby-Robb Generation
Four generations: First generation-far bottom right Catherine Ausberry Kilby (matriarch); Second generation- standing behind her mother, Patricia Kilby-Robb (Daughter) and husband Nathaniel Robb, third row center; Third generation-Dawnielle Kilby-Robb (Granddaughter), second row center; Earl Franklin Robb (Grandson), right side third row; Fourth generation- Delaunte Allen (Great-grandson), left side third row; Dayanna Kilby-Robb (Great granddaughter, left side first row; and Adrianna Nunn (Great-grand daughter standing on front row.

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RSW Regional Jail’s new visitation system



COVID-19 has been a unique and ever changing situation and we are aware of the difficulties and strain the suspension of our programs and visitation has placed on the inmates, their families, and their friends. Since March of 2020, when we realized this would be a long term event, we have been working with our inmate telephone provider for a viable alternative to onsite visitation. Unfortunately, these plans slowed and then eventually halted as we faced the many challenges of having a number of inmates and staff test positive for the virus.

However, since that time, we have been able to move forward and are pleased to announce the launch of a web-based visitation system that allows for both, onsite and remote, visits. This system allows visitors the ability to visit with their loved ones from the safety and comfort of their home, utilizing a computer, tablet, or any Android smart phone. (IPhones do not currently work with this system, but we are told they are working on a solution to this)

Effective, July 13, 2020, we will resume our visitation program, utilizing the IWeb Visit system for remote visits only. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation and will make a decision for onsite visits at a later date.

IWeb Visit was founded in 2009 and is headquartered in Decatur, Alabama. They operate in 16 states from California to New Jersey. Currently, they serve 30 facilities across the nation and are adding 2-3 facilities per month. IWeb Visit focuses on increasing family contact with inmates and reducing recidivism as well as streamlining the overall visitation process by working closely with jail staff and administrators.

To accommodate this new system, a few changes have been made to our schedule and operations. Visitors will be required to register and schedule all visitations a minimum of one (1) day in advance by going to the website, Visitors are no longer required to be on an approved visitor list for each inmate and there are no restrictions to the number of remote visits you can have each week, as long as there is a time slot available. Time slots will be as follows:


  • 8 am – 11:30 am
  • 1 pm – 4:30 pm
  • 6 pm – 9:30 pm

Visits are in fifteen (15) minute increments and up to three (3) in a row may be scheduled at a time to allow for a total visit of forty five (45) minutes. There will be a fee of $4.50 for each fifteen (15) minute visit and it must be paid utilizing the website when the visitor schedules their visit. This fee is paid to IWeb to operate their system and RSW Regional Jail receives no revenue from this service. Visitors must also understand that by utilizing this system, they agree to the terms and rules of IWeb Visit. In addition, all visitation policies set forth by RSW Regional Jail are applicable. Any inappropriate content that is observed will result in the inmate losing their visitation privilege for a period of thirty (30) days. Subsequent offenses will result in a loss of visitation for a period of sixty (60) and then (90) days.

It is imperative that visitors have good internet connection or cell service (anything above two bars) before beginning their visit. Poor quality cell service or internet connection will negatively affect the sound and video during the visit. We understand this is a new process and you may have questions or experience some technical problems when first accessing the site. Please remember, IWeb Visit is an independent company that we have partnered with and RSW Regional Jail is not able to answer technical or operational questions regarding their website. For any questions or concerns regarding those matters, please reach out to their customer support team at or 775-434-8748. For any questions regarding RSW visitation policies, please contact Captain Michael Miller at or 540-622-5028.

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LFCC nursing students volunteer – and learn – during coronavirus pandemic



LFCC nursing students and faculty are playing an important role in helping to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Since the start of June, dozens of students have voluntarily staffed a temporary COVID-19 contact tracing center set up in the Barn on the Fauquier Campus.

