As COVID-19 case counts climb in the D.C. area, some schools will resume virtual learning, some events are postponed or canceled, and some universities are requiring COVID-19 booster shots.
D.C. Public Schools will close for two days after winter break so students can get tested, the National Cathedral canceled in-person Christmas services, and multiple local universities will require their communities to get booster shots.
Here’s a rundown on coronavirus precautions being taken in the D.C. area.
Performances and Events
The National Theatre
Performances of "Pretty Woman: The Musical" at The National Theatre were canceled and tickets can be refunded after breakthrough COVID-19 cases were found within the touring company. The performances were scheduled from Dec. 28 to Jan. 2.
As COVID-19 cases climb in Washington, D.C., the National Cathedral announced that Christmas services will be held virtually this year.
The Kennedy Center will delay the start of performances of “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations” by nearly two weeks because of COVID-19 cases within the company.
“Even with robust precautions in place, breakthrough COVID-19 cases have been identified within the fully vaccinated company,” a Kennedy Center spokesman said in a statement Wednesday.
The musical was set to open Wednesday, Dec. 15; it now will open on Tuesday, Dec. 28. Ticket-holders will be contacted.
Primary and Secondary Schools
St. Charles High School and Westlake High School will move to virtual learning for Dec. 20 through Dec. 22 because of “the increasing number of COVID-19 cases,” the schools announced. Students then go on winter break and return to school on Jan. 3
DC Public Schools
All D.C. Public Schools will close for two days in January so that families can pick up self-test kits. Classes will be canceled on Jan. 3 and Jan. 4 so families can pick up tests at schools and use them before returning to class on Jan. 5.
Some D.C. schools shifted to virtual learning for the week of Dec. 20 because of “the operational impact of recent COVID-19 cases,” Chancellor Lewis Ferebee said.
Bard High School Early College DC, McKinley Technology High School and Turner Elementary School moved to online learning for Dec. 20-22, before the holiday break.
Whittier Elementary previously moved to virtual learning until Dec. 22 after at least 14 cases of COVID-19 were reported in a week.
Georgetown Preparatory School
The private school, located in Montgomery County, Maryland, moved to online learning after 30 students tested positive for coronavirus.
The school closed Friday, Dec. 10, so teachers could prepare online lessons. Georgetown Prep is remaining closed the week of Dec. 13 before its two-week holiday break.
Montgomery County Public Schools
The Maryland school district announced on Friday an end to all in-person extracurricular activities through Jan. 7.
“Athletic practices and games can continue as scheduled, as a result of the vaccination requirement for winter sports student-athletes,” the district said in a statement.
The COVID-19 rate has risen, officials said.
Our Lady Of Good Counsel High School
The private, Catholic high school, located in Olney, Maryland, ended the semester early because of a number of COVID-19 cases.
As of Tuesday, 21 cases were confirmed at the school, a representative said.
Midterm exams will be delayed until the new year.
Prince George’s County Public Schools
All students will resume virtual learning starting Monday, Dec. 20, the school district announced Friday, citing “the rise in COVID-19 cases.” After winter break, online learning will continue through Jan. 14.
Two days earlier, the school district announced that three schools would go virtual: Benjamin Tasker Middle School, EXCEL Public Charter School and Kettering Middle School.
All AU students, faculty and staff will be required to get booster shots by Feb. 10, one month after the start of spring classes, or 14 days after becoming eligible for a booster, university officials announced Wednesday. The requirement applies to everyone, whether they're on-campus, online or hybrid. Those who have an approved vaccine exemption are exempt from the booster requirement but should continue the required testing, AU officials said.
Georgetown University says it will require booster shots after one of D.C.’s first cases of the omicron variant cropped up within the school community. Students, faculty, staff and visitors must get a booster shot by Jan. 21 or secure an approved medical or religious exemption, the university said. Employees who are teleworking must abide by the requirements, but anyone not yet eligible for a booster can get a deadline extension.
The George Washington University
George Washington University will begin its spring semester online so students can gradually and carefully return to campus, the school announced Wednesday. Full in-person operations are set to resume on Jan. 18.
GW had canceled in-person events and made final exams virtual, the university previously announced.
University officials attributed the decision to testing that "identified a significant increase in positive COVID-19 cases among members of our university community," they said in a release. All in-person gatherings and events are canceled immediately, and exams scheduled for Friday and through the end of the semester will be held virtually. Faculty also have the option to begin offering virtual exams sooner than Friday, GW officials said.
"At this time, we have not made any changes regarding spring semester," GW officials said in their release.
GW announced earlier this week that it would require booster shots by Feb. 1.
The changes took some students by surprise. One wondered if she still would get to study abroad next semester, after already postponing her plans.
University of Maryland
The university’s COVID-19 dashboard showed 98 positive cases from university testing and 12 self-reported cases Thursday.
The school is taking the following precautions, including canceling winter commencement:
- All winter commencement activities, including the main ceremony scheduled for Dec. 20 and all college, school and department ceremonies scheduled for Dec. 21 and 22. All winter graduates will be invited to the spring ceremony in May.
- All indoor social gatherings where mask-wearing cannot be strictly enforced should be canceled through Dec. 22.
- All dining halls and the Stamp Student Union food court transitioned to grab-and-go options only, effective Thursday.
- Basketball, volleyball and racquetball activities are suspended. All RecWell facilities will be closed Dec. 22 through Jan. 2, with a limited reopening tentatively scheduled for Jan. 3.
- Students living in residence halls must leave campus 24 hours after their final on-campus exam.
Finals continue as scheduled, but students and faculty must wear KN95 masks for in-person finals.