Back To School Resources, Town Halls, Webinars, Podcasts, and More ...

Dear Lee District Families,

Summer is winding down and our virtual start to the school year will begin September 8th. I hope you and your family have had the opportunity to relax and recharge during these summer months and are ready to begin the school year.

As a parent, I understand the concern and apprehension you may have right now.  But please know, that FCPS staff and our Board have been working throughout the summer to ensure that the start of school will be a positive experience for our families, teachers and staff.

This newsletter is filled with information to help you and your student have a successful start during these unprecedented times.

  • Superintendent town halls
  • Virtual orientations for parents and students
  • A new parent technology help desk
  • Workshops with our Parent Resource Center
  • Special Education Resources
  • Healthy Minds podcasts
  • Virtual FCPS library services
  • Tips for optimal laptop use
  • Updating contact information

Plus, you’ll find information on student attendance, an update from the Superintendent’s Technology Council, ways to virtually volunteer with GrandInvolve and preliminary plans for what is might look like to begin safely bringing our students back to the classrooms.

Enjoy every moment of these last days of summer and stay well! 


Town Hall Meetings with Superintendent Brabrand

Superintendent Brabrand has two upcoming town hall meetings where he will share information to help students, parents, and staff prepare for the start of the school year.

  • September 1 - Focus on Return to School in Spanish 6:30-7:30 p.m.
  • September 2 - Focus on Resources for Parents 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Watch the town hall meetings live here:

Send your questions in advance to or call into the town hall live at 1-800-231-6359

In case you missed it - here are the links to go back and watch previous town hall meetings earlier this month.

August 26 - Watch Video. Wednesday's town hall included a spotlight on FCPS' special education staff. Staff members explained what they do to support students with disabilities in Fairfax County and talked about student engagement in the virtual environment, family partnerships, student support, and specialized instruction. They also shared how they engage and will continue to engage students successfully. 

August 19 - Watch Video. Two staff members from FCPS' social work and clinical teams talked about the emotions many families are experiencing during the pandemic. Learn how to cope and how to recognize potential issues of concern.

August 12 - Watch Video. Learn from two amazing school-based technology specialists who provided tips to prepare families for the virtual start to the school year on September 8.

Virtual Orientations Underway

Parents and students should plan to attend a virtual orientation with their teachers and school staff prior to the first day of school, September 8. Each school will schedule the virtual orientations and communicate the dates and times to families. The goal is to make the student transition to virtual learning as smooth as possible and to reduce any anxiety leading up to and on the first day of school.

The virtual orientations will give families the opportunity to:

  • Build relationships with school staff and community.
  • Meet the teacher(s).
  • Participate in an overview of how virtual learning will work, such as basic expectations on logging into students’ FCPS Gmail accounts to access virtual classroom links, and how to use Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, GoogleMeet, and Schoology.
  • Get more information about how to prepare for the first day of school.

After school starts, each school will also have a virtual Back to School Night to further orient families to the virtual learning environment. Back to School Night will provide an overview of the curriculum and provide clear expectations related to attendance, grading, and student supports. 

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

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 Monday, August 24. The number is 833-921-3277 (833-921-FCPS). It will be answered by staff 7 a.m. to 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

Upcoming Workshop on Virtual Learning by the Parent Resource Center

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. 

A free online webinar to provide support for adults will be offered on September 1 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and on September 11 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. 

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. Register online or call 703-204-3941 for more information.

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

Update from the Superintendent's Technology Council Update

The Superintendent’s Technology Advisory Council’s mission was to elevate the school district’s technology applications to the forefront of innovation; and make sure teachers and students are equipped with the tools, connectivity, access, and security for an increasingly interconnected landscape. The Council’s final report included 67 recommendations. FCPS has responded to the 17 priority recommendations; eight have been completed (click here).

FCPS will provide an update on remaining recommendations before the end of the first semester.

The Superintendent's Technology Advisory Council has concluded its work. View the Council's final report.

