Return to School News - December 21, 2020

Return to School Updates

After Winter Break, all student groups will start school virtually the week of January 4-8.

Monday, January 4, and Monday, January 11, will be Staff Planning Days. No student interventions will be held. All instruction will be asynchronous (independent) with work assigned by teachers. Teachers will use this time to prepare for the return of additional groups of students to in-person instruction in the weeks ahead.

Dr. Brabrand presented the latest information and timelines for in-person return at the December 10 School Board Work Session. Watch the meeting here. The next update on Return to School will be at the January 5 School Board Work Session. The current DRAFT dates for return of in-person students are listed here. Please go here to see the FCPS COVID data and Fairfax County health metrics.

New Bell Schedules Begin Tuesday, January 12

As more students return for in-person learning, it will be necessary to revise the bell schedule to accommodate more bus runs. The number of students allowed on each bus will be reduced substantially to meet social distancing requirements. With fewer students able to ride a bus at the same time, FCPS must adjust the times that our buses are transporting students.  The school day will be reduced by 15 minutes due to the increased cleaning time required between bus runs.

A revised bell schedule has been developed to improve start times and end times for all levels. Barring any changes to the plan that may be impacted by the pandemic, the following bell schedule will be in place effective Tuesday, January 12, 2021 for both virtual and in-person instruction. 

Middle School             7:30-2:00

Secondary School      8:20-2:50

High School                8:20-2:50

Thomas Jefferson       8:40-3:45

Elementary School     9:00-3:30 or 9:45-4:15

Health Screening Commitment Form Required Prior to Student Return to School Buildings

As students return to school, parents/caregivers will be asked to acknowledge a Health Screening Commitment form before their student(s) return to school buildings. This document confirms that a parent/caregiver/guardian will complete a daily health screening and will keep their students home when they are ill.

The Health Commitment form can be submitted electronically through in ParentVUE (PVUE) beginning January 4, or via hard copy. Please contact your child’s school to have a hard copy sent to you.

Revised Grading Policy

FCPS is committed to finding ways to ease the burdens of stress for our students, staff, and community. FCPS is taking the following steps to ensure a smooth transition into the new semester.

We have revised the grading policy for students across the school division. When our data showed that some students were struggling, we took bold actions to realign our expectations and make changes to help our students adapt to the current conditions. These changes include:

  • Designating a score of 50 as the lowest grade on a 100-point scale.
  • Dropping the minimum number of assignments per quarter from nine to six.
  • Accepting late work on major assignments with minimal penalty.
  • Capping the maximum weight of an assignment or assessment at 20 percent.

Mental Health and Wellness Conference

When and How to Get Help When Your Child Has a Mental Health Concern

Parenting can be difficult, even under the best of circumstances. Now the coronavirus pandemic has brought major changes to every aspect of our lives – how we live, work, teach, and play – making parenting more stressful. Many of us are worried about how our children are handling the social isolation of distance learning, alongside the usual trials and challenges of growing up.

"Just as you are looking out for your child’s physical health during the pandemic, keep an eye on their mental health too," recommends James M. Gillespie, Healthy Minds Fairfax Director and CSB Youth and Family Services Director. He adds, "Having less contact with friends and family and not being able to do enjoyable activities can increase stress and lead to emotional or mental health concerns in children."

If you’re worried about your child, have a talk with them to find out how they are doing. Give them your full attention. Listen carefully, repeat what you heard and ask if you got it right. When they feel heard and understood, they’re more likely to share with you. Learn more.

Meal Distribution During Winter Break

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is committed to providing all students access to meals during the FCPS Winter Break. The following plan will be in place from Monday, December 21, 2020 through Wednesday, January 6, 2021.

Monday, 12/21

  • Bus routes will offer 4 days of breakfast and lunch
  • Grab & Go locations will not distribute any meals

Tuesday, 12/22

  • Bus routes will offer 4 days of breakfast and lunch
  • Grab & Go locations will offer 14-day meal kits
  • Meal Kits sites will offer 14-day meal kits

Wednesday, 12/23 through Friday, 1/1/21

  • No food service

Monday, 1/4/2021

  • Resume regular bus route and SRS meal service

Tuesday, 1/5/2021

  • Resume regular Grab & Go location distribution

Wednesday, 1/6/2021

  • Resume regular Meal Kit site distribution

Meals will be distributed on a first come, first served basis.   

As a reminder, it is important to follow social distancing guidelines. Be sure to stand a minimum of 6 feet apart from others and practice regular hand washing, including prior to leaving a residence to pick-up meals, upon returning home, and before consuming food.  Please wear a mask when picking up meals. 

Please visit the Return to School/Food for more information or call the Office of Food and Nutrition Services at 703-813-4800. 

Athletes Required to Wear Masks

FCPS is progressing with the return of participation in the Virginia High School League (VHSL) athletic season in December.  Students have been engaging in workouts and sports-related activities since July 2020 with less than .2 percent of students having been exposed to COVID-19.

The VHSL has strongly encouraged the use of masks at all times and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has stated that athletes should wear a mask at all times while participating in athletic activities.  FCPS is aligning our guidance with the VDH and requiring the use of masks during all phases of athletics. The three sports that have limited exemptions include: swim and dive, wrestling, and cheerleading.   

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

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