FCPS brings students back

School board plans to bring the majority of students back in early March


Shawn DeRose

AHS staff will welcome students on March 2 as FCPS continues their push for in-person instrution. Covid-19 mitigation strategies have been put in place across the county to ensure the safety of students and staff.

Students and staff are finally able to return to the building. Freshman and seniors will be returning on March 2 and sophomores and juniors on March 9.
Roughly 50% of students will be returning while the other 50% stay completely virtual. Well above the majority of staff will be returning to the building as well.
For teachers who are staying virtual, AHS has hired 15 classroom monitors to support students.
“I’m not going back in person because I feel like the things that I love most about school is being able to socialize and work together with people and talk about ideas,” junior Isabel Dalsimer said. “It’s been made very clear that if you go back in person there’s going to be no socialization, no group work, and no hanging with your friends during lunch. I’d rather finish out the school year virtual so I don’t have to make this huge change in the way I’m learning right before the year is going to end”
With Covid-19 still wreaking havoc on the country, there will be many safety precautions taking place. The most basic of which is that students and staff will be required to wear a mask and stay six feet apart at all times.
AHS cleaning personnel will be sanitizing and disinfecting more frequently. Their cleaning protocol will include thoroughly disinfecting and sanitizing all surfaces, doors, toilets, and handles, and ensuring that all supplies are always fully stocked.
“I’m a little worried about going back to school but my parents are struggling to keep me at home. My mom is a healthcare professional so this time has been really hard on her and having to take care of us even more has been difficult,” senior Britney Nguyen said. “I would like to choose to stay home but need to make the decision to go back to school and try to do everything I can to keep everyone safe. Over time, I think I can trust the school to do what needs to be done to keep us safe at school.”
A big problem for in-person instruction is lunch. During a pre-covid lunch period, students would socialize and eat within inches of each other. Now, the cafeteria looks like they are preparing for an exam. There are small desks and chairs located six feet apart from one another and facing the same direction.
“Although I’m aware about the risks and safety concerns, I feel excited to go back into the building because I feel like I focus better in person than in virtual learning,” junior Nathan Ong said. “I’m also curious as to what my teachers are like and I’m definitely looking forward to building relationships with them.”
Library services will be available, however, books that are returned to the library will have a seven day isolation period before they are available again to students.
Lockers will not be available and students are asked to bring what they need in backpacks and take backpacks home at the end of the day.
AHS staff has set up a predetermined care room that is a designated location for students who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 while at school. It is separate from the health room and has a staff member who will supervise students while they wait for their parents to pick them up.
Safety teams have also been put in place to monitor Covid-19 mitigation strategies.
“I am excited. That is the only way to say how I feel about students coming back,” principal Shawn DeRose said.
Hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray has been placed in every classroom. Students and staff should sanitize and wash their hands frequently.
A tour of AHS is being set up for current freshman and new students who are signed up for in-person instruction. To find the link for signup, visit annandalehs.fcps.edu.
A town hall, hosted by DeRose, will be taking place Feb. 24. There will be two, one in English and one in Spanish. The town hall will answer any questions students and parents still have about returning to school.
More information about returning to school can be found in the FCPS family guide for return to school. The guide can be found at fcps.edu.