The return to in-person learning approaches

As the start of the second semester of the virtual school year begins, FCPS has decided to continue with the plan to return to in-person learning, starting as early as Feb. 16. Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand wrote in the FCPS newsletter on Feb. 3, describing the return to School plan. 

“Based on the latest guidelines from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), FCPS will begin bringing back our youngest learners, students with disabilities, and English learners first,” Brabrand said. “Under the updated plan, all students will have the opportunity to return to school buildings for at least two days a week by March 16.”

Students at AHS in grades 9 and 12 are set to return to the building on March 2 while students in grades 10 and 11 will return on March 9. 

Senior Madison Cruz plans on returning into the building for in-person learning. 

“I am looking forward to being in the school building and meeting with my teachers in a classroom environment,” Cruz said. 

Although families in FCPS have the opportunity to send their students back into the buildings, there is also the option to remain learning virtual. 

At the start of the virtual school year, students were asked to fill out a Google Form, choosing whether they would like to remain virtual or go back in person. 

Freshman Kiera Dalrymple started her first year at AHS amidst this global pandemic, and she decided to opt in for in-person learning. However, she still has her concerns.

“I am nervous that it will be difficult to learn when half the students are in school and half are not,” Dalrymple said.

While the Google Form has already been filled out, students still have the chance to make any changes to their decision, whether it were to be switching to the in-person hybrid option or remaining virtual. 

The forms were sent out so that AHS faculty could gauge how many students they were expected to have back in the building in order to formulate the most efficient and safest ways to bring students back into the building. 

Some students are still a little nervous about returning to the building due to Covid-19. 

“I am most nervous about the overall risk factor being in a building all day, especially with lunch,” Cruz said. 

To ensure maximum safety for all students returning to the building for in-person learning, classrooms have been cleaned out and prepared for students’ return. The desks are spaced out individually and the compartments underneath the surface have been removed. 

Plexiglass has been installed at teachers’ desks to minimize their exposure if they choose to return in person and monitors have been hired to watch classes while some teachers continue to teach their in-person students while they remain virtual.

The return to school also seems more safe considering many will be or have already been vaccinated.

“We continue to work with the Fairfax County Health Department and Inova Health System to offer COVID-19 vaccine to staff,” Brabrand said in his newsletter. “To date, 90% of FCPS staff have signed up or scheduled appointments to receive the first dose of the vaccine.”