It’s that time of year where we’d usually be stocking up on school supplies and helping our kids pick out their first-day outfits. This year, the first day of school jitters have been replaced with nerves surrounding the health and safety of going back to school at all. There are a lot of changes that have been announced by the Superintendent and the Frederick County School Board. Below is an overview of what we know so far.

A Delayed Start

The first day of school has officially been postponed from Monday, August 17 to Monday, August 31. This later start date is attributed to the need for more intensive training for teachers and staff. Additional time will help everyone familiarize themselves with the enhanced health and safety protocols being utilized throughout the schools. Prior to the school beginning, students will be officially notified of their schedule in accordance with one of three options that have been developed based on the state’s phased reopening.

The Hybrid Model

The current reopening plan utilizes a hybrid model, introducing a combination of distance learning and in-person instruction. To better accommodate physical distancing guidelines in the school, students will be assigned specific days for attendance. Those in preschool through first grade will have a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday schedule. Students in grades 2-12 will come into school on either Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday. Multiple students in the same household — in most cases — will receive the same rotation. No students will attend in-person on Wednesday, which has been reserved for teachers to lesson plan, communicate with families and provide additional support.

Alternate Plans

After the first nine-week grading period, the system will be assessed to evaluate if schools are able to open more fully. Should conditions improve across the state, another plan outlines a fully in-person approach. If the pandemic worsens, a complete distance learning plan has also been developed with some notable differences from the Spring 2020 model. Additional accommodations are in place for students with limited internet access and students will be issued a Chromebook for home use. If a family prefers, they can enroll their student in the distance learning track. This option can be selected until August 3 and will mean that the student cannot return in-person until Spring 2021.

Additional Measures

The Frederick County School Board is adamant that the health and safety of the entire community remain their top priority. Daily temperature checks will be taken before students can enter the building. More frequent deep cleaning of the facilities will be carried out. HVAC systems have been adjusted to meet air management guidelines. Masks are strongly encouraged and will be provided as needed. It is asked that all families actively monitor their students for symptoms and keep their students at home. Isolation protocols are in place for those identified as sick.

A New School

At Snowden Bridge, there is even greater anticipation for this unprecedented school year because our on-site elementary school is officially opening in the Fall. The Jordan Springs Elementary School will be following Frederick County’s policies and procedures as it opens its doors for the very first time to students. With a brand new facility, all staff will be working diligently to maintain the cleanliness of the space and keep parents, students, teachers and all residents healthy and safe.

For additional details, check out the FCPS 2020-21 School Reopening Plan in its entirety here.

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