Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityFairfax County schools 'pause' return to in-person learning due to COVID surge | WJLA
Close Alert

Fairfax County schools 'pause' return to in-person learning due to COVID surge

Facebook Share IconTwitter Share IconEmail Share Icon
Comment bubble

Fairfax County will no longer be sending more students back to classrooms on Tuesday.

"The current health metrics for COVID-19 cases in our community now exceed the threshold to expand our in-person learning," Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in a statement. "Therefore, we are pressing 'pause' and will delay expanding in-person instruction to Group 5, which includes Early Head Start, pre-K, kindergarten and select students who receive special education services, who were scheduled to return on Tuesday, November 17."

This comes on the heels of a press conference held by five Northern Virginia teacher unions Monday morning, which represent more than 12,000 teachers, that asked Governor Ralph Northam to recommend a Commonwealth-wide return to virtual learning.

RELATED: On 1st day of re-tightened COVID restrictions, Virginia reports record number of new cases

“We must stand united to push back against this rapid increase in the virus,” said Fairfax Education Association President Kimberly Adams. “It is unacceptable for our districts to continue to disregard science and medical experts.”

For months, the teacher unions voiced concerns about plans to return to in-person learning.

The Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun, Manassas Park, and Prince William Education Associations all sent Governor Northam and local leaders letters making their case.

One man, who held a sign that said “Open Schools Now” heckled the union presidents by shouting, “So many kids being left behind because teachers are refusing to do their jobs! Shameful! Ridiculous!”

The man said he was with his daughter because he wanted to teach her to “stand up to this ridiculous mess.”

In-person, he may have been a lone protestor, but thousands of other parents also disagree with the unions’ stance on teaching during the pandemic.

OpenFCPS2020 is a non-partisan, grassroots organization made up of more than 1,600 parents who want students learning in school now.

They told ABC7 in part “The single biggest mistake made during this pandemic—the one that will have the greatest, most far-reaching negative impact for decades to come—was the political decision that was made to shutter schools for hundreds of thousands of students, with no commitment or realistic plan to ever reopen them. The teachers’ unions representing a small fraction of teachers in Fairfax County, remain the only entity who does not understand, or chooses to ignore, this reality.”

7 On Your Side asked the union presidents what metrics would make them feel comfortable returning to the classroom.

“Nationally we have seen most school districts look at a 5% positivity rate as a number to start pulling students back and some have even used a lower threshold, closer to 4%,” said FEA President Kimberly Adams.

Governor Northam reinstated restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19, such as a ban on gatherings of more than 25 people.

Schools are exempt from the rule.

“Our teachers and staff also deserve division leadership that is willing to report to the building and attend board meetings in person as they ask us to return to work in school buildings,” said Maggie Hansford, President of the Prince William County Education Association. “We deserve transparent leadership with clear metrics to determine how we safely proceed this school year.”

Comment bubble

Northam released the following statement to ABC7 News in reaction to the pause to in-person learning.

Our educators are literally heroes, and have gone above and beyond in serving Virginia's students during this crisis. As I have said since the beginning of this pandemic, we have enormous diversity of school districts within our Commonwealth—a one-size-fits-all solution simply does not make sense. I've worked closely with the Virginia Department of Health to ensure school districts have the most up-to-date health data for their communities, and I trust they will continue to make the best decisions for the health and safety of their students, teachers, and staff.
Loading ...