Virginia’s largest school system on Monday said it would be halting plans to send students back to in-person learning.
Fairfax County Public Schools was planning to send 6,800 pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and special education students back to physical classrooms on Tuesday, but superintendent Scott Brabrand said that coronavirus cases had exceeded “the threshold to expand our in-person learning.”
In a letter sent to families on Monday, Brabrand wrote, “We made this decision as soon as new health metrics were released and are communicating it to you immediately as promised. We always anticipated the need to potentially adjust our return to school plans as necessary during this ongoing pandemic.”
The Fairfax system serves about 186,000 students. About 8,000 students have returned to classrooms so far, The Washington Post reports. Those students are currently engaged in a hybrid model of learning, and there has so far been no indication that the classrooms have become superspreaders of the coronavirus.
Teachers associations representing more than 12,000 employees across five Virginia counties and municipalities also sent a letter to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Monday asking to return to phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan.
“It continues to be clear that Northern Virginia is past the point of safe metrics for in-person learning in our school buildings. Everyone, including educators, wants our schools to be back to normal, but by opening when it’s not safe to do so, we increase the likelihood that normal will never come,” said the letter.
Under phase 2 restrictions, only special education students, English language learners and students in pre-school through third grade would be allowed inside classrooms. However, the teachers associations requested that all learning be moved to online-only until the reported amount of cases begin to drop.
Virginia reported 2,677 cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, the most cases the state has recorded in a single day, reflecting similar trends across much of the country.