Back to School Information, Town Halls, and School Board Meetings

Hello Springfield District!

I know this summer hasn’t looked like any other, but I hope your family has been able to sneak some joy into these hot summer days.

In our house, my two FCPS kiddos (8th and 10th grade) are still nervously waiting to find out who their teachers are, and we’ve started the daunting task of waking two teenagers up “early” to try to get them back on some sort of schedule. But, truthfully, that’s about the only thing that feels like our normal back to school routine. New backpacks and lunchboxes have been replaced with new folders on desktops and email and additional service hours added to IEPs. But, while there is certainly some trepidation, my kids are both ready to see what this school year holds for them, and I’m surely grateful for that.

A few years ago, after I lost my sister, a friend told me that I needed to learn how to “embrace the suck” so that I could start to move ahead toward better days. So, in our house, I’m rephrasing and trying to remind my kids that we all need to “embrace the change” to be able to move forward and adapt to what lies ahead this year. We’re doing our best (some days better than others) to make the best of what we have and are very much looking forward to brighter days ahead.

As a Board, we were pleased to see Dr. Brabrand and his team present information on metrics for phasing students back into classrooms. He will be presenting updates to those metrics at our September work session, and we all look forward to finding creative ways to get back to in-person learning as soon as possible. 

I want to send a huge thank you to our teachers and admins, who never seemed to stop working to make this the best possible experience for our students. I am beyond grateful that we have such dedicated staff who is willing to go above and beyond. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for all our learners!

I’ll be hosting my PTA round tables and town halls again in September, so please be on the lookout for more information on those dates soon. I’ll be anxious to hear how virtual learning is going for your family, so please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Until then, in our house, we’ll be working on embracing the change and getting ready to start what I hope will be a really good year for all our kids and staff.

As always, all my very best-

Laura Jane

Below are some helpful links that include recent pertinent information regarding the return to school:

Reopening of Schools Work Session

Updated FCPS Reopening Schools Plan

Special Education Return to School Webpage

FCPS Student Health and Safety Guidance Document.

Upcoming Town Halls

Special Education Town Hall on August 26th, 6-7 p.m.

Join FCPS Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand for another opportunity to ask questions and provide your thoughts on Wednesday, August 26, from 6 to 7 p.m. The focus of the Aug. 26 town hall will be special education. 

Send your questions in advance to or call into the town hall live at 1-800-231-6359. The meeting can be viewed on FCPS cable TV channel 99 or on the FCPS website.

View last week’s town hall.  

Spanish Language Town Hall on September 1st, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

FCPS will hold a virtual town hall in Spanish on Tuesday, September 1 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. It will be broadcast on cable TV channel 99 or on the FCPS website. It will also be shown on the FCPS Spanish Facebook page.

School Board Members

Upcoming School Board Meetings

Thursday, August 27th Electronic Work Session 3-5 p.m.

FY21 Budget Update

Thursday, September 3rd Electronic Regular Meeting 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 15th Electronic All-Day Work Session 11 a.m.

Thursday, September 17th Electronic Regular Meeting 7 p.m.

You can watch School Board meetings live here or later on the FCPS YouTube channel here.

The School Board welcomes comments from Fairfax County residents and believes that strong community engagement and outreach are important components of a successful school system.

An individual may register to speak at a meeting beginning at 6 a.m. three business days prior to the meeting. A maximum of 10 speaker slots are available, first come, first served. The speakers list closes at 4:30 p.m. on the last business day prior to the meeting date.  Sign up to speak here.

Maps of School and COVID Activity

The Virginia Department of Education has created an interactive map that illustrates how the state’s 132 school divisions are reopening in August and September. The map is updated as VDOE learns of decisions by local school boards to revisit reopening plans approved earlier in the summer.


Here is a map of reported COVID cases in US schools from March 1st-August 23rd, 2020. This data is in process of being transitioned to a new site. If this link changes, I will send an updated version in my next newsletter.

