Board of Education issues statement regarding hybrid reopening plan

Board of Education issues statement regarding hybrid reopening plan

We are aware of a recent decision by the Frederick County Teachers Association to express a vote of no-confidence in the Board of Education of Frederick County and Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban. This is truly unfortunate. Throughout this global health crisis, we have done all we can to accommodate the health and safety concerns of students, staff, and the community at large. Additionally, we appreciate how teachers have innovated to provide virtual learning for students throughout the last ten months.

The fact remains: COVID-19 challenges every aspect of how we educate students.

We are not alone in this struggle. Local, county, state, and national leaders are all determining the best approaches to balancing the safety and well-being of staff with the educational, socio-economic and mental needs of our students as well.

A reminder that the Board’s mission is to:

  • Reach our students with exceptional teaching and caring support,
  • Challenge them to achieve their potential, and
  • Prepare them for success in a global society

Health guidance keeps changing as we learn more about COVID-19. The updated Maryland School Reopening Guidance no longer references metrics in its decision to reopen schools, a decision supported by the Maryland Department of Health.

The Board voted to entrust Dr. Alban the authority to make decisions regarding the implementation of the hybrid model of instruction. She has managed the process in accordance with the motion.  Dr. Alban remains mindful of health metrics while balancing the concerns shared by staff.

On Nov. 11, the Board voted to implement hybrid instruction on Jan. 28, with staff returning to their buildings on Jan. 13, 2021. 

On Jan. 3, Dr. Alban consulted with Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, Frederick County’s Heath Officer, regarding the spike in various health metrics. As a result, Dr. Alban decided to suspend small group instruction on Jan. 3.

On Jan. 6, Dr. Alban delayed the implementation of the hybrid model when she informed the community that teachers would return to the buildings on Jan. 27, with students returning on Feb. 16. She shared COVID-19 metrics would be monitored in consultation with the health department. Since that time, the health metrics have improved.

Dr. Alban delayed returning the teachers by two weeks because she wasn’t comfortable with the various metrics combined with caution involving a possible post-holiday spike. These examples demonstrate the Superintendent’s dedication to balancing the academic needs of the students with the health and safety of staff and students. 

We understand that teachers and other staff are concerned about returning to the classroom; however, we must plan for in-person learning as soon as possible. We are hopeful the metrics will continue to trend downward.  If that is not the case, we have empowered Dr. Alban to make the appropriate decision as previously demonstrated.

A majority of the Board agrees with Dr. Alban’s plan to implement the hybrid model as soon as possible.  In addition, the FCPS plan complies with the deadline established by the governor and Maryland State Department of Education. 

We have confidence in the FCPS hybrid learning plan, one that follows all health and safety guidelines from the Frederick County Health Department, Maryland Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.