TIME SENSITIVE: Upcoming School Board Meetings, Return to School Work Session, FCPS Safety Teams, COVID Health Monitoring, Healthy Minds Podcast, and more ...


With two important School Board meetings occurring tonight and tomorrow (Return to School Update and Public Hearing on Restraint and Seclusion), I am quickly sending this notification. It also includes additional topics of interest. Next week, the Board will have its final 2020 Regular Business Meeting on December 17th. Several important Action Items will be on this agenda, including the Superintendent’s Contract, proposed changes to TJ Admissions, and revisions to FCPS’ Policy on Restraint and Seclusion. As always, I greatly value hearing your input on issues being considered by the School Board. Next week, I will send a more detailed communication regarding these topics and several others.

In service,


Upcoming School Board Meetings

Work Session - Return to School
December 10, 2020 at 6 p.m.
Superintendent Brabrand will provide an update on his plans for future groups of students to return to in-person instruction.

Public Hearing - Restraint and Seclusion
December 11, 2020 at 6 p.m.
The School Board will hear public comments regarding the Restraint and Seclusion Draft Policy

Work Session - CIP and Mid-Year Budget Review
December 15, 2020 at 11 a.m.

Regular School Board Meeting
December 17, 2020 at 7 p.m.
CIP Presentation
Scheduled Action Items include:
FY21 Midyear Budget Review
Restraint and Seclusion Policy Update
Superintendent Contract
TJ Admissions

Visit the citizen participation webpage to sign up to speak at a regular meeting or public hearing.

The meetings will be broadcast live on Channel 99 (Verizon channel 11) and on the FCPS website. The meeting will be recorded for future viewing and posted to the FCPS School Board YouTube page.

The School Board returned to in-person regular meetings at Luther Jackson Middle School on November 5th. Audience capacity is limited to 37 to ensure social distancing. Overflow rooms will also be available. Masks must be worn by everyone present at all times.


TJHSST Admissions

This Fall, Superintendent Brabrand presented to the Board several options for revising the admissions process for the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) in an effort to enhance diversity and equity of opportunity.  

During its October work session, the Board supported the following actions related to the admissions process:

  • Removal of the standardized test
  • Removal of the $100 application fee
  • Adding 100 additional freshman admissions slots 
  • Establish a regional advisory board

The Board held another work session on December 7th to discuss the Superintendent’s additional proposals. I will send a specific message early next week about my views on this topic. In the interim, relevant documents from that work session can be found through the links below:

A final vote on this matter will take place at the regular School Board meeting on December 17, 2020. 

Safety Teams Deployed to Monitor COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies at FCPS Schools

Fairfax County Public Schools has implemented new Safety Teams to help the school district monitor each schools’ adherence to five mitigation strategies for COVID-19. These teams, consisting of FCPS staff members and retirees, will conduct random onsite spot checks, deliver education and resources, and report data back to administrators. 

The five mitigation strategies are set forth in the Centers for Disease Control’s Indicators for Dynamic School Decision-making guide, and include proper use of masks or face coverings; social distancing; hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette; cleaning and disinfection; and contact tracing in collaboration with the health department.

More information on FCPS Safety Teams is available online.

Health Metrics for In-Person Instruction

FCPS is monitoring COVID-19 health data every day to make decisions on when students and staff can return for in-person learning. The school division posts the regional health data collected by the Virginia Department of Health on the COVID-19 Health Metrics web page and monitors two core indicators related to coronavirus infections: the number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people and the percentage of people who test positive for COVID-19. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set thresholds to help school communities understand the risk of introduction and transmission of COVID-19 in schools. View thresholds for Groups 1-6.

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 group for seven (7) consecutive calendar days.

For groups 1 and 2, health metric thresholds for cases per 100,000 and percentage of PT-PCR test positivity can exceed 200 and be greater than 10%. Currently, FCPS metrics do not indicate a threshold to return groups 1 and 2 to distance learning as these groups are aligned to Virginia Phase I and II guidance for the Reopening of Schools allowing schools to offer limited in-person instruction to preschool through third grade, English Learner students and students with disabilities. More information is available HERE.

For Group 3, FCPS has currently designated the threshold for returning students to distance learning as greater than 200 cases per 100,000 and equal to 10% PT-PCR positivity. Currently, our cases per 100,000 has exceeded 200; however, our PT-PCR positivity is 9.7%. Should our percent positivity reach 10% and remain at that level for 7 consecutive days, this would trigger the return of group 3 to distance learning.

Group 1: specialized high school career preparatory programs (40 students).

Group 2: Preschool Autism Classrooms (PAC), and Early Childhood Class-based (ECCB), and specialized high school career preparatory programs (1,300 students).

Group 3: Elementary Comprehensive Services Sites (CSS), Key Center, Kilmer Center, Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE), Recently-arrived English Learners (ELs) in Grades 3-12, Enhanced Autism Classrooms (EAC) including students accessing general education curriculum, Intellectual Disabilities (ID) K-12 classrooms, Intellectual Disabilities Severe (IDS) K-12 classrooms, and students receiving Noncategorical Elementary (NCE) services who are instructed with the adapted curriculum in a special education classroom (4,100 students).

