RCMS students gear up for the return to school


Credit: RCMS

Desks are set up for social distancing in the cafeteria in this photo shown during the RCMS Parent Town Hall Presentation on Feb. 22.

Cailyn Johnson, Journalism student

RCMS students and teachers have opposing feelings of excitement and nervousness about going back to school after almost a year of being at home.

“I am a little nervous about the changes but very excited to go back in the building,” said Abby Greger, eighth-grade RCMS student.

Out of RCMS’s almost 1,500 students, approximately one-third (543) of them have elected to go back in person, according to Principal Stokes’ update in the February 22 RCMS Parent Town Hall meeting.

Eighth-graders with last names A-K will return to school hybrid (two days a week) on March 2, 2021.

“I’m excited to see my students and colleagues, but anxious about the changes,” said Daniela Goldstein, a civics teacher at RCMS.

Social distancing will be enforced on buses before and after school. Prior to entering the building all students are required to take a daily health screening questionnaire.

Students and teachers will have to follow traffic patterns in hallways around the school to maintain a social distance of six feet.

Almost a year ago, on March 12, 2020, students were let out of school until further notice due to COVID-19. This then led to Virginia Governor Northam making schools virtual for the rest of the year.

“I have trouble paying attention (online) so when I go back to school it would help improve my attention span,” said Devyn Sheehan, eighth-grade RCMS student.

In late 2020 students were presented with the option to stay virtual or go back to school hybrid. FCPS has hired classroom monitors to supervise classrooms that have teachers remaining fully virtual.

Abbi Hering, former RCMS student said, “I chose virtual learning for the flexibility in my schedule and to avoid the risk of getting COVID-19.”

There are varying opinions about when we should be going back into the building. Some people think we should have returned to school many months ago. Some believed we should have waited until the students got vaccinated, and others think now is the correct time. Currently there is no approved vaccine for those under 16.

With regards to the timing decision Ms. Goldstein said, “I think the school board did the best they could for the students.”

There will be no use of lockers. Students should plan to bring what they need in backpacks.

Here are some tips from your fellow teachers and students for in-person return:
– Try to get on a good sleep schedule
– Eat breakfast
– Charge computers the night before
– Have an extra mask with you just in case- Wear good walking shoes
– Be patient with each other

“Regardless of whether you’ve been vaccinated, mask wearing, social distancing, frequent hand washing and staying home when you aren’t feeling well are critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19,” said Joel Johnson, lead for Lockheed Martin’s COVID-19 response and father of an RCMS student. “Everyone should be educated with the latest CDC guidelines.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance for the decision-making process regarding reopening for in-person learning:
– Wear a mask to cover your mouth and nose when around others
– Stay 6 feet apart
– Wash your hands/Cover coughs and sneezes
– Clean and disinfect
– Help with contact tracing/Stay home if sick

FCPS brought back the first groups of students (Groups 1-4) for in-person instruction on February 16. Seventh grade (group 8) students will return to school March 9.

Based on RCMS student and staff feedback, those that are returning to school buildings are looking forward to getting back to school after almost a full year of online learning.

RCMS seventh-grader Gabi Lopez said, “I’m excited to start a new chapter safely and healthily.”


Click here for more information about precautions the schools will be taking: https://www.fcps.edu/return-school/student-health-and-safety-guidance-document#parents 

Click here for more information about back to school dates and supplies to get: https://www.fcps.edu/returntoschool

Click here to see the FCPS Return to School FAQs: https://www.fcps.edu/returntoschool/return-school-questions-and-answers