Grants from the PATH Foundation, the Claude Moore Foundation and the Culpeper Wellness Foundation have funded the necessary equipment and faculty stipends for the center, said April Achter, population health coordinator for the Rappahannock Rapidan Health District.

The center is staffed by LFCC nursing students three days a week, and by nursing students from George Mason University the other two days. It is scheduled to run through July.

The health department is notified of any positive COVID-19 case, and then contacts the positive patient, according to Amanda Brooks, the Fauquier Campus’s nursing program lead and clinical coordinator. The patient is asked for people they have been in contact with.

Contact tracing center staff then call the patient’s contacts to tell them they have been exposed to someone with the virus, Brooks said.

There are various quarantine and isolation recommendations based on whether the contact has symptoms of coronavirus or not, or whether they live with a confirmed case, according to Achter.

Contact center volunteers ask the people quarantining if they need help with groceries and other needs.

“I’m working in the center to serve my community,” said nursing student Teena Stevic. “We answer questions regarding how COVID-19 is spread, what to do if you have been exposed and how to self-isolate if you have COVID-19. We’ve also had the pleasure of contacting members of the community to give them the good news that their test was negative.”

Brooks said six to 10 students work at the center per day. Students can volunteer up to three days, earning 24 hours of clinical experience.

“As testing for COVID-19 ramped up and states started opening up, it became more important to trace contacts,” Brooks said.

Additionally, nursing faculty from LFCC and GMU provide pharmacology and other instruction on slow days, Brooks said.

Aside from learning this important facet of public health, the nursing students are getting a chance to earn clinical hours at a time when they’ve been unable to earn them in the more traditional way at hospitals.

Many of the hospitals where nursing students earn clinical hours stopped allowing the students to come in starting in March, Brooks said. This was to conserve limited supplies of personal protective equipment and to limit new patients’ exposure to coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the Rappahannock Rapidan Health District needed people who could help trace contacts of those who have been diagnosed to with COVID-19 in an effort to slow the spread of the disease.

“It’s a great opportunity to expose the students to public health,” Achter said. “It’s been a great help to the health district. We’re just like everyone else – starting to transition back to routine services, and this takes a burden off our staff.

“Isolation and quarantine of those who are sick is really an age-old procedure for public health. The time-consuming and labor-intensive process of tracing contacts is the backbone of public health, so these students doing this work absolutely helps us mitigate this illness in our community. We’re grateful to LFCC for allowing us to use the space.”

Steevic said she decided to become a nurse to help close the gap in public health both in the U.S. and abroad.

“Working public health education while in school gave me an opportunity to talk with clients, educate them on the current pandemic, and practice the client communication skills I have been learning during my first year of nursing school,” she said.

Learn more about LFCC’s nursing program by visiting

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Congratulations to Skyline High School Seniors – Class of 2020



Royal Examiner presents the Skyline High School Class of 2020. Congratulations to these wonderful seniors on their hard work and deserved accomplishments! We wish you the best in your next big endeavors. Photos courtesy of Victor O’Neill Studios, Tolliver Studios, and Nik’s Piks Photography.

Brandon Ahlemann

Mackenzie Amos

Robert Atkins

Jacquelyn Bailey

Jason Balderson

Miranda Baltimore

The most important thing in your life is to live your life with integrity and to not give into peer pressure to try to be something that you’re not.”
—Ellen DeGeneres

Benjamin Barnett

Samuel Baugher

Jacob Bennett

Taylor Bolt

Taylor Bowers

Emily Boyd

Julie Bravo

“The old rules are crumbling and nobody knows what the new rules are. So make up your own rules.”
—Neil Gaiman

Cheyenne Broadbent

Heather Brogan

Brianna Brookman

Dakota Brown

Aiden Brune

Lonnie Campbell

“Graduation is not the end; it’s the beginning.”
—Senator Orrin Hatch

Sarah Carcamo

Charles Carey

Hannah Carlson

Kaleb Carnes

David Carter

Jose Castillo

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
—Arthur Ashe

Breanna Challis-Steshoski

Owen Chenery

Anna Christopher

Zane Clark

Gage Clem

Mark Clem Jr.

