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This page offers all of Delaware Public Media's ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it is affecting the First State. Check here regularly for the latest new and information.

Gov. Carney leaning toward mix of in-person and online learning this fall

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Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
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Gov. John Carney says the state is leaning towards reopening schools with a hybrid between in-person and online learning. But a final decision won’t be made until next week. 

Working groups outlined plans for three modalities—an in-person return to school, a complete online curriculum or some combination of the two.

And Delaware is using the average number of daily COVID-19 hospitalizations, the number of new positive cases and the percentage of people testing positive for the virus as the three main data points driving the decision of which option to choose in the fall. 

Carney notes the current hospitalization rate indicates minimal spread of the virus while the other two data points show moderate spread.

“We believe, at least, the conditions on the ground today are adequate to open schools in a mixed, hybrid kind of fashion,” said Carney.    

Carney adds the choice to continue to wait before announcing a final decision on the matter is meant to provide more recent data before the start of the school year.

“It’s a balance, right,” he said. “You need to give schools the time to work out the logistics so they know where they’re going to be, and you want to make the health data as current as possible.”

State Medical Director Dr. Rick Hong says the Division of Public Health is already directing school administrators on how to prepare for confirmed COVID-19 cases among students and faculty. 

“We all should approach this as if we are going to get a positive case in schools,” said Hong. “I think given the situation right now, for us to assume that no school will have any cases is not necessarily a realistic approach. We want to make sure we are planning appropriately and our response is effective as well too.”    

Hong adds there’s an ongoing effort to bolster existing infectious disease protocols within schools—including contact tracing and decisions over when to quarantine students.

Delaware’s statewide teachers union has voiced its support for a virtual start to the school year, citing concerns around the amount of time for administrators to prepare for in-person learning. Several districts in Delaware have already chosen to delay the start of the school year and Delaware’s largest high school, William Penn, recently announced it will start the school year online.

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