FCPS has continued to revise and create new phase-in plans, but the number of covid cases continues to work against them. The school board meets every Thursday and they push the dates for students to return almost every Thursday.
FCPS drafted a new phase-in plan on Dec. 10. In this model, students will be brought back throughout January and early February. All students will start virtually for the first week after winter break.
This push to bring students back comes amidst record highs in reported covid cases throughout the county. Many parents and students feel uncertain about returning to schools.
“I do not want to go through with reopening schools. Having to go to class while wearing a mask all day would be insufferable. It is safer for everyone to just stay home,” junior Matthew Kim said.
Around 15,000 students will be returning Jan. 12. This group includes select specialized career prep classes, pre-k, kindergarten, CAT B, ESOL, and more.
Around 93,000 students will be returning from Jan. 19 to Feb. 2. This includes elementary, middle, and highschool students.
Good Morning America did a three minute segment on AHS and how students are being affected in virtual learning on Dec. 4. Senior Tahfrin Khan, junior Tooba Khan, and history teacher Katherine Bishop were all interviewed during the segment.
GMA reports that many AHS students do not have their own space to work and learn which can cause an increase in failing grades.
FCPS is pushing for students to return to meet growing academic, emotional, and social needs from students.
FCPS released a study that showed an 83% increase of high school and middle school students with an F in two or more classes, from 6% last year to 11% this year.
“I think it is important to also recognize that this is the first quarter of the school year,” AHS principal Shawn DeRose said. “I am confident that as disappointing and troubling those numbers are, now that we have that information schools and teachers will make adjustments and things will improve moving forward.”
“I understand that FCPS is in a rush to get back to normal, but I do not think it is a safe idea,” junior Isabel Dalsimer said. “We already can see that there’s been an increased number of cases and I feel like putting a bunch of teenagers in an enclosed space will not help those cases go down, especially since there is always going to be kids who think it is funny to take their mask off and endanger everyone else.”
FCPS is also bringing back sports. In accordance with VHSL, the first official practice of the winter season will be on Dec. 14. All athletes are required to wear masks and social distance at all times.
To ensure that health and safety protocols are being followed, FCPS has safety teams making spot inspections at schools around the county. To find more information on safety protocols, visit fcps.edu.
“I do not feel the best about them pushing forward as cases continue to rise,” junior Zack Pacak said. “However, I am happy that winter sports and the seniors in those sports will have a season.”
Everything in the new phase-in model will be subject to change at any moment. If health metrics rise to unsafe levels, FCPS will likely push dates until it is safe.
For students to return and stay in in-person instruction, everyone needs to wear a mask and follow CDC health and safety guidelines.
“Only time will tell how much cases will spike this winter. I am very wary about the return to school date in January, because I think cases will be even higher than they are now. If schools were open and everything else was closed, like in some countries, it would be different. Officials who push for schools to open tend to rush for everything to open, which just isn’t safe right now,” junior Eleanor Lauderdale said.