Staying Safe; Staying Home

The FCPS Board of Education’s Decision on Virtual Learning and Going Hybrid

Nenita GapudTressler, Writer

FCPS will not be returning to the classrooms for the foreseeable future.

On October 7, the FCPS Board of Education held a meeting to vote on a potential hybrid learning method that would be implemented first with Pre-K through 2nd-grade classes. The Board rejected the plan in a 4:3 vote.

The State Superintendent required that all school systems reevaluate their opening plans before the end of the first quarter. In response, the Board put forward a hybrid plan at their September 23 meeting, which was further reviewed and rejected on October 7. The result of that vote is that schools will continue to operate virtually, with teachers and instructional assistants returning to FCPS facilities on a voluntary basis.

Members of the Board have not responded to a request for comment.

The failed plan included both in-school restrictions and transportation restrictions. Some of the aspects of the plan were daily screening for symptoms of COVID-19, maintenance of masks and social distancing when possible, procedures for the event of students with a positive test or symptoms for COVID-19. The plan also clarified that if schools fell outside of outlined metrics, students would return to virtual learning.

This hybrid plan will likely influence any return to classrooms in the future. Students would be required to wear masks and provided disposable masks if their own was not sufficient; students would be required to screen for symptoms daily and quarantine for a minimum of ten days if they show symptoms or test positive; students in contact with a person with a positive test or symptoms would be required to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days with no symptoms; students would have designated entrances to reduce crowding; movement through the building would be minimized and controlled; class times would be staggered to reduce the number of students in the hallways; classrooms would be rearranged to accommodate for social distancing; students would be required to maintain social distancing while removing masks during lunch; water fountains would be available only for refilling water bottles; restroom use would be minimized; school buildings would be cleaned and disinfected daily.

It can be speculated that with the current situation implementing the hybrid plan was deemed too much of a risk for students and staff, considering that virtual learning is functional and may have been reimplemented in the case of the plan failing.

The Board has not yet stated when they will consider another reassessment on a potential return to classrooms.