Technology Council Update

Staff have done much good and detailed work in just a matter of months to improve the online learning platforms and content of instruction. In particular, here are updates related to the Superintendent’s Technology Advisory Council that was convened in April to gather input and recommendations from local experts in technology and education delivery, as well as FCPS staff, students, and families. Since convening, approximately 200 work sessions were held about different aspects of technology and virtual learning delivery.

Please see slides 2-9 in the August 18 work session presentation (at the bottom of the screen)


Introducing Schoology

The division recently awarded a learning management system contract to Schoology [pronounced "Skoo-luh-jee"]. School divisions across the nation use Schoology as the online platform to engage students, teachers, parents, and administration in the learning process. The system will be available divisionwide in fall 2021.

Schoology’s learning management system is similar to Blackboard, Moodle, and Canvas with the added benefit of integrating Google Drive. Schoology was chosen to support and implement instructional practices aligned to FCPS’s learning model to help students reach the Portrait of a Graduate goals.

Schoology will provide all students with:

  • Equitable access to meaningful learning experiences
  • Amplified best instructional practices
  • Anytime access to their virtual learning space

The following timeline has been developed to allow stakeholders an opportunity to give critical input prior to full implementation of Schoology.

  • Spring 2020 - Structured Focus Groups
  • Fall 2020 - Schoology Pilot in selected schools (in the Springfield District: West Springfield High School, Irving Middle School, and Rolling Valley Elementary School will be piloting the program)
  • Fall 2021 - Schoology launched division wide


As was previously mentioned, FCPS will cover the cost of the SAT for any twelfth-grade student who wishes to test on Wednesday, September 23.

For the August 29 SAT testing, we have worked with College Board to open overflow sites at Centreville and Westfield High Schools to support the large number of registrations for Chantilly High School. Students who were registered to test at Chantilly High School on August 29 will receive confirmation of their testing location directly from College Board.

We are aware that there was an unintended cancellation of the SAT at Lewis High School causing students who were registered for the site on August 29 to have to re-register with the College Board. We apologize for the unnecessary stress caused by this error. Based on the guidance from the health department, FCPS moved to limit the capacity at the site by requesting College Board close the registration for Lewis. Unfortunately, the request was misinterpreted by the College Board, and they canceled the August 29 test. Test registration was reopened with priority given to those students who were previously cancelled from the August 29 test.

We are continuing to prepare for hosting additional weekend testing options for SAT and ACT throughout the 2020-21 school year. Registration for these weekend tests is available directly through ACT and College Board. Any additional changes for weekend testing sites for the ACT or SAT in FCPS throughout the 2020-21 school year will depend on health conditions along with health and safety guidelines. Changes will be communicated directly to registered students by ACT or by the College Board for the SAT.

Additionally, we are excited to share that we are moving forward with plans to host the PSAT/NMSQT test for all juniors in October. FCPS will cover the cost for the PSAT/NMSQT for any interested eleventh grade student. Additional details about the specific test date and registration process will be shared by schools in September. We will also look ahead to the spring to offer our tenth-grade students the opportunity to take the PSAT, and we will share additional information as we get closer to that time.


PreK News

FCPS PreK still has space for school year 20-21. If you have a child who is 4 years old, do not delay. Apply now! We are quickly processing applications.

Apply safely at home from your phone here.

For more information please call: 703-208-7900


VDOE English Learner Instruction Program

The Virginia Department of Education's (VDOE) English Learner Instruction Program will offer a new series of webinars geared to support families as they prepare for the upcoming school year, specifically supporting learning at home. 

The links below are for the respective Zoom sessions: 

No registration is required; families join live.



The Department of Facilities is in the process of completing air flow assessments in nearly all schools and centers and will report back to the School Board upon completion of this effort. Schools are designed to ventilate outdoor air throughout the day to reduce the buildup of pollutants and odors.   Maintenance staff conduct routine and preventative maintenance on all mechanical, electrical, HVAC, and plumbing systems – including replacing air filters.  In areas where an indoor air quality concern is identified we use high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems to enhance air cleaning.   

