As the community continues to battle the coronavirus, one question on nearly everyone’s mind is when can students of the Fairfax County Public School district return to in-person instruction?
Superintendent Braband called the last few weeks of virtual classes a “strong start” for students, teachers, and parents in an October 5th video message to the community. He stated that the current focus of FCPS is still on virtual learning, but also reintroducing in person instruction.
Last week, select specialized high school career preparatory programs resumed in person instruction at 1-2 days per week. Such programs include Chantilly High School’s fire fighter training program, as well as the Practical Nursing Program.
The requirements for entrance include a temperature check, face coverings at all times, and an increased cleaning regimen.
This past Tuesday, more programs began their hybrid model of instruction for Preschool Autism Classrooms, Early Childhood Class-Based students, and some additional specialized high career preparatory programs.
County Health Director, Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, was asked for her opinion on school openings, and stated “I think that schools can be open now”, citing transmission data.
FCPS teacher’s unions argue that the district is not prepared for the health risks of returning to school. Fairfax County Federation of Teachers President Tina Williams stated “We all want kids back in school as quickly as possible, but that also means as safe as possible.”
The FCFT has laid out an eleven point safe return to school plan. These points include communication, a virtual work option for staff, physical distancing measures, cleaning and disinfecting protocols, adequate ventilation in school buildings, PPE and face coverings, tracking and tracing, controlled community transmission, comprehensive student and staff support, compliance, and proactive school closures.
One major concern that the FCFT has is the reported outbreak at the Fairfax Juvienile Detention Center. Their official Twitter account stated “Incredibly concerning. This only goes to show our concerns about @fcpsnews’ lack of clear communication. If FCPS doesn’t enact and communicate a clear plan for safety, our county will lose decades’ worth of educational experience.”
On October 26th, several other populations will return to school including students who attend the Kilmer Center, the Key Center, elementary and secondary school students who access adapted curriculum, elementary comprehensive services sites, SLIFE students, English Learner Newcomers, elementary-aged students who attend Burke school, and several more high school career prep programs. Superintendent Braband will announce more plans at a board meeting on Thursday, October 15th.
Parents and students can access more FCPS Return to School News at https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/VAEDUFCPS/bulletins/2a4e275.