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Some state Senators want protective plexiglass in the chamber removed

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Virginia Senate livestream
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Senator Siobhan Dunnavant says she wants the box around her desk removed by Monday, vowing to remove it herself if it's not gone by the beginning of next week.

Mask mandates are being lifted in schools across Virginia. And, COVID-19 protocols may also be changing in the state Senate.

When the Senate gaveled into session this year, each senator had a protective plexiglass barrier around their desk. Some lawmakers call them cages, complaining they make it harder to see the other senators and the presiding officer. Now Republican Senator Siobhan Dunnavant of Henrico County says the time has come for the cages to go.

"I would like this box removed from my desk by Monday. I can remove it myself and I will do that if there's not the manpower to do that," she says. "But I think that that is the right thing to do, and I would like to proceed without this box around my desk for the last two weeks of session."

Senator Jennifer McClellan is a Democrat from Richmond who says she's thankful Senate Clerk Susan Schar is looking out for everybody's wellbeing.

"So whatever happens with these cages, I want Madam Clerk and her staff to know that this senator at a minimum and hopefully all 40 of us are very grateful for everything she does for us, our staffs and our pages," McClellan says.

The debate over COVID protocols in the Senate chamber comes at a time when the Centers for Disease Control is adjusting its mask guidelines.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.