DC area school district shifts to remote learning through mid-January due to 'stark rise' in COVID cases

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One Washington, D.C. area school district has announced it is shifting to remote learning until mid-January because of a “stark rise” in coronavirus cases.

In an announcement, the Prince George’s County Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Monica Goldson said that the school system will shift to virtual learning starting on Monday, Dec. 20.

“In light of the stark rise in COVID-19 cases throughout our school system, all students will transition to virtual learning, effective Monday, December 20 through Thursday, December 23. Winter Break will proceed as scheduled, Friday, December 24 through Friday, December 31, and virtual learning will continue Monday, January 3 through Friday, January 14,” the announcement said.

U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona visits Mary Harris "Mother" Jones  Elementary School, which is within the Prince George’s County Public Schools. (Credit: Prince George’s County Public Schools)

In-person learning within the school system will resume on Tuesday, January 18. Students in the “K-6 Virtual Learning Program” will return on Jan. 31.

Goldson said that the increased rate of coronavirus cases has challenged the system’s ability to provide in-person classes.

“Educators, administrators and support staff must be able to deliver in-person instruction and other activities in conditions that prioritize their own health, as well as the wellbeing of the school community. The increased positivity rates have significantly challenged the ability to do so, causing anxiety among many school communities and disruption to the school day,” Goldson said.

Goldson added that parents could pick up instructional items for students on Dec. 20.

University Park Elementary School (Credit: Prince George’s County Public Schools)

“I strongly encourage all of you to take every precaution against COVID-19, follow social distancing protocols and get vaccinated,” she added.

The Prince George’s County Public Schools system is one of the country’s largest school districts and holds 208 schools and centers, according to their website. In total, the system has 136,500 students and nearly 22,000 employees

Several colleges and universities are also making changes because of an increase in coronavirus cases and due to the new omicron variant.

School Bus (iStock)

Cornell University announced on Tuesday it will shift to “Alert Level Red,” which includes canceling all university activities involving undergraduates, closing libraries to students, closing fitness centers, and moving all final exams to a remote format. The university canceled the Dec. 18 ceremony honoring December graduates.

Princeton University announced on its website that all final exams will either be given remotely or, if a faculty member chooses, the exam can be delivered as a “take-home” test. From Dec. 16 through Jan. 7, all indoor gatherings with food and where face masks cannot be worn will be canceled or postponed.

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