Schools across D.C., Maryland and Virginia are surveying parents and releasing plans for fall, and none around the Beltway have decided to go back to a traditional school year.
Still, rising coronavirus case numbers are complicating the ongoing planning process.
D.C. detected a new peak in community spread on Thursday, prompting Mayor Muriel Bowser to revisit the plan for D.C. schools.
"We saw some trends in our data that are not ideal for making plans for the rest of the school year," Bowser said.
The administration was set to give more details, but will now review the data. More information will be released on July 31, Bowser said.
Maryland's largest school districts, Montgomery and Prince George's, will both start school entirely online. Washington, D.C., is expected to announce a hybrid plan — part online, part in-person — similar to an option that Fairfax and Loudoun both provided.
Many schools are surveying parents and teachers to see who's interested in keeping learning virtual and who wants to go back. There are just over six weeks left until September, schools are largely required to submit reopening plans to local or state officials and coronavirus cases are still rising.
A 37-year-old man was among three District residents who died from COVID-19, the city said Thursday. It's not clear how he became sick.
However, leaders are warning that more young people are getting sick.
A failure to comply with public health advice, particularly in bars and restaurants, is linked to an increasing number of cases in Maryland, especially among young people, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said.
What the Data Shows
The region added 1,599 new coronavirus cases to its lists on Thursday and 1,895 on Wednesday, an uptick from weeks prior. Similar numbers of new cases were last seen at the end of May and beginning of June.
Maryland, Virginia and Washington have each contributed to the increase. Each area is, on average, adding significantly more cases per day this week compared to last.
The District identified that community spread temporarily hit a recent high point at some point during the Fourth of July weekend. On July 4, the sustained transmission rate hit 1.06, meaning, statistically, that coronavirus patients likely infected at least one other person.
The goal is to keep the sustained transmission rate below 1. At the start of July, it hovered above the goal.
Community spread has since fallen again. But the city was set back to just three days of declining community spread during Phase Three.
Other metrics, including contact tracing ability, the number of tests coming back positive and hospital usage, are on par with the District's goals.
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
Schools Plan for Fall
Schools are starting to detail their plans for the fall. Here's an overview of what we know:
- Alexandria, Virginia: The district is considering two models: all virtual and hybrid. The school board will consider plans in early August and families are set to be informed on Aug. 12.
- Arlington County, Virginia: The school board is set to take action on a proposal at a meeting on Thursday.
- Fairfax County, Virginia: The deadline has passed for parents to chose between an all-virtual or hybrid schooling model.
- Falls Church, Virginia: Plans a phased return to in-person for elementary school students, with more details to come.
- Frederick County, Maryland: The district is planning for three scenarios (all online, both online and in-person, traditional school) with "an emphasis on flexibility and fluidity." Parents are asked to weigh in via this survey until July 23.
- Loudoun County, Virginia: The deadline has passed for parents to chose between an all-virtual or hybrid schooling model.
- Manassas, Virginia: The City of Manassas approved a plan for schools to start completely online on Aug. 31.
- Montgomery County, Maryland: Students at Montgomery County schools will begin the year online. Eventually, the district hopes to phase students back into classrooms, but it could take several months.
- Prince George's County, Maryland: Class will be all-online from Aug. 31 to Jan. 29, CEO Dr. Monica Goldson announced Wednesday afternoon.
- Prince William County, Virginia: For most students, learning will be entirely online until after the first quarter ends on Oct. 30.
- Washington, D.C.: D.C. Public Schools considered giving two options: all online and hybrid. However, due to a recent spike in coronavirus spread, the release of a full plan has been delayed until July 31. There will be a virtual option. District charter schools are
Local Coronavirus Headlines
- More than 100 eviction cases were heard Wednesday in Alexandria. A majority of those families are neighbors at Southern Towers, a large apartment complex. Read more.
- Two Silver Spring, Maryland, businesses were shut down as the governor urged localities to more strictly enforce rules. Read more.
- Many Fairfax County Public School students want to return to in-person classes. With 67% of students submitting decisions, more than 55% opted for in-person school and 45% chose online-only. Read more.
- Dozens of Loudoun County teachers rallied on Monday, saying they don't feel safe going back for in-school instruction. Read more.
- School nurses in Prince George’s County feel they are being left out of the conversation about returning to school. Here's more.
- West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice moved Monday to close bars in the state's largest college town and reimpose restrictions on large gatherings as coronavirus cases rise to record levels. Read more.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan weighed in on how schools should handle reopening in the fall. Here's more.
- D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser says more information on school reopenings could be announced Thursday.
- Virginia entered phase three reopening on July 1, loosening restrictions on restaurants, stores, gyms and pools. But Gov. 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.
- Washington, 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 the CDC guidelines.
- 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