Thousands of students in Maryland and Virginia will return to classrooms on Tuesday, some seeing friends and teachers in-person for the first time in almost a year.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, says he supports the move to reopen schools.
“There’s so many reasons to get the children back to school. Not only for the physical, psychological and social health of the children, but also for the families.”
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Frederick County, Maryland, and Fairfax and Loudoun counties in Virginia will begin some form of hybrid learning on Tuesday.
Each school district has different guidelines for phasing students back in, but all of them say they're making safety the top priority.
In Fairfax County, about 8,000 students will return to in-person learning, including technical and career students and students in special education.
For now, students will be participating in "concurrent instruction," meaning they will only attend classes in person two days a week for now.
That's coupled with two days of teacher-led instruction at home.
Due to social distancing requirements that limit capacity on school buses, students will have a different bell schedule. That change applies to both in-person instruction and full-time virtual learning.
Students should bring a water bottle, mask and hand sanitizer — and an excited attitude, Key Center School Principal Ann Smith said.
“I’m so proud of our students who have shown a lot of determination and grit,” Smith said. “We are ready to jump in and see our students thrive back in the classroom.”
Next Tuesday, even more groups in Fairfax County are set to go back to in-person learning.
All public schools in Frederick County, Maryland, will open to students Tuesday using a hybrid learning model.
There will be in-person instruction two days a week, with the remaining three days being virtual.
The county says it has worked closely with teachers unions to make sure everyone is comfortable with the safety measures.
The school system also put together a series of YouTube videos for all grade levels, encouraging protective measures like sanitizing hands and social distancing.
The Superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools, Terry Alban, sent a message to parents writing that the school district would announce any concerns from the Frederick County Health Department as soon as possible.
“It is also possible that a family may be contacted if a student was a close contact of a person who tested positive and we may ask that the student quarantine," Alban wrote.
The vaccinated population in D.C. may be overestimated in this map because some non-residents who work in D.C. are included in the totals.
She said that the school system intentionally made the virtual and hybrid schedules the same so that any students in quarantine could still join classes.
In Loudoun County, students in preschool through fifth grade will begin their hybrid instruction Tuesday.
They'll also be joined by certain career and tech students, as well as students in special education programs.
The decision to return to classrooms has been met with fierce debate.
In Loudoun County last week, parents hosted a rally and pushed for students to go back to classrooms five days a week. But some teachers had health concerns.