Just one day after telling parents that schools would remain open, the Christina School District has decided to switch 11 schools, including all three high schools, to virtual learning because of the spike in COVID-19 cases.
Christiana High School & Middle School Honors Academy, Glasgow High School, Newark High School, Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, Kirk Middle School, Shue-Medill Middle School, The Bancroft School, The Bayard School, Sarah Pyle Academy, along with the Networks and Reach programs will be virtual starting Tuesday, the district announced Monday evening.
All other schools will be open as normal.
On Jan. 4, Christina announced that Christiana High School & Middle School Honors Academy, Glasgow High School, Newark High School, Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, Networks, Sarah Pyle Academy and The Bancroft School grades 6-8 would remain virtual for the rest of the week, with all other schools reopening to in-person learning on Wednesday.
Christina said the change was due to concerns about COVID-19-related staffing shortages.
Schools have not been in session since Dec. 22 due to winter break and a snow day.
The announcement came just one day after the Christina School District reassured parents that schools were safe for students and that there were no planned changes to in-person learning.
"Because of the structured and controlled environment our schools provide, DPH [Division of Public Health] has stated that schools are one of the safest places for our students," the statement, released on Sunday, reads.
The statement also said that a response to the surge would be done on a school-by-school basis.
The United States topped more than 580,000 daily cases on Thursday, part of a holiday spike leading to more than 4 million COVID-19 cases from Dec. 20 to Jan. 2.
Delaware Gov. John Carney declared a state of emergency in Delaware because of the holiday surge.
Christina said in-school spread of COVID-19 is low, and schools are safe with proper mitigation strategies in place, such as masking, testing and staying home when symptoms occur.
“The spread that people note has by and large been traced to exposures that occurred outside of school when mitigation strategies were not in place,” the district said. “We have also been fortunate that the majority of those vaccinated and infected recently have had mild to moderate symptoms, resembling a cold, or no symptoms at all.”
According to data provided by state, 37 Christina students contracted COVID-19 between Dec. 18 and Dec. 24. That data includes all students who have tested positive, regardless of where they were exposed.
Since September, only 355 Christina students have tested positive for COVID-19, approximately 2.6 percent of the district's 13,555 students.
People who are unvaccinated have five times the risk of testing positive for COVID-19, and 14 times the risk of dying from the disease, according to the CDC.
Christina has taken several measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms, such as organizing vaccination events for students and implementing optional regular testing. The district has equipped classrooms with sterionizers, which use energized particles to kill viruses. The district also purchased UV robots with help from a donation from the Friends of Christina School District, to sterilize classrooms.
Christina currently offers weekly in-school rapid testing for students. Parents or students interested in receiving testing from Christina can visit christinak12.org/Page/4937 for more information.
Meanwhile, Las Américas ASPIRA Academy announced that the school will move to remote learning until Jan. 18 in response to the spike in COVID-19 cases from the holidays.
ASPIRA will be closed on Jan. 4 and 5 to prepare for remote learning, and the school is adding two asynchronous days to its calendar, Jan. 14 and Feb. 7, that will be used for independent work to make up for the closure. ASPIRA will continue to offer on-site COVID-19 testing during the remote learning period.
"We have been monitoring the situation throughout the winter break and we remained optimistic about returning to in-person learning until yesterday," CEO Margie López Waite wrote in a letter to parents Monday. "It has now become apparent that we must transition to remote learning to allow time for the spike in COVID-19 cases to run its course and keep everyone safe in the interim."