Early November Community Update

Dear Community Members,

Updates on School Board Related Work

Seeing Concurrent Instruction First Hand

Visit to Brookfield ES

FCPS is using a concurrent instructional approach in order to provide an in-person instruction option for students whose families chose that option in this time of COVID. Pilots are happening across FCPS to model the practice and work out best approaches before large grade bands of students return to school per family choice. I visited the pilot classes at Brookfield Elementary School in Chantilly, along with my Board colleague Stella Pekarsky, to view Kindergarten instruction.

Staff and students seemed positive and confident about being there. Technology needed was provided, including cameras to project teachers’ desktop and also online-students. I’ve since learned that the school division is working to create a menu of technology options from which staff can select to have equipment needed – including cameras, microphones, desktop computers and monitors, etc.

I asked many questions about data collection – ranging from the decisions made by principals and staff to create the learning environment, to how widely the Department of School Improvement and Supports (which is running the pilot) is implementing pilots that show a variety of class sizes and combinations of virtual and in-person students. More information will be shared on November 12 at the Board’s public regular meeting, and I am following up about the pilots with staff.

Homework and Student Workload

A letter to all staff has been distributed with guidance to address student workload and stress, which included:

  • Extending the first quarter - so that teachers may allow any late work for first quarter grading to be submitted through 5 pm on Monday, Nov 2. The deadline for teachers to submit grades is now Nov 6. 
  • Grading reminder – about grading reflecting the current circumstances, keeping in mind that many students do not have the same ability to learn at home as they do at school. Direction was given to teachers to not spend hours grading assignments, and to emphasize quality over quantity in assigning work to students. 
  • Scheduling “catch-up” days – where teachers provide as much class time and days as necessary for students to catch up on assignments without assigning any new work.
  • Adhering to student workload guidelines established in September:

Middle and High School Students:

Homework assignments outside of the online class work that will be conducted Tuesday through Friday should not exceed 60 minutes per course, per week for standard/honors courses and 75 minutes per week for Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses. Independent learning on Mondays can be used to complete these homework assignments.

Elementary Students:

No homework will be assigned Tuesday through Friday, while independent work will be assigned for Mondays. 

Instructors were reminded that for students learning online, all work is essentially homework, and that they should carefully reevaluate the purpose of homework in an environment where nothing is “normal;” and that independently-completed work often takes students longer than work done collaboratively or with direct teacher support. Teachers were also asked to identify ways to further reduce work assigned to students outside of class and/or provide additional synchronous time to allow for the completion of assignments. 

FCPS Athletics

FCPS Athletics Town Hall

On Wednesday, October 28 I hosted a virtual town hall that featured Director of the FCPS Office of Student Activities and Athletic Programs, Bill Curran, two FCPS Directors of Students Activities, and a parent advocate to discuss the latest news about returning our FCPS athletes to play safely in this time of COVID. You can access the recording of that event here.

Since then, it has been announced that high school athletes will be able to begin practice on December 7. 

FCPS plans to begin practice for the winter season on December 7 for basketball and on December 14 for all other winter sports. 

Student athletes should check their school website for practice and tryout information. 

FCPS is currently evaluating whether to allow spectators to attend competitions.

Read more here.

Details will continue to be worked out and addressed in the weeks ahead. Thank you to parents in Hunter Mill whom I’ve worked with on this effort, for their grassroots advocacy approaches.

Return to School Family Resource Guide

A Family Resource Guide has been created to help prepare families and students to a return to in-person learning and to address frequently asked questions. The Resource Guide is available online and can be translated into multiple languages.

Upcoming Meetings and Topics to be Covered

  • On Nov 10, the Board will hear the first of monthly presentations about the FCPS budget, to help inform the Board’s work to develop the Fiscal Year 22 budget. This is in response to the Board’s request to more deeply understand planning and analysis for the program budget, which is over $3 billion. November 10 will focus on select staffing formulas used to build the budget and comparisons of the standards of quality.
  • On November 12, the Board will hear the latest update from the Superintendent about Return to School planning and implementation.

Other updates about recent and upcoming work:

  • Hearing a fiscal forecast on November 4 from the Assistant Superintendent for Finance, to help inform FY 2022 budget development. The School Board will have a joint meeting wit the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on November 24 about budget development.
  • The School Board heard the Superintendent’s recommendations for the screening process for the Advanced Academic Program (AAP), including other information. View that content here.  
  • The School Board received the annual report and analysis of student membership at its November 4 public work session. It is critical to understand membership, enrollment, and unenrollment trends for budgeting, staffing, facilities planning, programming, and more. A big point made is that COVID is having an impact on student enrollment – most heavily on Kindergarten enrollment. A detailed report and presentation slides are available here.
  • Developing and finalizing the school division’s legislative program which will guide advocacy to the Virginia General Assembly in its session beginning in January, and federal advocacy. The Board most recently discussed the content at its October 27 public work session, and will finalize this agenda and its public regular meeting on November 16.
  • Action on the SY21-22 calendar is pending for the near-future. However, the School Board on 11/5 approved to add two holidays for all FCPS students and employees this school year. The Board approved Inauguration day (January 20, 2021), which brings the school division in compliance with policy about observing this day every four years, and also mirrors Fairfax County government’s observance. The Board approved Juneteenth (June 18, 2021) to reflect the values of our community in seeking to acknowledge cultural observances, and this mirrors state action.
  • Last night, the School Board met in person at Luther Jackson Middle School for our November 5 regular meeting, as they are prepared for safe concurrent/hybrid School Board meetings. We plan to continue to do so for future regular meetings that usually occur on Thursdays. 

Accessing Board Meetings

View this link for a comprehensive list of upcoming meetings and associated information.

Click here for meeting logistics, agendas and handouts (to view the slides and materials, scroll down to the bottom of the page). 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.

Community Updates

PTA Graphic

Beginning 10/30/20, FCPS will permit activities sponsored by PTA, PTO, PTSA, and Booster Clubs to occur outdoors, on school grounds. This initial phase in of community use does not include other school vendors. Principals have received this information and will be sharing with their PTA/PTO/ PTSA presidents. The Student Activities Office will be sharing the guidance with Booster presidents. We look forward to supporting our students and schools as they gather safely for school activities!


View the guidelines for grounds use and more updates from the October 30 Brabrand Briefing here by selecting the October 30 file.

Hispanic Educator's Association Career Night

Join the Hispanic Educators Association's Ninth Annual Career Night on November 10, 7:00-8:30pm.

Contacting Me

At this time, with an overflowing inbox, I am prioritizing responses to Hunter Mill constituents. If you are unsure of your county magisterial district, you can look that information up here.

To contact me, it is most helpful if you can please use the official School Board contact form. This form prioritizes emails to me from constituents, and helps me track communication so I can be sure you receive a response.


Please take good care, 



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