School Board Implements Additional Metrics for Return to Hybrid


Calvin Mellor

The slide used at the School Board meeting showing the matrix for in-person learning.

The county school board voted 7-2 Tuesday night to implement a third metric to be considered in the decision making process for returning to hybrid learning. This new measurement incorporates COVID-19 case data on an individual school basis, taking into consideration transmission between students and staff within each school. 

Until the county’s COVID-19 statistics fall below the CDC’s threshold for “highest risk,” students and staff will remain in distance learning; no fixed date has been determined for a return to hybrid.

This new metric is to be considered along with the two already implemented, namely cases per 100,000 people, and percent positivity rate. In order to return to hybrid implementation, the 14 day moving average statistics for the county must fall below 200 new cases per 100,000 and a 10% positivity rate for COVID-19 tests administered, for at least five consecutive days.

Under the new guidelines, if a school experiences fewer than three linked COVID-19 cases within a class, all students would remain in hybrid learning. However, if three or more linked cases within a given class arose, that class would return temporarily to distance learning for a 14 day period. Similarly, if three such transmission events happened within a school in one 14 day period, the entirety of that individual school would temporarily return to distance learning.

The metric also takes into account localized differing rates of community spread as well, triggering a return to distance for an entire cluster of elementary, middle, and high schools if the cluster experiences three or more individual school closures. 

This guidance is to be incorporated along with a new risk matrix for guiding the decision to return to hybrid learning. The risk matrix, pictured above, incorporates both a school’s performance implementing and adhering to safety protocols such as temperature screening, daily health forms to be filled out by students, etc.; as well as the county-level metrics.

Board Representatives Sheridan (Sterling District), Reaser (Algonkian District), Corbo (At-Large), Mahedavi (Ashburn District), Beatty (Catoctin District), King (Broad Run District), and Barts (Leesburg District) voted in favor of the new metrics.

Representatives Morse (Dulles District) and Serotkin (Blue Ridge District) opposed the measure, with the former advocating instead for an immediate return to hybrid for all students K-12th grade, and the latter proposing an immediate return for K-2nd grade.

The board was also set to vote on two proposals which would allow transgender students to more easily request to be called by a preferred name and pronouns, but due to time constraints opted to instead consider the proposals after their work session this Thursday evening.