March Newsletter

Dear Fairfax County Students, Families and Staff,

I hope you are doing well and enjoying some of this warmer weather. I have been excited to see our students returning to the buildings and have been visiting both in-person and virtual classes.  As of March 2, approximately 30,000 of our students have returned to our buildings and by March 16th all who chose in-person learning will be phased in. 

As we approach one year since all of the COVID shutdowns began in the United States, I can’t help but reflect on this difficult year. I know I never thought we would still be in the midst of this level of lockdown and a pandemic that is still raging and that our way of life would be altered, in ways big and small. 

Someone once described living through this pandemic as this: “We are all in the same rough seas but we all have different quality boats.” I think about this a lot as I try to balance competing voices, changing and at times conflicting information, safety, academic, and social and emotional needs of our students and our staff. We are all in different boats, with different challenges but it's up to all of us to make sure none of us drown. 

To that end, Stella Pekarsky, Sully District Representative and School Board Vice Chair, and I will be hosting a town hall to listen to your thoughts and concerns as we continue our phasing of students and plan for the fall.

rachna stella picture

Questions for the Town Hall: So that we can best respond to as many questions as possible, we will only address questions that we receive through this form.  You may submit questions through the form in advance as well as during the town hall.

  • When: Monday, March 15th, 2021, 7:00 PM - 8 PM 
  • Where: Blackboard Collaborate - Use this link 

I like to think the vaccines are the beginning of the end of this storm and, I hope once we are through it, we can look back and take positive lessons learned with us. I know I will never take for granted simple things such as hugs, listening to live music, not giving a second thought to running errands, and a school building filled with students. I’ll also always remember the power of technology to facilitate collaboration, the need for digital literacy for all our students, and the importance of a school-family partnership for student success. 

I am very grateful to our teachers, administrators, custodians, transportation staff, and leadership team who meticulously planned for a smooth and safe return to in person learning. And I am grateful to our parents, caregivers, and families for supporting their student’s learning while balancing their own jobs and responsibilities. 

With our students nearly 50/50 in returning to the buildings versus remaining virtual, it is important to me to ensure all our students receive an equitable, stable, safe, and effective experience, prioritizing their emotional wellbeing and keeping them connected and engaged to their school communities. And to plan and budget for a 5 day week school in the fall, depending on health conditions and health guidance. 

And for the Class of 2021, I hope you have gotten to participate in some of the senior events being held across the county. I  know we are approaching that 100 day mark and I promise, plans are being made for some form of in-person prom and graduation. Exactly what it will look like depends on the Governor’s restrictions but everyone is committed to at least giving you those two seminal events despite all you have lost. Stay tuned...

‘Til then, I hope we can still keep weathering this storm, together. 

Stay safe,


three pics

Below you will find information on:

  • Return to School
  • School Board News
  • Other FCPS News and Upcoming Events
  • Community News
  • Quick Links


Return to School

  • On Tuesday, March 2, approximately 25,000 Group 8 students, including grades 8, 9, and 12, returned to in-person instruction. On Tuesday, March 9, grades 1, 2, 7, 10, 11, grades 6-7 at Poe, Glasgow, and Holmes Middle Schools, and some Davis and Pulley Career Center students returned.  

See the complete Return to School schedule

  • The CDC’s 6-foot social distancing guideline for classrooms still requires discussion before schools can consider opening up five days a week. FCPS is leading discussions around this guideline. Our goal is to have our students who want to return back in our school buildings five days a week as early as possible. Learn more in this CNN interview
  • Please note that families that choose for their students to remain in all-virtual learning can continue with that option. All FCPS students who have chosen the in-person instruction option are scheduled to return to school by March 16.

Other facts...

  • FCPS ordered 34,000 pieces of equipment for concurrent classroom setups to support return to school
  • 90+% of our staff have been vaccinated

Is Your Child Ready to Return to School?

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

As students return to in-person instruction, parents and caregivers will be asked to acknowledge a Health Screening Commitment form before their student(s) re-enter school buildings. This document confirms that a parent, caregiver, or 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 ParentVUE (PVUE) or via hard copy. Please contact your child’s school to have a hard copy sent to you.

stop the spread

Stop the Spread

If mitigation strategies are followed, we will be able to operate safely during in-person learning in school buildings. We need to work together to help stop the spread of COVID-19. We are using the following CDC key mitigation strategies:

  • Consistent and correct use of masks
  • Social distancing to the largest extent possible
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Contact tracing in collaboration with the local health department

More on Stop the Spread 

tech help

  Need Tech Help?

For any questions regarding technology, contact the Parent Technology Help Desk at 1-833-921-3277 (833-921-FCPS). It will be answered by staff members 7 11 p.m., seven days a week.

