LOWER MERION TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) — The Montgomery County Board of Health has voted to move schools to all virtual learning for two weeks, despite vehement opposition by many parents and school administrators. The board of health voted unanimously on Friday to require schools to go virtual starting on Nov. 23 until Dec. 6.
This includes the cancellation of all activities, including after school. Sports and extracurricular activities would also be suspended.
The board of health says the motion is intended its protect students and staff from further spread of COVID-19 given rising rates throughout the county.
The board will meet again on Dec. 2 to consider if that needs to be extended.
There are a lot of parents in Montgomery County upset about the idea of switching to all virtual learning for two weeks. They voiced that concern Thursday in a two-hour Zoom meeting with the county board of health.
A marathon meeting — at times heated — played out over a packed Zoom call Thursday.
“It’s a massive failure, and even the fact that you’re suggesting it three months after you just did it, we’re back in the same spot. It kinda speaks volumes, doesn’t it? It don’t work people, move on. Find a different strategy,” one parent said.
“I can guarantee you that my son and his future will suffer if you do this,” a mother said.
Parents plead with county health officials to avoid going all virtual.
Health officials cite rising COVID-19 cases and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday as an opportunity for community spread.
“This order is a tool for mitigation based on what we are seeing in the data, based on an increase in numbers,” Michelle Masters with the Montgomery County Board of Health said.
Instead, dozens of parents and school administrators urged county officials to let schools decide what’s best for their students.
“By virtue of the angst that you hear in the voices of these parents, it should tell us all that we must do everything we can to keep these schools open,” catholic school principal Denise Judge said.
Still, board of health members erred on the side of recommendations from researchers with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Department of Health in making their decision.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia says archdiocesan schools will comply with the directive put in place in Montgomery County. All of their 22 elementary schools, three high schools, three special education schools will comply with the order.
A group of parents advocating for in-person learning will be holding a protest at 1 p.m. Saturday.
CBS3’s Jan Carabeo and Natasha Brown contributed to this report.
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