- The Washington Times - Friday, December 11, 2020

All students in Loudoun County Public Schools will return to virtual learning on Tuesday due to coronavirus concerns, Superintendent Eric Williams announced Thursday.

In a letter to families and staff, the superintendent said retroactive data posted by the Virginia Department of Health “have exceeded the thresholds established by the School Board for returning to 100% distance learning.”

Nearly 18,000 elementary, middle and high school students have been phased back into classrooms for hybrid learning since September.

“We understand that this process is disruptive for families of students who have been participating in hybrid in-person learning this fall,” Mr. Williams said. “The safety and well-being of all students, staff members, their families and the community continues to be our highest priority, and this decision is being made consistent with our commitment to achieving that objective.”

Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) board members voted earlier this year to “pause” in-person instruction when the metrics are above the thresholds for five days straight. A retroactive update by the health department reportedly showed both thresholds were exceeded as of Dec. 6.

The determining data include when the total number of new cases per 100,000 people within the last two weeks tops 200, and when the percent of positive tests within the last two weeks tops 10%. These so-called “core indicators” were developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Data on the school website as of Friday show 419.6 new cases per 100,000 people and an 11% test positivity rate.

Mr. Williams said officials “will further discuss plans for using these metrics” at a school board meeting on Dec. 15.

Nearby Fairfax County Public Schools, the largest district in Virginia, uses the same determining metrics, which also recently prompted officials to halt the return of students to in-person instruction.

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