A normal return to school this fall: does WS approve?


Christina Nies, Staff Writer

Mixed feelings characterize the community’s outlook towards the planned switch to five days of in-person school for the 2021-2022 school year.

FCPS announced in March that the county is working to transition students to a five-day in-person approach next school year, citing success in the current concurrent virtual/in-person schedule. 

“We are confident that we can deliver on a five-day return for all students in the fall, knowing that, while we can adapt to any situation, in-person learning really is the best option for our students and staff,” said FCPS Superintendent, Scott Brabrand, in a press release. 

As the 2020-2021 term comes closer to an end, the reality of a normal school year is a reality that those attending WS welcome. 

“I think this change will affect me positively, both mentally and with my education because it’s harder to learn and to communicate with others while learning from home,” explained freshman Carolann Roberts.

While Roberts is attending school within the concurrent plan, the two days a week of in-person instruction simply isn’t enough.

 “I look forward to the two days a week when I can attend my classes in-person. When I have classes online, I don’t put the effort into getting the work done like I do in-person,” admitted Roberts. 

Teachers feel similarly to students in terms of their attitudes towards the concurrent schedule. 

“I dislike teaching concurrently because it’s very hard to focus on two groups of students in different places at the same time. Concurrent affects presentation, technology, testing, etc,” said World History teacher, Mark Witzel, putting into words the frustrations many teachers have felt during this spring’s shift to half virtual, half in-person. 

Difficulty interacting with students is a stressor in common shared with Witzel by English teacher, Emily Finerfrock. 

“As a teacher, I want to help and support all my students, and hybrid makes me feel like they have only only 50% of me,” was a point of conflict emphasized by Finerfrock.

Besides the lack of full engagement with students, the simple fact of wanting to physically be in the building more is another reason teachers desire a switch. 

“I love being in the classroom with students, so anything that allows that to happen more often is good by me,” expressed Witzel. 

When questioned on opinions regarding the four-day-a-week, concurrent plan versus the five-day-a-week plan, parents disclosed a contrasting outlook to those of students and staff.

 “Due to the circumstances of the covid pandemic still continuing on, I was much more content and agreed strongly with the four-day-a week-plan,” said Trish Martin, who is a parent to a freshman and senior. 

Martin is a stay-at-home mom of three children, two of whom participate in concurrent education, and will soon be switching to four days of in-person. 

“I feel [five days a week] will be harder [than] attending school four days a week,” said Martin. “It has been beneficial for each of my three children to be able to have asynchronous time to complete outside classroom work and meet with teachers in a supportive way.” 

As the school year winds down and summer approaches, the thought of the 2021-2022 term is far from most people’s minds. While the consensus among students and educators may be to fully transition back to five days of normal classes a week, parent’s voices also need to be heard. After all, everyone wants the same thing. Safety. 

In the words of Finerfrock, “I want any decision to be grounded in what is safe and best for all of us.”