May 18 Town Hall with Chairman McKay

Dear Fairfax County students, staff and families,

I hope you are staying safe and healthy! The School Board had a busy week last week as the Superintendent presented FCPS plans for summer learning, the Class of 2020 graduation and preliminary options for return to school in the fall. This week, the school board will meet virtually to discuss the AAP report and vote on the FY 21 budget.

Tonight (Monday May 18), after our School Board work session, I will hold my weekly town hall. I will be joined by Chairman Jeff McKay, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. We will discuss covid-19, budget changes, and resources to help our families and students.

More information on all of that is below.

I have spoken to many of you who are understandably anxious about returning to school and disappointed about the Class of 2020 graduation. I know many of you want to return to school soon and many others are worried about the safety of returning. Your input and thoughts are valuable to me and I thank you for reaching out.

My colleagues and I understand the importance of our students' education and are also committed to following the guidance of our health department and ensuring FCPS decisions are based on data and science. The safety of our students and staff is paramount to us as is ensuring a more robust distance learning should we need to return to that in the fall at any point.

As a parent, frankly, I hate this. All I want is school for my kiddo as it used to be and as he desperately wants and needs. I want our graduates to have grad parties and graduation. I want all our students to have the moments and ceremonies and more. I want them to have the education they deserve. And I want our students who are scared and lonely and disconnected to be back in their safe place.

As a school board member five months into my term I have to remind myself the popular decision isn't always the right one. But also that the tough questions need to be asked and the system needs to be pushed. It's hard when so much is unknown and out of our control.

It's a tough balancing act.

Meanwhile, I’ve been so incredibly impressed by our students since school closed. I have read about students making hundreds of masks, selling soap to raise funds for others, reaching out to check on their friends, offering to run errands for those at greater risk, and taking this in stride in a way I don’t think I would have at their age. I have had conversations with students who have reminded me of how grateful they are for what they had even when I focused on what they have lost.

My own son has continued his one man push to keep the postal service in business through his "thinking of you" letters he's been writing and sending to all his friends. He’s sent nearly 100 letters so far. Maybe we can all learn from him, the teen with autism with limited language who often has trouble with change, on how to be creative and flexible within the limitations that exist in the name of science and safety. After all, it takes a village to protect a village.

Maybe we can all learn from them on how to accept what we can't control and figure out that there are new ways to do things - that's what we *can* control. It's not as good but it's something.

I know that is a lesson I strive to learn every day.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can help your student or your family.

In Health,


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Below you will find information on (in order):

  • My Monday Town Halls (Updated)
  • School Board Meetings this week
  • Office Hours/Communicating with Me
  • FCPS Plans for the Summer 2020 and Fall 2020
  • Graduation Plans and Letter for Class of 2020
  • Resources (Grocery Store Pick Up, Food, NOVA Scholarship)
  • Congratulations to FCPS National Merit Scholarship Winners

Monday 7-8 pm Town Halls (Updated):

Since I started on the school board four months ago, I’ve been committed to being as available and transparent as possible, and part of that is holding these weekly townhalls.

Tonight’s Townhall with Chairman McKay

May 18th 7-8 pm

Join Chairman Jeff McKay, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and me tonight via Zoom and Facebook Live. Chairman McKay will join us from 7-7:30 with a Fairfax County update. I will discuss school specific information from 7:30-8.

We will hold the town hall via Zoom (limit 100). It will be livestreamed to Facebook for anyone who can’t get into Zoom. You can post questions in the comments on the Facebook live feed as well as via the chat in Zoom and we will do our best to answer those.

Tonight’s Topics

  • COVID-19 Updates
  • Budget
  • County Resources

Link to Zoom Meeting Here

Meeting ID: 821 0523 2137 Password: 623214

Link to Facebook Live Sessions Here


June Townhalls:

Starting in June, I will be going to every other week for my town halls.

