We must reopen schools. Virtual instruction is a poor substitute for in-person instruction. The curriculum is watered down, keeping kids present and engaged is problematic, and the human element so critical to the learning process is diminished. In FCPS the number of kids earning D’s and F’s has skyrocketed during distance learning. Our minority populations are falling behind in math and reading. And our most challenged students - special education and English language learners - are not getting the support they need. Distance learning is failing our kids. When done properly, putting students and teachers back in the classroom is safe. Science bears this out, and reopening has been done effectively in other countries and in certain parts of this country with no spikes in covid cases. With data driven measures in place to control community spread, strict adherence to covid safety protocols within schools, and robust contract tracing, a classroom is one of the safest places to be. All it takes is some courage and common sense, and allowing our decisions to be governed by facts, not fear. If we really care about our kids, we’ve got to get them back in the classroom.