The Frederick County Board of Education passed several motions Wednesday night that will impact students and their ability to have in-person learning for the remainder of the school year.
The first states that social distancing at the elementary level will be reduced from six feet to three feet, per recent guidance that was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The board also discussed expanding the current hybrid learning model to four days a week at the elementary level and bringing back more students who want to switch over from their current all-virtual model.
Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent Terry Alban reiterated to board members that there would be challenges with this switch, including providing transportation and spacing out students while they're eating lunch. According to the CDC, students should maintain six feet of social distancing while eating with their masks off.
The board eventually voted to pass the motion, however, and FCPS staff members have been given until May 1 to figure out the details of the transition. It is likely elementary students will begin coming into school buildings four days a week beginning May 3.
Lunch procedures are likely to vary depending on the school — some may use outdoors spaces and classrooms, for example — and it is also possible students may have to change teachers for the remainder of the school year depending on if families decide to switch learning models with the newly adopted protocols.
Alban pointed out that some families who are currently attending school two days a week may not choose to come in for four days.
"It's not going to look the same at every school because families will make different choices and the capacity at different schools is different," she said.
Details of how the new model will work are likely to be provided individually by schools over the next two-and-a-half weeks.
The board also voted to receive a plan from FCPS in June on what operations will look like for the fall, with the understanding that things could change depending on the state of the pandemic.
"If the numbers change, we always have the right to change. I'm just asking that their plan be prepared and then we either go for it or we don't," said board member Brad Young, who made the motion.
Finally, in an unexpected move, the board voted to allow all high school seniors to attend school in-person for one last day together. The official last day of school for seniors is May 25. It is unclear whether seniors will come in that day or a different date.