FCPS1Equity: Reasons to Stay Virtual Until January

FCPS1Equity is a Fauquier County Public Schools (FCPS) group opposed to the September 23 school board decision to reopen schools on November 4, following the new hybrid plan. They believe it is unequal for students as well as teachers. Students will attend school in an AA/BB day format or continue to learn remotely while teachers will teach both sets of students at the same time.
FCPS1Equity’s goal is to postpone the reopening of FCPS until January 5, due to concerns for students and staff. They stress that they do not want to close school indefinitely. One of the group leaders, Mike Hammond, said they want to reopen schools but “in a safe and effective way.” They FCPS1Equity stated in their petition that they believe the new plan is “reducing the amount of synchronous instruction and the quality of virtual instruction, all while simultaneously putting additional burdens on teachers and parents.” FCPS1Equity is concerned that teachers will be overworking. They state in their petition “Keep Fauquier Co. Schools Virtual Until Jan 5th” that teachers have to re-plan their lessons to accommodate with the new hybrid model. Teachers will have to manage in-person classes while maintaining virtual student education.
Students who pick online will be, as they stated in their petition statement, “relegated to second-class status, provided only with a view into the in-person classroom or occasional interaction.” Online students will live stream class and type questions in the chat, unlike the current model, where students can interact.
They are also focusing on the uncertainty of schools remaining open. If there was an outbreak, the closing of the school would affect parents and family schedules. Furthermore, children and teens will have to reaccustom themselves to a new schedule.
The plan will also reduce elementary students’ synchronous time compared to the originally proposed model. Reopening K-2 allowed for four days of in-person instruction, but with the change to K-12 only two days are set in place. Secondary students taking full credit courses will, from the petition, “have their schedules and learning modes upended with only 26 days remaining,” which will lead to, as stated in the petition, “reduced educational outcomes for students in every grade level.”
These are the four main issues that FCPS1Equity is highlighting. Other problems they are concerned with, as stated in the petition, are “staffing shortages, transportation questions, PPE supplies and building safety measures, testing and quarantine procedures, technology availability and security, continuity planning, and more.”
The group’s reasoning for postponing the reopening schools is that it would give a “clean break for most of the school because that is the beginning of the semester,” said Hammond. Students can come back and get used to the new environment during the start of new classes. Hammond believes that if they return in November kids will have to accommodate themselves during the middle of the semester. It would also give the school board more time to resolve issues in the plan.
The group is working to gain awareness about reopening when it “makes sense for all of the students in the county and not just some of the students,” said Hammond. He added that he understands the complications some students are facing with online learning but he doesn’t want to trade it for a plan that will create more disadvantages for other students. The new plan “is just to appease a group that wants to go back to school. You are trading one problem for another.”