Frederick County school board approves hybrid return to school

The Frederick County Board of Education approved a plan on Wednesday to bring students back into the classroom in time for the second semester.

The Maryland county came up with the reopening plan months ago, but then sat on it amid concerns about how safe it would be to bring kids back into school buildings during the pandemic.

Under the plan, half of the county’s students would be back in the classroom on Mondays and Tuesdays, while the other half would return on Thursdays and Fridays. During the other three days, student will continue to learn virtually.

For now, teachers will return to school buildings on Jan. 13 to begin setting up and preparing their classrooms for a Jan. 28 return of students.

But the board admitted this plan is still subject to change, though it wasn’t ready to let that possibility dictate plans for two months from now.

“We could sit here today and say we’re turning it down because the numbers are going up, and they could change two weeks from now. They could be worse, they could be better,” said school board president Brad Young.

“We certainly don’t meet every day and we can’t call a meeting each day the metrics and numbers change.”

Any future change to the plan will be made by Frederick County Superintendent Theresa Alban in consultation with the Frederick County Health Officer.

Currently, they are meeting on a weekly basis.

“That consultation would be what would guide us moving forward, or backward, at any point in time as we are working with students” said Jamie Aliveto, the Frederick County Board of Education Executive Director of System Accountability and School Administration.

Students and staff must wear masks when they return with “systemic, progressive discipline” in place for anyone who doesn’t follow those guidelines.

Every principal, employee and student will be made aware of the consequences for not wearing one while inside a building.

“The mitigating strategies we have put in place have been effective in limiting the spread within our school buildings,” said Alban.

Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have surged in Maryland this past week.

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