Montco health officials to vote on whether schools should go all virtual

By KYW Newsradio 1060

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) —The Montgomery County Office of Public Health has a vote scheduled for Thursday that could have an impact on in-person schooling across the county.

Only one item is on the agenda: At the meeting, the Office of Public Health will consider ordering schools to go to 100% virtual instruction for a two-week period beginning on Nov. 23. The order, if approved, would affect both public and private schools.

The vote comes just days after the School District of Philadelphia announced classes would remain virtual until further notice because of steep increases in COVID-19 infections.

The pending vote comes not long after Bucks County officials pointed out that, while students and teachers have been infected outside of schools, they’ve had no documented spread in schools. They believe in-school instruction with strict mitigation efforts — desks spaced out and mandatory mask-wearing — were safer than virtual classes, where children weren’t held to any rules.

Chester County Health Department, which also covers Delaware County, says they also have no plans to shift to all-virtual classes.

But the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Policy Lab, which has been a driving force in public policy, takes the position that, while schools are operating safely, there is “an upper threshold to safe school operation.”

CHOP said it is seeing positivity rates tick toward 9%, which health officials say shows the potential for “widespread and uncontrolled community transmission.” They say the rise validates their recommendation for schools to transition back to all-virtual learning “to allow the height of this wave to pass.”

The Montgomery County Office of Public Health meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. More information is available on montcopa.org.