New Season, New Protocols


Frederick News Post

Board of Education hears from parents during a meeting concerning Sabillasville Elementary.

Riley Frutiger, Writer


The FCPS Board of Education has been faced with several difficult decisions this year regarding the return to in person school as well as extracurricular activities. When the school year started and fall sports rolled around, they were under strong mask mandates for student athletes not actively participating in the event.


With winter sports just around the corner, it came time to reconsider current protocols regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The school board was again met with a difficult decision, which after a long process, decided on implementing a weekly testing policy for students who are not vaccinated.


The original plan presented to the board was that all students would be tested weekly, regardless of vaccination status. However, there were concerns that students got the vaccine in order to take less precautionary measures, and it was decided that it would be excessive for additional measures to be taken for students who have already taken responsibility for their own safety.


The board mandated that students either test weekly or prove vaccination status applies to all winter activities, including athletic, academic, and art-based competitions/activities. This means that all students participating in extracurriculars, from the gym to the stage, will be expected to follow the school board’s guidelines. 


However, due to the nature of the subject, the board’s decision was met with quite a lot of criticism from parents, and also students. 


An Oakdale High School junior stated, “I think it’s dumb because not everyone can get vaccinated. It’s so much effort to get tested every week and a lot of money so it’s not a good idea.” 


Mark Wolcott, Oakdale’s athletic director, understood the backlash against the new policies, but wanted to encourage students to still be involved in extracurriculars. 


“We hope to see Oakdale students with an interest in impacted extra-curricular activities participate in their activity of interest, but understand that each family and student must make a decision that is best for themselves,” Wolcott insisted.


While some students are against the new precautions, some students are very in support of this mandate.


“I’m 100% for it,” said Senior Reed Fliegel, “I’ve lost a lot of high school sports to COVID already… I’d hate to see it get shut down again for someone who won’t do what they can to keep the people around them safe.”


Regardless of stance on the matter, students have a voice on the board in the form of the SMOB, or student member of the board. This year’s representative is Oakdale’s own Sam Starrs. His job is to make sure all 43,828 students in Frederick County Public Schools are heard when it comes to big decisions like the ones made in the meeting on October 13th.


“I would tell students to message me on instagram,” Starrs said. He encourages any student that has an opinion on board decisions to reach out to him so that they can be heard without being present at meetings. The account is @fcps_smob, where there are often poles for students to get involved with decisions that affect them.


It all comes down to one goal, keeping students safe while returning to a more normal environment, in and after school. It is protocols like these that are putting students first, and must be followed in order to keep providing extracurricular activities at Oakdale.