Thanksgiving newsletter

Dear Dranesville Families--

It has been another busy few weeks in FCPS, and I want to share several updates.  As you and your family prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, I hope you will have a well deserved and relaxing break.  Please be safe and stay healthy.  

The uncertainty around how and when our students will be in school is wearing on everyone. Our staff is working on safety measures, teaching methods, technology upgrades, bus routing, etc. allowing FCPS flexibility to react to rising COVID-19 community transmission and changing state directives. I have talked to every principal of our Dranesville schools to make sure our schools have the resources they need.

I was asked by the Herndon Connection to say what I was thankful for in 2020.  I had a hard time deciding what to focus on but this is what I submitted:

I am thankful for our FCPS principals and admin staff.  They are providing incredible leadership in their schools.  They are working on issues including COVID mitigation measures, staffing in-person and virtual classrooms and staff and student mental health. They are solution oriented and are working around the clock to bring the best education possible to our students and families in 2020. 



Dr. Elizabeth Noto and Kelly Cosgrove-- two administrators at Herndon High School


Over the last month, I have enjoyed joining PTA/PTSA/PTO meetings for question and answer sessions on return to school and other community issues.  I appreciate the opportunity to hear directly from parents. Again, I appreciate all of your emails and calls. I apologize up front for struggling to get each of you the personal and timely replies you deserve.  I am continuing my office hours into December and you can sign up for a 15 minute phone call.

To all of you and your family, a huge thank you for your continued resilience during this time. Big hugs to all of our FCPS students.

Have a safe and happy holiday.


Calendar Reminders

Schools and Offices Closed November 25-27 for Thanksgiving Holiday

As a reminder, schools and offices will be closed Wednesday, November 25 through Friday, November 27, for the Thanksgiving holiday. Classes will resume on Tuesday, December 1, and Monday, November 30 is an asynchronous day.

LHS Freshman t-shirt drive by

Dranesville Student Life/Events/Awards

This week I enjoyed going to Langley High School for the drive by Freshman class t-shirt delivery and viewed the Langley HS Orchestra’s online concert of famous movie scores. Herndon Middle School held a virtual talent show and food drive last week. McLean High School leadership students produced a video sharing what they are thankful for this school year: Tracy Waagner, a McLean HS senior won the Virginia Music Teachers National Association Senior Voice Competition (15-18 year old category) and will move on to represent Virginia in the Southern Division competition.


From Herndon High School,

Bringing back a little bit of normalcy, Herndon High School hosted the first of several Underclass Picture Days yesterday. Students arrived based on their assigned appointment time for a very brief photo shoot. A special thank you to Yearbook teacher Katheryn Hans and Assistant Principal Michael Gillespie (pictured here) for organizing the event in a safe and efficient way. Over 200 students had their photo taken throughout the day yesterday. That’s impressive! 

We look forward to welcoming our seniors back in the near future to honor some of our (now socially distanced) traditions. We have missed our students!

Please share with me your student’s school events and accomplishments. I am continually impressed with the amazing students and staff in our schools’. 

November 17 Pause on Group 5 In-Person Learning/Current Metrics

My November 17th morning plan had been to be out at Churchill Road Elementary School to greet our kindergarteners as they arrived for their first day of in person learning. Although I understand the need for the pause of our students in Group 5 (kindergarten, preK ,and other students) into the classroom, I was disappointed by the news. To begin in-person learning, FCPS developed their metrics based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended school health metrics. 

Health Metrics: Current Decision-Making Process for In-Person Instruction

  • For a group to BEGIN in-person instruction: 
    • The established thresholds for the group must be met for BOTH the number of cases per 100,000 persons and the percent positivity for seven (7) consecutive calendar days.
  • For a group to REMAIN in in-person instruction:
    • The number of cases per 100,000 persons or the percent positivity may not exceed the established threshold for the for seven (7) consecutive calendar days.
  • For a group to return to virtual learning:
    • The number of cases per 100,000 persons or the percent positivity exceeds the established threshold for the group for seven (7) consecutive calendar days.

To start in person learning BOTH metrics must be below the individual Group thresholds. For group 5, the percent of positive COVID tests (PRC) must be less than 8% over the last 7 days with the 11/16/20 value at 7.4% (below the Group 5 threshold). The other metric is the total number of positive cases/100,000 Fairfax County residents as provided by the Virginia Department of Health COVID 19 data over the last 14 days. For group 5, the value must be equal to or under 200 per 100,000 to start in-person learning with the 11/16/20 value at 227 positives/100,000 (over the Group 5 threshold). The pause was initiated because both metrics were not below the Group 5 thresholds. Current health metrics in our region have now reached a threshold where Group 4 students returned to all virtual instruction beginning Monday, November 23.

