With the increase in COVID-19 cases across Loudoun, the school division is coming close to reaching the metric thresholds that would impose an automatic suspension of in-person learning.
According to the latest Health Department data, the percent of coronavirus tests that returned positive results has exceeded 10% in nine of the past 10 days. The seven-day average positivity rate reached 11.7% as of Dec. 3. The county’s average daily positivity rate last exceeded 10% in July.
The School Board has adopted a policy that if number of new cases per 100,000 residents exceeds 200 during a 14-day period and the 14-day average positivity rate exceeds 10% then all students who are in classes as part of the hybrid learning program would return to distance learning until the rate community spread declines. Under a proposal presented to the board last week and not yet formally adopted, those conditions would have to hold for five-consecutive weekdays before the closure would be implemented.
The number of new cases per 100,000 residents has exceeded 200 for several weeks and currently stands at 365.5. The 14-day positivity rate has been holding below 10%, but has increased to 9.7% as of Monday. If that rate exceeds 10%, it would start a five-day countdown to close classes. If the positivity rate drops to 10% or below even for one day, a new five-day countdown would begin once that threshold is reached again.
Under the draft policy, a suspension of in-person learning would continue until the two measurements fall below the specified thresholds for five consecutive weekdays. During its Dec. 15 meeting, the School Board is expected to discuss a change that would allow hybrid learning to resume if one of the two metrics returns to acceptable levels.
Currently, students in grades K-5 who selected the hybrid learning option, along with special education students, English language learners, students at the Monroe Advanced Technical Academy, and seniors at the Academy of Science and the Academy of Engineering and Technology, receive at least two days of in-person learning each week.
The school division plans to offer hybrid learning to middle and high school students beginning with the second semester, which starts Jan. 21.