Thousands of families in the D.C. area will likely spend part of their weekend preparing to get back to school.
Public school students in Washington, D.C., Prince George's County and Montgomery County and more will go back to school Monday — all virtually.
DCPS will work through the weekend to hand out technology, including laptop and tablets, to students. Parents can contact the schools if they need a device.
School districts have been planning for months on how to recommence learning, but there was confusion in Maryland this week after Gov. Larry Hogan made an announcement.
Maryland school are now authorized by the state to reopen, Hogan said Thursday. Improving coronavirus metrics should drive the decision to return to school buildings, Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Karen Salmon said.
Sixteen districts in the state plan to reopen with in-person options, Hogan said.
But in D.C.'s suburbs, school officials were caught off guard by the announcement.
"'Is he crazy?' That was my initial reaction," said Theresa Dudley, president of the Prince George's County teacher's union.
Montgomery County leaders also blasted the last-minute call for reopening.
"We are dismayed and perplexed that Governor Hogan made this announcement just days before students return to school," a joint statement from Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and the county council read.
What the Data Shows
The numbers are a mixed bag as we progress toward fall: There are signs that the downturn in cases we've seen during much of August is slowing. But regionally, there aren't clear signs of a surge yet.
Virginia's average case number has trended upward since Aug. 21, however. And the state added 1,177 cases to its dataset on Saturday, the most since Aug. 8.
Average case counts remained stable this past week in D.C., where numbers stayed in the 50s, and Maryland, which stayed between 539-565.
But D.C.'s 74 new cases added Saturday was the highest since Aug. 14.
Unequivocally good news: D.C. is on a four-day streak where no citizens have died from coronavirus, according to the city's numbers.
The map below shows the number of coronavirus cases diagnosed per 1,000 residents.
Coronavirus Cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia
COVID-19 cases by population in D.C. and by county in Maryland and Virginia
Local Coronavirus Headlines
- D.C. Public Schools are back in session Monday, Aug. 31 and city officials have guidance on how to make it as smooth as possible. Read more.
- Arlington County police will enforce social distancing in the nightlife area of Clarendon starting Friday and violators will be issued fines of up to $100 after a weekend-long warning period. Read more.
- Washington, D.C., has updated the list of states for which the city has travel restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic. Read more.
- Virginians on unemployment will get an extra $300 on top of what the state pays out. Read more.
- Special needs students are among the first groups who should get in-person instruction, Fairfax County school officials say. Read more.
- Montgomery County officials said in an update Wednesday that testing will resume at county sites using test kits from the state. Testing was suspended last week after the state health department ordered the county stop using saliva tests from a Rockville lab. Read more.
- The federal government has started sending new COVID-19 testing systems to nursing homes around the country in hopes that the rapid results provided by antigen tests will slow the spread of the virus. Long-term care facilities certainly welcome that assistance, but some have major concerns about those tests. Get the News4 I-Team report.
- Most people recently diagnosed with the coronavirus in D.C. had no known contact with someone who had the virus and did not attend events or travel, new data from the city says. Read more.
- Private and parochial schools in Maryland can choose when to reopen after a back-and-forth between county health officials and the governor. Read more.
- Prince George's County is revising its phase two reopening executive order due to an uptick in coronavirus cases, according to the county executive's office.
- Virginia entered phase three reopening on July 1, loosening restrictions on restaurants, stores, gyms and pools. Northam said more restrictions could be implemented if cases continue to grow.
- Prince George's County entered full phase two on June 23, allowing the MGM Casino and gyms to reopen.
- D.C. entered phase two on June 22, allowing indoor dining, gyms, libraries and houses of worship to reopen with restrictions.
- Montgomery County entered phase two on June 19, reopening with restrictions gyms, houses of worship, indoor dining and retail.
- Maryland entered phase two of reopening on June 10, permitting indoor dining, outdoor pools and outside amusements to reopen.
How to Stay Safe
There are ways to lower your risk of catching coronavirus. Here are guidelines from the CDC:
- Anyone over the age of 2 should wear a mask or face covering. Keep it over your nose and mouth.
- Wash your hands often. When you do, scrub with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. As a backup, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who lives outside your home. That means staying six feet away from anyone outside your circle, even if you're wearing masks.
- Always cover coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
Sophia Barnes, Andrea Swalec and Anisa Holmes contributed to this report