Town Halls, Learning Packets, and Budget Update

Hello again friends and neighbors,

I hope you and your loved ones are continuing to stay safe and healthy. I know I just emailed you on Monday – this email is to send you the links to my upcoming office hours and provide a few updates.

Thank you for all who have emailed me about their concerns. I am, as always, here to listen and help the best I can. I appreciate all your patience in these difficult times.

This email has information about:

  1. Town Halls
  2. Learning Packet Info and Opt-Out Instructions
  3. Budget Update
  4. Answers to a few more questions
  5. Food for Thought: An Article about a Trauma Informed Approach to Teaching during the COVID Crisis
  6. An article for our seniors

Monday 7-8 pm Town Halls:

Every Monday I will hold a Town Hall Meeting either via Blackboard Collaborate or Facebook Live on alternative Mondays.

Elaine Tholen, School Board Member for the Dranesville District, will be joining me for the April 20th Blackboard Collaborate Town Hall.

Here is the information:

Distance Learning Links

Distance Learning: Here are details about the distance learning plan.

  • Starts April 14th
  • Your School’s website should have specific details for your school, including class and teacher office hour times
  • Your teachers should have been in contact with you
  • Special Education Students – your case manager should be in touch regarding online accommodations.
  • Teachers will be using FCPS 24/7 (Blackboard Collaborate) for their Virtual Sessions. How to join the class online and other class information should be on a teacher’s Blackboard (FCPS 24/7) page
  • How to access FCPS 24/7 Learning

Learning Packets:

How to Find the Learning Packets Online

Information about our packets:

  • The first set of packets were focused on review to help students catch up after these first few weeks. We continue to work to improve our packets each week and appreciate your feedback. Math enrichment packets should be added in the coming weeks.
  • Some of the packets were delayed during the distribution and mailing process. Adjustments to the distribution schedule have been made that should ensure students have the learning packets by Friday or Saturday each week for the remainder of the school year.
  • Week 2 packets are scheduled to arrive by Saturday, 4/11.
  • Families who have still not received their packets should contact their child’s teacher or principal.
  • To receive previously sent packets or if you have issues, please email and provide your student’s ID and address.
  • We are working on making the online learning packets fillable pdfs.
  • Temporary address: If your student has a temporary address during the school closure, please notify your school of the student’s temporary change of address. The School Registrar or Administrator can update the student mailing address. Schools will update the student mailing address only. After we return to school, the student mailing address will be changed back to match the home address

Opting Out of Mailed Learning Packets/Print at Home:

It will cost FCPS $4 million to mail these packets to all students for the rest of this year. In this time of changed economic forecasts, we are asking parents who can access these packets online and go paperless to consider opting out of having the packets mailed to you.

Yes, I want to go paperless:  Opt-out Form

  • If you plan to access the learning packets online by logging into FCPS 24-7 Blackboard, you can choose to go paperless and opt out of receiving the mailed copies.
  • Families who opt out will be notified by email and will have the opportunity to opt back into receiving printed packets by following the instructions on the email.
  • To stop receiving the printed packets, you will need your student's FCPS student ID and the enrolling parent’s email address. The student ID can be found in your SIS ParentView account
  • Please expect to receive at least one additional printed learning packet after your request to go paperless is entered.

Budget Update:

On Thursday April 9th our School Board held a virtual work session with our leadership team to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on our budget.

Click this link to the YouTube Video of the Work Session.

Here is a link to the presentation: FY21 Revised Budget

Here are a few highlights:

  • On Feb 6, 2020, the School Board adopted the FY21 advertised budget. Since then, there has been a significant economic impact on state and local budgets that has required us to revise our advertised budget
  • Our anticipated funding is estimated to be reduced by approximately $108,000,000 from what we expected on February 6th.
  • Funding from Fairfax County to FCPS for FY21 has changed from $89,700,782 to $7,300,000.
  • Final state numbers are not out but we anticipate $25,000,000 reductions in funding
  • Other reductions in funding sources are anticipated.
  • We anticipate one-time stimulus funding from the CARES act of approximately $20.6 million with potential more from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Act.
  • While we anticipate some cost savings from this year due to the school closures (such as utilities and fuel), we have some additional expenditures from the distance learning packets, critical employee pay, and increased contribution to the unemployment, amongst other things.
  • We are also anticipating greater costs for remediation and social and emotional support for our students for when they return to school. We are already making plans for extra supports and services our students may need.
  • Our Superintendent presented a revised budget that focuses on maintaining current FCPS employees, classroom, and student supports, while deferring new programs, compensation increases and new strategic investments.

