Back-to-School Frequently Asked Questions
After reviewing the guidance from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Maryland Department of Health, and working in close collaboration with the officials from the Frederick County Health Department, FCPS requires face coverings for all students and staff inside our school buildings.
Yes. Masks are required on school buses for students and staff.
We welcomed students five days a week for in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 school year, and therefore are unable to provide social distancing among students. Both the CDC and the AAP have identified that having students being physically present in school is more important than ensuring social distancing.
Only students ages 12 and older are eligible for the vaccine. FCPS does not make vaccinations mandatory at this time, which is consistent with the guidance we have received from the Maryland Department of Health (MDH).
When a student or staff member tests positive for or is diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual will be advised to isolate at home according to CDC and MDH guidelines. FCPS, in collaboration with the Frederick County Health Department (FCHD), will conduct an investigation to identify close contacts of the infected individual who were not wearing a facial covering. Any close contacts will be notified individually and be advised to quarantine at home based on MDH and CDC guidelines. In collaboration with the Frederick County Health Department, FCPS and FCHD will continue utilizing contract tracing and quarantining strategies this year to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our schools. Close contacts, who were not wearing a facial covering, of those who test positive for COVID-19 will be notified. Any student or staff member who is present in a room with an individual who has tested positive will also be notified.
Any person not wearing a facial covering and who is identified as having been within 6 feet of an individual infected with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or greater (cumulative in a 24 hour period) during the individual’s period of communicability is considered a close contact.
The CDC has provided the following exception to the definition of a close contact for students in the K-12 indoor classroom setting.
Students who are determined to have been greater than 3 feet from the infected individual are not considered close contacts and do not need to quarantine if:
- both students were engaged in consistent and correct use of well fitting masks AND
- other K-12 school prevention strategies (such as universal and correct mask use, physical distancing, increased ventilation were in place in the K-12 school setting)
This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting.
At the Board of Education meeting on October 13, 2021, the Board made an adjustment to our close contact and quarantining protocol, anyone who is properly wearing a facial covering and asymptomatic would not be considered a close contact and would not have to quarantine.
When identified as a close contact of a person infected with COVID-19, the close contact will be required to quarantine at home for 7-14 days unless the close contact is fully vaccinated AND remains asymptomatic or the close contact has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days AND remains asymptomatic.
Quarantine time for close contacts may vary based on several factors, including age, symptoms, ability to consistently and appropriately mask, and COVID-19 test results. Quarantine decisions will be made on a case-by case-basis using the aforementioned factors and following the MDH/MSDE Decision Aid: Exclusion and Return for Persons with COVID-19 Symptoms and Close Contacts in Child Care, Schools, and Youth Camps.
Quarantine guidelines are determined by the Maryland Department of Health.
Masks are not required outdoors, but are strongly encouraged for those who are unvaccinated.
Families should provide a doctor’s note to the school principal if seeking an exemption.
Yes. Once again, FCPS utilizes a health metrics dashboard, which breaks down the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases by school community.
The number of students in each classroom varies by school depending on enrollment. Yes, it is likely there will be 25 or more students in some classrooms.
This is referred to as concurrent teaching. To the greatest extent possible, teachers are not teaching students both in-person and virtually. The blended virtual program is staffed by separate administrators and teachers who specialize in virtual learning.
Students can still take part in extracurricular activities at their “home” school. For example, if a student in the virtual program would typically attend Tuscarora High, then that student could take part in extracurricular activities at Tuscarora High School.
Some co-curricular activities require enrollment in a specific course at the home school, so participation in these co-curricular activities may not be possible.
Multiple services and accommodations for students with an IEP or 504 plan are available in the blended virtual program. If a student has an IEP or 504 Plan, the home school for the student will convene a meeting to discuss the appropriateness of the virtual program. The IEP or 504 team will outline the necessary accommodations, supplementary aids, and services to support eligible students in the virtual program.
Services for English Learners are provided through the virtual program. Families will have to weigh whether or not the virtual program will benefit their child given a student’s specific language level. School-based and central office staff can support families in making the decision that is best for their child.
Food and nutrition services will still be available to students via their home school site.