Additionally, FCPS participation in the ENERGY STAR program requires that buildings be tested for proper ventilation, certified as passing ventilation rate requirements by a Professional Engineer who both signs and stamps the application to indicate their testing, and then the data is reviewed and independently certified by the Environmental Protection Agency.  We have been, and continue to be, a leader in the nation for the number of schools certified as Energy Star schools (operating within the top 25% energy efficient in their building class). 

Although we are seeing some savings in heating and air conditioning costs and fuel costs for buses, we are also seeing increased costs in cleaning supplies and decreased revenue in community use and purchased lunches.  Other departmental costs are increased due to purchases of computers, virtual learning software, increased translation costs, etc.  

Parent Resource Center

Parent Resource Center

The FCPS Parent Resource Center provides access to information and resources to support the success of all students.  They host a variety of free seminars and have a wealth of free resources, including those with learning challenges, special needs, and disabilities.  In addition, they are available via phone or email for consults.  Check them out!   703-204-3941

Webinars for Families and Educators 2020-2021

  • Registration Register online here.  Registration will be open approximately one month before the workshop date. Registrants will be provided a link by email on the morning of the webinar
  • Information Webinars are from 10:00 -11:30 am or 6:30 – 8:00 unless otherwise noted. All Webinars will be recorded and can be accessed at the Parent Resource Center YouTube Channel.
  • Tutor Lists and Free Resource Guides Contact us via phone or email to get the list of available tutors.  Additionally, we have free resources on topics such as: Executive Functioning, Parenting & Basic Needs, Adults with Disabilities, Mind in the Making, Mental Health, Fairfax County Government Resources, Military Connected Resources, Kindergarten Readiness, Adapted Sports and Recreation, and many more.


  • Survive and Thrive with Virtual Learning: Practical Strategies to Make At-Home Learning Work for You (9/1/20) p.m.
  • Survive and Thrive with Virtual Learning: Practical Strategies to Make At-Home Learning Work for You (9/11/20) a.m.
  • 10 Ways to Stop Power Struggles & Start Motivating Your Kids (9/18/20) a.m./p.m.
  • Setting the Stage for Behavior: Routines, Procedures, & Expectations (9/24/20) 10 a.m. & 3 p.m.


Survive and Thrive with Virtual Learning: Practical Strategies to Make At-Home Learning Work for You

Are you worried about managing your child’s virtual schooling this year? Do you hate becoming the “school police” when your child won’t focus? Do you have to balance your child’s schooling with your own remote workload? We hear you, and we’re here to help. 

You’ll learn how to avoid parent-child conflict around academics with practical tips for:

  • Establishing routines and expectations that really work
  • Creating ideal spaces for virtual learning
  • Keeping kids focused while learning online
  • Minimizing distractions from video games and other screens
  • Getting your own work done at the same time (Yes, it’s possible!)

Don’t tackle this unusual year without a plan. Instead, join us and feel more prepared and confident for the year ahead, with a toolbox full of practical strategies that actually work. We can’t wait to see you there!

Presented by Ann Dolin, M.Ed., educational consultant and award-winning author.  Ann is the President and Director of Educational Connections, Inc.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Friday September 11, 2020, 10-11:30 a.m.

Register for Survive and Thrive with Virtual Learning: Practical Strategies to Make At-Home Learning Work for You


10 Ways to Stop Power Struggles & Start Motivating Your Kids

Do you need help calming your explosive household? Tired of yelling at, negotiating with and bribing your child? Do you want your child to take responsibility for their schoolwork, chores and attitude? How can you prevent kids who need consistency from falling behind with distance learning models? How are teachers/parents going to keep kids on task without shutting down?

It’s time to stop the yelling, arguing and power struggles with toddlers and teens.

Celebrate Calm Founder, Kirk Martin, will show you how to create stress-free mornings, school, dinner and bedtime. We promise you will laugh and leave with a dozen practical strategies that really work.