If the help desk is unable to solve the issue on the phone with the parent or guardian, a staff member will enter a ticket on the parent’s behalf and the request for help will be transferred to the appropriate FCPS team. Parents or guardians who need help in a language other than English should let help desk staff know, and an interpreter will join them on the line.

In addition, FCPS has set up an online portal to allow older students and parents and guardians to request technology help directly. 

FCPS also has parent information phone lines, available in eight different languages, that can assist with general questions about FCPS. If you have any questions about your student's return to in-person learning, please contact their school or visit the school's website.

school board

(picture taken pre-COVID)

School Board News - What’s Been Happening



In a unanimous vote, the School Board voted to approve the FY22 Advertised Budget. As a reminder, the School Board does not have revenue authority so FCPS is reliant on local, state, and the federal government for funding. The bulk of our funding (over 70%) comes from Fairfax County.


  • After a difficult year, our budget is centered on the needs of our students, ensuring all students are able to thrive and investing in all students. 
  • This is a fiscally-responsible budget, which balances the realities of a tough economic climate brought on by the pandemic, while also recognizing that a high-quality school system serves as the economic underpinning of a thriving community. It is a budget that will continue to build on FCPS’ tradition of excellence.
  • The $3.2 billion budget also recognizes the sacrifices and commitment of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) teachers and staff with a proposed 3 percent compensation rate for all employees.

Learn more about the FY 22 Advertised Budget

I am happy to report that I co-sponsored amendments to add a Neurodiversity Specialist and a Trauma-Informed Specialist.  Both positions address important student needs without requesting additional money from the County.  

  • Neurodiversity is an emerging trend in special education that focuses on student strengths rather than their disabilities and I hope that this new position can bring a positive change to the experience our special education kids have in school.  
  • The research behind trauma-informed schools makes clear that many students experience trauma in their lives that affects their abilities to learn.  Trauma-informed schools use specific practices to help children feel safe to learn. I am hopeful that the Specialist will be able to set the tone and provide the guidance for all of our schools to incorporate trauma-informed practices in their dealings with our students.

Next Steps in the Budget Process:

The School Board and the Board of Supervisors met last week for a joint presentation on the advertised budgets for both the county and the school. 

The School Board is scheduled to present its Advertised Budget to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, April 13. Additional budget work sessions and public hearings will occur through May.  To learn more about the budget process and next steps, visit the budget page.

For those who want to get in the weeds with the budget, here’s a little background information about state funding for FCPS.  The large majority of FCPS funding comes from the county -- FCPS only receives 17.9% of funding through state aid, significantly less than many other Virginia school systems.  As an example, for fiscal year 2019, FCPS received $2,612 per pupil in state aid while the state average per-pupil allocation was $4,280.  The reason behind this is a funding formula called the Local Composite Index (LCI) that attempts to equalize state funding to counties based on the wealth of the counties as measured by the values of real estate/public service corporations, adjusted gross income and taxable retail sales divided by the population.  A higher LCI means that FCPS and other Northern Virginia jurisdictions are dependent on local funds for a significantly larger portion of their budget than other Virginia jurisdictions.


School Year 2021-2022 Calendar Update

At an earlier Work Session, the School Board was given three calendar options as described in this presentation from FCPS regarding the three calendar options. I gathered community feedback regarding these options through a Google Form. I also received well over a thousand emails from the community on this issue.  I apologize that I cannot respond to each of these emails but I did note them and clearly understand the feedback I was receiving. Thank you to those who took the time to write, meet, or complete the Google Form. 

As of March 9, we have over 600 responses and fifty percent chose Calendar A or B and fifty percent chose Calendar C. Between Calendar A and Calendar B, Calendar A received many more first choice votes.

poll results

Given the intense community interest and legal considerations, the School Board decided to focus on the calendar issue at our Work Session on March 2.  During the Work Session, the School Board unanimously passed a motion to direct the superintendent to develop a new calendar option, to account for but not limited to:

  • legal considerations
  • instructional concerns and disruption
  • student wellness, both socio-emotional and academic
  • support staff pay
  • absenteeism data
  • operational disruption
  • staff days off and planning time
  • survey preferences
  • transparency and community climate
  • any and all equity considerations
  • inclusiveness
  • consider use of two floating holidays that could be used for religious observances or cultural celebrations​​​​​

In light of the upcoming addition of another calendar option, I will stop collecting responses on my Google Form. The School Board is scheduled to vote on the 2021-2022 calendar on March 18th.