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”
—John Dewey

Derrick Coleman

Sophia Conrow

Kierstyn Cornwell

Rangel Covarrubias

Sydney Crafton

Joshua Craighead

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
—C.S. Lewis

Lacey Cross

Skyler Cross

Michael Davis

Andre’ Deville

Ashleigh Dickman

Alyssa Dodson

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.”
—Anatole France

Anthony Domino

Caleb Dotson

Brian Downs

Victoria Dunivan

Catelyn Egnor

Natalia Ferguson

“Your life is your story, and the adventure ahead of you is the journey to fulfill your own purpose and potential.”
—Kerry Washington

Eve Fincham

Hudson Fortney

Ashley Foster

Bryona Foster

Alyssa Foxwell

Willow Frenzel

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lindsey Fristoe

Mattison Fritts

Ashly Osorio Funes

Jeremy Funk

Marcus Funk

Christina Geiser

“The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Each one of you is a fuse.”
—Edward Koch

Carrie Gibson

Nolan Golden

Hayden Gray

Edwin Green Jr.

Chandler Griffith

Ethan Gue

“There are no regrets in life. Just lessons.”
—Jennifer Aniston

Dominic Guizar

Briana Gutierrez

Ulices J. Gutierrez

Kaliyah Hackley

Alexandra Haffer

Samuel Harris

“Take pride in how far you’ve come. Have faith in how far you can go. But don’t forget to enjoy the journey.”
—Michael Josephson

Jaylon Harrison

Megan Haun

Nicholas Heberle

Olivia Heflin

Brandon Henry

Jarrett Henry

“The only thing you can do in this life is pursue your passions, celebrate your bloopers and never stop following your fear.”
—Grace Helbig

Luis Vasquez Hernandez

Joseph Hillaert II

Alexa Hire

Kayla Hudson

Georgina Hyers

Alexis Isom

“Kid, you’ll move mountains.”
—Dr. Seuss

Luke Jakobsen

Carli Jenkins

Ayanna Johnson

Jasmine Johnson

Teagan Johnson

Abbigail Kapp

“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.”
—Albert Einstein

Jordan Kenney

Adriane Kinsey

Alex Lalumondiere

Justin Laney

Magdalene Lavey

Aaron Lawson

“Every person you meet knows something you don’t; learn from them.”
—H Jackson Brown Jr.

Corinna Laycock

Logan Lockhart

Montana Lockhart

Gavin Long

Alyssa Look

Elizabeth Loveland-Gonzalez

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
—Mark Twain

Jacob Lowery

Kaley Mahoney

Benjamin Mandiak

Destinee Manning

Christian Massey

Dylan Mauck

“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”
—Thomas Jefferson

Matthew McHargue

Lemuel McKenney IV

Megan McLendon

Reid McMillin-Goodwin

Andres Becerra Mendez

James Miller

“You have to dance a little bit before you step out into the world each day, because it changes the way you walk.”
—Sandra Bullock

Madison Miller

Seth Mills

Jenavieve Moyer

Savannah Mullins

Andrew Neale

Kiara Newman

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
—Dr. Seuss

Kristal Nguyen

Phu Nguyen

Emma Nicola

Lauryn Nielsen

Jayden Norwood

Riley Oates

“Don’t ever confuse the two, your life and your work. The second is only part of the first.”
—Anna Quindlen

Colin Parsons

Cameron Payne

Jasmine Payton

Dionte Peacock

Hunter Peacock

Dakota Pearson

“I encourage you to live with life. Be courageous, adventurous. Give us a tomorrow, more than we deserve.”
—Maya Angelou

McKenzie Pence

Miura Person

Chloe Phillips

Mary Pierce

Ethan Potter

Matthew Presley

“Get busy living or get busy dying.”
—Stephen King

Jordan Price

Karlee Priest

Brianna Rack

Mia Ralls

Justin Reid

Kobe Rhodes

“Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”
—Charles Swindoll

Lindsay Ritenour

Joseph Rizzo

Morgan Robinson

Christopher Rodgers

Imani Ross

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
—Thomas Edison

Jake Ross

Rian Ruffner

Damarys Ruiz

Julian Sanchez

Madison Satterfield

Abigail Scriva

Alexis Sears

“Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.”
—Will Rogers

Chad Sears Jr.