  • June 1st 7-8 pm – With Stella Pekarsky, School Board Member for the Sully District. As FCPS continues to work on plans for “Return to School,” we want to hear from you on all things Distance Learning, Fall Scenarios and more.
  • June 15 7-8 pm
  • June 29 7-8 pm

Link to Zoom Meeting Here

  • Meeting ID: 821 0523 2137 Password: 623214

Link to Facebook Live Sessions Here


Upcoming School Board Meetings

How to Watch Meetings/Find Meeting Handouts

  • Livestream: Meetings are livestreamed here -
  • Recordings of Meetings: Meetings will be recorded and available to view on the FCPS YouTube page here
  • Agenda/Handouts: For school board meeting agenda, handouts and more click here
  • To find handouts for the meetings:
    • Click on the meeting date.
    • Scroll down until you see the phrase “View the Agenda”
    • Click on “View the Agenda”
    • One the left hand side, you will see the agenda details
    • Any agenda items with accompanying documents have a “paper” icon next to the item name
    • Click on any topic you find interesting (i.e. AAP report).
    • Scroll down to see all attachments – these are usually presentations and accompanying reports or other data.
    • You can also search by topic documents
  • Public Testimony: For information on how to submit testimony at a public meeting, click here

Monday, May 18th, Work Session – 1:30 pm

Topic: AAP Report

    • AAP Review final report and recommendations- In March 2019, the School Board requested an external review of identification practices for FCPS’ Advanced Academic Programs (AAP) program. This review and recommendations are contained in this report and will be discussed at the May 18th work session.

May 19th 11:30-1:30 - Public Engagement Committee Meeting

May 21st 1:30 pm - School Board Meeting 1:30 pm

Topic: FY 21 Budget, Monthly Report for Employee Separation

May 22nd 2-5 pm - Governance Committee Meeting

Office Hours/Communicating With Me

I am now scheduling regular virtual office hours with constituents for May and June. I will hold on two different days 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. And you are always welcome to send me an email.

Click on this link to sign up

For more frequent updates and information, please like and follow me on Facebook and Twitter

I cannot conduct school board business via direct messages on Twitter or Messenger. As always, the best way for me to receive input is via the official public constituent contact – click on “Submit a Question” here

Please note that due to the volume of emails I receive, and that I do not have any full-time staff, it is difficult to respond as quickly as I’d like. I do read all of these communications, share thoughts and concerns, and try to respond as quickly as possible. Thank you!

FCPS Plans for the Summer 2020 and Fall 2020


The Superintendent presented his plans for Summer Learning and preliminary options for Fall at the May 11th School Board Meeting. Here is a link to the presentation.

Guidance from the health department has told FCPS that the buildings cannot be used during July and August is uncertain. Therefore, the summer programs will be online.

Staff members are continuing to develop additional optional programs for a virtual format. Parents and guardians will receive more information about summer programming from their schools. 

High School:

Summer High School Credit Recovery

    • Every high school from Monday, July 6, through Friday, July 24.
    • Free
    • For students to recover credit for a failed course or receive targeted intervention
    • Schools will invite students who did not fail a course but who may need extra support. 

Online Summer Classes: New credit

    • Online Campus – open for all students for new credit
    • Students will complete a full course and participate in daily synchronous (live) communication with teachers.
    • Tuition reduced to $375 for this summer (sliding scale).
    • Students who have already registered will receive additional information about a refund.  

Other Options for virtual classes

    • Counselors can help students get approval for a new course through a college or university or a public or private school accredited by the Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE) and virtual private schools accredited by VCPE.

Continuity of Learning for All Students

    • Free
    • Self-directed online materials for students to practice mathematics and literacy skills
    • Virtual office hours with math or language arts teachers for support and connection.
    • More information about continuity of learning resources coming  

Middle School and Elementary School: June 29 – July 31

  • Self-directed - Math and literacy using self-directed print and digital materials
  • Teacher led virtual office hours to provide support.

ESOL – For Grades 7-12 - June 22 - July 14

  • ESOL Online: Language and Literacy Connections for current English learners in. 
  • The morning session will run from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. daily and an evening session will run from 7 to 8 p.m. daily.
  • Students may select one of the two sessions. 

