Special Education Town Hall and Updates

Hello Fairfax County students, families, and staff,

While I know this is not the start to school any of us wanted, I am proud of our teachers, staff, and admins for their hard work in a strong virtual start to our school year. They have truly been working around the clock to make sure fall is a very different experience than the spring. I am also grateful to our families for your partnership, grace, and support. I know virtual learning is harder for some students than others. To that vein, I am hosting a Special Education Town Hall with FCPS leadership to help answer some of your special education questions and hear your concerns. 

Wednesday September 16th 7:30-8:30 p.m. - Special Education Town Hall 

I will be hosting a special education town hall to help answer your questions and address concerns with FCPS Leadership

  • FCPS Acting Assistant Superintendent, Mike Bloom 

  • Director of the Office of Procedural Support, Jane Strong 

  • SEPTA President, Michelle Cades

Held via Zoom and Facebook Live. Zoom is limited to 100 participants. If you can't get into the Zoom meeting, you can follow along on Facebook Live.  

I have also been getting many questions about the next steps towards phasing in in-person learning. Below is information regarding the upcoming school board meeting on an update to Return to School. 

Tuesday, September 22nd - Update on Return to In-Person Instruction  

Even while we were preparing for a strong virtual start, FCPS was already making plans to slowly and safely phase in small cohorts of students, starting with those students who most need to be in-person.  We will have an update from our Superintendent at our School Board work session on September 22nd. 

At the Tuesday, September 22nd, (starting at 4 p.m.) School Board work session, Superintendent Brabrand will provide updated information on health and operational metrics to guide the decision-making process to resume in-person instruction.

The work session can be viewed on FCPS Cable TV Channel 99 or on the FCPS website. It will also be available for viewing later on the FCPS YouTube page.

This newsletter is much shorter than my usual, which I am sure will be welcome to some! I hope you and your students had as good a first week of school as possible last week. I know many of you have reached out to share your concerns about the length of the day and how much support some of our students need. I know our parents are stressed, our teachers overwhelmed teaching in an entirely new way, and principals have been working nonstop for months. I know life for many is hard under a global pandemic but harder for others. I have shared these concerns with our leadership team as they work for continual improvement of our virtual learning. I know my own son tried valiantly, his teachers worked hard and, while there were many moments he struggled trying to figure it out with his language comprehension issues, it was overall a good week. And despite his sadness at starting his senior year virtually he still chose to start school wearing a Lion King “Hakuna Matata” shirt. Because, as he said, regardless of where he is learning, he is still planning to seize the day. Although he then told me how much he hates COVID and what it has done to his senior year.

Those two sentiments pretty much sum up my attitude also - trying to seize the day while hating what COVID has done to my life. I know it feels like we are tapped out, that we just want normal back. I know I do. But the best way to find normal is to figure out how to find some happiness in the new normal, rather than reach for the old happiness in the old normal.I don’t know exactly what that means, but I know I am going to try to find it. 

Stay Safe. And please wear your mask. 

Warm Regards,


Jake Sizemore


PS Here are some quick links for support:

In this email you will find:

  • Upcoming School Board Meetings
  • How to Watch School Board Meetings and How to Find Handouts 
  • FCPS Supports for Virtual Learning
  • October Parent Resource Center Seminars and Support
  • FCPS Food Program Expansion
  • FCPS Student Rep Moderating Discussion on Voting and Government
  • FCPS Virtual Mental Health and Wellness Conference
  • Congratulations to National Merit Semifinalists

Upcoming School Board Meetings

FCPS School Board
  • All Day Work Session - September 15th, 11 a.m. (Virtual) 
  • Regular Meeting - September 17th, 7 p.m. (Virtual)
  • Work Session on Return to School - Sept 22nd 4 p.m. (Virtual)
  • CTAC Report to the School Board - Sept 22 6 p.m. (Virtual)
  • Audit Committee Meeting - September 23rd - 5:30 p.m. (Virtual)

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.

Family in front of TV screen

How to Watch Meetings/Find Meeting Handouts


  • Livestream: Meetings are live streamed here - https://www.fcps.edu/tv/ch99.
  • 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

FCPS Supports for Virtual Learning

As your child continues to move forward with virtual learning, there are resources that can help you with basic technology issues. 

Below is a guide to help you get information quickly:

  • Inquiries about your child’s schedule or classes, school events or programs, checking out an FCPS laptop, or updating your information, contact your child’s school directly.
  • FCPS’ YouTube channel has videos that walk you and your student through basic technology topics and highlight some of the key FCPS tools, such as Google and Blackboard. These videos can provide a quick solution for quick, simple questions. 
  • Technology Tip Sheets: Additionally, there are tip sheets available on the FCPS Parent Technology Resource page in multiple languages. These tip sheets provide answers to basic questions about FCPS technologies. Often you can find the answer to your question in these resources. These resources will continue to be updated throughout the year; we encourage you to check there first.
  • Broader inquiries about FCPS programs or resources available to families may be directed to the Parent Resource Center at 703-204-3941, or use one of our eight Parent Information Phone Lines for information in multiple languages. 
  • Technical support questions about your online parent accounts, your student’s FCPS laptop, or your student’s online applications, should be directed to the Parent Technology Help Desk (toll free) at 833-921-3277 or enter a support request ticket via the Parent and Student IT Portal. Please note that the Parent Technology Help Desk and school tech teams continue to experience a high volume of support requests. We appreciate your patience, and highly recommend the self-help resources above to solve simple technology issues quickly. 

We hope this information helps point you to the right resources, and we look forward to working with you and your child on a successful school year.

