CENTREVILLE — Queen Anne’s County Public Schools announced Monday afternoon, Nov. 16, the school system moved back to all-virtual learning effective Wednesday, Nov. 18, due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the county.
Schools have only been open to specific small groups, such as students for whom English is a second language, students with special needs, those without reliable internet access and career and technology students.
Those groups will all return to virtual, or online, classes, said Jeff Straight, schools spokesman.
“We have collaborated with our local health officials and based on the metrics, all schools will move to virtual learning effective, Nov. 18,” the school system said in a news release. “Queen Anne’s County’s 7-day positivity rate has risen by 2.1% since Friday and the 7-day case rate has risen as well.”
Students who have trouble connecting to the internet for online classes may access wifi from the parking lot of most county schools, Straight said.
All school-sponsored sports events will be suspended beginning Wednesday, Nov. 18, as well.
As of Monday, Queen Anne’s County reported 981 positives and 23 deaths from COVID-19, including one on Friday, according to Beth Malasky, public information officer. Two local residents are hospitalized.
The number of cases rose dramatically in the past week with 33 new cases reported on Thursday, 24 on Friday, eight on Saturday, 11 on Sunday and 10 on Monday, Malasky said.
According to Queen Anne’s County Health Department numbers, the county is showing a 7-day positivity rate of 8.278% with 20.13 cases per 100,000 residents. Those numbers are higher than the ones shown on the state website, which tends to run about a week behind, Malasky said.
Both those numbers exceed the state guidelines for in-person learning — an under 5% positivity rate and no more than 15 cases per 100,000 people.
Even using the older state numbers, the Maryland State Department of Education website lists the county metrics above the guidelines, showing a positivity rate of 7.01% and 19 cases per 100,000.
The rise in local COVID-19 cases has not been traced to a single location or event and seems to be from community spread with the biggest culprit being family or community gatherings, as targeted by Gov. Larry Hogan last week, Malasky said.
The community is reminded to wear masks, wash hands frequently with soap and water and maintain social distancing as much as possible.