School leaders stand by online learning as COVID-19 cases rise in Montgomery County

The county had the highest amount of new COVID-19 cases in the state Monday

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. – On Monday, Montgomery County reported 92 cases of COVID-19, which is the highest amount of new cases reported in the state for the day.

As cases continue to rise, school division leaders are standing by their decision to transition to online learning. The county now has more COVID-19 cases than the entire city of Roanoke.

While some parents are upset by the decision to transition to online learning, school division leaders said it is the safest option for everyone.

“We want kids in school because we know that’s the best way to educate, but of course this is a public health issue,” said Montgomery County School Board Chair Gunin Kiran.

Students in grades 4-12 will be learning online from home, while students in grades PK-3 will remain on an in-person schedule.

Roughly 45% of cases in the New River Health District are in people ages 20 to 29, which officials say is likely due to the return of students at Virginia Tech and Radford University.

Kiran said the division had been working closely with the New River Health District director Noelle Bissell to make the call.

“Even though Dr. Bissell still thought we’d probably be okay with a 50% plan, but out of an abundance of caution because she said the numbers are increasing and there is going to be a peak coming up in the next 10 days, we should probably consider scaling back,” said Kiran.

10 News spoke with superintendent Mark Miear shortly after the decision was made. He stands by the call and said the reopening plan was made for obstacles like this.

“We have a very flexible and fluid plan that was put into place with several levels to it based on the conditions,” said Miear.

At the end of the day, school division leaders said they want students in school as long as it can be done safely.

“As conditions change, we’ll continue to do what needs to be done to keep everyone safe,” said Miear.

Students can start to return to in-person learning on September 28.

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