Virginia's largest school district reverses on reopening to in-person classes

Scott Braband, superintendent for Fairfax Public Schools, has recommended that Virginia's largest school district start the school year with virtual classes, as school districts around the country feel mounting pressure from the Trump administration to return to in-person instruction in the fall.

Braband's recommendations came Tuesday afternoon as district's school board convened to discuss how to approach the new school year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic looks much different than it did even three weeks ago,” Brabrand said, according to The Washington Post. “Now we are experiencing a surge of COVID-19 across the country, and it will impact us here in Fairfax County. The numbers do not lie.”


The new recommendations are a change of heart for Braband who had initially planned on having students in the classroom at least twice a week while using virtual learning the rest of the time. This kind of hybrid system has been floated by schools districts across the country, but has drawn pushback from Education Secretary Betsy DeVosBetsy DeVosErik Prince involved in push for experimental COVID-19 vaccine: report Biden administration reverses Trump-era policy that hampered probes of student loan companies DeVos ordered to testify in student loan forgiveness lawsuit MORE, who has said that such proposals were unacceptable and that school districts should have in-person instruction full-time.
President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short MORE and his administration have taken a hardline stance on the issue, with Trump recently threatening to withhold funding from school districts that don't commit to in-person learning this fall. Trump has also knocked guidance for schools released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying that the suggested measures were too costly and extreme.
Loudoun County Superintendent Eric Williams was slated to make similar recommendations for his Northern Virginia district Tuesday afternoon, according to the Post.
Also on Tuesday, Montgomery County Public Schools announced that it would be exclusively using virtual learning for the first semester.
Almost every major school district in the Washington, D.C., area has shirked the pressure from the White House and announced virtual-only teaching for the beginning of the school year. Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) was expected to announce the District's plans for the school year last week, but postponed making a final decision until the end of the month, citing “not ideal" trends in the D.C.'s COVID-19 data.