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Vigil for Democracy launches into 3rd year in the populist political trenches



Len Sherp, far left, is preparing to move to Oregon but his Vigil for Democracy will continue beyond his departure. Photos/Roger Bianchini

About 20 people, including 26th District Democratic State Senatorial candidate April Moore, gathered at Front Royal’s Town Gazebo at noon on Wednesday, March 13, to join Len Sherp in marking the start of the third year of the Vigil for Democracy he began on March 8, 2017.

“We mark our calendar by Wednesdays – we started on the second Wednesday of March 2017 and it’s the second Wednesday of March 2019,” Sherp said of any date discrepancies.

On that second Wednesday of 2017 Sherp explained the impetus for his Vigil for Democracy to Royal Examiner: “This administration in eight weeks has shown that it doesn’t understand the rule of law; does not respect the separation of powers; and has a Republican Congress that for some reason refuses to stand up and be adult.  There are threats to our democracy when our president lies every day.  And I think there are some underlying issues – I’m holding a sign today that says ‘Show us the Tax Returns’. Every president, I believe since Eisenhower if not even earlier, has released their tax returns, so that we can see that they are not indebted to or beholding to other foreign powers.”

And for Sherp on March 13, 2019, not much has changed.

Kathleen Roush and Hannah Bement flank Len Sherp at first Vigil for Democracy in March 2017 – affordable health care and Trump’s financial ties to other countries were and remain vigil concerns.

“At the time I told you that I thought we faced a crisis in our country that basic constitutional principals seemed to be ignored; and we were heading toward a path that I felt the future of our democratic-republican form of government was in peril. Nothing over the last two years has convinced me otherwise,” Sherp said.

“We still have disrespect from the highest office in the nation, the presidency of the United States, for the rule of law; disrespect for the separation of powers; disrespect for the truth; we have disrespect for a free press; we have disrespect for the hardworking members of the federal government; we have disrespect for our allies; and we have instead an affection for dictators and a wish from our president that perhaps he could be president for life like his friend, Comrade Xi (Xi Jinping, president of China).

“And he talks about ‘love letters’ with (North Korean Dictator) Kim Jung Un – and we stopped our annual or semi-annual military exercises with the Republic of South Korea, our strongest ally in the Far East – what did we get for that? Oh, we got a picture with Kim Jung Un.

“And I didn’t even mention the violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution and the violations of the ban against nepotism – I could go on and on,” Sherp said deciding to end the litany of reasons the Vigil for Democracy continues, and will continue beyond his pending move to Oregon. Sherp and his wife are moving west in several weeks to be close to their daughter.

Sherp pointed us toward other vigil participants for comments, including those who will be instrumental in continuing to see the Vigil for Democracy remains a viable expression of political dissent guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Long-time vigil participants Bob Hill and Jorge Amselle will share Vigil for Democracy organizational rolls after Sherp’s departure.

Vigil participants surrounding Sherp, kneeling with cap, flash two fingers to celebrate two years and counting of a call for the continuation of constitutional norms, including political transparency and legal accountability for the president. Bob Hill, kneeling with dog, and Jorge Amselle (with ‘Trump’s Agenda is Toxic’ sign) will take over organizational responsibility for vigil following Sherp’s move west.

We asked Amselle why he, like Hill and others in the vigil trenches, has been there on Wednesday afternoons with Sherp for the bulk of two years.

“This is the only thing that keeps me sane; this is the only thing that gives me hope for our country – to be out here with people who recognize the danger that we’re in, who are like-minded. I believe I told you before, I used to be a conservative Republican for 30 years; for years I voted Republican. When Trump was running I kept telling my fellow Republicans ‘You can’t vote for this guy – he’s insane and a racist.’

“And when he won the nomination I decided that’s it, I’m out, I’m done. And I left the Republican Party and volunteered for the Hillary Clinton campaign and did everything I could to make sure Trump didn’t win.”

Over two years later Amselle is maintaining his commitment to make Americans, including Republicans, see what he sees in the 45th president – a would-be demagogue who puts self interest above the national interest.

Amselle pointed out how many congressional Republicans, Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz being prominent examples, were documented during the 2016 nominating campaign saying horrible things about Trump’s character; but now fall easily in line with the worst of the president’s policy initiatives or personal impulses.

“I think it’s just winning at all costs – nothing matters but winning, you know, no morals, no qualms about lying, cheating, stealing, pandering to white supremacists, empowering racism and other forms of bigotry; being inconsistent on all the things you ever preached. See, there used to be a competition between all different kinds of conservatives, your libertarians, your evangelicals, all different kinds of conservatives were there to argue and debate conservative ideologies.”

“Now that’s all gone, now it’s just Trump – the only ideology that matters is Trump,” Amselle observed of an apparent party-wide fear of not antagonizing Trump’s sizable base among Republican voters.

And when the cult of personality meets ideological intransience tempered with stereotypical vilification of minorities and outsiders you have a historically dangerous combination – a combination often found at the outset of the rise of state totalitarianism.

