Fairfax County Public Schools/Twitter
fairfax classroom

Fairfax County (Va.) district welcomes back some students for in-person instruction

Feb. 17, 2021
About 8,000 of the district's 186,000 students have returned to classrooms for the first time since March.

The Fairfax County (Va.) school district has taken its first major steps toward reopening as about 8,000 students — mostly young children with disabilities and high-schoolers enrolled in career and technical education classes —returned to classrooms for at least one day of in-person instruction each week.

The Washington Post reports that the 186,000-student school system plans to return thousands more students every seven days or so, prioritizing those with learning disabilities and those whose first language is not English.

Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand, who spent Tuesday morning visiting reopened schools, says what he wants “is for our students to feel as normal as possible again, as soon as possible.”

At the two elementary schools Brabrand visited, tape dotted the floor to direct the flow of traffic. Signs and more tape reminded students and staffers to stay six feet apart. Play areas had been converted to break rooms for employees, with couches and chairs set six feet apart.

A cafeteria was now a staff workroom, sometimes used to train educators on how to teach kids through the “concurrent” model, which calls for the simultaneous instruction of in-person and remote students.

Teachers wore protective suits of blue gauze, masks, plastic gloves and transparent face shields. So did custodial workers, who passed through mostly empty hallways at regular intervals, wiping down the walls. All the children, no matter how young, donned either blue surgical masks or face shields. Almost everywhere, the air smelled faintly of disinfectant.

Entering school buildings requires a temperature check and completion of a form that asks whether visitors have experienced Covid-19 symptoms or come into contact with Covid-19 patients.

Nearby Loudoun County Public Schools also began returning children to school under a similar plan on Tuesday. That district is also prioritizing vulnerable learners: Over the course of this week, it will return roughly 15,000 students including children with disabilities, English-language learners, and preschool through fifth-graders.

Like Fairfax, Loudoun — which enrolls 81,000 — is promising to return all students who choose it for several days a week of face-to-face learning by mid-March.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

Sponsored Recommendations