Updated Budget Timeframe:

  • April 7 – County Proposed a revised FY 21 budget link here to the County's revised budget proposal
  • April 11 – Governor amends the FY 21-22 biennium budget
  • April 16 – Superintendent presents the FY21 revised budget recommendation to the School Board
  • April 20 – School Board budget work session
  • April 22 General Assembly reconvenes to consider the Governor’s Amendments
  • April 23 – School Board considers the FY 21 Revised Budget
  • April 28 – School Board presents the preliminary FY 21 Revised Budget to the County Board of Supervisors
  • May 5 – Board of Supervisor marks up the FY 21 Budget
  • May 12 – County Board of Supervisors approves the FY 21 County Budget, tax rate, and transfer to the schools
  • TBD – School Board Approved budget presented for new business
  • TBD – School Board holds public hearings on the budget
  • TBD – School Board conducts final budget work session
  • TBD – School Board adopts FCPS FY 21 Approved Budget

Office Hours Ongoing:

I am now scheduling regular virtual office hours with constituents for April and May. I will hold two office hours a week and you can sign up for 15 minute slots. If we end up needing more time, we can always schedule a longer follow up after our initial meeting.

Click on this link to sign up

Useful Links:



  • Here is a link to FCPS FAQs that may have the answers to many of your questions.

Daily Updates:

Abuse Hotlines: There can be a higher incidence of domestic violence and child abuse during these times. Here are some links if you need help or to report concerns.

Answers to some questions:


Here are more answers to some of the questions I have received:

  • Verified Credits for Current High School Students: For students enrolled in high school credit-bearing courses graduating in 2021 or after, can the verified credit requirement be waived? For students graduating in 2021 or after and who are currently enrolled in high school credit-bearing courses, the use of the emergency LAVC process would be permitted for courses they are enrolled in as of spring 2020 (this means a locally verified process in lieu of the SOL they may have been planning to take in the spring of 2020.) As noted in the emergency guidelines, the flexibility might be extended into summer 2020 classes but only if an emergency order continues.  
  • Access to School Buildings and Grounds - Will parents or students be allowed into schools to retrieve their belongings? 
    • At this time families and students have not been given approvals for pick-up of nonessential items.  
    • We are following guidance from the health department in an effort to stop the virus from spreading and keep everyone safe. We are only considering pick-up of ESSENTIAL items only. Those would include medications that cannot be obtained from a family physician, special education equipment needed for distance learning or another resource or tool that is REQUIRED for distance learning.
  • School Fees/Lunch Money Refund for Seniors:
    • Almost all of the school fees are collected and retained at the individual schools in the local school activity funds. Schools would have to issue refunds to seniors based on a pro-rated amount. Central office is preparing guidance for them.
    • We are sending out a letter to each senior parent asking if they would like to donate lunch money to assist in offsetting unpaid student balances or costs of implementing the “grab and go” meal distribution during the crisis. If they agree they will need to sign a document and send to back to us. If they do not want to do that, they can request a refund or transfer of the balance to a younger sibling. Communications about lunch fund balances will go out to parents soon.
  • Child care: What is the status of the SACC program? 
    • FCPS has been notified that the School Age Child Care (SACC) program plans to provide families with a refund or credit, depending on the current SACC account balance, for payments received for the period SACC is closed, for the following: 
      • Before- and After-School services – ½ month of March
      • Before- and After-School services –full  month of April
      • Full-Day Spring Break Program

