Apr 5, 2022 - COVID

Where Washington schools stand with COVID

Illustration of a covid mask fading left to right.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

After a month of masks being optional in northern Virginia and some Maryland schools, COVID case counts have remained low.

Why it matters: School mask mandate repeals, specifically in Virginia, were met with heavy opposition.

  • American Public Health Association executive director Georges Benjamin says low transmission and high vaccination rates in our area have kept COVID case counts low in schools.

By the numbers: Some districts reported a decrease in cases among students and staff from February to March, when the masks came off.

Fairfax: It saw an over 50% decrease in student and staff cases from February, down to 732 in March

Alexandria City: Cases among students, staff, parents. and community partner programs located in district buildings declined by 41% from February to March.  

Loudoun: The district tells Axios it doesn’t break out weekly or monthly data and wouldn’t say whether COVID cases had increased or decreased since masks were made optional on February 22.

Montgomery: The district saw an increase in at least one COVID trend since masks became optional. The number of students quarantined from February to March increased from 2,300 to 3,800. But that’s still way down from 15,000 in January. 

  • It reported 20 cases on April 3.
  • It doesn’t publicly report cases on a monthly or weekly basis. 

D.C.: The district relaxed mask rules about two weeks after its suburban counterparts and reported 52 cases during the month of March.

Zoom out: Children’s National Hospital says it has not seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in its emergency room, although it has seen a higher volume of patients in the past week for a variety of ailments. 

  • The D.C. Hospital Association also says its member hospitals have seen their COVID-19 hospitalization numbers decreasing steadily overall. 

Yes, but: There are teachers and students who are opting to wear masks, which may be part of the reason why school COVID case counts have stayed low.

  • An Arlington Public Schools spokesperson says the district is seeing a “good number” of students and staff still wearing masks.
  • The district says it's not comparing cases month-to-month, but reported 73 cases over the last seven days. 

What we’re watching: Most local school districts have yet to go on spring break, with the exception of Fairfax County, which is off this week.


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