School to be in-person 5 days a week next year

Fairfax County Public Schools aims to return nearly all of its students to in-person learning, five days a week, next school year. FCPS superintendent Scott Brabrand also announced that come fall, virtual options will be limited and most likely restricted to students with health conditions.
“In-person is the best for all of the Performing Arts, especially choir!” Chorus teacher Patrick Vaughn said. “As long as we have herd immunity and folks have been vaccinated, I am good. I hope the mask requirement can be removed, but if it stays, I’ll make it work.”
Starting fall, Virginia’s largest school district will allow social distancing of less than six feet, since the CDC has recently updated its guidelines to recommend a distance of three feet as ideal inside schools. However, Brabrand said it will still be difficult sending 180,000 students back into the buildings.
“I believe the school is rushing us. I don’t feel comfortable going back to school with Covid still here,” sophomore Gleny Chicas said. “I would worry about my safety at school. No matter how cautious someone can be, Covid can still creep up on me or you.”
Others are cautiously optimistic about the plans for next year.
“I guess it depends on how things are by fall: how many cases there are, if it’s dying down, if people are keeping a safe distance from each other,” freshman Audrey Nguyen said. “Basically, as long as people continue to keep following the safety guidelines, then I think it’s a good idea.”
Brabrand said FCPS is also grappling with another challenge: convincing families to return, especially families of color. While 57 percent of White families selected in-person learning this March, only 37 percent of Black families and 27 percent of Asian families did so.
Brabrand said families of color may be less trusting of FCPS and its safety guidelines because those communities have been hit hardest. He added that it’s up to the school system to help begin to repair that trauma and change their minds.
Although next school year will be significantly different than this one, Brabrand hopes it will be as near normal as possible. This initiative will bring changes, but for many, they will be good ones.
“I’ll miss online learning, partly sleeping in and not having to change out of my PJs in the morning,” Nguyen said, “but I think I’ll enjoy getting to meet new friendly faces at Annandale and seeing my friends daily.”