TJHSST November Updates

Message from the Principal

Dear TJ Families:

It is hard to believe we have completed one-quarter of the academic year. Thank you for your ongoing support of our school and our teachers as we have navigated so many new paths together.

We have had many positive in-person interactions with students and families in the past months. Laptops were distributed to about 500 students. Nearly 1800 students retrieved textbooks tucked inside nifty blue bags that may have contained surprise gifts for some students from teachers, PTSA and the TJ Partnership Fund. And dozens of student athletes have been conditioning outside with their coaches.

Students have been in classrooms, too. Over 200 seniors participated in the SAT and nearly 410 juniors took the PSAT this past week. We also welcomed approximately 40 seniors to select senior research labs. Even though everyone has been masked, the smiles still shine through!

Of course, the bulk of our interactions remain virtual. Parents have joined us for Back to School events and Town Halls. Guest speakers have been invited to classrooms and clubs. Students are finding all sorts of virtual opportunities to compete in events and make social connections with classmates.

At the forefront of all we do is wellness. Our Challenge Success tenets remain highly applicable: manage expectations, reduce workload, and get sleep. We have also embedded wellness checks and Social Emotional Learning lessons in our daily practices. Complete goals for this school year can be found in our School Improvement and Innovation Plan.

The online environment has presented its own set of challenges to which we all are still adjusting. Teachers have been surveying students about workload and making adjustments. Students are effectively advocating for what works best for them. And FCPS leadership is continuing to adjust its expectations to ensure the academic environment is rigorous yet appropriate for online learning. I call it the Goldilocks Syndrome. Last spring the instruction was "too cold" and this fall it has been "too hot." We hope to approach equilibrium soon where we will be "just right" given the circumstances.

Please read further for information about the FCPS Return to School Plan. It is important to note that all information I communicated to the TJ community this past summer remains largely the same. We are now are implementing plans developed at that time.

You may refresh key ideas by viewing the summer video and summer FAQs. For the most recent information that confirms how the schedule and instructional model will look like in January 2021, please read the updated presentation in the Return to School section below.

I look forward to the day when we can make our TJ Family whole again. Until then, we will continue to plan instructional models and safety plans aligned with FCPS directions.

We're TJ. We got this!


Ann N. Bonitatibus



Return to School

FCPS is gradually phasing in groups of students to attend school on campus. High schools are currently slated to return with the start of second semester on January 26, 2021.

Parents and guardians made choices this past summer and recently received information to review their selections for their children to attend school in person or virtually. If you have no changes, no action is needed. Only if you switch your original preference do you need to access the SIS database here.

Other than ongoing monitoring of metrics and clearer health and safety guidelines, the basic instructional approaches as presented to TJ parents this past July largely remain the same. At that time, parents were told a hybrid model could be used with in-person and at-home students being taught simultaneously by a teacher. FCPS has adopted that model and it is being called concurrent instruction.

  • When high school students report in January, direct teacher instruction will be Tuesday through Friday as it is now.
  • Teachers will use a concurrent instructional model, meaning they will teach students in the classroom and at the same time stream instruction to students who remain at home. Therefore, a teacher who has 30 students in first period might have 8 students in person and 22 students virtually, all being taught at the same time.
  • Students selecting in-person instruction report to campus two days in a row and stay home to learn virtually for two days in a row.
  • Students selecting fulltime online instruction will receive teacher-led instruction from home four days in a row.
  • The intended FCPS plan is to assign in-person students to two groups alphabetically per their last name. Schools will have some discretion, if necessary, to divide those groups in a way that is most equitable. 
  • Mondays will continue to be used for teacher planning and independent worktime for students.
  • We plan to use the same Tuesday-Friday schedule with Blue Days (periods 1-4) on Tuesday/Thursday and Red Days (periods 5-8) Wednesday/Friday.
  • All lab experiences at all grade levels will be limited due to safety provisions. Also, FCPS currently prohibits live streaming from labs.
  • All courses currently scheduled will continue to be to taught including band, art, and physical education. The approach of any course, though, may feel modified due to safety considerations.
  • Curriculum standards remain the same and we will continue to emphasize depth of learning, not breadth of content. Less is more.
  • Transportation will be offered by all jurisdictions.
  • Students who transport themselves will receive parking passes.
  • Students who choose online instruction may still participate in athletics or other events that may eventually be in person and occur outside the instructional day such as performing arts or club activities. This means students who choose fulltime online learning cannot come to campus and "drop in" to classes or clubs during the instructional day, periods 1-8 Tuesday through Friday.  

For teachers who need to teach from home, accommodations will be made so they can deliver instruction virtually. Any of their students who select in-person learning will be supervised on campus and access instruction virtually.

We anticipate all TJ students will continue to be instructed by TJ teachers. The master schedule will remain the same and if any schedule adjustments need to be made for individual students second semester due to varying circumstances, counselors will work one-on-one with those families.

A complete and updated Return to School presentation that principals were asked to share with their communities can be found here.


Return to School Q&A

The PTSA is hosting a Return to School Q&A with Dr. Bonitatibus on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, from 7:00-8:00 p.m.  While this is Election Day, it is the only evening the principal has available prior to the November 6 deadline for parents to confirm their in-person and virtual choices.

All updated information from TJ can be found in the Return to School presentation mentioned above. Dr. Bonitatibus will not present any new information. This is merely a time to ask lingering questions about the Return to School plan. 

You can use this Google form to enter your questions ahead of time. Before entering a question, please take time to review the TJ summer video, TJ summer FAQ, and the new Return to School presentation. Most answers to commonly asked questions can be found in these resources or earlier in this bulletin.

PTSA asks for you to register in advance for this optional Q&A session:


Class of 2021 Graduation Date

We are excited to announce that FCPS this past week confirmed the graduation schedule with high schools. In-person commencement ceremonies are being planned by FCPS and district leadership is working with the respective venues to plan for various scenarios and contingencies depending on future health conditions.

Please be aware that due to current restrictions for schools on group gatherings and signing contracts with vendors, TJ is not yet able to solidify plans for events such as as prom or homecoming.

Nevertheless, we can get excited now to celebrate the Class of 2021!

Where: Eagle Bank Arena, George Mason University

When:  Saturday, June 5

Time:    7:00 p.m.


Get Ready for Athletics

This past week the Virginia High School League for athletics and activities approved a Return to Play plan. As soon as December we may see select teams taking the fields and courts.

Of course, there are many guidelines, restrictions, and modifications for athletes to safely resume play. You may find the complete VHSL recommendations and guidelines here.

This news is late-breaking so we haven't figured out all the details yet. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.


First Term Grades and Report Cards

Per an update Dr. Brabrand released to parents this past week, students have until 5:00 p.m. on November 2 to submit any late work from first term. Teachers will take a week to finalize grade postings and report cards will be ready by November 13.


Helpful FCPS Resources

Instruction Update for Small Groups

Mental Health Resources and Emergency Services Information

Parent/Guardian Health Screening Commitment form


Return to School

Student Health and Safety Guidance Document

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Permission to Return to School/Child Care Form

Virginia Department of Health


Riding the Bus

Return to School Daily Procedures