Webinar Highlights:

  • Stop Defiance, Disrespect, & Meltdowns
  • Get Your Kids to Listen the First Time
  • Create Stress-Free Mornings, Homework, & Bedtime
  • Get Kids Off Screens Without a Fight
  • Motivate Strong-Willed Kids without Crushing Their Spirits
  • Prevent kids who need consistency from falling behind with distance learning models.

Friday September 18, 2020, 10 - 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Register for 10 Ways to Stop Power Struggles & Start Motivating Your Kids


Encouraging Positive Behaviors at Home Series

  • 9/24/20: Setting the Stage for Good Behavior: Routines, Procedures, & Expectations
    • Overview on establishing and maintaining routines, procedures, and expectations.
    • Strategies to teach and reinforce routines, procedures, & expectations
  • 10/22/20: Challenging Behaviors Part 1: Prevention Strategies and Teaching Self-Control
  • 11/19/20: Challenging Behaviors Part 2: ABCs of Behavior & How to Respond
  • 12/17/20: All Behavior Happens for a Reason: Behavior as Communication
  • 01/21/21: Strategies for Increasing Replacement Behaviors
  • 02/18/21: Regaining Control and Teaching your Children to Follow Directions
  • 03/18/21: Effectively Communicating with Your Child
  • 04/22/21: Minimizing Prompts and Maximizing Your Child’s Independence

Thursday September 24, 2020, 10 - 11:30 a.m. and 3 - 4:30 p.m.

Register for Setting the Stage for Good Behavior: Routines, Procedures, & Expectations

Special Education Newsletter Features News, Support for Families

The August 14 edition of the Special Education Newsletter has been published and includes information on social-emotional learning, at-home learning tips, and suggestions on how to help build independence. Read it online

Special Education Resources

The Special Education Return to School webpage has been updated and includes the latest information for families.  Another excellent resource recently suggested from the Office of Special Services is the Family Guide to At-home Learning.

Additional supports for our special education community can be accessed through these resources:

Parent Resource Center at or 703-204-3941.



Virginia Autism Council Offers Free Lunch Webinar Series



The Virginia Autism Council (VAC) is offering a free webinar series on supports and services, transportation, trauma and resilience oriented care, communication with first responders, and a review of the 2021 VAC skills competencies. These free seminars are held from noon to 1:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month.  The next seminar is scheduled for Wednesday, September 16, 2020- The Spectrum of Transportation with Mary Breister and Anne Brie

Register online here.

Healthy Minds

Healthy Minds Podcast

FCPS is airing a weekly Healthy Minds podcast to provide relevant, actionable information on emotional health and well-being to parents and teens as they endure the ongoing pandemic and prepare for the school year. Listen here. This week’s guest is Laura Mayer, director of PRS CrisisLink, an important FCPS community partner.

Emergency mental health services:

Mental Health Emergency Numbers

School Supplies

Donate to "Collect for Kids" and provide school supplies for students!

With school starting virtually in the fall, there is even more need for all students to have basic school supplies at home in order to participate fully in class. The Foundation for FCPS is raising funds to purchase school supply kits that will be provided to the nearly 60,000 students who may not be able to afford to purchase their own.

A $50 contribution to Collect for Kids will provide school supplies for 5 students. Please help us make sure all students have what they need to be creative, and successful, in school. Thank you!

FCPS Launches New Parent Technology Help Desk, Readies Students and Families for Virtual Learning

Help Desk

To support families who are working with their children during distance learning, Fairfax County Public Schools is launching a new Parent Technology Help Desk, effective today, Monday, August 24. The number is 1-833-921-3277 (833-921-FCPS). It will be answered by staff 7 11 p.m., seven days a week. If the help desk is unable to solve the issue on the phone with the parent or guardian, they will enter a ticket on the parent’s behalf and the request for help will be transferred to the appropriate FCPS team. 

Parents or guardians who need help in a language other than English should let help desk staff know, and an interpreter will join them on the line. (FCPS also has existing parent information phone lines, available in eight different languages, that can assist with general questions about FCPS.)

FCPS has also set up an online portal to allow older students and parents and guardians to request technology help directly. 