Temporary Exception for Students Relocating Within Virginia and Contiguous States

The School Board has voted to support an exception to Policy 2202, Section III. I. that allows families who are permanently relocating within Virginia or to states contiguous with Virginia to request their child remain enrolled in their current FCPS school (either virtually or in-person) for the remainder of SY 2020-2021, with immediate effect.

The temporary exception, which does not change the policy long-term, is to support students and families who may be relocating during the COVID-19 emergency, for the remainder of SY 2020-2021.

  •  Families who are permanently relocating within Virginia or to states contiguous with Virginia before April 13, 2021 can request for their child to remain enrolled in their current school of enrollment within FCPS with immediate effect.
  • Families who are looking to relocate within the 60-day window permitted under the policy (starting April 13, 2021) can still request for their child to remain enrolled in their current school within FCPS no matter where they move within the United States.

Why did we make this temporary change? The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a number of changes that have impacted adults and children in multiple aspects of their lives. While it is beyond our focus of control to manage or limit some of the change our students are facing, we want to provide them with the opportunity to have stability in their school life even if the pandemic or other factors results in their relocating outside of Fairfax County to a neighboring state or the District of Columbia this school year. FCPS wishes to uplift our caring culture and allow students, whose families desire, to complete the 2020-21 school year with the teachers and staff that have worked diligently to support them academically and socially for their continued success. Further, we wish to provide an option to students to continue to learn alongside their peers, be it virtually or in-person, for whom they’ve developed relationships and who may serve as a key lever to their forward progress.

View the details on the FCPS website

School Board Ready to Sign Contracts for Solar Program

As part of an ongoing joint initiative with Fairfax County, the Fairfax County School Board voted unanimously Thursday, March 4 to move forward with a solar program that will allow FCPS to purchase renewable energy with little or no upfront or operational costs.

Other benefits include:

  • Reducing FCPS’ greenhouse gas emissions and electricity costs
  • These cost savings will free up additional funds for classroom investments
  • This investment can potentially become a “learning lab” for FCPS students and will reinforce the value and sustainability of solar energy.

Read more here

Capital Improvement Program

The Fairfax County School Board has approved Fairfax County Public Schools Fiscal Year 2022-26 Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The CIP focuses on capital projects, including new school construction, capacity enhancements, and renovations, reflecting schools for the current School Year 2020-21 and a five-year requirement of approximately $1.1 billion. 

More information on the CIP is available online.

Applications Wanted for Student Representative to the School Board for 2021-22 School Year, Deadline Is April 7

Each year, FCPS students can apply for the position of the student representative to the School Board. The student representative is not a member of the School Board but serves in a nonvoting, advisory capacity, representing the interests of the students of Fairfax County Public Schools. 

Students who are currently in grades 9, 10, and 11 are eligible to apply, and they do not need to be current members of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council (SAC). Applications are due by April 7. 

The application and more information are available online

New Name for Mosby Woods ES

The School Board is committed to renaming schools that are symbols of oppression and hate. With that in mind, the Board has chosen Mosaic Elementary School as the new name for Mosby Woods Elementary School, a reflection of the school’s multicultural community that will represent inclusivity for students, families, and staff members. The new name will become effective at the start of the 2021-22 school year. 

Upcoming School Board Meetings 

  • March 16 at 11 am - Virtual Work Session: Third Quarter Budget Review and Return to School Update
  • March 18 at 7 pm - *Hybrid Regular Meeting: Third Quarter Budget Review and School Year 2021-2022 Calendar Vote
  • April 6th at 11 am - Virtual Work Session
  • April 8th at 7 pm -  *Hybrid Regular Meeting

*Effective November 5, 2020, the School Board returned to in-person Regular Meetings at Luther Jackson Middle School.

Accessing Board Meetings and Materials

What Else Have I Been Working On? 

This last month, in addition to school board work, I have been busy meeting with diverse stakeholders across the county on a variety of issues. Here is a snapshot of some of the things I have been doing:

  • Visiting in person and virtual classes to get a better picture of the experience for all our students and staff as we bring students back into our buildings.
  • McLean HS PTA Town Hall and community meetings with Elaine Tholen to answer community questions regarding the McLean HS boundary change, return to school and more
  • Participating in working group meetings to set up Senior Events to allow our wonderful seniors some opportunities to connect and make memories
  • Meeting with Lake Braddock students to hear their findings and insights on student wellness issues during COVID
  • Working to broaden the School Board public comment policy to allow for more community engagement and to evaluate and make recommendations about the School Board Advisory Committees -- our Work Session on the revised public comment policy was postponed due to a need for extended budget discussion
  • Region 1 PTA Round Table to connect with parent leaders; more regional PTA Round Tables to come
  • Meeting with community stakeholders regarding the SY 21-22 calendar
  • Working on a strategic program review of FCPS current programs
  • Joint Budget Session with the Board of Supervisors regarding the FY 22 budget constraints.  See the budget presentation

Other FCPS News and Upcoming Events


food van

FCPS Celebrates 10 Million Meals

I am so proud of how FCPS has supported students and families in need this last year. Food and Nutrition Services has reached an incredible milestone. They served 10 million meals between March 2020 and March 2021! The FNS team has truly been a spotlight of hope to many families during this challenging time. Watch the video.  

