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Over one hundred nine thousand FCPS students and staff have returned to in person instruction. On Tuesday March 16, students in grades 3 - 6 and Secondary Public Day Programs, or ‘Group 7’ were welcomed back into the building. Group 7 is the final group to return, meaning that all students in families who chose to return to in school instruction are back in the building. Most are attending for two days a week, with the exception of some programs including the Preschool Autism program and other special education programs.

Currently, FCPS is employing a concurrent instruction model. According to the FCPS Return to School Guide for Families, “Concurrent instruction maximizes teacher-led instruction (two days in person, two days virtual) by allowing in-person students to connect with their teacher via FCPS online platforms during at-home days.”

“The first few weeks back have been fun,” said West Springfield social studies teacher Mark Witzel. He described the ways that his students, ninth graders, have been warming up to the atmosphere of being back in the classroom. “I got to say something I haven’t in a long time: alright everyone, quiet down, it’s time to learn.”

The toll school closures have had on students has been widely noted by parents and mental health experts. It is estimated that by bringing back in person learning, students can regain a sense of normalcy and community.

In addition to the measured approach to returning to in person school, mitigation efforts have also been forceful. FCPS for everyone coming back. So we created safety teams this past winter. The teams are made up of people who observe in our schools, and make sure that they have enough masks on hand, and hand sanitizer, and talk with the administrators if they see any gaps, to make sure they were addressed,” said FCPS Director of News and Information Lucy Caldwell.

Caldwell continued: “As time has gone on, health guidance continues to change and evolve. And so, the whole time, we’ve been working very closely with our health officials and colleagues to make sure that we’re making all the decisions the right way. So, that is why it took time.”

To learn more and follow the facts, visit https://www.fcps.edu/returntoschool. There, you can track covid health metrics and important updates on school openings.

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