One of the Technology Advisory Council’s key recommendations was to hire a Chief Information Officer (CIO) and at yesterday’s work session our Board welcomed Gautam Sethi into that role. Mr. Sethi comes to FCPS from the Douglas County (Colorado) School District with 18 years of experience in education technology. More information on Mr. Sethi can be found here:

Special Education Resources

The Special Education Return to School webpage has been updated and includes the latest information for families.

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

•    Procedural Support Liaison (PSL) Assigned by School
•    Office of Due Process and Eligibility
•    Office of Intervention and Prevention
•    Office of Special Education Instruction
•    Section 504 Information

You may also reach out to the Assistant Ombudsman for Special Education, Dawn Clements, at, or the Parent Resource Center at or 703-204-3941.

New Healthy Minds Podcasts

Fairfax County Public Schools has launched a weekly Healthy Minds podcast. The goal is to hear about how we are all handling uncertainty; get new ideas to help your child, friends and families feel better; and learn to help yourself feel stronger and more energized.

If you need a little help to feel OK, it’s OK--the Healthy Minds podcast is here for you.

Finding Someone To Listen (August 21, 2020) featured a conversation with Laura Mayer, Director of PRS CrisisLink, an important FCPS community partner. PRS CrisisLink helps students improve coping and resiliency skills and connects them with school and community resources. Call 703-527-4077 or 1-800-273-TALK to be connected with a trained crisis worker. The textline is reached by texting the word NEEDHELP to 855-11.



Managing Feelings Around Uncertainty (August 13, 2020) featured McLean High School counselor Beth Werfel who talked about managing and coping during uncertain times.



Suggestions or Questions

Want to suggest a podcast topic? Have a question you'd like answered? We'd love to hear from you! Contact us

Podcast Guests

The Healthy Minds podcast is an opportunity to learn from some of the top psychologists, social workers, school counselors, and leaders in the field of education.

Guests on the podcast work on the front lines in our school division of over 189,000 students. They support the well-being of children (and their families), helping equip them with the knowledge and skills to cope with everyday struggles and, sometimes, extraordinary adversity. And they often witness inspiring stories of bravery, courage and strength among our diverse students and staff.

Host Lucy Caldwell, an FCPS employee and parent of two FCPS graduates, guides the conversation.

Each week, you’ll hear interviews with our team and, hopefully, take away information that can help YOU be a better parent--or friend or neighbor. Or perhaps just feel a little bit better yourself. 

Planning Ahead for Our In-Person Return to School

At the School Board work session on Tuesday, August 18, Superintendent 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 Log in 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.

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.

Parents, Please Update Your Contact Information

For parents to stay current on school news and plans, current contact information is essential. This is especially important because schools will need to regularly notify parents about program changes and opportunities, such as laptop distributions, school supply lists, and other essentials. Once school begins, your school team may need to reach parents about student absences and academic and other concerns. Parents may update their information through Parent View.

Seeking Applicants for the Adult Community Education Advisory Committee (ACE)

I am seeking an appointee to represent the Lee District on the Adult Community Education Advisory Committee (ACE). This committee represents the community and brings to the School Board’s attention resource and programmatic issues associated with adult education. The committee meets monthly and is a one-year term.

If you are interested in serving on this committee, please email a brief statement on why you are interested, along with a copy of your resume, to my assistant, Cheryl Austin. For questions, please call 571-423-1069.

Map of VA School's Operational Status

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.

Below is a map which illustrates the operational status of each division. Please note that the operational status of divisions is subject to change as public health conditions evolve. As such, this map will be regularly updated.   


Upcoming School Board Meetings

Regular Meeting - September 3, 7:30 p.m.

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

Regular Meeting - September 17, 7 p.m.

Click here for meeting logistics, agendas and handouts. Meetings are live-streamed on the FCPS website and televised on FCPS Cable Channel 99. For more information about signing up to speak at a regular meeting, click here.

GrandInvolve News

Check out GrandInvolve's August Newsletter: Gearing Up for the New School Year. They are expanding their virtual volunteering and online tutoring efforts for this upcoming school year. This issue also includes updates on the following:


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