About 45,000 students returned to the classroom Wednesday morning in Frederick County, Maryland.
Frederick was the first Maryland county to return to school. Several Northern Virginia school districts, including Stafford, Fauquier and Spotsylvania counties, began their 2022-2023 academic year earlier this month.
The county entered its first year under new Superintendent Cheryl Dyson, who previously served as an area superintendent in Montgomery County. Dyson is the county’s first African American superintendent.
“It feels great. I just can’t wait to get inside the building,” Dyson told WTOP while greeting students outside Urbana High School. “Something happens when you walk into a school and you hear the students talking, laughing, sitting in class and having good conversations and discourse.”
Dyson said administrators spent the summer making sure the school district was staffed-up in time for the new year. Bus drivers are nearly fully staffed as well, with all routes operating on Frederick’s first day in class.
“You can always use more teachers — we need more — but we’ve provisioned so that there’s a qualified teacher in front of every student,” Dyson said. “We want to make sure our students are achieving.”
Regarding its coronavirus protocol, the county said in its reopening guide that school health rooms will have COVID-19 home test kits that can be given to students and staff.
While students and staff won’t be required to wear masks, the county said it’s using a tiered approach for when it will recommend or require masks for a classroom or cohort of students for a brief period of time.
“It’s very exciting to be a senior and back in person, that’s my favorite part,” said Ivy Coldren, a student at Urbana High. “I hope we get through it all in person, and we get to do all of our activities like sports and theater, and whatever you’re in.”
The school system is also offering a new Black and African American studies course to juniors and seniors this year.
More information about plans for the first week of school is available on the county’s website.
WTOP’s Luke Lukert reported from Ijamsville, Maryland.