Four weeks from today, school will open for the new year here in the overly-large school district. The superintendent and school board have declared that all students will be attending in-person, five days a week. Just business as usual, right?
Well, given the pandemic isn’t over and cases are even rising, that IS a lot of optimism.
Schools are still unsure how many of those students will actually show up, which makes staffing and other decisions very difficult. The district says that few students will be able to use an online option, only under very narrow medical conditions. It’s likely some parents may keep their kids home and make alternative arrangements, like using one of the “free” online K12 schools that are currently doing some heavy advertising.
I haven’t heard whether teachers will be required to be vaccinated. Or if eligible students must get the shots. It should be a requirement for both groups,1 but that’s still an unnecessarily sensitive topic even in this relatively liberal region of what is still a relatively conservative Southern state.
It’s also unclear whether students and/or teachers will be required to wear masks. Or will be forbidden from wearing masks. Could go either way. Considering the size of our middle and high schools (and many elementary schools), I’m pretty sure there probably won’t be much social distancing going on.
Then there’s the matter of the Critical Race Theory curriculum. Which doesn’t exist. In any Fairfax school. Period. Of course, that minor fact won’t stop the small, noisy, and very annoying group of adults2 from yelling, often incoherently, at school board members, principals, teachers, and others.
On top of all these problems, the district also has a collection of the usual issues surrounding school attendance zones, special education access, bus routes, Jefferson admission, and so many more that makes up educational life in Northern Virginia.
So, to all my friends working in Fairfax schools and central offices, welcome to the 2021-22 school year. I admire your courage and ability to make all the moving parts in this overly-large system work remarkably well, despite the many efforts to gum up the gears.
Always remembering that the needs of the kids come before anything else.
These signs, along with others like the one below, have been posted in front of every school in the district. I’m not sure using math instruction in the classroom is necessarily a selling point, for kids at least. :-)
1. As with most states, Virginia has a very specific list of vaccinations that are required for kids who are enrolled in schools (public or private), most recently updated this month. I’m pretty sure there’s a similar list for educators working with kids as well. COVID needs to be added to both lists.
2. Adults who likely are not all parents, with some who don’t even live in the county. However, I’m pretty sure all of them watch waaaay too much Fox.