Loudoun Co. pauses plan for return to in-person learning, as staff vaccinations begin

Coronavirus conditions have not improved enough to bring more students and staff back into classrooms, according to the Loudoun County School Board.

All Loudoun County, Virginia, public school students have been doing distance learning since a December spike in positivity rates throughout the D.C. region.

Before that spike, the plan for Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) was to allow middle and high school students to choose a return to two-day-per-week in-person learning for the start of the 2nd semester, beginning next week, Jan. 21.

But in a Tuesday meeting, the Loudoun County School Board voted the opportunity to return to any in-person learning would have to wait for the foreseeable future.

The decision was based upon the fact that positivity rates throughout the D.C. region are in the “highest risk” category and continue to rise, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Loudoun County teachers and school staff members are now eligible to receive their first vaccination to limit the chances of contracting coronavirus.

In their discussions, the school board members said they preferred to keep an eye on positivity rates, in tandem with the vaccination rollout, before setting a new target date to bring willing students and teachers back into classrooms.

In addition, the board slightly tweaked a metric for improving conditions that would trigger a return to in-person learning from “five consecutive workdays” to “five consecutive days.”

In an email to students’ families and staff members, Interim Superintendent Scott Ziegler said: “LCPS remains committed to providing hybrid in-person instruction for those students who have selected it, when it is safe to do so.”

Ziegler said distance learning will continue as long as both CDC-recommended Core Indicators used by LCPS remain in “highest risk” category.

“We understand this situation creates challenges for many students and families, and we continue to work to provide every support available to those who need it. We thank you for your continued flexibility and support of those around you.”

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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