Eleven public schools in Montgomery County, Maryland, will transition to virtual learning for two weeks due to high numbers of COVID-19 cases among students and staff, the superintendent announced Tuesday while outlining a new plan for tracking cases of the virus in the school system.
Beginning Wednesday, the following schools will go virtual:
- Cannon Road Elementary School
- Forest Knolls Elementary School
- Hallie Wells Middle School
- Monocacy Elementary School
- North Chevy Chase Elementary School
- Roberto Clemente Middle School
- Rock Terrace School
- Rosemont Elementary School
- Seneca Valley High School
- Sherwood Elementary School
- Waters Landing Elementary School
Interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight said in Tuesday morning's virtual news conference that 5,680 total students and staff in the school system reported testing positive for COVID-19 as of 6 a.m. Monday.
"We are concerned by the surge," she said.
The rise in cases will have an acute impact on the system's workforce, and many employees have tested positive, McKnight said. Abnormally high staff absences among teachers, bus drivers and cafeteria workers has already made it difficult for schools, and she warned there could be more changes to classroom staffing.
McKnight said the 11 schools going virtual fall under the "red" category in the school system's new COVID-19 classification system. Red means that 5% or more of a school's students and staff have tested positive for the virus in the past 14 days, McKnight said.
The other categories include yellow, meaning more than 3% and less than 5% of students and staff report testing positive in the last 14 days, and green, which includes schools that have less than 3% of students and staff who have tested positive, according to McKnight.
McKnight said the decision to transition the red category schools to virtual learning is not automatic and the school system will first consult with the county's health department before deciding what to do.
Parents of students at the affected schools will receive detailed communication outlining the virtual learning process, Montgomery County's Chief of Teaching, Learning and Schools Dr. Ruschelle Reuben said in the news conference.
Reuben said there will be a one-day transition period before synchronous, live instruction during the remaining days of virtual learning,
Information about each school's status will be posted online by 7 p.m. each day, McKnight said.
Families can report positive COVID-19 cases at the top of the MCPS website. McKnight also said families should keep their children home if they are showing symptoms or test positive.