Important Update Re: Fall 2020 Return to School Plan

Dear Braddock District Community,

I hope this message finds you and your loved ones in good health.

Two important deadlines related to Fall 2020 Return to School were changed this week:

  • Parents and staff have until next Wednesday, July 15th to decide if they want to participate in "in-person" or "virtual" instruction for the upcoming school year. 
  • New Fall 2020 start date for students will be September 8th. 

I support both of these actions due to the substantive number of unanswered questions as well as the complexity of offering two separate instructional models. Because the number of "in-person" days potentially could increase, I encourage families to choose the instructional model (in-person vs virtual) that best meets their educational and personal needs.

However, I respectfully disagree with our Superintendent that these Return to School decisions need to be for the "full year," versus "semester by semester." Given the very fluid public health landscape, FCPS should be as flexible as possible, and I will continue to advocate for this approach.

While I recognize the unpredictable nature of COVID-19 and the concerns it is generating, it is essential that FCPS and the School Board draw upon scientific research, our local public health conditions, and expert guidance to inform our Fall 2020 reopening plans. To that end, I have included several links below that continue to inform my individual decision-making.

First, you will see that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that:

"...all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school..."

The AAP goes on to provide comprehensive guidance on how to safely reopen public schools. Their recommendations are predicated on the status of local public health conditions, and acknowledge that it may not be safe to reopen schools this Fall in jurisdictions experiencing a serious rise in COVID-19 cases. 

The AAP further notes that children are less likely to become infected and less likely to spread the virus to other students and adults. This is consistent with Fairfax County’s COVID-19 data for youth (0-17) and younger adults (18-49), as well as similar findings among other global school divisions. (See the link below for the County’s COVID dashboard)

As the daughter of a retired public school teacher, I am equally focused on the health and safety of our hardworking and highly-dedicated FCPS teachers and school staff. Thus, FCPS needs to ensure robust public health protocols (including the provision of PPE equipment) to maximize a safe learning environment for them and our students. These protocols need to include social distancing, health screenings, and mandatory face-coverings for all students and staff, unless otherwise stipulated. It is equally essential that FCPS provide a highly effective "virtual" learning environment for students and staff who select this option.

As Fairfax County government services, businesses, and the Federal Government begin to reopen based on public health conditions, it is vital that our public schools do so as well. School systems in the region, the state, the nation, and across the globe are taking similar steps to reopen. FCPS must be equally up to this critical task. (Note: Monday's, July 13th Work Session will include a discussion on the Return to School plans)

In closing, I humbly recognize that this time of uncertainty has created diverse perspectives about how to safely reopen society and our schools. Thus, I hope you will continue to share your input with me, my School Board colleagues, and Dr. Brabrand. 

In service,


American Academy of Pediatrics - Recommendation for School Reopening

As cited above, here is a link to the June 25 guidance from the AAP, as well as key statements within it:

  • AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.
  • The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020.
  • Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation. This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality.
  • Beyond the educational impact and social impact of school closures, there has been substantial impact on food security and physical activity for children and families.
  • Children may be less likely to become infected and to spread infection. Policies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within schools must be balanced with the known harms to children, adolescents, families, and the community by keeping children at home.
  • Policy makers should acknowledge that COVID-19 policies are intended to mitigate, not eliminate, risk. No single action or set of actions will completely eliminate the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, but implementation of several coordinated interventions can greatly reduce that risk. 
  • Education for the entire school community regarding these [safety] measures should begin early, ideally at least several weeks before the start of the school year.
  • Evidence suggests that spacing as close as 3 feet may approach the benefits of 6 feet of space, particularly if students are wearing face coverings and are asymptomatic.
  • Schools should weigh the benefits of strict adherence to a 6-feet spacing rule between students with the potential downside if remote learning is the only alternative. Strict adherence to a specific size of student groups (eg, 10 per classroom, 15 per classroom, etc) should be discouraged in favor of other risk mitigation strategies.
  • Given what is known about transmission dynamics, adults and adult staff within schools should attempt to maintain a distance of 6 feet from other persons as much as possible, particularly around other adult staff. For all of the below settings, physical distancing by and among adults is strongly recommended, and meetings and curriculum planning should take place virtually if possible. In addition, other strategies to increase adult-adult physical distance in time and space should be implemented, such as staggered drop-offs and pickups, and drop-offs and pickups outside when weather allows. Parents should, in general, be discouraged from entering the school building.
  • Physical barriers, such as plexiglass, should be considered in reception areas and employee workspaces where the environment does not accommodate physical distancing, and congregating in shared spaces, such as staff lounge areas, should be discouraged.  

COVID-19 Case Data for Fairfax Health District

The Fairfax County Health Department regularly updates a COVID-19 Case Data Dashboard, providing information on cases in the Fairfax Health District, including Fairfax County, Fairfax City, and Falls Church City. The website provides disaggregated data for sub-categories by age group, ethnic group and zip code, among others. You will also find graphs reflecting the trajectory of cases, epidemic curve, and weekly testing.

Return to School Information

During the School Board Work Session on June 23, 2020, FCPS staff used this Return to School presentation to outline details of the plan.

The FCPS Return to School website includes links to more information about the plan, including details about the two choices being offered to families:

As details are finalized and questions are answered, FCPS staff is updating the FAQ pages:

Details for choosing an enrollment option may be found on the Enrollment Webpage.

Details related to Special Education were posted July 6 and can be viewed here.

Questions can also be sent to FCPS staff directly at

Change to School Start Date for Fall 2020

Yesterday, the School Board revised the 2020-21 school year calendar, delaying the first instructional day for students from Tuesday, August 25 to Tuesday, September 8, 2020..This delay will give school administrators additional time to plan schedules and staffing assignments for both virtual and in-person instruction. It will so provide additional professional development and planning time for teachers and school-based staff when they return in August. Although FCPS has delayed the start of school until Sept. 8, the final day of school remains June 11, 2021.

Upcoming School Board Meetings

Monday, July 13, 2020
Work Session at 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020
Work Session at 2 p.m.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Work Session at 12:30 p.m.
Public Hearing - Renaming Lee High School at 4 p.m.

Thursday, July 23, 2020
Forum Topic at 3 p.m.; Regular Meeting at 3:30 p.m.

School Board Meetings and Work Sessions are broadcast on Channel 99 (Cox and Comcast), Channel 11 (Verizon) and live streamed online here. The sessions will also be posted on YouTube for later viewing.

Virtual Summer Learning Opportunities

Summer Reading Program (Fairfax County Library) - The library helps make reading fun by providing tools, access and incentives during its Summer Reading Adventure. The Summer Reading Adventure runs June 12 through August 14 and invites all children and teens—birth through high school—to read for fun over the summer. The theme in 2020 is “Imagine Your Story!” This summer the program will be virtual.

NCS Connects - NCS Connects is a virtual platform for 1st through 12th graders of all abilities and their parents.
It is designed to emulate the experience of visiting a Community or Teen Center. The platform features original programming such as self-directed activities and videos led by staff members, as well as on-demand resources for youth and parents in five categories: adapted virtual learning, culture, academics, health and wellness, and STEAM. New content is added every Monday. 

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