FCPS prepares for return to school

Students to return to school by March as FCPS staff is able to be vaccinated for Covid-19

AHS staff power wash the front of AHS in preparation for the return of students. Students are set to return to in-person instruction on March 2 and March 9. This comes as thousands of FCPS staff are being vaccinated for Covid-19.

AHS staff power wash the front of AHS in preparation for the return of students. Students are set to return to in-person instruction on March 2 and March 9. This comes as thousands of FCPS staff are being vaccinated for Covid-19.

FCPS is continuing their push to bring students back. In the newest timeline, freshmen and seniors will be returning on March 2 and sophomores and juniors on March 9.

This timeline is possible because of inoculations. All FCPS employees are now able to set up appointments to get one of the two approved vaccines, the Moderna vaccine or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Inova, partnered with the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD), have been administering vaccines to FCPS staff since Jan. 10. The main vaccine staff are getting is the Pfizer vaccine.

The vaccine requires two doses and is completely free to staff.

English teacher Sasha Duran received the Pfizer vaccine within the first week it was available.

“The shot itself was like getting any other kind of immunization. Little needle, little pinch, over in an instant. The cool thing about going to get the shot was actually how well the logistics were set up,” Duran said. “There are signs everywhere on the INOVA complex directing people where to park, how to get to the building, where to walk. Then there are greeters everywhere; first to check your ID and appointment confirmation, then to sanitize hands and check temperatures, then to check consent forms, then to be directed to a nurse’s station, then finally to the waiting area where they tell you how to sign up for dose two. Everyone was super friendly and upbeat (they were blasting dance music at 8 a.m. when I went!) and happy to help vaccinate teachers. It was all around a great experience.”

Duran went to the INOVA Center for Personalized Health in Fairfax. Staff can sign up for appointments via the Inova 1b registration link.

Even with vaccinations, there is still a lot of frustration and anxiety with returning to school. Some parents feel that we should be back in school already since sports are still going on, while some students think FCPS is not ready to return.

FCPS sent out an in-person instruction, health and safety FAQ for students, staff, and parents.
The FAQ outlines the procedure for disinfecting shared materials, teacher-student interactions, student collaboration, and outdoor learning.

Library books will need to be isolated for seven days after use and not disinfected so the books are not damaged. Students and staff are required to remain six feet apart and wear masks at all times. Any shared materials like sport equipment and science tools will need to be disinfected before another student is allowed to use it.

“At first I was eager to go back to school, but after I learned it would be basically the same as virtual learning, I’d rather stay home,” junior Nathan Ong said. “I feel like we were promised virtual learning would be the same as in-school learning, but to be honest it’s just not the same. I feel like it’s an effective method of teaching because you aren’t building the connections you would if you were face to face.”

If students return, they will split up into two groups. Group one will attend in-person learning Tuesdays and Wednesdays and online learning Thursdays and Fridays. Group two will attend in-person learning Thursdays and Fridays and online learning Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

“I don’t feel we’re quite ready to go back because cases are on the rise and the vaccine hasn’t been distributed to everyone,” junior Zack Pacack said. “Although it is more difficult to learn, I’m not frustrated with distance learning as it is helping keep us safe. I also like having the ability to do more work at our own pace.”

In accordance with Virginia health and safety protocols, all unnecessary furniture and broken furniture has been removed and replaced. This will provide more room for students and staff to social distance.

Before students return to AHS, parents/caregivers will be asked to complete a health screening commitment form.
This form confirms that a parent/caregiver/guardian will complete a daily health screening and will keep their children home when they are ill.

“I don’t think it is safe for us to return to school yet since there have been a lot of cases coming in and England has gone into lockdown,” senior Nalin Rawat said. “Virtual learning hasn’t been the best, but it hasn’t been the worst for me. Of course in-person would be better, but for now virtual learning is going fine for me.”