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Tuesday, December 15, 2020 Edition 7
A Message from Dr. Terry Alban
As we witness an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in our nation, state and here in Frederick County, there is a growing fear. I understand and recognize that fear. Like so many in our community, I am alarmed by the spread of COVID and the challenges we face in reducing the cases. Why, then, is Frederick County Public Schools still planning to start the hybrid learning model at the end of January? There are compelling reasons:
First and foremost—the needs of our students. Our world is not only suffering as a result of the symptoms of this awful virus, many of our family members, friends and neighbors are struggling financially, emotionally and mentally. Many of our students are also struggling academically, mentally, socially and emotionally. The opportunity and achievement gaps are growing wider and many more of our students are failing. The pandemic’s adverse impact on our students will be lasting, unless we, as adults, take timely, appropriate steps to minimize the damage of this destructive crisis. As a life-long educator, seeing the impact of this pandemic on our students is heart-wrenching.
FCPS Aspirational Goal 1 says we will equip each and every student to be an empowered learner and an engaged citizen to achieve a positive impact in the local and global community. Virtual learning is not a viable option for every student. We need to safely return to schools to address the academic needs of students not thriving under the virtual learning model. We understand there are parents and guardians who are not ready to return their child to the classroom; therefore, we will continue to offer a quality virtual learning option.
For our students struggling in the virtual model, I am encouraged by conversations with teachers who are excited about returning to the classroom. Many teachers are already in our schools working with small groups and seeing the positive results for students. I have visited many of these classes and witnessed the positive energy! The structure provided by an in-school experience and the opportunity to connect face-to-face with teachers and classmates is critically important to many of our students for academic as well as social skill development.
The American Pediatric Association, local health officials, as well as state and federal departments of education have indicated that returning students to school needs to be a priority focus for all of us.
A second compelling reason to return is that throughout this pandemic, research has enabled us to be fluid and flexible. Guidance from medical experts has been updated. Our understanding of the virus has evolved to the point where vaccines are on the horizon. As a community, we have procured necessary PPE, increased hospital capacity, implemented wide scale testing, identified treatment options and improved contact tracing protocols. We have risk mitigation strategies in place throughout our community and most definitely in our schools. We are far better equipped for dealing with COVID-19 in December 2020 than we were in March 2020.
It is comforting to know that vaccines are scheduled to be distributed to health care workers as early as next week. Maryland and Frederick County have rightfully ranked educators near the top of the prioritization list for COVID-19 vaccinations. It is my hope that vaccination efforts will be yet another way to minimize spread and bring a downturn in the number of positive cases.
Therefore, FCPS continues moving forward with our plans to return to school in a hybrid learning model for second semester. Why do we continue with these plans?
Alan Lakein, an American author on personal time management, notes, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” This statement clearly summarizes our decision to plan for the start of the hybrid learning model on January 28, 2021.
We are not sure what will happen between now and January 28th; however, we are planning as if this date is confirmed. If the health metrics and the Frederick County Health Department indicate the return needs to be postponed, planning will improve our preparedness for whenever a safe implementation of the hybrid model is authorized.
Update: FCPS has announced new inclement weather policies during virtual or hybrid models of instruction.
Video: What is concurrent teaching? Windsor Knolls Middle teacher Tasha Brown shares her experiences.
Mental Health Matters: We know this is a challenging time for everyone. We are pleased to share useful mental health information with the FCPS community.
Tweet of the Week:
December 15: with guests Dr. Kimm Mazaleski and Kevin Brown, Tuscarora Elementary
December 8: with guest Jacqueline Grimm, Middletown Primary Music Teacher
December 2: with guest Troy Barnes, National Distinguished Principal
Meal Distribution for Winter Break
Tuesday, December 22:
Thursday, December 24 and Friday December 25
Schools and Offices Closed
Thursday, December 24 - Friday, January 1
Schools Closed: Winter Break
Monday December 28 - Thursday December 31
Friday, January 1:
Schools and Offices Closed: New Year's Day
Monday, January 11:
Superintendent unveils proposed FY22 budget
Wear a Face Covering:
Video: The COVID Cover Up
FCPS Face Covering Guidance in School Buildings
Video: Safe Schools: Cleaning and Disinfecting
Video: Safe Schools: Ventilation and More
Maryland Department of Health Coronavirus Dashboard
- Schools Data
MD COVID Alert Service
Superintendent's Off the Cuff Blog
December 8: How FCPS Has Evolved
Follow Superintendent Alban on Twitter
In a Minute: School librarian recognition, CTC update, student athletes return
FCPS has a new eBook platform for students. Check it out!
Linganore High teachers Natalie Rebetsky and Jeremy Brown take part in the Kennedy Krieger Festival of Trees in Timonium
Frederick County Public Schools
191 S. East Street
Frederick, MD 21701