FCPS ramps up capacity

Students offered in-person instruction four days a week as new normal sets in


AHS is now offering late buses to all students on Thursdays. No prior sign up is required. This is intended to offer additional academic support after school.

FCPS and AHS have found success. The hybrid model has been working well since the introduction of the plan on March 2.

“Hybrid learning is a refreshing change compared to virtual learning. In elective classes it is definitely awesome to be back as so much is hands on,” senior Madison Cruz said. “It is much easier to learn in person since there are less distractions. Overall my hybrid experience has been enjoyable so far.”

Covid-19 vaccinations are increasing and now anybody 16 years or older is eligible for the vaccine. Covid regulations are also becoming less strict, including a social distancing decrease from six feet to three feet.

This allowed FCPS to start offering students who were currently going into the building in the hybrid model, to attend in-person learning four days a week. Students who chose this option, started attending in-person, four days a week on April 20.

“I feel seniors being able to attend in person four days a week is a great opportunity for the consistency of learning,” Cruz said. “Seniors have missed so much over the past year that this opportunity is something I am looking forward to.”

Along with the four day in-person schedule, late busses have also been offered. Every Thursday afternoon any student will be able to take the late busses and no sign up is needed. This was added because several subject areas are hosting an after-school help center each Thursday after school.

“I’m more comfortable with the plan now than I was originally. A few more of my students are now attending in-person all week, which gives me and my team-teacher more time to work with them on an individual and focused basis,” English teacher Sasha Duran said. “Some of our students sometimes go missing or ‘ghost’ during class, so now that some of those students are back in the building, it’s a lot easier to support them and get them ready to pass our class. There’s significantly less run-around.”

Teachers have had to adapt with the hybrid model to accommodate the needs of virtual and in-person students. As the number of in-person students increase, teaching styles will start to go back to normal.

“At first it was a little awkward, and it’s still not perfect, but I’m getting used to splitting my attention between the screen and my physical classroom. For the classes where I have more students in-person, the balance is getting a lot easier because I might have eight students in person and ten online, close to a 50/50 split—for those classes, I feel strongly that I need to address both groups equally,” Duran said. “For the classes where I have one or two students in a room and the other 20 plus online, it’s a little harder. That said, when we have work time in class, it’s a lot easier to chat with the students in person, check on their progress, and make connections like before the pandemic, no matter if I have one or eight students in a room.”

FCPS has announced that schools will be returning to five days a week, in-person instruction in the fall. They are trying to return to a sense of normalcy as the majority of students work better with in-person instruction.

“We have shown that we can return our students and staff to our buildings in a way that is safe and steady. We are confident that we can deliver on a five-day return for all students in the fall, knowing that, while we can adapt to any situation, in-person learning really is the best option for our students and staff,” FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand said.

FCPS second quarter data indicated that middle and high school grades have improved overall from the first quarter data. First quarter data showed that over 11% of middle and high school students had an F in two or more classes.

“I think it makes sense because so many of us will be vaccinated and looking forward to returning to our regular activities like clubs and our fundraisers for prom,” junior Eleanor Lauderdale said. “I know the performing arts classes will really benefit from the rehearsal time. I just hope some protection protocols will be in place, like an emphasis on hygiene and recommending if not requiring masks when inside.”

Many students have grown too comfortable with the four day week schedule. The addition of Monday as an asynchronous day allows many to catch up on work and have less stress.

“I’ve really liked the 4 day schedule as it gives kids an extra day to work on school work so they can feel more comfortable relaxing on the weekend which really helps reduce stress,” junior Zack Pacak said.

Returning in the fall will all depend on the summer. The CDC projects that Covid cases will likely start to decrease in the coming months.

“I feel less nervous about it than when the plan was announced, but I’m still somewhat nervous. I think I’ll feel more comfortable with having a classroom full of students in the fall if the FDA approves vaccinations for students younger than 16. I would still hope that there’s still a mask requirement and a desk-spacing regulation,” Duran said.