Students in Prince William County will be learning from home for just a while longer.

Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) just announced plans for continuing online instruction through the first quarter of the upcoming academic year. Virtual classrooms will be used across the county from September 8 to October 30 as the school system works toward a 50 percent hybrid model for the second quarter. In-person instruction will be considered for students with special needs on a case-by-case basis.

Prior to the school board vote to adopt the online model, feedback was gathered from approximately 17,000 parents, teachers, staff, and administrators through an online survey. The biggest concern for parents when considering a return to school was their children's physical health and safety. On the flip side, their children's social-emotional needs were the number one concern about continuing online learning. You can see the full summary of the parent responses here

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The entire nation is currently struggling with how to reopen schools safely in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining proper social distancing guidelines on buses and in classrooms remains one of the biggest challenges for schools around the country. Enforcing mandatory face coverings will be difficult for educators and bus drivers as well. Some school systems, like neighboring Fairfax County, are adopting hybrid models with a combination of virtual and in-person teaching for the upcoming school year.

For more information about the online learning for the fall semester, see the Prince William County Schools announcement about the Return to Learn Plan. You can also keep on top of the latest updates on the PWCS Facebook page.

What do you think about this decision to keep Prince William County students home for the fall semester? Is this a smart move, or do you think the schools are ready for a return to campus? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!