Special Education

  • ESY
    • Virtually June 29 - Friday, July 24
    • Continued Distance Learning
    • Learning materials will be available online and in printed packets mailed to students. 
  • Preschool Autism Students:
    • Virtually from Thursday, July 2 - July 30.
    • Learning materials will be available online and in printed packets mailed to students.
    • Staff members will offer virtual parent coaching sessions. 


Summer Cancelled Programs

The following programs have been cancelled for 2020 due to building closures:

●    Institute for the Arts

●    Elementary Institute for the Arts

●    CTE Career Academy

●    CTE Summer Academy

●    Bridge to PAC (SPED)

●    Pathways to Preschool (SPED)

●    Bridge to Kindergarten

●    Young Scholars

●    Curious Minds

Parents who registered a student for one of the above programs will receive additional information about refunds. 

Fall 2020 Preliminary Options

The Superintendent presented preliminary options for Return to School scenarios for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.  

  • FCPS plans for fall are in the preliminary stages
  • FCPS is waiting for further guidance from the state about the possible required conditions that will need to be met for schools to reopen.  
  • FCPS also plans to seek the input of stakeholder groups—parents, students, teachers, staff, and administrators—in developing the return to school plan. More information on this will be coming from FCPS
  • FCPS will present further plans to the School Board in June

The considerations for return to school include the need to:

  • Ensure safe learning and working environments for students and staff.
  • Provide options for students and staff that are unable to return to school or work.
  • Comply with any social distancing requirements.
  • Provide universal access to technology devices and internet services at home.
  • Provide staff with adequate time and training to prepare for the new school year.
  • Make decisions as soon as possible for scheduling and communication with families.

Possible Scenarios for School Year 2020-21 include:

  • Students will have a virtual start to the school year.
  • Students will return to school with social distancing in place.
  • School will open on time, but some students and staff may be unable to return and will participate through virtual learning.

More information coming in June.

Graduation for the Class of 2020

At the School Board work session on May 11th, Superintendent Brabrand presented his plans for the Class of 2020 Graduation Plans.

  • FCPS has had a work group, led by Dr. Ivey, focused on graduation options, with guidance from the health department regarding safety.
  • As part of this work, seniors and their parents were surveyed. 
  • A virtual graduation ceremony was not highly favored by most of the respondents to the survey.
  • Overwhelmingly, they favored a face to face graduation as well as the chance for each senior to go to the school to get their diploma and take a picture (among other things). 

Based partially on that feedback, the work group designed the plans as detailed by the Superintendent in his letter.

  • In-person diploma and photos (June): High schools will schedule individual graduate photo opportunities beginning in June, with each graduate wearing their cap and gown along with appropriate cords and medals. Seniors will be able to receive their diploma at this photo event.  A limited number of family members will be permitted to join the graduate.
  • Video: A Class of 2020 celebration video will be produced.  Seniors will be contacted this month to submit information and photos for the video.  The video will be professionally produced and distributed at no cost to all members of the Class of 2020.
  • In Person Ceremony (Fall or Later): An in-person ceremony will be scheduled in the fall or later at each school if conditions are such that the event would not pose a health risk to students or staff.  A decision about a fall ceremony will be announced around Labor Day.  If a fall in-person ceremony cannot be held for health and safety reasons, then we will consider scheduling the face to face ceremony in the winter or next spring. 

I and my colleagues recognize that many in our community want an in-person option for graduation this summer. I know many are disappointed that there is no in-person group graduation ceremony planned for this summer. Given guidance from the health department, it would not be feasible to plan a safe in-person ceremony for all our schools. I wish with all my heart things could be different, the safety of our students, families, and staff must come first.

To our seniors:

I am so sorry that you will not be getting the rituals, celebrations, and ceremonies you and your families deserve and for which you have worked incredibly hard. I am sorry you do not get to celebrate the end of your high school days in the way we all want you to celebrate. I know these are days and moments you cannot get back. And my heart breaks for what you have lost.

