D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Thursday that officials are reviewing plans for students to return to classrooms during the second term of the school year with a mix of in-person and online instruction, as the region starts resuming more activities.
Miss Bowser said at a press conference that D.C. Public Schools are reviewing about a dozen proposals submitted by principals to conduct in-person classes. Officials are trying to ensure workforce readiness for in-person instruction and planning to update ventilation systems before the second academic term starts on Nov. 9., she said.
Her announcement comes as the District resumes more downtown activities. On Friday, the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of African American History and Culture will reopen their doors. Beginning Sunday, the DC Circulator will resume its National Mall route, and the D.C. Streetcar will resume normal operating hours.
“Not all of the activities that we envisioned could open in phase two have in fact reopened in phase two,” Miss Bowser said. “So we know there will be additional phase two activities turned on and we also haven’t fully engaged with waiver requests that are permitted in phase two. So we will spend some time looking at additional phase two activities and waivers that are allowed in phase two over the next weeks.”
Compared to other major U.S. cities, the District ranks in the middle for coronavirus cases per 100,000 people with a 7-day average rate of 7.24, health department data show.
As of Thursday, the District reported 14,790 coronavirus infections. The city’s community spread rate is lower than transmission rates in Houston, Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Baltimore and New Orleans. However, the rate in the District is higher than those in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle and New York City.
Prince George’s County, which has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Maryland (28,202), also began relaxing restrictions this week under phase two of its reopening plan, allowing more businesses and activities to resume.
Banquet halls, receptions and meeting rooms in hotels, conference centers and other similar establishments can reopen along with cigar, hookah and vape establishments with certain restrictions. County residents also will be able to visit tanning salons and indoor pools, and resume medium-risk youth sports.
“As we announce several additional openings under our County’s Phase 2 reopening, I want to remind our residents that this virus is still present in our community,” County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said Wednesday. “Please remember to continue following COVID-19 safety guidelines to keep yourself and your fellow Prince Georgians safe, including wearing a face mask, practicing physical distancing and washing your hands frequently.”
Hotels and conference centers can open banquet halls and other meeting facilities at 50% or a maximum of 150 persons, whichever is lower. Buffets are prohibited, and no more than six people can be seated at a table.
Hookah, vape and cigar establishments can open for retail sales only and must prohibit smoking on site. There can be a maximum of one person per 100 square feet of sales space, and businesses cannot exceed 50% capacity. Employees must wear personal protective equipment, and physical distancing must be practiced.
Similar to other personal services, tanning salons can be by appointment only. One customer per 200 square feet of service area is allowed for up to a maximum of 50% capacity.
Public and private pools can open up to 50% capacity. Individuals must practice physical distancing and wear face coverings when not in the pool.
Medium-risk youth sports such as soccer, baseball and lacrosse can resume in small groups, which means no more than nine team members and one coach. A maximum of 100 persons is allowed in any given space.
A full list of medium risk sports can be found on the Maryland’s Sports Commission website.
Some guidelines under the phase two executive order also have been amended. Parents no longer can enter childcare facilities for drop-off or pick-up. Face coverings are required for everyone in any public indoor setting who is over the age of 5, which was previously mandated for anyone over the age of 9. For children ages 2 to 4, adults are asked to encourage those children to wear face coverings.
Guidelines for large gatherings such as festivals and parties remain the same, which limit one person or household per 200 square feet or a maximum of 50 people, whichever is lower. This week, Montgomery County announced it would allow venues to have live outdoor performances of 50 people or fewer.