Get more information about the new Parent Technology Help Desk

Tips for Online Learning Success

FCPS has created this document to help support families with technology at home during virtual learning.


New Videos Feature Help with Google Classroom, Padlet, Flipgrid

As students prepare for the virtual start to the school year, parents are encouraged to learn some of the technology applications their children and classrooms may be using this fall by viewing videos posted here. The list will be continuously updated.  Additionally, we have learned that the Children's Science Center is doing a free parent session to support virtual learning on August 29 and September 1. 

This week, two new videos have been added to the Virtual Learning Tips and Tricks playlist on YouTube.  

Padlet Tutorial: Padlet is an online bulletin board for students to post and collaborate. Jenn Choumil, biology teacher at McLean HS, created this resource for parents to better understand how the app works.

Flipgrid Screencast: The Deer Park ES school-based technology specialist is back to demonstrate how to use Flipgrid to make a screencast. It's a fun way for students to share their work with the teacher and classmates. Parental permission is required for students to use this app.


Preparing for the New School Year

To help prepare students for a successful virtual start to the school year, parents are asked to ensure children have the tools and connectivity that will be needed.  If you currently have an FCPS issued laptop at home, please help your school’s technology team prepare devices to receive county updates by doing the following once per week until school starts:

  • Plug the laptop into an outlet.
  • Turn the laptop on and let it boot up.
  • Login to ensure it connects to the internet at that location.
  • Launch Google Chrome and visit the FCPS website to ensure the internet is connected on the computer.
  • Leave the laptop on and connected to the internet for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, the laptop may be shut down.

In the next few weeks, students will receive learning updates that will include information from your child’s classroom teacher and the daily instructional schedule for distance.

Student Attendance for the 2020-21 School Year

FCPS welcomes new and returning families for the 2020-21 school year. Our September 8 virtual opening poses some interesting challenges, so we hope this will help families understand the new attendance routines.

In Virginia, public school students aged 5-18 are required to attend school regularly. That is true whether FCPS is offering distance learning or in-person instruction. Teachers will take attendance during learning sessions and ensure that all students are counted. Parents can assist with this process by doing the following:

  • Ensuring that their student(s) logs in to classes on time, and throughout the day.
  • Calling or emailing the school attendance line if their student(s) are unable to participate.
  • Communicating any concerns to the school, such as difficulty logging in or having access to FCPS classes.
  • Reporting any hardship, such as student illness or any issue that might prevent the student from participating regularly.
  • Returning phone calls or emails when notified that their student(s) did not participate that day.
  • Ensuring that your student(s) submit activity logs as directed.

If your child is unable to login to live, face-to-face online instruction with their teacher, the teacher will be recording the class and posting the video within Blackboard/Google Classroom so it can be viewed at a different time. The video can also be used to provide review for all students.

If a parent calls and indicates their student will not be there for a certain class period, they are excused for the class period. Accessing the material later will not change the status of the absence.

If there is no parent contact, and the student failed to log in, the student is unverified for that class period. FCPS bases attendance for secondary students on “present” one or more periods of the day, and reports which periods a student did not appear in class.

FCPS staff members will work with parents to ensure that the transition to virtual learning is as smooth as possible. Help us to help you set your students up for success.

More information about attendance is available online

Planning Ahead for Our In-Person Return to School

At the School Board work session on Tuesday, August 18, Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand provided the preliminary metrics FCPS will use to decide when to return to cohort (more information below), hybrid, or full in-person learning. These include:

Virginia Department of Health Metrics

  • The number of new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population.
  • The percentage of tests that are positive (PCR test percent positivity).
  • Rate of Covid-19 outbreaks.
  • Percent of Covid-19 cases among healthcare workers.
  • Rate of emergency department visits for coronavirus-like illnesses.
  • Rate of confirmed Covid-19 intensive care unit hospitalizations.
  • Percent of hospital beds currently occupied.
  • Number of hospitals reporting trouble acquiring personal protective equipment.

