December 2019 Newsletter from School Board Member Karen Corbett Sanders

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Karen Corbett Sanders' Newsletter

Dear Families,

This is my favorite time of year, with our schools holding holiday concerts and winter festivals.  This past weekend was especially wonderful as we celebrated a South County High School win at the state 6A football championships.  We will be honoring them at the first board meeting in January.  We will also be celebrating Hayfield High School’s Latin students who performed exceptionally well at the state convention.  

Last Thursday evening, I was honored to be sworn in along with three incumbents and eight new board members for the School Board term commencing January1, 2020.  Thursday evening, we will be saying goodbye to my distinguished colleagues whom have served collectively over 90 years of service.  Please join me in thanking them for their service.

As we close out 2019, I want to take a moment to reflect on the achievements of our students and the relentless dedication of our teachers, staff, and parents. Fairfax County Public Schools would not be the same without their hard work. As we approach the Winter Break, and get ready to close out 2019 and enter 2020, I want to wish everyone a blessed Holiday Season and a joy filled 2020!   



Calendar Reminder

As a reminder, this year winter break starts on December 23 and ends on January 3, 2020. Classes will resume on Monday, January 6, 2020. See the complete 2019-20 school year calendar


In Case You Missed It: 2020-21 School Year Calendar Announced

In case you missed it over the summer, the 2020-21 school year calendar has been announced. For planning purposes, notable dates include: First day of school - Tuesday, August 25, 2020; Labor Day Break - September 4-7, 2020; Thanksgiving Break - November 25-27, 2020; Winter Break - December 21, 2020-January 1, 2021; Spring Break – March 29, 2021- April 2, 2021 (Note: Monday, April 5, 2021, is a teacher workday and a holiday for students); Last day of school for students - Friday, June 11, 2021. See the complete 2020-21 school year calendar


Bus Delay Notification System

Stay up-to-date on school bus arrivals with FCPS' bus delay notification system. This system provides parents with timely notification of late bus route information. Access it directly online. Morning bus route information will be available until noon. The afternoon bus route information will be available from 1 to 7 p.m.  

E-Notify email messages will also be sent to announce bus delays.

Need assistance or have questions? Visit the FCPS Transportation page for more information. 


Register Now for the New FCPS Teacher Workday-Student Holiday Camps

Need something fun, engaging, and academic for your child (grades 3-8) during teacher workdays or student holidays when schools are closed? Check out this redesigned camp offered by FCPS Adult and Community Education (ACE), bundled to give parents affordable, bilingual, camp options. You can drop off your child as early as 8 a.m., and pick up as late as 5:30 p.m.

In this camp, your child will be introduced to a foreign language and related cultural culinary activities by enthusiastic and experienced instructors. Each day is a new cultural and culinary experience. You can sign up for a single day online or two days and receive the third day for free by calling the ACE registration office at 703-658-1201. 2019-20 camp dates: December 23; January 27-28, 2020; March 13, 2020; and April 13, 2020. Spaces are limited so register today.

Camp offerings and prices may be viewed on the ACE website by clicking on K-12 Classes and Camps. Registration may be completed online, by phone at 703-658-1201, by mail, or in person.


Inclement Weather and Emergency Closing Plans; Make Arrangements Now in Case of an Unforeseen Schedule Change

Cold and wintry weather will soon be here! Due to inclement weather or other emergency situations, it may be necessary to close schools for the entire day, to open schools late, or to close early.

Parents are urged to make arrangements now for the care of their children when schedule changes are made (and to provide for the rare situation when it is necessary to close an individual school because of a power failure or other circumstances). Children should know where to go if a parent will not be home.

FCPS has several schedules set up to deal with inclement weather; these are put into effect when conditions threaten the safety of students and staff members:

  • Keep schools closed.
  • Open two hours late.
  • Close two hours early.

When Fairfax County Public Schools has a schedule change (closing or delay) due to inclement weather or other emergencies, the information is communicated in several ways as soon as the decision is made

Note: The official @FCPSnews Twitter account (with blue checkmark) is generally the first and fastest mode of communication during emergency weather closings. Other communication channels will be updated as quickly as possible including email, text, website, other social media, and news stations.

Please be aware, due to the large volume of emails sent, there will likely be a lag between the time a FCPS Twitter alert is posted and receipt of an email in your inbox.


MLK Day Essay Contest


Open to Mt Vernon Area High School Students - Ages 14 - 18

Essays are due Friday, January 10, 2020

Cash prizes for the top three winners. Prize-winning authors will read their essays at the MLK Day celebration January 18, 2020, 3:00 PM, Bethlehem Baptist Church, 7836 Fordson Rd.

Contact Pastor Abe Smith for more details.

