FCPS1 Reopening: Some Huge and Unresolved Covid-19 Concerns


As most people know, Fauquier County schools will be reopening their doors to students on November 9th for a hybrid return if chosen. This will consist of students with the last name starting with A-K attending on Mondays and Tuesdays and students with the last name starting with L-Z attending on Thursdays and Fridays. Even though this information is much out there, there are so many questions that have been left unanswered by the school board. How can everything be maintained clean and sanitary when janitors have such little time to do so? How will the school be able to enforce social distancing throughout the school and in the hallways? How are kids able to efficiently go to the bathroom if only a few students are allowed in the bathroom at a time? With these being a few questions of many, there are also many aspects of schools reopening that just do not quite sit right with me.

Wednesday, September 23rd. For most students, it was a typical asynchronous day of virtual learning. Little did most students know that that night, the school board would approve the reopening of Fauquier County Public Schools. When I found out the news, it did not leave a good feeling in my stomach. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why schools are reopening; students across the county struggle with internet issues, the ability to learn efficiently while virtual, and many other problems. However, the timing is, might I say, strange to me. Students will be returning back to school with a total of nine in-person classes; I hate to say it, but what is the point? Why is there a need to open schools at this random point in time instead of waiting to reevaluate and make a decision in January, at the beginning of the next semester?

Along with the timing, I worry deeply for the students and staff’s safety for those that are returning. Students will be returning back to school during flu season, a notable resurgence of Covid-19, and in addition to those, right before holiday season. With all these factors falling into place, I do not feel that it is the safest time for students to return back to school, as it will not help, but literally aid, the spread of Covid-19 within our area.

Diving deeper into the factor of students returning during holiday season, I feel like this is such a great risk for the students and staff of Liberty. During Thanksgiving break, it is typical for families to come together to celebrate which creates a risk for catching Covid-19 in itself. After this break, students will be returning back to school with a higher chance of having Covid-19. To avoid this situation, some universities and colleges are not allowing students back onto campus after the late November break. For instance, my sister attends George Mason University and after Thanksgiving break, she will not be allowed to return back onto the campus whatsoever until the next semester. However, this is not an option for Liberty because it would not make sense for students to return back to school for such a small window of time.

Moving on, there is one thing that upsets me greatly to hear. Frequently do I hear students talk amongst themselves about how they are returning back to school to, “See how it goes,” or “to see all their friends” Returning back to school during a pandemic is not a social outing. Nonetheless, school will not be the same whatsoever as it was before the pandemic began. Speaking personally, I know some of my teachers will still be doing everything on the computer and with students seated social distanced. There really won’t be an opportunity for them to be close and talk. In my eyes, students returning back to school should be strictly returning for purposes that benefit their educations. Of course, I understand that some students need some social interaction for the sake of their mental health and that is why they are returning. That is completely reasonable. Although, I can’t help but feel that a decent number of students are returning for the sole purpose that they think returning will be a gateway to spending time with their friends and that is not okay to me.

Along with some students returning back with the mindset of, “we’ll see how is goes,” I also believe the school board has that same mindset too. The school board seems to just have thrown this transition onto the students and staff of Fauquier County with vague guidelines. Schools will have the obvious requirements of wearing a face mask at all times and remaining socially distanced, but other than that, what is there? To start if off, in my mind, it seems impossible to me for faculty to keep the school sanitary when Wednesdays are the only designated cleaning days. In addition to this, what about lunches? It was released the lunches will be served during five lunch shifts during third block. I assume that students will have to sit in the cafeteria, social distanced at lunch tables. However, how will the janitors be able to keep all the tables clean and sanitized? There is only a five minute separation between each lunch shift and to me, that is not enough time to sanitize everything.

Not only is the cleanliness a matter of concern to me, it is also the fact that school board is making students and staff go through a transition once again. With students, and especially teachers, having finally adjusted to virtual learning after about three months, the school board throws everyone for a loop and decides to let students return back to school in the midst of a semester. At the beginning of all virtual learning, all students and teachers remember how difficult that transition was. Imagine how difficult and draining this transition of moving from all virtual to hybrid will be? On top of the stress of the transition, teachers seem to be completely forgotten about in this whole situation. Teachers have not and will not receive a lot of preparation and guidance for students returning. They will suddenly be teaching both virtually and in person at the same time, doubling their workloads. Altogether, I feel as that the school board has not made the return for students and faculty smooth; I feel as it will be chaotic and quite stress inducing.

Despite my belief of this being the completely wrong time for schools to reopen, I fully understand why schools are trying. Even though I believe that a wait is necessary before schools reopen, students all across the county are struggling learning online and some are having a miserable time with school. I feel for all the students that struggle with virtual school and as a result are havingĀ  declining mental health. Not only is this impacting students’ long term mental health and future GPAs, numerous students struggle with bad internet connections. I know of many students that have to make 20 minute drives to get a decent internet connections or have to share a hotspot that often leads to their computers crashing. For many students around the county, all virtual learning has proved to be a challenging experience.

I feel that if the school board had made an earlier decision and had given strong and clear guidelines, this reopening scenario could have had a brighter possibility of success and less backlash. However, with the current situation FCPS1 is in and the steps the school board has taken, the only future I actually see is a catastrophic rise of Covid-19 in our beloved community.