Cross-Curricular Cohort students return part time to Madison

Sylvia Dixon, Staff Reporter

Students participating in the Cross-Curricular program at Madison have returned to part-time in-person learning in order to prepare for opening the school to the remaining students and staff in February.

Fairfax County has divided its students into eight separate groups to determine the order in which students will return to in-person school. So far, they have brought back students who are sorted into groups 1-4. These students include students with disabilities, a smaller group of preschool students and specialized high school career preparatory programs. Another group that they have brought back is the Cross-Curricular Cohort at Madison. The Cross-Curricular Cohort is a program that consists of a small group of freshman students. This program, in a sense, combines English, World History 1 and Biology classes. The students in the cohort all have the same teachers and are assigned projects that combine lessons from all three subjects. There are no official tests; rather, the students are taught via project-based learning (PBL). 

The Cross-Curricular students returned to school in early November and have been attending school in person one day a week. When they are at Madison, students and staff are required to follow safety precautions in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some of these precautions include wearing a mask and social distancing. If students do not comply with these rules, they may be required to return to online learning. 

“We are bringing back additional groups of students as we continue to meet the health and operational metrics that have been established for in-person instruction including low transmission rates, mitigation strategies, planned response for confirmed cases, and availability of teachers and staff,” FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in his Oct. 23 Return to School Update. 

If the Cross-Curricular students and the other groups that have returned are able to attend school safely, FCPS will allow more groups of students to return as well. 

Danika Pfleghardt (’24) is participating in the Cross-Curricular Cohort and has been learning in person at Madison one day per week since Nov. 4. The Cohort has not been permitted to go back in person two days per week yet. Overall, Pfleghardt said her experience has been positive and she has felt lucky that she has been able to see and meet her friends and teachers. 

“[The Cross Curricular Cohort] is a good way to transform the common methods of learning into a method that connects learning and the real world,” Pfleghardt said. 

Pfleghardt also feels that the Cohort does not necessarily require students to do more work than the regular classes, although the learning is structured in a different way, so it may be more challenging for some students. 

“I am upset about missing social interactions,” Pfleghardt said. “Although, going to school virtually allows me to have more time in my day to do the things I enjoy.” 

She also expressed that she feels that Madison has been taking the appropriate precautions in order to keep students safe and emphasized that she does not feel unsafe when she is at school due to the extensive precautions set in place. She believes that by February, Madison will be ready to bring the rest of the students back to in-person learning safely.

“When a student first walks into the building their temperature is taken,” Pfleghardt said. “Additionally, at all times students stay six feet apart. There are also hand sanitizing stations throughout the building. After each class the chairs and desks get sanitized.”