Parent Resource Center October Seminars and Supports 

How to Get Your Child/Adolescent to Open Up to You 

We all want to know what's going on in our children's lives. We want to know about school and about their friends. We want to hear their successes and their struggles. But what happens when your kids won't tell you what's going on in their lives? What if you ask questions and all they do is shrug and mumble "It was fine," or "I don't know"?

Webinar Highlights:

  • Strategies to use with reluctant children
  • How to open lines of communication with your children
  • How to increase productive, effective communication 

Presented by Parenting Specialist, Rachel Bailey, M.A., CPDPE.

Friday October 2nd, 2020, 10 - 11:30 a.m.

Register for How to Get your Child/Adolescent to Open up to You


Alcohol, Drugs, and Vaping: What Every Parent Needs to Know

Talking with your teen or young adult can be challenging. Having meaningful, ongoing conversations about drugs and alcohol, however, is key to helping keep your son or daughter healthy and safe.

Presentation Highlights:

  • Current trends in substance use and abuse
  • Impact of substances on physical and emotional development
  • Paraphernalia display and discussion
  • Tools for parents

Presented by Carrie Glasgow, FCPS Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist.

Friday, October 16th, 2020, 10 - 11:30 a.m.

Register for Alcohol, Drugs, and Vaping: What Every Parent Needs to Know

Moving on To Life in the Community: A Virtual and Free Resource Fair for Students with Disabilities 

Don’t miss this VIRTUAL and FREE Resource Fair for students with disabilities and their parents!

Learn about vocational, residential, leisure, recreational, independent living, and advocacy options. This resource fair is for all individuals requiring ongoing employment and community support services after graduation.   

Presenters include: Career and Transition Services, The Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, The Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board and the ARC of Northern Virginia.

6:30-7:15     Overview Presentation

7:15-7:30     Participants move to virtual breakout rooms   

7:30-8:30     Virtual Q&A with Adult Service Providers 

Wednesday October 21st, 2020, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Register for Moving on To Life in the Community: A Virtual and Free Resource Fair for Students with Disabilities  

Encouraging Positive Behaviors at Home Series 

  • 9/24/20: Setting the Stage for Behavior: Routines, Procedures, & Expectations
  • 10/22/20: Challenging Behaviors: Prevention Strategies and Teaching Self-Control
  • 11/19/20: Challenging Behaviors: 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: 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 October 22nd, 2020, 10 - 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Register for Challenging Behaviors: Prevention Strategies and Teaching Self-Control

Launching Your Adolescent into Adulthood

A recent survey of young adults in the US reported that nearly 45% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 now live with their parents - even though they are employed.

This session will provide:

  • 10 Tips to help launch your young adult successfully into adulthood
  • Strategies to teach your child “soft” employment, money management and communication/self-advocacy skills.

Presented by Dr. Amy Fortney Parks, LPC, ACS, Owner of The Wise Family Counseling & Assessment Services in Alexandria and Arlington

Friday, October 30th, 2020, 10 - 11:30 a.m.

Register for: Launching Your Adolescent into Adulthood

Important Parent Resource Center Links 

Register for New Webinars

Watch Previous Webinars on YouTube

Topical Resources - Information for Families and Educators

Food Program Expanding 

Additional Bus Routes Starting September 16th

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that FCPS and other school districts can continue serving free meals to all children through December 31. FCPS has distributed more than 2.4 million grab and go meals since schools closed in March. The goal is to provide every FCPS student daily access to a healthy breakfast and lunch.

Grab and go service hours have been extended to 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) with both breakfast and lunch being served at the same time. Bus routes for food distribution are being added and the current routes updated. Meals on buses will be distributed Monday through Friday beginning at 6:30 a.m.

New for this fall: Breakfast and lunch meals for Saturdays will be distributed at all sites and bus routes each Friday.   

Specific information about meal distribution locations and bus distribution schedules (updated daily by 5 p.m.) is available online

FCPS Student School Board Member to Serve as Moderator for Virtual Discussion on Voting and Government - Thursday, September 17th

Nathan Onibudo

FCPS School Board Student Representative Nathan Onibudo, a senior at South County High School, will serve as moderator for a panel discussion with U.S. Senator Tim Kaine on Thursday, September 17, beginning at 6 p.m. in recognition of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. The event will be broadcast live on FCPS Cable TV Channel 99 and on the FCPS website. The discussion, which will include other FCPS high school seniors, will focus on the importance of voter registration, exercising one’s right to vote, and informed and active participation in government. The League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area is supporting the event.

On September 17th of each year, FCPS schools hold an educational program recognizing Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. The purpose of this federal requirement is to commemorate the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787, and to “recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.” This 2004 Congressional initiative applies to educational institutions receiving federal funding from the United States Department of Education.

Note: The Fairfax County School Board recently approved a resolution in support of the FCPS High School Voter Registration Challenge.

Wellness Graphic

FCPS Virtual Mental Health and Wellness Conference

FCPS will host its seventh Annual Mental Health and Wellness Conference over a three-week period beginning Monday, September 14th, through Saturday, October 3rd. The conference features multiple keynote speakers who will address social emotional learning and resiliency. Our Minds Matter will also host a student strand. Inova and Kaiser Permanente will again be sponsoring the conference.

Registration information and the complete schedule and list of speakers are now available online

2021 National Merit Semifinalists

Congratulations to the Two Hundred Twelve FCPS Students Named 2021 National Merit Semifinalists!

Two hundred twelve students from 18 FCPS high schools have been named semifinalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation for 2021.  All semifinalists are eligible to compete for 7,600 National Merit Scholarship awards worth more than $30 million, to be awarded in spring 2021.

Congratulations to these amazing scholars for their achievements!

See who was named a national merit semifinalist.

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