During this unprecedented health crisis, the values and mission of Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) remain focused on the well-being of our students, their families, our teachers and our staff. Uncertainty and changes in routine are doubly hard for our children and those Frederick County families who are vulnerable because of economic circumstance.

The Board of Education of Frederick County has been focused on two key priorities since the emergence of COVID-19 as a crisis in our region:

  • First, we directed the superintendent and her staff to design and deploy safe and flexible feeding options available to as many communities in Frederick County as possible. FCPS staff are tracking data and adjusting locations based on participation and community feedback, but we are pleased that we have served over 4,000 meals in the first week.
  • Second, as the largest single employer in Frederick County, the board is committed to safeguarding the economic wellbeing of both salaried and non-salaried personnel during these difficult times. FCPS teachers, bus drivers, instructional assistants, interpreters, community liaisons and food service workers are vital members of our school system — and they are our friends and neighbors. The board directed the superintendent to define options to ensure that benefited 10- or 11-month staff would be paid during a temporary or extended school closure period.

Over the last week, the board has partnered with union leadership for support employees to finalize an agreement to ensure continuation of compensation and to outline expectations for modified job duties. Agreements for teachers and administrators will follow, as details are determined regarding responsibilities in serving students and the change to the student school year.

Via Find Out First, email and social media, the FCPS community received preliminary details regarding FCPS’ plans for continuity of learning using distance learning tools. The board is proud that the superintendent and staff have been building capacity for virtual learning options for years prior to the COVID-19 emergency. Ongoing investments in technology, professional development, software and other tools have made FCPS well-positioned to begin rolling out distance learning to ensure continuity of learning in our county. Additionally, the board is pleased that the superintendent and her staff have approached these distance learning plans with an equity focus, procuring Wi-Fi hot spots and devices to be deployed to families who need them along with tailored planning and staffing for students who receive special education services or who are English language learners.

Should schools remain closed past March 27, FCPS is ready to rapidly implement distance learning for our students, but we need state approval. The Board of Education of Frederick County is advocating for State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon and the State Board of Education to approve remote learning as approved school days for Frederick County and to make any adjustments to the calendar year to assist us in finalizing of agreements with our labor associations. Once these determinations are made, FCPS leaders will quickly finalize professional development, equipment and technology needs and then implement distance learning to ensure continuity of learning for our students.

The board is tremendously grateful for the work of FCPS staff during these difficult times. From food service personnel to curriculum leaders who are adapting materials for virtual environments, FCPS is staffed by caring professionals who are also affected by this emergency but still delivering their best ideas and work for our children. We are also so appreciative for our partnerships and individuals in the wider community who have volunteered, shared ideas and demonstrated their commitment to our students and families.

Brad W. Young, president

Jay Mason, vice president

Liz Barrett, member

Michael Bunitsky, member

Rae Gallagher, member

Lois Jarman, member

Karen Yoho, member

Malachi Macon, student member

(7) comments

FCPSAdmin

Notice that neither of their two key priorities involves making sure kids receive an education. You know, the thing they were elected to do. Now FCPS is sharing preliminary details on distance learning. Preliminary. FCPS has had well more than a month to plan and prepare. What has Alban been doing with her time? Shameful.

Top Cat

I was actually struck by that fact as well - educating students isn't mentioned in the statement. I fully understand the difficulties of rapidly implementing "distance learning" across all Frederick county students and teachers...but for the Board of Education to not even mention education as a priority is, well, strange.

Observer10

The Maryland State Board of Education mandated a ten day delay in releasing distance learning plans. That ten day period ends on Monday and Dr. Alban and the teachers of Frederick County Public Schools are eager to begin the continuity of instruction. What is shameful is that you post without knowing the facts.

FCPSAdmin

Nope. Sorry. Alban apologists don’t have facts to go on. The state board mandated that about two weeks ago. Alban has had almost a month. She’s done nothing. Individual teachers and principals are scrambling to make things up as they go along. Minutes ago they sent a Findoutfirst telling us to watch for details on continuity of instruction. Parents should have had those details weeks ago.

llrowse

Rather than worrying about DOCTOR Alban’s time expenditure, perhaps you should put more time toward carefully reading an article.

FCPSAdmin

The Board is elected to worry about Alban’s time expenditure (and her expenditure of money). Maybe if they spent more time doing that, we’d have better results and an actual plan to keep our kids learning.

llrowse

I suggest you read more widely, and familiarize yourself with the challenges facing all school systems in the wake of Covid 19. Dr. Alban has a contract, which specifies her responsibilities. There is an existing structure within FCPS, which identifies the responsibilities of each department, and the individuals, therein. With all of the FCPS materials that I’ve used over the years, I’ve never found the one titled “How to Home School Students Remotely, During an Unprecedented World Pandemic” I assure you that such a binder will be available from FCPS, upon the resolution of this world threat. Yes, the binder is literally being written as things go along. Various lines of communication are already established with families, inclusive of a cable channel. There is technology equipment to carry this out, and teachers willing to make it happen. There are students who want lessons to take place. I’m sure parents welcome lessons. Dr. Alban is orchestrating this process, with the help and support of the BOE. It’s quite an undertaking. How are you willing to help?

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