I know that the resilience and perspective you are gaining is small consolation for what you are losing. But I believe that when we get to the other side of this, you will be one of the strongest and most capable generations in a long time. In fact, and I’ve said this for a long time, I believe you will be the next greatest generation.

Thank you for the hundreds of small and big ways you have taught me about grace and strength in the face of adversity. May you find success and a smoother path going forward.


NEW – Grocery Store and Pharmacy Pick Up for Older Adults

“In response to the increased needs of residents who are 60 years old and older and who require assistance, Fairfax County, through the Health Department’s Neighbor to Neighbor Program (N2N), has launched a free grocery shopping and pharmacy pick-up service. The service is provided to seniors at private residences by volunteers who have completed background checks.  

To request shopping and pharmacy pick-up, or to find out if you are eligible for financial assistance to obtain food, contact the Fairfax County Aging, Disability and Caregiver Resource line at 703-324-7948.”

Click here for more information


Food Resources:

  • Additional Food Assistance: FCPS Families with Children Eligible for Free and Reduced-Price Meals Can Receive Temporary Food Assistance from the Va. Department of Social Services - Click here for Temporary Food Assistance

NEW – NOVA Summer Scholarships

Deadline: June 1, 2020

The summer scholarship cycle for the 2020-2021 award year is open.  Please encourage students to visit NOVA’s Scholarship Site  to review the opportunities and submit their applications.  The deadline for filing is June 1, 2020.

Congratulations to the FCPS Winners of the National Merit Scholarship

Thirty-three students from eight Fairfax County high schools have been named winners of $2,500 scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.  Scholarship winners are part of a group of approximately 2,500 National Merit finalists chosen to receive scholarships in 2020 primarily financed by the NMSC.  

Each scholarship winner was evaluated on his or her academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; a personal essay; and a recommendation from a high school official. Winners are chosen by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, not the school district.

Congratulations to the following students on this amazing achievement! I am very proud of your hard work and incredible success and I know you have a bright future ahead of you.

Winners of the scholarships, with their probable career fields in parentheses, are: 

  • Gayatri Chintala (political science), Chantilly High School.
  • Yifan Chen (international development), Chantilly High School.
  • Jeffrey Pei (business), Langley High School.
  • Karina Wugang (law), Langley High School.
  • Katherine Helmicki (veterinary medicine), Madison High School.
  • Sophia Konde (undecided), Marshall High School.
  • Albert Ding (computer science), Oakton High School.
  • Pristina Koon (government service-intelligence), Robinson Secondary School.
  • Sabrina Cai (neuroscience), Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST).
  • Jessica Chen (international development), TJHSST.
  • Alex Chung (applied mathematics), TJHSST.
  • Aimee Feng (computer science), TJHSST.
  • Sakketh Gabbita (computer science), TJHSST.
  • Shubham Goda (computer science), TJHSST.
  • Joshua Gong (computer science), TJHSST.
  • Victoria Graf (undecided), (TJHSST).
  • Sarah Gu (computer science), TJHSST.
  • Justin Han (medicine), TJHSST.
  • Brandon Kim (biomedical engineering), TJHSST.
  • Ann Li (computer science), TJHSST.
  • Jenny Li (computer science), TJHSST.
  • Jerry Li (computer science), TJHSST.
  • Rishabh Misra (computer science), TJHSST.
  • Philip Pan (finance), TJHSST.
  • Vaibhav Sharma (computer engineering), TJHSST.
  • Sylvia Tan (computer science), TJHSST.
  • Jialin Tso (computer science), TJHSST.
  • Emily Wang (computer science), TJHSST.
  • Shannon Xiao (computer science), TJHSST.
  • William Xu (chemistry), TJHSST.
  • Mia Yang (biomedicine), TJHSST.
  • Richard Zhan (computer science), TJHSST.
  • Ishan Kalburge (academia), Woodson High School.


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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