Transition to in-person


Kaylee Baek

FCPS looks at these and many other statistics as it plans a return to in-person learning.

Kaylee Baek, Staff Writer

As the school year starts, the question of when schools should open remains. Fairfax County Public Schools plans to have both in-person students and 100% virtual students with concurrent instruction, a type of instruction that is accessed concurrently by students in-school and at home. However, there are many split opinions and concerns among students and staff members. 

Many teachers prefer to teach their students in the classroom despite the risk associated with in-person school, since some teaching activities, such as lab experiments, require classroom facilities.

“In-person learning will always be the best option in a normal, non-pandemic world,” science teacher  Katherine Hoffman said. “Teachers and students work best in environments where they can interact and communicate face-to-face to build personal relationships.” 

Students also have varying opinions about learning online. Some students find it convenient to stay home all day, but others struggle with independent learning. According to the Fairfax County Public Schools Oct. 15, 2020 Return to School Update, it states that in-person instruction is the best for the students’ academic, social, and emotional needs. 

“For me personally, learning online is extremely difficult,” Brianna Edwards said. “Learning off slideshows is not the easiest. A student will probably learn better one-on-one.” 

While there are concerns with student learning online, there are also safety concerns about returning in person. Many experts agree that taking health and safety precautions when transitioning to in-person is important.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided checklists and guidelines for schools and families to follow. In the checklist, it provides actions to take and points to consider such as a plan for transportation and asking how the school plans to help ensure that students are following practices to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In the guideline, it informs staff about how COVID-19 could affect their workplace, what COVID-19 is and steps all employers can take to reduce Workers’ Risk of Exposure.

“I would encourage the same sanitary procedures—social distancing, hand washing and surface cleansing —what I do every year during flu season,” Latin teacher Albert Gunn said.

“Teachers and students work best in environments where they can interact and communicate face-to-face to build personal relationships.” ”

— biology teacher Katherine Hoffman

Fairfax County Public Schools are instructing virtually full time, but the number of cases in the FCPS society is 22 cases. Fairfax County Public Schools are planning to approach CDC’s 5 Mitigation Strategies effectively for the lowest risk of transmission in schools. They are providing schools with cleaning and health supplies including gloves, masks, classroom plexiglass hand sanitizer, thermometers, custodial supplies and overtime.

I believe some areas around the world have successfully minimized the spread of COVID-19 in their communities by following suggested guidelines and quarantine,” Hoffman said. “These areas have low infection rates and, by practicing proper social distancing, they are able to reopen schools. The schools that are able to successfully stay open are generally in areas with a small student population and have access to buildings that are large enough to maintain proper distancing and safety protocols.”

A few states have ordered schools to provide either part-time or full-time in-person instruction, including Florida, Texas, Arkansas and Iowa. According to The Cut, in other states like New Jersey, Connecticut and Georgia, where many schools resumed full-time in-person instruction, schools are experiencing switches to full remote-learning and an increase in positive cases of teachers and students. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, as of Oct. 8, there are 697,633 total child COVID-19 cases reported, and children represented 10.7% of all cases. 

“Some schools in areas without high levels of cases and with less population density seem to be able to deal with the situation more easily; therefore, it seems like a good reaction on a case-by-case basis,” Gunn said. “However, we still don’t know everything about this disease.”