NORRISTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The Montgomery County Board of Health voted 5-0 on Friday to order schools to go all-virtual for two weeks to curb the spread of COVID-19. The unanimous vote came despite a backlash from parents.
The order closes public and private school buildings in Montgomery County for two weeks, starting Nov. 23.
The 5-0 vote came after an outcry from parents who implored the board during a three-hour meeting Thursday to keep schools open.
Board members Friday said they heard and appreciated the concerns of parents who pleaded with the board not to force schools to go virtual over the Thanksgiving holiday. But board member Steven Katz said the skyrocketing number of COVID-19 cases in the county made the decision unavoidable.
“I think if we try and keep the schools open and push through this thing that it will be far more disastrous,” Katz said.
Board chair Michael Laign said after hearing about the rapid spread of COVID-19, the move was necessary.
“I am convinced after thinking more about this that this is definitely the right thing to do for the communities and the people of Montgomery County,” Laign said.
COVID-19 cases in the county have more than doubled over the last two weeks, and board member Barbara Wadsworth, the chief nursing officer at Main Line Health, noted that with private gatherings a major driver in spreading the virus, closing school buildings was imperative.
“If we don't do this then we will be in a significantly worse situation post-Thanksgiving holiday,” she said. “I think the one thing we don't know is the asymptomatic children who will spread the virus and you know there's things we don't know about this virus still.”
Laign said he hoped that two weeks would be enough to flatten the curve.
“All of us want our kids in Montgomery County back in school or virtual or whatever the program that exists, you know, on Dec. 7,” Laign said.