What's behind Fairfax County Public Schools decision to pause in-person learning?

In northern Virginia, FOX 5 is learning more about what went into the decision to stop a plan to bring more students back into the classroom in Fairfax County.

Many families thought their children would be returning to school today.

That was before Fairfax County Public Schools abruptly decided to stop phasing in more students due to new coronavirus case numbers.

READ MORE: Fairfax County delaying in-person learning for select students

Fairfax County Public Schools says there are two important health metrics used to make their decision to pause additional in-person learning.

FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand and school board members held a virtual meeting Tuesday afternoon where they discussed auditing schools, health metrics and communicating with families.

Lorton resident Hank Malanowski says his 5-year-old son and daughter –– twins –– were looking forward to returning to school today.

They’re both in kindergarten and Malanowski feels their socialization skills are being impacted by virtual learning — and ultimately, he feels they need to interact with other children albeit safely.

READ MORE: New Virginia COVID-19 measures in place; Fairfax County moves forward with plan to increase in-person learning 

FCPS says Early HeadStart, pre-K, kindergarten, and select students who receive special education services were scheduled to return today.

FCPS says the decision to pause was made as soon as new health metrics were released on Monday.

The district says it uses two core health indicators suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its decision-making. Both indicators must be met and sustained for seven consecutive days.

The first is the total number of COVID cases per 100,000 county residents over the last 14 days.

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For Fairfax County, that threshold is less than or equal to 200 people — over the past 14 days, Fairfax County is reportedly at 222.7 cases.

The second CDC core indicator is the percentage of positive COVID tests over seven consecutive days.

As of yesterday in Fairfax County, that number is currently at 7.4% — 5% is the preferred number but the threshold is less than or equal to 10-percent.

Even so, the district says it did not consult with the health department before deciding to halt additional in-person instruction.

EJ Carrion, founder and CEO of Student Success Agency, agrees with a New York Times opinion editorial article, saying that if bars and restaurants can remain open, so can schools.

FOX 5’s Tisha Lewis reports audits were conducted today at schools across Fairfax County to make sure temperatures are being taken, masks are being worn, social distancing is happening and proper COVID-19 mitigation measures are taking place.