Delay after delay

In reaction to rising COVID-19 cases, Fairfax County School Board moves to push back reopening

Marin Khalifa, Business Manager

After about two months of complete online learning, the FCPS school board has pushed back the start of in-person school for members of Group 5 students; this includes Early Head Start pre-k, kindergarten, and select special education students.

“Current health metrics for COVID-19 cases in our community now exceed the threshold for additional students and staff to expand our in-person learning,” FCPS school board said. Currently, about 8,000 students take part in hybrid learning through FCPS, and 6,800 were set to return on November 17th. “CDC guidelines allow us to keep small cohorts of students in schools, but do not allow introducing more students and staff into the buildings,” FCPS school board said.

“As we make preparations for additional students and staff to return, we are very mindful of the national, state, and local COVID trends,” FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand said. FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand said. Brabrand has acknowledged the sharp influx of COVID cases in the Northern Virginia area as is working to keep staff and students safe with the ever-changing guidelines.

“Fully re-opening our schools remains a priority as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Virginia State health Commissioner Norman Oliver said. As of November 10th, Justice High School and Woodson High School reported staff outbreaks. Furthermore, Episcopal High School in Alexandria as well as Old Dominion high School in Loudoun county have had outbreaks.

“COVID remains a fluid situation,” Brabrand said. As of now, first and second graders as well as students with select special education plans are still set to go back to in-person learning on December 8th, and third through twelfth grade students are set to go back in middle to late January.

The delay comes as a disappointment to many who were hoping to be back in the building by second semester; while there may yet be time to return to in-person learning, the delay continues to stir speculations about what the rest of the 2020-2021 school year will look like.