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, and tips and ideas to support you and your family during distance learning. The latest issue is available online


Healthy Minds Podcast: How to Experience Joy Through Giving this “Different” Holiday season

In this week's Healthy Minds podcast, Maria Genova, an FCPS psychology supervisor, shares unique ways we can all give through “connections” this holiday season and reap the results of added joy in our lives. She addresses how we can learn to flex our “happiness” muscles and how we can look for the micro-moments to feel and demonstrate and cultivate optimism.

From the Healthy Minds Blog: Free Resources to Deal with Stress from the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused upheaval and unexpected stress in the lives of so many people. To support Virginians, the VA C.O.P.E.S.  (Compassionate, Optimistic, Person-Centered, Empowering Support) warmline is available to offer support. The mental health tip line started in May 2020 and will be extended through May 2021, thanks to new funding. 

In addition, George Mason University's Center for Psychological Services is offering a COVID-19 Essential Workers Emotional Support Line. Essential workers, including those individuals working in healthcare, schools, sanitation, transportation, hospitality, the postal service, and the military, can call to speak confidentially with a trained provider about stress, anxiety, depression, or grief for free. Additional virtual therapy services are also available.

More information on COVID-19 resources is available online

Support Homeless Students for the Holidays

The Foundation for FCPS’ Kids in Need initiative is partnering with FCPS for our annual gift card drive to benefit homeless students. FCPS typically identifies up to 3,000 children per year as homeless. Many of them are unaccompanied, living without a parent or legal guardian. Securing essential needs such as clothing, medicine, emergency food, and hygiene supplies is even more of a struggle since the pandemic began. 

If you are able to help, please make a donation which will be used to purchase gift cards and empower students to make purchases for their own personal needs. If you would like to donate a physical gift card(s), please mail it to:

Patti Parisi Gatehouse Administrative Center, 4214 8115 Gatehouse Road Falls Church, VA  22042

Please contact Patti Parisi with questions at poparisi@fcps.edu. Thank you!

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.

FCPS Is Seeking Individuals to Serve as 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.

Parent Resource Center Webinars

The FCPS Parent Resource Center offers several free parent and educator webinars to provide the latest information to help your child succeed. Some upcoming webinars include: 

Coping Strategies for Anxious Kids

Join Dr. Erin D. Berman, a clinical psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, for an important session helping children cope with anxiety.

Webinar highlights:

  • How to identify an anxious child.
  • How to change anxious thinking.
  • The science and biological roots of anxiety in children.
  • How computer technology is transforming the understanding of anxiety.
  • Current treatment options. 

Friday, December 11, 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Register for Coping Strategies for Anxious Kids.


All Behavior Happens for a Reason: Behavior as Communication

  • Overview on the reasons why behaviors may occur.
  • Overview about reinforcing positive behavior.
  • General tips for encouraging replacement behaviors.

Thursday December 17, 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Register for All Behavior Happens for a Reason: Behavior as Communication.

More information about Parent Resource Center webinars is available online.

Video: Foundation for FCPS Leaders and Learners Virtual Event


The Foundation for FCPS held a virtual event on November 30 to celebrate how the Fairfax County community has come together during the pandemic to support our neediest students. Hear from Superintendent Brabrand, teachers, and business leaders about the importance of helping students. Watch the video

Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools' Project Cornucopia

The Foundation for FCPS is working to ensure that the neediest students in FCPS can enjoy a special meal for the holidays. Donations to Project Cornucopia will be used to purchase gift cards that can be redeemed for grocery items so that families can enjoy their favorite flavorful traditions–or create new ones. Donations can be made online

Grab and Go Meals Available to All Students

Fairfax County Public Schools is offering no-cost nutritious meals to ALL students through June 30, 2021. Meals are available at school sites and along bus routes. The bus schedule is available online. 

Breakfast and lunch meals are offered Monday through Friday (excluding holidays). Breakfast and lunch are served at the same time. Breakfast and lunch are also offered at no cost to any student who attends in-person instruction at a school Monday-Friday. 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.

Subscribe to the 2020-21 FCPS Theater Calendar

Do you love watching high school theater? If so, check out the Fine and Performing Arts calendar on the FCPS website. Individual listings for many virtual middle and high school theater events are listed through December. Users can subscribe to the calendar to be notified of upcoming performances, and each event can be added to a calendar or shared on social media. See the Fine and Performing Arts calendar

GrandInvolve News - November 2020

Giving Thanks | E-newsletter Nov. 24, 2020

  • Thankful to Be Making a Difference with Virtual Volunteering
  • Welcome, New Board Members
  • Upcoming Events
  • Partnerships & Collaborations Update
  • Get Involved with GrandInvolve

GrandInvolve’s mission is to:

  • Support the education of our most vulnerable populations through in-person and virtual volunteering
  • Reduce ageism by growing intergenerational relationships between our youngest and oldest community members
  • Increase intercultural understanding.

Calendar Reminder: Winter Break Is December 21 to January 1, 2021

As a reminder, this year winter break starts on December 21 and ends on January 1, 2021. Classes will resume on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. Monday, January 4, 2021, is an asynchronous day.

See the complete 2020-21 school year calendar

Winter Holidays and COVID-19: Recommendations for Family Celebrations, Shopping, and Entertainment

To help families celebrate the holidays safely, the Fairfax County Health Department shared suggestions on how to stay healthy this winter holiday season as you shop, celebrate, and entertain.

Quick Links:

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