Awards: $150 for 1st place, $100 for 2nd place, and

$50 for 3rd place

Contest rules:

  • Essays must be about 500 words. One essay per contestant.
  • Parent/guardian and student must sign a release form (at
  • Essays can be submitted between Dec. 13, 2019 and midnight Jan. 10, 2020
  • Winners will be announced on Thursday Jan. 16, 2019

Essays will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Adherence to theme (above)
  • Passion and authenticity
  • Writing ability and readability at the MLK event
  • Reasoned argument
  • Factual accuracy, especially historical accuracy regarding Dr. King

Submit your essay by email to:, subject line: "MLK Essay" by no later than midnight, Friday, January 10, 2020.

Essays will be rank ordered according to the criteria above by a committee appointed by Ventures in Community and scores averaged to determine the winners.

Website: Facebook:venturesincommunity


Planting the Seeds of Bike Safety at Hollin Meadows Elementary School

Hollin Meadows Elementary School, in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County, received the first Traffic Garden in Fairfax County Public Schools during its most recent renovation. Funded by grants from the Virginia Department of Transportation and Neighborhood and Community Services, the scaled-down roadway pavement markings are helping educators teach bike, pedestrian, and road safety to students at the school. Watch the video


Partners for Safe Teen Driving Program

As a part of classroom driver education instruction, students and their parent/guardian are required to attend a 90-minute traffic safety program. This requirement must be met before a student will receive a Classroom Driver Education Certificate of Completion (DEC-District 8).

These programs will be held at South County High School  during this school year. Parents and students should attend the program during the quarter in which they are enrolled in driver’s education, but may attend other programs. Please be aware that you and your student only need to attend this program one time.

Programs will take place on the following dates: February 13th, and April 21st. The doors will open at 6:45PM with the programs beginning promptly at 7:00PM in the Auditorium. No registration is required for SCHS students currently enrolled in 10th grade Health & Physical Education (H&PE).

The legislative requirement is for a 90-minute program; therefore, doors will be shut at 7:00PM. No one will be admitted after the doors have been closed. If you are unable to attend any of these programs, additional program dates and locations can be found on the Fairfax County Public Schools website at

If you have any questions, please contact Erich Gunderman, H&PE Department Chair, via email at Thank you for your attention to this important requirement.


Parent Resource Center: Parenting Children with Challenging Behaviors

Register now:


Virginia Law Now Allows Receipt, Storage, and Administration of Cannabidiol Oil or THC-A Oil to Students at School

Effective July 1, the Code of Virginia was amended to authorize possession or distribution of Cannabidiol Oil (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THC-A) Oil in schools, and FCPS has amended its policies and regulations to reflect the change.

CBD and THC-A oils are derived from the cannabis plant; however, neither have an intoxicating effect on the user. Licensed practitioners may prescribe CBD and THC-A oils to treat conditions including, but not limited to: chronic pain, anxiety, migraines, and seizures.

A fact sheet with more information is available on the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug (ATOD) webpage.  


Academy Open Houses

Edison and West Potomac Academies are holding Open Houses in January. Fairfax County Public Schools High School students and their parent/guardian/caretakers are invited to come out for a visit to explore Career and Technical Education programs, meet teachers and staff, see student demonstrations and projects, and tour classrooms and labs. 

Edison Academy's Open House for prospective students for the coming 2020-2021 school year will be held on Saturday, January 11, 2020 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.  Snow date January 25, 2020.

West Potomac's Open House is scheduled for January 13, 2020 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

For more information please contact:

Greta N. Thomas School Counselor, Quander Road School 703-718-2412


Your Donation to the Foundation for FCPS Will Help Students Thrive

As 2019 comes to a close, please consider a year-end gift to the Foundation for FCPS, the independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization associated with the school system. The Foundation works alongside teachers, principals, administrators, and leadership to keep our diverse school system robust and innovative.

We need your help to make sure all students have the resources they need to succeed. The Foundation works in partnership with FCPS and the community to create pathways to long-term success for students. Your end-of-year gift will help the Foundation fund programs such as:

  • Gap needs for disadvantaged students. Examples include backpacks, school supplies, and gift cards.
  • Work-based learning opportunities for students via teacher grants.
  • Retention and recognition of stellar educators.

More information about these programs can be found on the Foundation website

Your tax-deductible contribution can be made online through a secure donation portal and may be designated to an existing initiative or to the school or center of your choice. With your help, we can keep our kids smiling well after the holidays!

Important Dates to Remember

December 23-January 3, 2020 - Winter Break - Student Holiday

January 20 - Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday - Student Holiday

January 24 - End of Second Quarter

January 27 - Student Holiday

January 28 - Student Holiday

February 17 - President's Day - Student Holiday

School Board Meeting

The next School Board Meeting will be held on December 19, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. at Jackson Middle School.  Information about upcoming meetings and agendas can be found here

Contact Karen:

Karen Corbett Sanders

Phone: 571-423-1086


Lisa Madeja

Executive Admin Assistant