Hannah Shamblin

David Shenk

Jennifer Shenk

Katlyn Showers

Taja Showers

“There is no script. Live your life. Soak it all in.”
—Dick Costolo

Layth Smadi

Sayf Smadi

Karlie Smelser

Avery Smith

Angeline Sotelo

Miranda Sowers

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”
—Milton Berle

Nathaniel Spiewak

Wyatt Spiker

Jenna Stanley

Thomas Stelzl

Jaime Stewart

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”

Savannah Stiles

Roan Sudermann

Tasha Tharpe

Andrew Thompson

Zachary Unger

Jace Ursey

“Spread joy. Chase your wildest dreams.”
—Patch Adams

Sierra Viera

Austin White

Sabrina Wilkins

Walker Wilkins

Brooklyn Williams

Carolyn Williams

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
—Albert Einstein

Kandice Williams

Kayla Wood

Ethan Wooddell

“You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.”
—Arnold Schwarzenegger

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United Way approves grants totaling $35,000



On Wednesday, June 16th, 2020, the United Way of Front Royal-Warren County Board of Directors approved grants totaling $35,000 to eight community agencies located in Warren County, VA. These agencies include:

  • Blue Ridge Legal Services
  • House of Hope
  • The Laurel Center
  • Phoenix Project
  • St. Luke Community Clinic
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Cars Changing Lives
  • Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry

The amount awarded equals a 16% increase over the amount given in 2019-20. The grants represent the culmination of a months-long process comprised of the following steps:

  1. Agencies are invited to apply
  2. Applications are received
  3. United Way Interview Committee meets to review applications
  4. Interviews are scheduled
  5. Interviews are conducted
  6. Interview Committee meets to decide on recommendations to the United Way Board of Directors
  7. United Way Board of Directors votes on Interview Committee recommendations
  8. Agencies are notified
  9. Grants are paid in quarterly installments, over the course of the fiscal year
  10. Agencies provide quarterly reports to the United Way Board of Directors

Since 1950, the United Way has worked to advance the common good in Front Royal-Warren County. The community wins when a child succeeds in school, when families are financially stable, and when people are healthy. The United Way’s goal is to create long-lasting change by addressing the underlying causes of the challenges we face. Living United means being part of the change!

To reach the United Way offices in Front Royal-Warren County (134-B Peyton Street, Front Royal, VA, 22630), please email or call 540-635-3636.

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Community Events

‘Yappy Hour’ returns to Main Street this Friday, July 10



Special ‘Yappy Hour’ guest LaBella

“Yappy Hour” — a fun fundraiser for the Julia Wagner Animal Shelter – returns to downtown Front Royal’s East Main Street courtesy ViNoVa Tapas Bar and Restaurant Friday, July 10, after an absence since last March due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic emergency response closings.

Owners and operators Rachel Failmezger and Chris Kenworthy will continue to host “Yappy Hour” which features lower cost food and drink prices, a generous cut from sales during the 6-8 p.m. event, and proceeds from a traditional 50/50 raffle all donated to the Humane Society of Warren County (HSWC) for its Wagner Shelter operations.

In celebration of her release from her shelter kennel just 24 hours earlier, La Bella will be the “belle of the ball” as the rescue dog takes a bow with her adopters, Michael and Sherry Williams, at the opening of this weekly event.

