Community Update - Melanie K. Meren (Hunter Mill District representative)

Dear Hunter Mill community parents, teachers and staff, and residents,

Thank you for your continued questions and ideas about FCPS’s return to school in the fall. Together our community is grappling with more questions than answers as our school system reinvents education for a back-to-school start that takes place in a matter of weeks.

The hundreds of (sometimes conflicting) emails I receive daily are producing a volume that prevents me from responding to each of you individually, so I want to provide you here a brief glimpse of the conversation among fellow Hunter Mill community members.

As you may know, FCPS is among the first school systems in the nation to launch a two-way conversation with its community about return to school. Fairfax County parents and staff have been given a choice about what kind of education works best for each family. The process is messy and at times highly frustrating as we all try to pioneer what education should look like this year – not only to educate and support our children, but to do so safely and with the grave responsibility of fulfilling public school’s role upon which our economy – and people’s jobs – depend.

As a parent of two FPCS students, I can say that it’s impossible to move through this time without a range of emotions and concerns. Here is what I’m hearing from you. Messages are generally falling into three categories:

  1. Questions about return to school plans and information requests to help make decisions by July 10;
  2. Recommendations and suggestions for different approaches and different plans; and
  3. Requests for a full, five-day return to school.

Within these groupings, I receive questions about general and specific supports that will be offered in either scenario for students with special needs, and for students seeking Advanced Academic Programs, AP, and IB. Furthermore, I am being asked about fall sports and student activities, and childcare.

Like you, I am awaiting details from FCPS offices and programs – including Human Resources, Instructional Services, Special Education, Student Activities, and more.

But I am not sitting still. I take your questions and concerns to my School Board colleagues, FCPS Leadership and staff, Hunter Mill Supervisor Walter Alcorn, and principals to compare what is being heard, and how we can get answers faster. I’m reading about what surrounding school divisions are doing, trends in COVID spread, and innovative practices in this new era of public education.

It is frustrating to me that we cannot get firm answers to you faster. It is also frustrating that answers are sometimes not the ones we want or agree with. We are all being asked to make decisions that involve a leap of faith for our children and our families.

What I can tell you is that as answers are developed, they are shared immediately on FCPS’s Return to School website, with information for families and for staff, and information will continue to be shared directly to you from Dr. Brabrand and school principals. Many schools are announcing town hall-style forums to help get information to parents and staff.

In making the choice for our family, my husband and I are adopting the approach shared by one of my constituents:

“Any plans we make will likely need to change anyway…[Covid-19] has forced me to simply pivot from one decision to the next. The more I practice being OK with the pivot, the less anxious I feel with all of the unknowns in life right now. Essentially the only thing we can count on these days is change.”

Your trust in me is sacred, and your input and questions are exactly what we need as we work together to find education solutions. Please know that even if you do not hear back from me, your ideas and questions are being included in the conversation. They and you are a valuable part of how we will get to solutions. Thank you for participating in this critical, fluid discussion.

Please be well, and I’ll be in touch.


Melanie Meren

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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