Fairfax County Public Schools’ return to classroom plan may have to switch gears

A plan to bring more students back into Fairfax County, Virginia, Public School classrooms remains on hold until Nov. 30 at the earliest, and now the school district might have to take a step backward.

So far, only four groups of students, amounting to a small percentage of the total, have returned to some in-person learning.

Group 5 was supposed to return this past Tuesday, but on Monday, the school district announced that the return would be postponed for at least two weeks in response to growing coronavirus numbers in the county.

During a virtual “Return to School Town Hall” meeting Thursday night, Superintendent Scott Brabrand said that another change may be needed.

“If the health metrics continue on the trajectory they are …(it) may impact Group 4, one of the groups that had recently come back,” Brabrand said. “We will be communicating to those Group 4 parents probably (Friday), that early next week there could be an impact for returning next Tuesday.”

Despite this, Brabrand was adamant the district wants to bring students back to classrooms.

“We are committed to returning our kids to in-person. There will be some setbacks. There will be some pauses. I cannot promise you that it will be linear,” he said.

Brabrand said new safety teams are being created to make sure students and staff in schools are following proper procedures to protect against virus transmission, like wearing masks, disinfecting and social distancing.

“As we get that data, we’ll be reporting it to the community and to the board, so that we can build confidence with our students, our staff and our community that the actual risk in schools is low,” he said. “Even if COVID transmission is higher than we’d like in the community, if we can show that it remains low in schools, we can continue to move forward on our return to school strategy.”

In addition, every school has been tested to make sure there is good air flow inside.

“We are putting in HEPA filters or other devices to really filter the air in our classrooms to the greatest extent possible,” said Brabrand.

As for the online learning many students have been doing, Brabrand said it’s clear that it’s not a good fit for all of them.

“We are looking at grade data already by high schools. It does look like we have more Ds and Fs in many of our schools. Some of our schools are also reporting more As. How can that be? I think the reality is, online learning works for some kids and may even work better for some kids based on their learning style. For other kids, online learning is a struggle.”


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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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