LOWER MERION TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Starting Monday, all private and public schools in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania have been ordered to go virtual to help curb the spread of COVID-19. The order stays in effect through December 6.
For the last two weeks, concerned parents and students have protested as they fight against the order from county health officials.
"The greatest concern is they're shutting us down without data showing we need to shut down," said John Niehls, headmaster at Coventry Christian Schools. "So we're very concerned this could very easily turn into January February or even later."
In Montgomery County, the hospitalization numbers increased 850% from mid-September. In a letter explaining the reason for the order, Montgomery County officials said the purpose for the two-week online period is to reduce the spread during peak contagion as families celebrate Thanksgiving. They said it's necessary to protect residents.
"I think you have to make that decision based on the numbers. So I think you have to take the public into consideration and think of what's good for the greater picture instead of what you personally feel is good for you," said Jing Chien of Ardmore. "So for us, it's easy to accept their decision."
Impacted students tell Action News that they want to return to in-person schooling.
"That's a lot of relationships that I've built up with younger students that I've been able to mentor that you don't get when you're on virtual," said 12th grader Jacob Shirley of Coventry Christian Schools.
Parents said it doesn't make sense to single out schools but allow bars and restaurants to stay open. They say they're fighting for the choice to stay in person.
"As a parent, my own child, I've seen her go from straight As down to barely struggling to pass her classes at this point due to the virtual learning," said Jaret Gale of Schwenksville. "It's just very, very difficult for her to do so."
Niehls and a group of parents filed a motion in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for injunctive relief and a temporary restraining order to prevent county officials from implementing the order. A judge has not ruled on the case.