TJ logo

  TJHSST Admissions Updates

The TJHSST application window closed on February 26th.  Here are the upcoming events:

  • Mar. 15 – Student Portrait Sheet and Problem-solving Essay Administration
  • Apr. 12 – Accommodations & Make-Up (Sick) Date 
  • June – Final Decisions Released 

Visit the TJHSST admissions website for more information.  Please contact the TJ admissions office for additional information or questions at (571) 423-3770 or

Elementary Magnet Schools Applications Accepted March 2-April 6

Fairfax County Public Schools will be accepting applications for its elementary magnet school programs beginning Tuesday, March 2. Bailey’s Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences will accept lottery applications for students who will be in grades K-2 during the 2021-22 school year; Bailey’s Upper School for the Arts and Sciences will accept applications for students in grades 3 and 4. Hunters Woods Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences will accept lottery applications for students who will enter grades K-6 during the 2021-22 school year.

Selection for available magnet school spaces is based on a lottery. Registration for the elementary magnet school lottery closes on Tuesday, April 6, at 4 p.m.    

Get more information about the magnet school lottery.

summer learning

2021 FCPS Summer Learning Information

Many students participate in summer learning opportunities to advance academically, to sharpen their skills, or to learn something new. This summer, FCPS will offer a variety of opportunities including the Online Campus. Information regarding additional opportunities will be announced on the FCPS Summer Learning webpage as they become available.

Pandemic Recovery Summer Plans: FCPS is also working on extended learning opportunities to address the increased needs of students resulting from the pandemic.  These opportunities would be funded by emergency funds received from the federal government and would be optional and most likely targeted to those students who most need them.  

Some of you have asked if these summer opportunities will be mandatory and currently there are no plans to make these opportunities mandatory. 

More information about those opportunities will be available as plans are finalized.  

parent resource center


Parent Resource Center

The FCPS Parent Resource Center provides access to information and resources to support the success of all students.  They host a variety of free seminars and have a wealth of free resources, including for those with learning challenges, special needs, and disabilities.  In addition, they are available via phone or email for consults. 

  • Webinars are from 10:00 -11:30 am or 6:30 – 8:00 unless otherwise noted. All Webinars will be recorded and can be accessed at the Parent Resource Center YouTube Channel. Register online here.  Registration will be open approximately one month before the workshop date. 
  • Tutor Lists and Free Resource Guides Contact them at or 703-204-3941 to get the list of available tutors.  Additionally, they have free resources on topics such as: Executive Functioning, Parenting & Basic Needs, Adults with Disabilities, Mind in the Making, Mental Health, Fairfax County Government Resources, Military Connected Resources, Kindergarten Readiness, Adapted Sports and Recreation, and many more.

save the date

  Save the Date: FCPS Virtual Special  Education Conference Set for April 17

The Time for Inclusion is Now

This year’s conference will be VIRTUAL with a combination of synchronous (live) and asynchronous (recorded) sessions. 

  • Registration opening soon 
  • Parents and Community Members will be able to register online or by phone 
  • FCPS Educators, Administrators, and Preservice Teachers can register online and earn recertification points for attending the conference 
  • Student Strand for youth ages 14-22 will be offered 
  • Exhibit Hall and Inclusive Schools resources

2021 Virtual Career Exploration Career Fair

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) high school students are invited to participate in the 2021 Virtual Career Exploration Fair, scheduled to take place from Monday, April 19, through Friday, April 30. This completely virtual event will include synchronous (live) and asynchronous (recorded) sessions and workshops.

Developed in conjunction with Arlington Public Schools, the event will offer a connection to more than 100 local industry professionals from in-demand career fields. Students will also be able to attend college- and career-ready workshops and information sessions.

High school students will be able to learn about work-based learning (WBL) opportunities; attend industry panel discussions; take part in mock interviews; attend resumé workshops; and learn about postsecondary education, training, and apprenticeship opportunities.

Here are more details and how to register

Students can also email with questions.

