Three schools in Prince George’s County, a county in southwest Maryland that borders Washington, D.C., shut down Wednesday due to Covid-19 surges.
The decision covers Benjamin Tasker Middle School, EXCEL Public Charter School and Kettering Middle School and entails the schools’ resuming virtual instruction until January 3.
“I am alarmed by the rising numbers across our schools: A two-day total last week consisted of fewer than 100 cases. This week, we saw a high of 155 cases reported in a single day,” Monica Goldson, CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools, wrote in a letter to parents Wednesday. It is unknown what variants of COVID were detected.
The spike in cases has had a major disruptive effect on learning and school operations, Goldson said, “leading to entire grades in quarantine and some school buildings to close.” She advocated students’ getting vaccinated to protect against the virus.
The closures largely coincide with the holiday break for the school district, which will still run Covid vaccination clinics at the schools while children are home.
Ahead of the likely proliferation of the Omicron variant of the disease across the country — given that scientists say it’s the most transmissible yet, although possibly less virulent and severe — some universities are preemptively adding the booster shot to their vaccine mandates.
For school-reopening advocates, the fight to restore in-person teaching had nearly been won, with widely available vaccines and mitigation measures in place. It remains to be seen whether the rise of Omicron will compel more schools to close again.