With coronavirus cases now rising at a faster pace than last month, residents of the capital region are trying to adopt a routine while still wary of the future.
The U.S. as a whole reported a record-breaking number of new infections on Thursday. D.C., Maryland and Virginia are also trending upwards.
The latest trends are causing even greater uncertainty among educators and parents as plans are rolled out for the next school year. Teachers are expressing concern over how everyone can return to the classroom safely.
"Frankly, we feel like right now we're receiving a lot of mixed messages," said Christopher Lloyd, the president of the Montgomery County Education Association said.
Some parents are reconsidering their child's schooling altogether. Many are worried about public schools' ability to start the school year off smoothly and some are looking for private or homeschool options, the News4 I-Team found.
"I mean, pretty much everybody I know is considering it," said Colleen Ganjian, an education consultant who just enrolled her third-grader in private school.
In an unscientific News4 poll, 46% of parents said they were considering homeschooling their kids amid the pandemic.
The stress of coping with work and taking care of children is a massive toll on many.
“People are just hanging on by a fingernail. The endlessness of it is leading people to have a constant refrain in their head of ‘I can’t handle this. This is impossible,’” said Paige Trevor, the certified parent educator in the D.C. area.
What the Data Shows
The virus continues to slam communities of color harder in many areas.
In Montgomery County, local health officials say the data is showing a concerning trend: Cases are rising specifically in the Latino community, which accounts for 74% of new infections.
The positivity rate has also increased to 37% among Hispanic residents. The county says it will expand testing in high-impact zip codes, has created a response team for the community and makes free space available for anyone who cannot quarantine at home.
In the District, where about 40% of residents are Black, coronavirus patients are 49% African-American. Among coronavirus deaths, 74% are Black.
Still, D.C. has some encouraging news: After a spike in coronavirus community spread over the holiday weekend, it has declined for four straight days.
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 Superintendent proposed to the school board that the start of classes should be postponed until Sept. 8, then begin on a full-time virtual and distance learning model.
- 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
- Fairfax County is working to fill several hundred contact tracing positions. Read more.
- The ACLU is asking D.C. city officials to require police to wear face masks while working. Read more.
- Nursing homes were required to start reporting COVID-10 data to the federal government nearly two months ago. A report by the News4 I-Team shows that eight local nursing home still have not shared that information.
- 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.
- D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser says she plans to wait to announce school reopening plans as case numbers begin to trend upward.
- 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.
- Wear a snug-fitting mask that covers your nose and mouth.
- Avoid being indoors with people who are not members of your household. The more people you are in contact with, the more likely you are to be exposed to COVID-19. If you are indoors with people you don’t live with, stay at least six feet apart and keep your mask on.
- Wash your hands often, especially after you have been in a public place.
Sophia Barnes, Andrea Swalec and Anisa Holmes contributed to this report