Special Education

  • Special Ed Resources: Continuity of Learning resources have been developed for special education students pre-kindergarten through grade twelve and are posted in Blackboard as well as on the FCPS public web located at: .  
  • How will the distance learning plan address the needs of students with disabilities? Many disability-related modifications and services may be effectively provided online. These may include, for instance, extensions of time for assignments, videos with accurate captioning or embedded sign language interpreting, accessible reading materials, and many speech or language services through video conferencing. The Office of Special Education Instruction has developed and posted on the FCPS Continuity of Learning webpage, an Accommodations Toolbox that includes strategies and resources on how students may be able to access accommodations at home.
    • FCPS is considering practices such as distance instruction, meetings held on digital platforms, online options for data tracking, and documentation. In addition, there are low-tech strategies that can provide for an exchange of curriculum-based resources, instructional packets, projects, and written assignments.
  • How will FCPS identify students for future compensatory services?
    • FCPS is devoting all its efforts towards implementing and supporting the distance learning plan for all students, including those with disabilities.  We have a work group who is currently looking at how teachers will be able to ensure that students are participating and engaging in distance learning and, for those who aren’t, how staff will reach out and support them.Consideration is being given to the fact that when we return to schools, staff, more than ever, will need to partner with parents to meet student needs.
    • There are still many unknowns and we are expecting additional guidance from the state and federal government around expectations for school divisions regarding this pandemic. The state has given us some options to consider to for those students who will need additional time and resources when we return to school (summer learning, modules built into curriculum for next year, changing the school calendar, etc.). We will be looking at multiple ways to help students who have not met benchmarks or IEP goals, and we will solidify our plans for remediation for any student who may be behind once we have a clearer picture of how we can serve those students who require remediation and what the expectations are from the state and federal government.
  • How will you make the distance learning training accessible for deaf/ hard of hearing teachers? What about access for hearing impaired students? 
    • FCPS is currently reviewing platforms that support accessible learning for our deaf/hard of hearing students.
  • What about missed IEP Meetings/future scheduled IEP meetings?
    • IEP rescheduling questions should be directed to the student’s special education case manager. They are the primary point of contact.

Food for Thought: An Article about a Trauma Informed Approach to Teaching during the COVID Crisis

Right now, many of us are anxious and worried – about our safety, our livelihoods, our friend and families. On top of that, some of us are lonely – missing the connections and freedoms of our old lives. Our children are likewise anxious and worried. They also may have differing understanding of this crisis and its implications for their world. Our FCPS leadership team, our teachers, principals, staff and our school board are also worried about our children and their families and want to do the best we can for them. In that vein, I wanted to share an article I recently read about how to use a trauma-informed curriculum while teaching students during this crisis.

The key takeaway reminds me of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It is difficult for a student to be open to learning if they are hungry, scared, or worried about survival. It is important during this time to help our students maintain a sense of safety and wellbeing, of building relationships and promoting connectedness, and even of imparting hope. Here is an article that discusses this in more detail and provides an overview of how to create this in a distance learning setting. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

Read the full article here

An article for our seniors and their families:

I recently read an article I thought summed up my thoughts for you all. While I know there are people who are ill and dying, losing their jobs and businesses or worried about them, and countless other tragedies, I still think it is important to stop and think about the loss facing our Class of 2020.

I recently read an article called “The Year Without Graduation. To the Class of 2020: This is your loss, and we need to pay attention. Even in a pandemic.”

The following is an excerpt from that article that really spoke to me and I hope it speaks to you: 

“You know you have just had a huge loss, and a whole lot of losses, but:

  • Some adults are minimizing your losses by comparing them to the deaths caused by COVID.
  • Many teens are reluctant to share how much this hurts (I’ve heard lots of other terms, but this is a public blog, so I am keeping it clean). because they feel selfish, or they don’t want to stress parents who are already stressed by working from home or job loss or fears for friends and family.
  • Some teens don’t have the words to express what this means to them.
  • Many of you are trying to cope by ignoring the emotional impact the losses are really having. Or don’t want to share with friends in case the friends are not willing to say they are having a hard time too.

Rule Number One in grief is we never ever compare losses. They are all equal if they matter to the person experiencing them.” Read "The Year Without Graduation" article here

While we at FCPS are committed to trying to find a way to ensure you have a graduation ceremony of sorts to recognize and celebrate your achievements, we know in these uncertain times we just don’t know what we can do. And we also know whatever it will be cannot substitute for what you have lost. So it is okay to take the time to recognize and grieve what you have lost. Many of us are grieving right there with you.

In Health


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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.

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