Approximately 3,000 first-graders in Prince William County are set to return to classrooms on a part-time basis starting tomorrow.

They will join kindergartners and pre-kindergartners who returned Nov. 10, despite an ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases. As of Monday morning, the school division’s COVID-19 dashboard showed 177 positive coronavirus cases among staff and/or students at county schools. Last month there were 84, and in September there were 50. There were 69 new cases the week of Nov. 15-21 alone, the dashboard shows.

Monday's Centers for Disease Control metrics for Prince William County schools showed the division in the highest risk category for total number of new cases in a 14-day period at 507.0 and the highest risk category for percentage of COVID-19 tests that are positive, at 10.8 percent.

At the Nov. 18, Prince William School Board meeting, schools Superintendent Steve Walts said he was not recommending any changes to the division’s staggered plan to bring students back into classrooms.

The school board meets again Wednesday, with an update from Walts on the pandemic and a presentation by elementary school administrators on logistics coupled with the virtual, hybrid, and in-person instructional practices.

The Prince William County Education Association, part of a national union representing teachers, has joined other Northern Virginia teachers' associations in calling on Gov. Ralph Northam to order a statewide return to virtual-only learning.

Fairfax County schools earlier this month decided, one day before younger students were set to return, to delay its resumption of in-person classes for at least two weeks. Manassas Park schools have also decided to go virtual until at least January. Manassas city schools have not committed to a date to begin reopening for in-person learning.

Northam has said he doesn’t plan to impose any further restrictions on schools, saying “one size doesn’t fit all.”

Plans to return to Virginia High School League sports competitions are also underway, with plans for Prince William students and coaches to return for winter sports on Dec. 7 for basketball and cheerleading.

The school division says it is planning for other winter sports to start on Dec. 14.

Based on current local health metrics, Prince William schools will only have remote spectators for athletic competitions.

Following the return of first-graders this week, Walts said the plan continues for second- and third-graders to follow starting Jan. 12. Students who have chosen the hybrid option will attend two alternating days per week, with Mondays remaining all virtual.

Students in fourth through 12th grades will remain virtual through the second quarter, with a plan for fourth, fifth, sixth and ninth grades to start returning Jan. 26. Students in grades seventh, eighth, 10th, 11th, and 12th would begin returning Feb. 2.

Families can opt to continue remote learning for students.

See more headlines at InsideNoVa.com. Email tips to info@insidenova.com.

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(9) comments

covid2021

With the amount of panicking going on you would think teaching is becoming the number one most fatal occupation. After all, elementary school faculty are anywhere between 80-90% female or higher. Imagine if the number of women dying on the job was how it is for men, which is 10 times more likely than women. We would all be artists and poets sitting on our high rise balcony while the government gives us everything we need.

FixPrinceWilliam

Whining parents who can't handle their kids want things back to "normal". Ha ha! Sitting in a sterile room with 4 other masked kids, surrounded by plastic while the teacher teaches. Don't forget, the other 20 students are at home because their parents remembered there's a pandemic.

The school board completely caved to the few whiny parents that refuse to accept that things are out-of-whack and not safe.

The President took "no responsibility" for the deaths and chaos and the economic problems. He passed the buck to the governors. Now Northam won't take leadership or control. He passed the buck to School Boards. Lateef is scared to upset the rich parents so he passes the buck to the principals and parents.

Now we're stuck in a situation where we have to rely on parents--the ones that don't want their kids at home and deny that there is a pandemic--to ensure that children are healthy and not potential spreaders.

Hold-on teachers. Some of you will develop long-term health problems and some may even die, but at least things are back to normal.

covid2021

I assume you also support a ban on dog walking like I do, because the science shows that dog walking increases your chance of catching COVID by 78%. Let's fix PWC by banning dog walking. It is a good start I think, don't you?

Iwouldntgiveabean

I am interested in the study as well:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935120311208

It would be interesting to see if the same study can be applied to the US, as the study was conducted in Spain. Maybe it will be similar, as our cultures are deeply intertwined, sanitation is the same, and government policies are nearly identical.

More likely, it is because of the increased social interaction between people outside.

https://www.nbcboston.com/news/coronavirus/dog-walkers-have-increased-risk-of-contracting-covid-19-according-to-study/2236840/

"Dr. Joshua Barocas, an epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center, said dogs themselves aren't the likely culprits. He said the social nature of dog-walking could play a role in the increased risk."

ProudlyRepublican

You should carefully contemplate how you talk about ol’ Babur. He might just sue you into poverty and get you some good ol’ COVID from the courthouse to boot if you say such things about him, in my opinion of course. Also, yeah, the kids need to go back so good on them. Also it’s ironically the families that don’t have money that are most effected by schools being closed. They have to buy more food, keep the Internet on, provide child care. Do you even realize how expensive that is? You seem to think only wealthy families want schools to reopen, open your eyes. Most everyone knows there is a pandemic, any “risk” taking is fairly well informed at this point. People are just making their own decisions at this point, and there’s nothing you or any suit can do about it.

Joe Christmas

Fauci said just yesterday that schools should be open. Guess you missed that. Been watching too much CNN.

Iwouldntgiveabean

And bars and social gatherings should cease. Cant have both.

Soily

It is great to see 1st graders going to school in spite of the news media scare tactics. God bless them and their teachers, who are essential employees for the future of our country, every bit as essential as grocery clerks at Harris Teeter.

Darth Mark JM

School is the best place for kids to learn. Good on PWC for staying the course w/this.

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