Operational Metrics

  • Ability to staff the health room with a public health nurse or student health aide.
  • Classroom teachers available for in-person learning.
  • Available staff on-call to monitor in-person learning (including substitutes).
  • Administrative staff available for in-person learning.
  • Transportation staff available.
  • Food and nutrition managers available.
  • Custodial staff available.

Finalized metrics will be shared with the School Board in September.

Cohort Learning Groups

FCPS has identified groups of students that are most in need of returning to in-person learning and hopes to bring them back using a phased-in approach (one group every two weeks) beginning in September. They include:

  • Group 1: Preschool autism and preschool class-based students, English learners with limited or interrupted formal education, and limited Adult and Community Education classes including English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), workforce training, and behind-the-wheel driving classes.
  • Group 2: Key Center and Kilmer Center students, secondary and elementary students who access the adapted curriculum, elementary comprehensive services sites, new English learners and PreK and kindergarten students.
  • Group 3: First and second grade students and Burke School elementary school students. 

View the complete School Board Return to School work session: Part I | Part II


Library Resources in FCPS

FCPS provides access to many print and digital products for all of our students, PreK-12 and their families, to support research, learning, and recreational reading. Browse our collection of online databases and eBooks by visiting Login information is available from your school library.

Other resources include:

  • eBook Highlight - MackinVIA: MackinVIA is the FCPS eBook and audiobook platform. Users can download the MackinVIA app from the iOS and android app stores to read or listen on their mobile devices, or log in to using their FCPS network username and password. Also, users on a school-issued computer can search for the MackinVIA app shortcut. In all cases, be sure to log in to the FCPS blue bar with your network credential, NOT the Follett prompt.
  • How to Navigate MackinVIA: Take a look at a four minute video demonstrating the features of MackinVIA.
  • Digital Book Licenses: Most FCPS purchases are limited to single-user licenses by publishers. That means that if a copy of a book is checked out, other users can make a request to place it on hold, but only one person may engage with the book at a time.


Public Library Equity Access Pass

As part of the One Fairfax initiative, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL), and FCPS Library Information Services have partnered in the Library Equity Access Pass (LEAP) pilot program.

On October 1, 2020 the LEAP program will go division-wide, providing FCPS PreK-12 students with public library checkout privileges for books automatically, without the need to register for a physical library card.  Student names and ID numbers will be provided to FCPL through an automated data download.  Families who do not wish to participate can select the opt-out for LEAP in the 2020-21 SR&R document.

Participating in the LEAP program provides: 

  • The ability to check out up to three public library books at a time.  At any FCPL library branch, students or parents simply share their name and indicate they are an FCPS student.  A virtual account exists, and identification is not required. 
  • Lost or overdue books will not be charged a fine or replacement fee.  However, only three books can be on a virtual account at a time.
  • Checkouts are limited to physical books.  eBooks and public library digital resources cannot be accessed through this account.  Students are welcome to establish a standard public library card for full access.

The Fairfax County Public Library is open for Express services and offers curbside checkout. 

Students Grow at Home with Seed Kits from Food and Nutrition Services and Get2Green

Grow at Home

FCPS Food and Nutrition Services and Get2Green distributed more than 4,000 Grow at Home Kits at meal distribution sites over the last few months, reaching more than 9,000 students. Consult the Grow at Home Resource Kit if your school is interested in assembling kits to distribute to students.


New Get2Green Resource Hub

Explore the new Get2Green Resource Hub to discover resources for key environmental stewardship topics at your fingertips. Resources are continuously being added with a commitment to equity, and new resources for virtual learning and virtual green teams are coming soon!

How to Correctly Wear a Cloth Face Covering: A Student’s Guide 

Correctly wearing and removing a face covering is important information for all students. The following video addresses the steps that each student must take to keep themselves safe as they wear and remove their required face covering.  Additional translations will be available soon.

How to Wear a Mask

Click on the image above to play the video.

Frequently Asked Questions

FCPS FAQs for Families

With the start of the school year just three weeks away, be sure to check the FCPS Family FAQ page for updated information here.

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