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Wednesday, July 28, 2021, Edition 29
A Message from Dr. Terry Alban
Dear FCPS Community,
FCPS staff are excited to welcome students for the 2021-22 school year! The majority of our 44,000+ students will be entering traditional classrooms on August 18 and we are also proud to serve over 1,000 students in our new Blended Virtual Program.
FCPS is committed to ensuring that students are able to regularly attend in-person instruction; therefore, we will continue to implement key preventive strategies to minimize the spread of COVID-19:
This year we will be welcoming students five days a week for in-person instruction and therefore are unable to provide social distancing among students. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have identified that having students being physically present in school is more important than ensuring social distancing.
After reviewing the guidance from CDC, AAP, the Maryland Department of Health, and working in close collaboration with the officials from the Frederick County Health Department, FCPS will be requiring face coverings for all students and staff inside our school buildings. This requirement allows us to support two priorities:
The table below provides additional information about the rationale behind the decision to require masks in our schools as we reopen on August 18.
Parents want to preserve in-person learning. The mental health and educational consequences as well as the economic burdens of having to disrupt in-person learning have led to a broad and deep consensus to keep schools open.
The current quarantine requirements for schools would result in more students excluded for up to 14 days if face coverings were not consistently worn and other mitigations strategies were not in place.
Since the pandemic began in Frederick County there have been 1,008 and 2,485 documented COVID-19 cases in children aged 0-9 and youth aged 10 to 19 respectively, with fewer than 50 hospitalizations in people under 20.
Many cases in children are asymptomatic and spread to unvaccinated or immunocompromised adults.
Statewide 25% of the cases are under age 18 for the week ending 7/26.
Statewide 76% of cases were the Delta variant for the week ending 7/26.
In Frederick County in the last 3 weeks the 7-day moving average case rate per 100,000 rose four-fold.
The pace of new vaccinations in Frederick County has slowed to 0.5% and is falling each week.
The pace of new vaccinations for children under 18 in Frederick County has slowed.
In Frederick County, as of 7/26, 70.2% of residents 18+ are fully vaccinated.
In Frederick County, as of 7/26, only 47.3% of children 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated.
In Frederick County vaccination rates vary considerably from zip code to zip code ranging from below 30% to 100% for persons 12+.
In the last school year, the frequency of COVID-19 exposures and the necessary quarantines were an impediment to staffing and to student participation—avoiding these would be beneficial.
Additionally, it is important to consider recent research related to the Delta variant. The RO factor represents the number of people a single person with a virus is likely to infect. The Delta variant has a RO factor of 6-7 compared to these other infectious diseases:
Typical strains of influenza 1.2-1.5
Original SARS CoV-2 2.0-2.5
Finally, local health officials provided us with key research related to the use of masks for both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals as presented in the table below:
Compendium of Scientific Evidence about Mask Use
Face coverings protect unvaccinated wearers from aerosols and COVID-19.
Howard Huang, et al. (2020)
Van der Sande, et al. (2008)
Face coverings protect unvaccinated contacts from COVID-19.
Brooks and Butler (2021)
Hendrix et al. (2020)
Mandating universal face coverings lowers COVID-19 transmission.
Lyu and Wehby (2020)
Face coverings protect vaccinated people against diseases other than COVID-19.
Langrish et al (2012)
Dror et al. (2020)
The most common medical risks from the use of face coverings over age 2 are acne, dermatitis, and pressure sores.
Techsatian et al. (2020)
Aguilera, et al. (2020)
Standard cloth and paper face coverings do not alter oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.
Shaw et al. (2020)
The situation with the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve. We will monitor health metrics and data in our schools and community to make decisions that support keeping our students safely attending face to face instruction. We will provide updates to the community on a regular basis.
One of the most effective prevention strategies for COVID-19 is vaccination. The quarantining requirements for those who are fully vaccinated differ than requirements for the unvaccinated. In the next Superintendent’s update, the quarantining protocols that will be in effect for the 2021-22 school year will be shared. Avoiding quarantine is another important consideration for keeping students physically present in school buildings.
FCPS staff are anxiously awaiting the return of our students on August 18!
Photo of the week
Summertime school backpack donations at Hillcrest Elementary School.
Left to Right: Ivania Amador, FCPS Public Affairs; Assistant HES Principal John Ridenour; Chuck Staley (Costco); Ashley Davis (HES Community Liaison); Brittany Bartman (Costco); Diane Schmidt (Costco); and Willie Colon (Costco) all posing with the Hillcrest Husky and new backpacks in front of the Costco truck.
In The News
Wednesday, August 11
First Day for Fall Sports - click here for information.
Wednesday, August 18
First Day of School
Video: Safe Schools: Cleaning and Disinfecting
Video: Safe Schools: Ventilation and More
Coronavirus data tracking:
FCPS debuts health metrics dashboard
Maryland Department of Health Coronavirus Dashboard
- Schools Data
MD COVID Alert Service
Mental health resources
FCPS Mental Health Matters
Tweet of the Week: Frederick County Virtual School Principal Mike Watson. Click for program.
Tweet of the Week: Blended Virtual Principals Krietz & Vetter. Click here.
Reflections on the 2020-2021 school year. Click for video!
Fantastic end of the year photos: https://fcpsmaryland.exposure.co/fond-farewells