Will Schools Open Anytime Soon?

FCPS’s continuously changing return to school plan and how it affects Langley students

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Nathalie Hoffman, Reporter

FCPS has faced many difficulties with the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic not only with distance learning, but preparing a plan for how students will be brought back to school. School staff and students recently had to make a decision on whether they will return to in-person instruction or remain online.

“Teachers who are unable to teach in the building will continue teaching ‘in-person’ students and rooms would be staffed by a monitor hired by FCPS,” director of Langley Student Services Braden Peterson said.

In order for schools to open for in-person learning, FCPS is taking measures to adhere to social distance guidelines provided by the CDC. For example, schools are required to maintain a six foot separation whenever possible, monitor student traffic patterns in hallways to ensure students do not get too close to each other, have students eat meals in classrooms whenever possible, and more. With these rules, and more to come, there will always be a risk of COVID-19 spreading among the staff and students, resulting in many staff members choosing to continue online learning rather than return to in-person instruction.

“We are committed to minimizing the impact [of staffing issues] on student schedules to the greatest extent possible,” Peterson said.

Teachers may face difficulties teaching classes that are divided up with students who continue with online learning and those who are receiving instruction in-person. However, all of Langley High School falls under Group 8 in the FCPS reopening plan (the last group of students in FCPS to return to school), so Langley students will not see each other until almost all of FCPS has returned. Due to this, and the potential risk of contracting COVID-19, some students chose to remain online rather than go back in person when allowed.

“I chose to remain online because in-person school keeps getting pushed back and I am tired of having to make the decision whether to go in person or stay online, so I just decided to stay with what I am currently used to,” junior Christina Barton said.

Alternatively, many students still struggle with online learning and it has had many detrimental impacts on mental health. Schools have tried to help by providing online resources for students, such as the Langley Links course that helps students relax and learn about personal growth. However, some students still feel returning to in-person learning is the best option for their mental health.

“I decided to go back to in-person school when permitted because, for me, it is very difficult to focus during online school, and I also don’t know what a lot of my classmates look like,” freshman Paige Fredenburgh said.

As a result of online learning, it has become difficult for many students to collaborate with classmates and friends. Furthermore, students who return to school are faced with many guidelines including the requirement to wear face masks when in school, filling out a daily health screening form, and bringing all necessary materials for learning. Therefore, many students are participating in sports activities supervised by Langley that allow for them to see each other outside of distance learning.

“I am willing to participate in Langley sports because it will pretty much be the only opportunity for me to see friends from school and I’m sure everyone will be following COVID guidelines and staying safe,” Barton said.

With these unprecedented times, the FCPS school board has been tasked to solve the difficult problem of safely bringing all students back together. Some students in elementary school have already returned, but Langley students will have to wait a while until they can do the same. Therefore, students will have to continue to connect with each other online or in approved after school activities.