April 2020 Newsletter from School Board Member Karen Corbett Sanders

Karen Corbett Sanders' Newsletter

Dear Families,

First, I hope all of you are doing well during this challenging time facing our community. As a parent, I share your concerns about the impact that this period of time will have on our children. It is in these challenging times that it is essential for all of us to work together to address the physical, social/emotional and academic needs of our students. I don’t know of a single family that has not been touched by this pandemic, either by contracting COVID-19, losing a loved one, or losing a job. We understand the challenges of establishing new schedules for our families, and balancing the needs of the whole family during this extended period.


Virtual Town Hall

This Saturday, April 4th Supervisor Dan Storck and I will be hosting a virtual town hall to update the community on COVID-19. It will be telecast on Channels 16 and 21 at 10:00 a.m. We will be joined by FCPS Superintendent Dr. Brabrand and Fairfax County Director of Health, Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu.


Food Distribution

The leadership in FCPS is working hard to address the needs of our students and families in this very challenging time. We have delivered over 150,000 meals and will be distributing over 15,000 laptops to our older students who do not have digital access at home. Locations where food is being distributed can be found at: https://www.fcps.edu/news/coronavirus-update-food-resources. These services will continue to be provided over the spring break.


Distance Learning

Although our formal distance learning program will not begin until after spring break, I have been amazed at the number of people accessing the resources available on the FCPS web site. The content has been accessed almost 2 million times.

This week, our staff have been undergoing extensive professional development to ensure that when our students return to learn on April 14th, our professionals are able to provide tiered instruction utilizing both asynchronous (through print or electronic media) and synchronous instruction (through live classes using virtual meeting technology). Students in middle and high school will be encouraged to participate in Google work groups and virtual collaborative teams with their peers, and our elementary school teachers are using creative approaches to engage students and ensure relationships with and between our students continue to develop. Additionally, students in K-8 will be receiving learning packets at home, and content will be provided via Channel 21 and on-line through the Blackboard portal. There are also a number of resources available for non-core instructional classes such as physical education. For example, PBS is a good resource: https://www.pbslearningmedia.org/subjects/health-and-physical-education/.

Students will have until April 24th to complete all work for the third quarter. Although letter grades will not be assigned, students are expected to continue to engage in learning throughout the 4th quarter. Fourth quarter work will be used to assess mastery of the content and provide the opportunity for students to improve their overall grade for the year. More information on the distance learning plan can be found at Distance Learning Plan, and Distance Learning Plan for Students with Disabilities.


AP and IB Exams

Students enrolled in AP classes will be notified about the modified schedule for exams when the College Board releases its modified exam schedule. The International Baccalaureate exams have been cancelled. IB awards will be based on internal and external assessments and students should reach out to their school’s coordinators to ensure they have materials submitted in a timely manner.


Graduating Seniors

I know how difficult this time is for our graduating seniors. You have worked so hard and were looking forward to the traditions and celebrations that typify the last quarter of the year. Please know that we are committed to ensuring that your hard work is recognized. Superintendent Brabrand sent out the attached letter https://www.fcps.edu/blog/message-superintendent-class-2020 to the senior class yesterday. We are looking at a multitude of options for ensuring you are celebrated. Once we have more clarity as to when the community will be able to return to more normal operations, we will be providing more information on how we can formally celebrate the successes of our amazing seniors.


Resources Available for our Families

Fairfax County has a number of resources available to our families as we navigate these challenging times. These resources can be found at: www.fcps.edu and www.fairfaxcounty.gov/covid19/.

With the governor’s order that Virginia schools remain closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, FCPS has resources available to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of students.   

Beginning this past Monday, March 30, 2020, any FCPS parent may schedule a 30-minute phone consultation with a school psychologist or school social worker, for either themselves or their middle or high school student. This consultation provides an opportunity for parents to receive guidance on how to support their student’s emotional well-being during their time away from school.  Student consultations will provide support and strategies to students who may be experiencing difficulties with anxiety, mood, behavior, or peer or family interactions during this unprecedented and challenging time.  Information about community resources will also be made available.  To schedule a phone consultation, parents should click the following link: https://forms.gle/WKchwGnv4LkezQwG8.

This service is not intended for mental health emergencies.  If an emergency is suspected or indicated, please call 911.  Additionally, students and families can access mental health support if there is a crisis of emergency during the time of the closure.


Budget Impacts

COVID-19 has impacted the county and state finances significantly. As a result, what had been expected to be another fully funded budget will result in the County and Schools redoing our budgets. On April 7, the County Executive will release his new budget proposal. The School Board will have a virtual meeting on April 9th at 10:00 a.m. to discuss the revised plan of the County and the Superintendent’s initial thoughts on how our budget may have to be adjusted. The meeting will be streamed live and be broadcast on Channel 21.

Please know that I am here for you and your family. Together, we will get through this very challenging time. Please stay safe and take time for yourselves and your families.





The views contained within this newsletter reflect the views of the individual school board member who is the publisher of this newsletter and may not reflect the views of the Fairfax County School Board.

© 2020 Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax County, Virginia