Important Special Education Parent Survey 

On March 1, parents of FCPS students with disabilities received an invitation via email from the FCPS Office of Auditor General to complete an independent, third-party survey on FCPS’s special education services provided through the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan. All responses are confidential and will be used to generate recommendations for the Fairfax County School Board. 

Your voice counts, so please share your thoughts once you receive the survey.

Community News

women's history month

  March is #Women'sHistoryMonth

Join me this month to celebrate the incredible achievements of women throughout our nation's history. Check out these great events hosted by

To kick off this month, I  want to profile NASA Scientist & FCPS Graduate Dr. Swati Mohan.

If you watched the February 18th, 2021 Mars landing, then you heard the voice of Dr. Swati Mohan who led the development of the altitude control and landing system of the Mars Perseverance Rover. Her interest in space and science was sparked when she watched her first episode of "Star Trek" at the age of 9, and saw the beautiful depictions of the new regions of the universe that they were exploring. When she was 16, she took her first physics class. She said that she was lucky enough to have a great teacher, and everything was so understandable and easy. That was when she really considered engineering, as a way to pursue space. 

Read more about her here and check out this cool animation of the Mars Perseverance Rover landing. #Women'sHistoryMonth #WomeninSTEM


Fairfax County Special Education PTA Receives Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy Award

The Fairfax County Special Education PTA has been named the recipient of the National PTA’s 2021 Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy Award.  This is one of five national advocacy awards given to PTAs around the country by National PTA.

The Fairfax County Special Education PTA was recognized for demonstrating “true dedication and leadership through their determined advocacy on the issue of restraint and seclusion in schools,” according to the National PTA. The group shared information on the negative effects of restraint and seclusion—including post-traumatic stress disorder, physical injury and even death—as part of its efforts to educate the public on this practice. It worked with partners to adopt a position statement based on the National PTA’s 2015 resolution on restraint and seclusion and the National PTA’s endorsement of the 2020 Keeping All Students Safe Act. 

The group will be recognized at the 2021 National PTA Virtual Legislative Conference on Wednesday, March 10. 

More information can be found online.


High School Students Invited to Fairfax County 2021 Virtual Teen Job Fairs

Fairfax County high school students looking for their first part-time job, summer and seasonal job opportunities, or who want more information about potential career pathways are invited to attend one of six upcoming teen job fairs and resume building workshops in Fairfax County. Local businesses and agencies will be on hand to offer a range of opportunities including part-time employment, internships, and volunteer work for prospective students.

Volunteer opportunities and resume building workshops will also be available for younger students. Free booth spaces are provided to local businesses. The first two job fairs will be held on Saturday, March 13, from 2 to 5 p.m., and Saturday, March 20, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Students can register for the March 13 Job Fair and the March 20 Job Fair.


  Pi (π) Day Day 2021

Sunday, March 14 • 4:15–5 p.m. ET

Every year on March 14—Albert Einstein’s birthday—number lovers can raise a piece of pie to Pi (π) Day, an international celebration of one of math’s most famous constants: the irrational, never-ending number π, pronounced pi (3.14159 . . .). Exploratorium physicist Larry Shaw invented the playful celebration in 1988, and Congress declared it an official U.S. national holiday in 2009.

This year, join the Exploratorium  live online from wherever you are–tune in for your slice of pi trivia, pi art, pi music, and share your pi stories in the live chat. Free online, no registration required, all ages

Few changes to Virginia's Executive Order 72

Governor Northam announced a few changes to Executive Order 72 that went into effect on 3/1/21. Those changes were:

  • The limit for social gatherings has increased to 25 people for outdoor gatherings, and remains at 10 indoors. Previously, the limit was 10 people for both indoor and outdoor events.
  • Outdoor entertainment and public amusement venues can operate with up to 1,000 individuals or at 30 percent capacity, whichever is lower. All entertainment venues were previously limited to a maximum of 250 individuals. 
  • Dining establishments: The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol is now permitted until midnight, extended from 10 p.m. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms still must be closed between midnight and 5 a.m. 
  •  As of May 1, overnight summer camps will be able to open with strict mitigation measures in place.

All of this being said, please continue to practice social distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing. Although the Governor has rolled back some restrictions, COVID-19 is very much still present in our community. It will take all of us working together to defeat it.

FCPS is evaluating what these changes mean for school sponsored events and graduation. More information will be coming about graduation in April.

Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair

As in 2020, the Regional Science and Engineering Fair participation and judging will be held virtually the week of March 13-20, 2021 To learn more about the science fair please go here. 

The livestream award ceremony will take place on Sunday, March 21st from 3:00 – 4:00pm on Channel 99 ( and will appear in the programming guide under that date (

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.

© 2021 Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax County, Virginia