Since meal and bar service has been moved outdoors into the “closed to car traffic” East Main Street, attendees are encouraged to bring their (well behaved!) dogs to join La Bella and my own rescue husky, La Diva, to the soiree. All spacing, masking and other suggested state and local requirements will be observed.

Front Royal’s original “Yappy Hour” was launched at the same restaurant site under a different name (Vino e Formaggio) by myself and Christian Failmezger several years ago, and over a two-year span raised some $12,000 for the animal shelter. It was re-launched last September with similar financial success during its first six months.

(Malcolm Barr Sr., our contributing writer, is a past president of HSWC)

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Virginia’s phased reopening plan for Virginia schools



Governor Northam announced a phased reopening plan for Virginia schools which gradually opens up in-person instructional opportunities for students as public health conditions permit. The first three phases of the plan are detailed below. While in-person instruction may vary by division and throughout the summer and next year, all divisions must resume new instruction with all students for the 2020-2021 school year. Regardless of the delivery format, all students are expected to cover the content over the course of the year.

This phased approach closely aligns with those outlined in the Forward Virginia Blueprint which allows businesses to gradually open up activities. Specific gating criteria, as defined by public health officials, must be met prior to entering into each new school reopening phase. If conditions worsen and the public health data indicate increased risk, school operations may need to revert to requirements in earlier phases. At all times, schools should be prepared for intermittent dismissals or closures depending on local public health circumstances. Finally, the guidance and requirements of each phase are subject to revision and updates as public health conditions evolve in the Commonwealth.

The phases for reopening school provide the parameters of maximum flexibility for in-person instruction that a division may utilize. Nothing prohibits a locality or region from being more stringent than options permitted here, and some divisions or regions may choose to provide fewer in-person offerings in any given phase based on local public health conditions.

The state has outlined the details of the first three phases of reopening schools and resuming in-person instruction. Phase I continues remote learning as the predominant mode of instruction but permits some very limited in-person options including extended school year, special education programs, and child care for working families in school buildings. Phase II expands options to more children, including summer camp in school settings, and in-person instruction for preschool through third-graders, and English Learners – for whom in-person instruction is not as easily replaced. Phase III permits in-person instruction for all students, but with strict physical distancing that may require staggered schedules. In all phases, schools should follow school guidance from the CDC, including enhanced social distancing measures, physical distancing, and cleaning, disinfecting, and other mitigation strategies.

Virginia’s phased reopening plan
The following guidance is intended to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission in public and private school settings while supporting the resumption of peer-to-peer learning and providing crucial support for parents and guardians returning to work. These recommendations should be implemented in accordance with the Forward Virginia Blueprint, any existing Executive Orders, CDC Interim Guidance for Schools and Day camps and CDC Considerations for Schools, and in partnership with local and state public health officials.

Phases will be determined by monitoring public health data and key measures on disease transmission, healthcare capacity, testing capacity, and public health capacity to trace contacts of cases, and other relevant factors. The phased approach is intended to allow a gradual scale-up of operations and local school divisions and private schools may choose to proceed through phases at a slower pace if local public health conditions necessitate. Community mitigation strategies (e.g. physical distancing, enhanced cleaning, etc.) will be necessary across all Phases to decrease the spread of COVID-19.

Summary of Phases

Allowable Programs
• Phase I is effective immediately but is not intended to change the school division’s continuity of learning plans as they close the 2019-2020 school year.
• Remote learning is still the dominant method of instruction.
• School divisions may elect to provide in-person instruction for students with disabilities in both extended school year services and school year special education services, including private placements, with strict social distancing. Students will only attend such programs if the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team agrees it is appropriate and the parent consents. Virtual instruction may remain appropriate for certain students who may be challenged with adherence to the strict social distancing and safety guidelines as determined by the IEP team and the parents’ consent.
• With the approval of the Division Superintendent, accommodations may be offered for students to access the school building for critical instructional needs, such as accessing a secure assessment, if all health, safety, and physical distancing measures are adhered to.
• As is currently permitted, child care for working families may operate in schools but are subject to existing operational requirements for childcare programs and should be focused on providing programming/care to children of working families and limited to children in the local geographic area.
• The State Superintendent may continue to consider variances for other in-person instruction on a case by case basis. Such programs should follow all mitigation guidance.
• Schools may continue to ensure the provision of student services such as school meal programs.

