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October 13, 2020

Parents select in-person classes for 68% of students

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
The school system still needs drivers for 18 bus routes. Despite a dramatic decrease in riders, buses will have far less capacity because of “social distancing” and drivers still will cover most of the county’s 650 square miles.
We will have COVID cases, we know that. The response will be potentially different for each case.
— Associate Superintendent Frank Finn
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Two-thirds of parents have opted to put their children back in Fauquier public schools classrooms next month.

Students on Monday, Nov. 9, will resume in-person instruction for the first time since March, when Virginia public schools because of the pandemic.

Parents had until midnight Friday, Oct. 9, to select the hybrid model, which will have students in classrooms two days a week, or to continue virtual instruction.

County schools received responses representing 9,184 students or 88 percent of those enrolled. Of those, 68 percent chose the hybrid model and 32 percent selected virtual.

Administrators assigned the remaining 1,231 students — whose parents or guardians failed to respond to the survey — to hybrid instruction.

That makes the split 71 hybrid to 29 percent virtual.

> Document at bottom of story

Since July, the debate has raged about how and when to resume in-person classes.

Superintendent David Jeck and the school board on Aug. 10 changed their plan to start hybrid instruction, shifting to virtual learning two weeks before the fall semester started.

The debate continued for more than an hour during Citizens’ Time at the end of Monday night’s school board meeting. Proponents of in-person classes and those who support continuing all-virtual instruction until January repeated arguments for each position.

Earlier in the meeting at William C. Taylor Middle School, administrators and the board discussed preparations for 7,400 students to enter classrooms in four weeks.

The hybrid plan calls for students with last names beginning with A to K (Group A) to attend in-person classes Mondays and Tuesday. Those whose names begin with L to Z (Group B) will attend in-person classes Thursdays and Fridays.

Teachers will prepare them to work independently other days.

About 3,000 students will continue virtual instruction, with teachers livestreaming the classes they lead in Fauquier’s 20 public schools.

The school system has increased internet “bandwidth” and tested it to accommodate multiple teachers streaming video simultaneously.

“We do feel confident we’ll be able to stream,” Instructional Technology Manager Stacy Maier told the board.

Wednesdays will serve as planning days for teachers, when they also will have “office hours” to answer student questions.

“We will not prevent a student from moving to virtual to hybrid if they have safety concerns,” Dr. Jeck told the board.

But, virtual students cannot elect a shift to in-person instruction before January.

The school system’s transportation managers have begun figuring out bus routes for the 31 percent of students whose parents selected that option. That means 3,228 students will ride buses — less than half the normal number.

But, social distancing will limit buses to about one-third of normal capacity, and drivers still will cover most of Fauquier’s 650 square miles to get students to and from school.

The system still needs 18 more drivers to cover all the anticipated routes.

Students must wear masks on buses and in schools, except when eating.

“We will have COVID cases, we know that,” Associate Superintendent Frank Finn told the board. "The response will be potentially different for each case.”

It could require closing a classroom or even a school, depending on contact tracing, which the Virginia Department of Health will conduct.

But, the school system will react quickly to stop the potential spread of the virus, Mr. Finn said.

The system has launched an online dashboard to report cases by location and date.

But, more specific information would go to those exposed to a potentially infected person, according to administrators. They will seek to balance “transparency” with privacy.

Contact Editor “Lou” Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-1845.

FCPS Path to Reopening - 10_12 by Fauquier Now

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SaraFostere · October 22, 2020 at 5:40 am
I think it's reasonable! It's hard for parents to combine work and control over the child's learning. I like homeschooling, as it gives many opportunities to use a lot of additional services (e.g. Studyhippo) and save a lot of time. I write research with the help of, and I can say that such services are really helpful. It's been tough to find good materials for the introduction of the study of tardiness, but I've managed to write it properly.
Savefauquiercounty2019 · October 14, 2020 at 4:21 pm
So what happened to not having enough staff?
Marshall Resident · October 14, 2020 at 7:29 am
@lhfry, it is inaccurate to say that the WHO has come out against lockdowns. See for an explanation of how President Trump misconstrued the argument of a WHO special envoy. Bottom line is that lockdowns are our best chance at safety when testing and contact tracing are inadequate.

Speaking of which, the school systems case tracking dashboard is out of date (as of this writing). I do hope they get it more current by the time schools open and kids are being crammed together on buses because the system can't find all the drivers they need (yikes!).

Associate Superintendent Finn acknowledged there will be cases. The question is, how many deaths are he and his colleagues willing to accept before they shut down again? Mr. Emerson, I hope you will ask.
Bin Bin · October 14, 2020 at 5:20 am
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lhfry · October 13, 2020 at 3:43 pm
The WHO has now come out against lockdowns. They say that response to the pandemic hurts poor people most. I guess it took them this long to figure out that most low level jobs cannot be performed from home. As is usually the case, those establishing the policies think only of people like themselves and never suffer the consequences of their mistakes.

Good for Fauquier parents who have said ENOUGH.
Fred_GarvinJr · October 13, 2020 at 3:24 pm
If transportation capacity is so tight, why are they dictating which days people attend by their last name? Wouldn't it make more sense to do it by geography, such that the buses only had to cover a portion of the county each day? Granted, there will still be limits on the number of kids who can get on each bus. But, routing & scheduling would be more efficient if this were done on a geographic basis.

Oh, well, opportunity missed...
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