Health conditions may require a pause in the future and FCPS is continuing to follow current health conditions.  FCPS will communicate with cohort group families about the potential future change in person to virtual learning and from virtual back to in person learning.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) provides the new COVID-19 numbers before noon each day and once the latest information is released, FCPS will move as quickly as possible to inform impacted families. Information on health metrics and how they impact FCPS operations is updated daily on our website.  FCPS is also tweeting out the daily numbers on our FCPS Twitter account

Family Holiday Travel Plans

We encourage you to follow the Virginia Department of Health travel guidance around any travel quarantine requirements for people arriving in the Commonwealth of Virginia from other U.S. or international locations. The CDC has also put out these guidelines to celebrate Thanksgiving safely.

Did You Know…Sandra M. Chafouleas, Ph.D. from Psychology Today writes “As a very unfamiliar holiday season approaches, we can still find ways to bring familiarity and predictability — and the sense of comfort that goes with that — with some adaptations to our family traditions.” Here is the full article that includes ways to adapt to this holiday season.

Update:  McLean High School Overcrowding

Modular: To provide capacity relief to McLean High School, a modular unit with 12 classrooms and restroom facilities has been placed at the school and will be ready to move into in late December. It is replacing trailers that were being used at the school.

Boundary Adjustment:   In order to determine the best course of action moving forward with this, a community meeting will be held at 6:30 pm December 7.  The invitation for this virtual meeting went out today via email and text issued from the Assistant Superintendent’s offices for families in the McLean and Langley HS pyramids. 

The next step in the process is to hold a virtual boundary study meeting. FCPS staff will present information and provide options for the community to consider. After the presentation, community members will work in virtual breakout rooms to share feedback on those options. The feedback will be collected and shared with the School Board.

This meeting will be a follow-up to the meetings that were held in early December 2019. We received helpful feedback from the community and it has been posted online. As the result of your feedback, the Fairfax County School Board approved expanding the boundary scope to include the boundaries for Longfellow Middle School and Cooper Middle School as well as McLean High School and Langley High School. If we move forward with a boundary adjustment, the plan will be for students to move from their elementary school to Cooper and then to Langley or to Longfellow and then to McLean. 

For more information about boundary adjustments, the process is outlined in FCPS Policy 8130 and FCPS Regulation 8130.9.

Capacity Enhancements:  A group with members of the McLean Citizen’s Association, John Foust’s staff, FCPS Facilities staff, and Providence district staff are convening to enhance data analysis for Tyson’s area development and the impact on schools. In addition, the Joint CIP Work Group with  representatives from the Board of Supervisors and the school board met November 18, 2020.  We are fortunate to have John Foust as a member of that work group. I will be working with these groups to look at our next steps for further capacity work at McLean High School and the surrounding areas.

AAP Referrals

All AAP Level IV referrals for grades 2 -7 must be submitted by the end of the school day on December 1st. Please refer to the AAP website for additional information: Level IV referrals 

New Employment Opportunities in Fairfax County Public Schools

Classroom Monitors

FCPS schools and centers are hiring classroom monitors to provide in-person classroom assistance for students when some staff members continue to work virtually. If you would like more information about the position, review the job description online and apply if interested. Please share information about this opportunity with anyone else you think may be interested.

Substitute Teachers

Are you or somebody you know interested in substitute teaching with FCPS? Apply online or attend one of our Friday information sessions to learn more. To sign up for a session, visit the FCPS substitute teacher information page.

Third Annual Back2Fairfax Teacher Seminar

Do you know an FCPS graduate or student who is interested in being a teacher in FCPS? FCPS graduates and current FCPS juniors or seniors are invited to join us for a virtual event on Tuesday, December 15, from 5 to 7 p.m. for the third annual Back2Fairfax Teacher Seminar. Learn more about how to navigate the hiring process, employee resources, and tips to being a successful educator. Join us for an evening filled with networking opportunities, breakout sessions, and FCPS employment information. We invite current students and FCPS graduates to Say Yes to FCPS!

Registration for the event is available online.


Special Education Parent Newsletter

The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter for parents of special education students to provide updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during distance learning.

Postsecondary Education Options for Students with Disabilities 2020 Parent Workshop

December 9, 2020 10:00 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Join FCPS Career and Transition Services to learn about postsecondary concerns for students transitioning to college. 


