Despite rising COVID-19 cases around the region, Superintendent Steve Walts says he is not recommending any changes to the division’s staggered plan to bring students back into classrooms.
The Prince William School Board on Wednesday night heard an update from Walts on the virus and efforts to continue to roll out in-person learning in county schools. Last week, the county’s youngest students, pre-kindergarteners and kindergarteners, went back to class for two days each week. Plans are for other elementary grades to follow in December and January.
On Wednesday morning, the school division’s COVID-19 dashboard showed 95 positive COVID-19 cases among staff and/or students at county schools. Last month there were 84, and in September there were 50.
Walts told board members he wasn’t recommending any changes in operations, and noted that the relatively low number of students currently in classrooms was part of the reason.
The Prince William County Education Association, part of a national union representing teachers, joined teacher associations in Fairfax, Loudoun, Arlington and Manassas Park earlier this week calling on Northam to order a statewide return to virtual-only learning.
Fairfax County schools earlier this week decided, one day before younger students were set to return, to delay its resumption of in-person classes for at least two weeks. Manassas Park schools have also decided to go virtual until at least January.
Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday also said he doesn’t plan to impose any further restrictions on schools, saying “one size doesn’t fit all.”
“We give very consistent guidelines to our school districts, then allow the localities to make those decisions,” he added.
Walts said the plan continues for first grade students to return on Dec. 1, with second and third grades expected to follow Jan. 12. Students will attend two alternating days per week, with Mondays remaining all virtual.
Students in fourth through 12th grades will remain virtual through the second quarter, with a plan for fourth, fifth, sixth and ninth grades to start returning Jan. 26. Students in grades seventh, eighth, 10th, 11th, and 12th would begin returning Feb. 2.
Families can opt to continue remote learning for students.