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Loudoun County takes next step in bringing more kids back to classroom during COVID-19 pandemic

The LCPS School Board voted 9-0 to allow 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders to move to hybrid learning Dec 1.

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. — On Tuesday, the Loudoun County School Board decided third through fifth graders can return to the classroom on December 1. The earliest middle and high schoolers would head back is late January.

The latest news comes after near-weekly reports from the school district on how the virus has spread, as educators balance social distancing and a call for more in-person learning from parents. 

Loudoun County Public School reported Monday that five staff members tested positive for COVID-19 and are self-quarantining.

Even though cases have impacted staff and students in the school district, the projected hybrid in-person learning comes as a risk. 

Across the county, the 14-day number of new cases per 100,000 has been on the rise, now reaching "high-risk" levels at 154.6 according to health department metrics. State and national coronavirus case numbers are also on the rise, which has prompted concerns among communities about how to move forward as a school district. Virginia is on pace to see its 200,000th case of the coronavirus by the end of the week, and has averaged more than 1,000 for 20 days in a row. It remains in the top 20 states with the most cases, according to data tracked by The New York Times.

Kindergarten through second-grade students returned to Loudoun County classrooms on Oct. 27. 

Parents and students gave the Loudoun County School Board an earful in early October about the lack of in-person learning, and how students were being impacted by the challenges faced in digital learning. The overwhelming majority of speakers asked for students to head back to class full-time.

Several school board members have expressed concerns that the plan just isn't fast enough.

"We're going to have to rip off this Band-Aid at some point," LCPS Board Member Ian Serotkin said. "It's not going to get any easier in January or March. Let's not continue to kick this can down the road."

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