Health, Safety and Physical Distancing Measures
• Schools should follow operational guidance from the CDC, including enhanced social distancing measures, physical distancing, occupancy, cleaning, disinfecting, and other mitigation strategies.
• Physical distance should be created between children on school buses (e.g. seat children one per seat, every other row) limiting capacity as needed to optimize the distance between passengers. In Phase 1, schools should limit bus capacity to 10 persons to the extent possible.
• The number of persons in a classroom should not exceed 10, and physical distancing of at least 6 feet should be maintained to the greatest extent possible.
• Other social distancing precautions should include, but are not limited to:
• Restrict mixing groups of students.
• Close communal spaces.
• No large gatherings, per the Governor’s Executive Order.
• No athletics or extracurricular activities may be offered.

Phase II
• Extended school year and special education services that are allowed in Phase I may continue to operate.
• Emergency child care for working families that are allowed in Phase I may continue to operate.
• Summer camp in schools may be offered to children of all ages. Programs should ideally be limited to children in the local geographic area.
• Schools may offer limited in-person instruction to preschool – third grade and English Learners students given the unique challenges of providing remote academic and social-emotional support to young learners and English language learners. Operational requirements include enhanced social distancing measures including physical distancing and other mitigation strategies.
• The State Superintendent may continue to consider variances for other in-person instruction on a case by case basis. Such programs should follow all physical distancing and mitigation guidance.
• Schools should continue to ensure the provision of student services such as school meal programs.
• Extracurricular activities (such as clubs) may be offered if social distancing mitigation strategies can be implemented.
• Athletics should be limited to an individual or team-based practice, skill-building drills or conditioning activities that allow maintenance of physical distancing at all times.
• VDH recommends that no youth recreational/school sports competition take place in Phase II unless physical distancing can be maintained at all times (e.g. individual swimmers showing up at scheduled times to have their event timed, etc.). A competition that involves contact with other athletes should be avoided.
• If socially distancing competitions are taking place, the following conditions must also be met:
• Outdoor recreational sports are allowable if 10 feet of physical distance can be maintained by all participants and spectators at all times and all shared items can be disinfected between uses. The total number of attendees (including both participants and spectators) cannot exceed the lesser of 50% of the occupancy load of the venue (if an occupancy load exists) or 50 persons.
• Indoor recreational sports (including practices and classes) may occur if 10 feet of physical distance can be maintained by all participants at all items and all shared items can be disinfected between uses. The total number of attendees (including participants, referees, coaches, etc.) cannot exceed the lesser of 30% of the occupancy load of the room in which the sport is being held or 50 persons.

Spectators may not be present except parents or guardians who are supervising children. Spectators must wear face coverings consistent with any active Executive Orders and due to behaviors that may bring greater risk (e.g. cheering), it is recommended that spectators be separated by 10 feet of distance from other persons.

Health, Safety and Physical Distancing Measures
• Schools should follow operational guidance from the CDC, including enhanced social distancing measures, physical distancing, occupancy limits, and cleaning, disinfecting, and other mitigation strategies.
• Physical distance should be created between children on school buses (e.g. seat children one per seat, every other row) limiting capacity as needed to optimize the distance between passengers.
• Physical distancing of at least 6 feet should be maintained to the greatest extent possible in all buildings.

Other social distancing precautions should include, but are not limited to:
• Restrict mixing groups of students.
• Close communal spaces.
• Limit outdoor activities/recess to 50 people, with a priority on social distancing and restricting mixing of classrooms.
• No gatherings (assemblies, graduations, etc) of more than 50 people (indoor or outdoor).
• No field trips.
• Limit extracurricular activities to those that can maintain social distancing, support proper hand hygiene, and restrict attendance to avoid severe mitigation.
• No athletics may be offered.

