FAIRFAX, Va. — Later this week, parents in Fairfax County will be getting an enrollment form where they will be asked to choose between all virtual instruction or part-time, face-to-face instruction for their kids' school plan this fall.
According to FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand, it’s about finding a balance between safety and maximizing learning.
The School Board’s plan for the upcoming school year presents two scenarios: either attend school with social distancing in effect or enroll in full-time online learning for the entire year.
What happens next, according to Dr. Brabrand, depends on the submitted responses from families and staff across the county and whether there’s a preference for one or the other.
"Then we’re going to develop classrooms, or sections, of virtual instruction and of that face-to-face instruction," Brabrand said.
According to the board’s initial plan, virtual learning will be provided four days a week, while in-person learning will happen at least two days a week at school.
In either scenario, one day each week will be set aside for teacher planning and intervention support for some students. There could even be a scenario in which both virtual and in-person learning get equal treatment.
“That 50-50 balance, where the 50% who want to have virtual stay home, and the 50% who want to be in person could come every day,” Dr. Brabrand said. "We can’t guarantee that right now. We have to see what the results are.”
However, the superintendent said there’s still the possibility of every student going back to distance learning if COVID-19 numbers spike, and if that happens there’s a backup for kids having to head home.
“We are making plans to make sure every kid has access to a device, a computer, at middle and high [schools], and those who need it at elementary.”
But with the option of returning to the classroom on the table, numerous health procedures are being put in place, such as students and staff being required to wear masks on buses and in classrooms when social distancing guidelines can’t be maintained.
It’s a process that can seem overwhelming to implement for some parents, especially as information about the coronavirus changes frequently.
“No one has the playbook for the return to school this fall," Brabrand said. "Not one superintendent, one school board. We’ve looked at other countries, and everyone has approached it slightly differently."
WUSA9 reached out to FCPS parents to get their reaction to these choices, and one mom we talked with over the phone said she’s still scared about the risk in sending her kids back to a classroom.
Meanwhile, Dr. Brabrand said FCPS will be sending a follow-up letter later this week to provide additional details about these choices and other concerns parents may have.