It is a trend another former Republican present at the March 13 vigil has noticed. April Moore is positioning herself for a Democratic challenge of 26th District State Senate Republican incumbent Mark Obenshain in the upcoming election. See her observations on the trend of Republicanism in the Trump era mentioned by Amselle in this linked story.

26th District candidate April Moore worries over the direction of her former party

Of her presence in staunchly Republican Front Royal and Warren County for the March 13 Vigil for Democracy Moore said, “I’m impressed people here in Front Royal have been out here every week for the last two years protesting what the Republican Party has become and what it’s doing: this party that nominated, elected and now serves as accomplices to a president who lies to the public multiple times every day; and who is assaulting our rule of law; and even seems to be in some kind of strange cahoots with our most dangerous adversary.

“So part of why I’m running is the reason they’re out here,” Moore said of Vigil for Democracy participants.

April Moore, Democratic contender for the state 26th District Senatorial seat, addressed the March 13 Vigil for Democracy crowd on her concerns about the impacts national, statewide and local of the Trump presidency.

Bob Hill, who with Jorge Amselle will continue the organizational impetus for the Vigil for Democracy in Sherp’s pending absence, sees a fundamental necessity for that continuation.

“I think the vigil has been an awakening for a lot of the people here in Front Royal that there is a two-party system and two parties make us stronger. Obviously if you have a one-party system you are heading away from democratic principals,” Hill observed of the role of political dissent in non-totalitarian nations.

Hill, who was a primary vigil player in establishing a dialogue with elements of the pro-Trump contingent across Chester Street, pointed to mutual concerns about local politics.

“My Trump friends over there,” he said gesturing toward Ralph and Michael Waller and their pro-Trump signs across Chester Street, “when I talk to them about what’s going on locally, about the EDA or about insurance policies (against abuses) they’ll say to me ‘Well, it’s the politicians’ and I’ll say ‘What politicians?’ and they’ll say ‘The ones we voted in’ – and I’ll ask ‘What party are they?’ And in staunchly-conservative Warren County and Front Royal the answer with few generally independent exceptions is Republican.

In August 2017 Bob Hill, right, crossed the Chester St. political divide to help start a dialogue with Trump supporter Ralph Waller, left. The pair found initial common ground over a shared concern for the environment.

“Years ago my wife came home and said, ‘Look, I could be a Republican – I believe in smaller government except for one thing: smaller government would mean fewer people overseeing and making sure that I, as a Republican, don’t think of myself first and foremost.’

“Sure it’s smaller government, but it’s also corrupt government,” Hill said of an unmonitored economic system where the largest and wealthiest competitors are free to prey upon, not only smaller-positioned competitors, but the marketplace itself.

“Sometimes people just don’t see the forest for the trees,” Hill concluded with an age-old expression of the problem of seeing the bigger picture when you find yourself immersed in the middle of that picture.

And when one looks at the political picture being painted by the current occupant of the White House: from a general disregard for federal institutions from law enforcement to intelligence and the diplomatic wing of the State Department, coupled with the number of unfilled federal positions after two-plus years of the Trump presidency, as well as the conflicting professional interests of many who have been appointed to head oversight agencies like the EPA, Commerce and Interior, it would seem the core political issues that have brought Vigil for Democracy participants together for over two years are nowhere near a resolution.

So we imagine you will continue to see these anniversary reports, along with those coming across the Chester Street political divide, for at least another two years …

Two-plus years of the Trump presidency have eased none of Vigil for Democracy founder Len Sherp’s concerns about threats to constitutional norms and the rule of law emanating from the White House.

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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 and Tolliver Studios.

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

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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Local News

Town Talk: A conversation with Fern Vazquez, community garden update



In this Town Talk, we’ll have a conversation with Fern Vazquez about the community “victory garden” off Luray Avenue. Fern gives us an update since it was planted in mid-May with a group of nearly two dozen volunteers.

You can still participate in this community project by volunteering to help harvest the crop or just pull weeds. They are also seeking volunteer canners in anticipation of a large tomato crop.  Volunteers are required to sign waivers, which are available at Fussell Florists or by e-mailing The telephone number to call is (757) 630-2362 to reach Fern Vazquez.

Let’s embrace this community effort and be generous with others when reaping our own gardens and filling our pantry shelves. Learn more on their Facebook page.

Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to

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Legislative Update

Cline to hold Coronavirus Update Telephone Town Hall July 9th



Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) announced that he will host a Coronavirus Update Telephone Town Hall. Cline will be joined on this call by Dr. Laura Kornegay, the Health Director of Central Shenandoah Health District at the Virginia Department of Health, and Steve Bulger, the Acting Regional Administrator for Mid-Atlantic Region III of the Small Business Administration.

The telephone town hall will take place Thursday, July 9, 2020, from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Constituents planning to participate should register at or dial (855) 933-0825 during the time of the call.

“I look forward to hearing from constituents from across the Sixth District this week,” Cline said. “This telephone town hall will not only give me the opportunity to engage directly with those I represent but will also allow me to provide them with the latest information regarding the health and economic implications stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This event will mark the third coronavirus telephone town hall held by Congressman Cline since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic.

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