Phase III
Allowable Programs
• In-person instruction can be offered for all students, however, strict social distancing measures should be implemented.
• Remote learning exceptions and teleworking should be options for students and staff who are at a higher risk of severe illness.
• Mitigation strategies may impact operations and capacity limits. A multi-faceted instructional approach should be planned for Phase III.

Health, Safety and Physical Distancing Measures
• Social distancing and other measures will remain important prevention strategies. Additional operational requirements will include measures such as physical distancing, gathering limits, and other mitigation strategies (e.g. face coverings, class size limitations, etc). Schools should follow all guidance from the CDC.
• Physical distance should be created between children on school buses (e.g. seat children one per seat, every other row) limiting capacity as needed to optimize the distance between passengers.
• Physical distancing of at least 6 feet should be maintained to the greatest extent possible in all buildings.

Other social distancing precautions should include, but are not limited to:
• Consider restricting mixing groups of students.
• Consider closing or stagger use of communal spaces.
• Limit outdoor activities/recess to 50 people, with a priority on social distancing and restricting mixing of classrooms.
• Large gathering limits to be determined by Executive Order in effect at that time.
• Athletics and extracurricular activities may continue with some mitigation measures. More guidance will be forthcoming.

Beyond Phase III
• School divisions will return to a “new normal” for instructional and extracurricular operations in consultation with public health officials.
• Some restrictions may still be in place at such a time.
• Additional guidance will be forthcoming as public health data, safety precautions, and guidance evolve.

Public Health Guidance for All Phases
Schools should follow all CDC guidance for reopening schools. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
• Implement strategies to prioritize the health of staff and students, mitigate disease transmission and maintain healthy environments.
• Provide remote learning exceptions and teleworking options for students and staff who are at a higher risk of severe illness.
• Daily health screenings should be conducted for staff and students upon arrival. These should be done safely and respectfully, in accordance with privacy laws.
• At this time, public health is still developing its contact investigation guidance/outbreak response guidance for school settings.
• Staff and students should use cloth face coverings when physical distancing cannot be maintained, as is medically and developmentally appropriate. Face coverings are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult.
• Cloth face coverings should be worn by staff in times when at least 6 feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained. For example, a teacher standing in a classroom 7 feet from students
could teach without a face covering. During meetings or gatherings or in narrow hallways or other settings where physical distancing may not be easy to maintain, a face covering would
be prudent to wear. Other considerations such as speaking loudly, singing, etc. should be considered and may require additional distance.
• The role of children in the transmission of COVID19 is unclear at this time. Face coverings may be challenging for students, especially younger students, to wear in all-day settings such as school.
• Cloth face coverings are most important to wear in times when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Schools will have other prevention strategies in place (e.g. health screenings,
physical distancing, enhanced hygiene and cleaning protocols, limits on gatherings, etc.).
• Schools should encourage the use of face coverings in students as developmentally appropriate in settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained. Schools should strongly encourage older students (e.g. middle or high school) to use face coverings in settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Local Division Plans
Before entering Phase II and III, every school in Virginia will be required to submit to the VDOE, and make publicly available, a plan outlining their strategies for mitigating public health risk of COVID-19 and complying with CDC and VDH recommendations, including face-covering policies and procedures. The Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE) will receive plans submitted by private schools accredited through a VCPE Approved State Recognized Accrediting Association.

Additionally, public school divisions will be required to submit to the VDOE, a plan for providing new instruction to all students in the 2020-2021 academic year, regardless of phase or the operational status of the school at the time. This plan must also include strategies to address learning lost due to spring 2020 school closures. This should include a plan for fully remote instruction should public health conditions require it. Plan templates and additional guidance from VDOE is forthcoming.

New survey: Warren County Public Schools need feedback on fall back-to-school plans

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