Highlights include:

  • Disclosure
  • Accessing Accommodations
  • Disability Support Services
  • Differences Between High School and College

A link will be sent to registrants 24 hours before the event

Superintendent Brabrand to Host Spanish-Language Town Hall on Monday, November 30

Superintendent Brabrand will host a Return to School Town Hall in Spanish on Monday, November 30, at 6:30 p.m. He will provide an update on the return to in-person instruction and answer questions. The Town Hall will be streamed live on FCPS Facebook en Español. It will also be available on FCPS cable channel 99 (Verizon channel 11) and on the FCPS website. Email questions in advance to or send a message to the FCPS Spanish-Language Facebook page. 

November 19th Return to School Town Hall

The November 19 Town Hall discussed return to school issues, health metrics and decision-making guidance, and successful mitigation strategies and is available to watch here.

FCPS Names Chief Academic Officer and Chief Equity Officer

Superintendent Brabrand announced two executive appointments yesterday. Sloan Presidio has been named chief academic officer. Sloan currently serves as FCPS' assistant superintendent for Instructional Services. Read the news release. Lisa Williams will serve as FCPS' chief equity officer. She will begin her first day with FCPS on December 30, 2020. Lisa is executive director of the Department of Equity and Cultural Proficiency in Baltimore County (Maryland) Public Schools. Read the news release.

Important Update on Grab and Go Meals

FCPS is offering no-cost nutritious breakfast and lunch meals to ALL (both in person and virtual) students through June 30, 2021. As of November 9, grab and go bus delivery times and some bus stop locations have changed. The updated bus schedule is now available online. Bus delivery times were changed to accommodate the need for more buses to transport students returning to school buildings for in-person learning. Meals for Saturday and Sunday are offered at sites and on bus routes every Friday. More information is available online, or by calling the Office of Food and Nutrition Services at 703-813-4800.

All school sites and bus routes will serve additional meals on Tuesday, November 24, as there will be no meal service between November 25 – 27, 2020.  

Child Care

I know our extended time dealing with COVID-19 has put many hardships on our families. With schools still not completely open, I know many of you are struggling with child care needs. Here is information on some county resources for child care. 

The Office for Children- A Childcare Resource

The Office for Children (OFC) provides information about childcare programs serving children from birth through school-age and supports families in choosing quality care in Fairfax County. Their online resource allows you to search by zip code, elementary school and languages spoken in the center. For information on school aged childcare call 703 449-8989 or They are available to answer your questions at 703 324-8000 or in English and Spanish.

Safe Community Coalition Rolls Out 'Managing the Moments' Video Series

The Safe Community Coalition (SCC) has launched a series of short videos for the community featuring the psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers of the SCC’s mental health committee. All videos and any accompanying tip sheets are free and available on the SCC website.

The short segments, approximately 10 minutes each, touch on a wide variety of topics designed to help parents and students in dealing with a range of issues, from younger children’s challenges staying focused while distance learning to effective communication strategies when families feel the strain of too much togetherness.

The first six videos include:

  • Deescalating Conflict
  • Effective Communication
  • How to Talk to Your Parents
  • Brain Breaks During Distance Learning
  • Self-Care and Calming Techniques
  • How Are You?

Healthy Minds Podcasts

In this week's Healthy Minds podcast. Dr. Ronne Lancaster shares important information on actions families can take to help their students cope with the ongoing pandemic. Action strategies relating to managing screen time, building personal resilience, and the importance of recognizing one another’s positive strengths and seizing times to turn current challenges into positive opportunities to move forward. Listen to this and past healthy mind podcasts here.

Foundation for FCPS

Project Cornucopia

The pandemic has increased the amount of stress faced by students and families who are struggling to access food. Project Cornucopia is the latest fund established at the Foundation for FCPS to provide needy students and their families with grocery gift cards for the holidays. Your generosity will help ensure that all of our students can enjoy the simple pleasures of the season. Donate to Project Cornucopia.

2020 School Supply Drive Reaches Record-Breaking Levels

Collect for Kids—the FCPS-led school supply drive made a dramatic shift. Supporters and donors pivoted to an all-virtual mode, donating funds used for purchasing custom school supply kits. The effort raised over $110,000 through the Foundation for FCPS. Combined with the work from Collect for Kids strategic team members around the county, the effort ultimately provided over 45,000 FCPS students with school supply kits, backpacks, and headphones. Thank you!

Upcoming School Board Meetings

  • Work Session - Tuesday, December 1
  • Regular Meeting - Thursday, December 3 
  • Work Session - Thursday, December 10  - Return to School

How to Watch Meetings

  • Livestream:  here.
  • Recordings of Meetings: available here.

Check here for updates, publicly available presentations and reports and additions to the schedule available on BoardDocs.

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