Spring Newsletter

Dear Mason District Community,

Welcome, Spring!

It’s hard to believe the school year is coming to a close with only the 4th quarter remaining. These past weeks have been marked by the return of some students to in-person instruction and the division is looking forward to expanding the opportunity for more students based on current CDC guidance that reduces social distancing guidelines when community transmissions remain at low and moderate levels.  

Unlike last year when our community struggled with the onset of the pandemic, our students can look forward to in-person opportunities to mark and celebrate end-of-year milestones such as graduations and proms. Staff and community vaccinations are increasing, which in turn, have increased community confidence in supporting in-person efforts. 

The elementary schools in the Justice pyramid engaged in several community meetings during the second week of March to discuss priorities and ideas to relieve the overcrowding at Glen Forest Elementary. The next step in the process will be to review options which will be developed by the Facilities Department based on the community's feedback to determine how this task will be accomplished. I look forward to continuing to engage with our community around this important issue. 

I value the input I receive from the Mason Community and am happy to address questions or concerns via email or phone. You can reach me by email at rjanderson@fcps.edu. If you are interested in scheduling a phone call, please reach out to my assistant, Cristy Coffey, at cmcoffey@fcps.edu to arrange a time.

I wish you all good health.



5 Days of In-Person Learning for the Fall 2021-22 School Year

FCPS schools are filling with staff and student energy again with approximately 109,000 staff and students returning to school buildings after more than a year apart.

FCPS is planning for a strong 5-day in-person start to the 2021-22 school year and is currently weighing all options to find ways to keep health and safety at the forefront while ensuring all students get the access to in-person learning they want and need in the fall.

For those whose children returned in-person this past month, we thank you for your trust in us. Our return to school has been largely successful and we look forward to continuing to expand opportunities in a safe and responsible way.

For those who have remained virtual with us—we thank you for your patience. We will continue to meet your child’s needs in this environment. However, we also hope to continue to build trust and confidence to return all children for in-person instruction this fall.

This fall, FCPS will be focused on a strong, 5-day in-person start to the FY21-22 school year with an emphasis on:

  • Reuniting our school communities
  • Establishing new routines and orienting students back to schools
  • Continuing outreach to students and families
  • Re-engaging students and families
  • Refining virtual offerings with an emphasis on in-person learning
  • Monitoring health guidance
  • Preparing schools for a reduction in physical distancing (less than 6 feet)
  • Investigating additional PPE resources and safety protocols as needed
  • Exploring additional COVID testing opportunities


Video: Back to School Smiles at Greenbriar East Elementary School

On Tuesday, March 9, FCPS welcomed first and second graders back to in-person instruction. Everyone at Greenbriar East Elementary School couldn't wait to see the smiling faces and hear the happy voices in the halls again. 

CDC Announces New Encouraging 3 Feet Guidance for Schools

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced updated guidance on social distancing for schools, changing from recommending 6 feet of social distancing to 3 feet of social distancing with universal masking in classroom settings. FCPS is working through this guidance and will share more information after spring break.

2021-22 Calendar Approved

The Fairfax County School Board voted to approve a calendar for the 2021-22 School Year that is designed to recognize, respect, and honor the plurality of religious and cultural observances in Fairfax County.

The calendar, which recognizes 15 religious and cultural observances in the school year, while also decoupling Good Friday from Spring Break, ensures students will not have to make choices between honoring their religious or cultural observance, or taking a test this coming school year.

Under two updated regulations, tests, quizzes, field trips, graduation, homecoming, or FCPS-scheduled athletic events cannot be scheduled on any of the 15 religious and cultural observances or the day immediately after. Tests and quizzes will be given prior to any of the 15 days, so that students will not be expected to study on these days. Employees will be permitted to make up 16 hours of any time they miss for religious or cultural observances. These regulations will be updated for the start of the new school year which begins July 1.

The approved calendar for the 2021-22 School Year will serve as an interim calendar while FCPS develops a calendar development process that allows the School Board to establish clear criteria and priorities for the calendar; clearly defines the roles of staff, Board, and community members; and creates a robust community engagement process that outlines how and where feedback will be solicited and shared with the Board.

The calendar, which complies with legal requirements that require school districts to have a secular reason, such as excessive absenteeism, that would impact operations behind the designation of any holiday, is designed to minimize disruption to instruction. The length of each quarter is similar, and the semesters are balanced. The end of the third quarter on March 31 also aligns well with senior college grade requirements. Teacher workdays are placed to minimize instructional disruptions while still supporting teacher grading, planning, and professional development time.

The calendar also mitigates any financial impact to employees who are not paid on holidays and ends the school year in the first half of June, so 10- and 11-month employees can pursue summer employment opportunities earlier. The calendar sets the first day of school as Monday, August 23, 2021, and the last day as Friday, June 10, 2022. 

Secondary Grading Policy Changes

FCPS has developed a series of strategies focused on social and emotional wellness, attendance and engagement, and academics to address the impacts COVID has had on some students. We have adopted a series of secondary grading policy changes to help our students with a strong finish to the school year.

We are adjusting our grading policy for SY2020-21 to ensure students are not penalized by the challenges brought to us by pandemic learning. 

Key options for high school students are:

  • Use of No Mark (NM) instead of F grades for all courses
  • Final Exam flexibility that ensures an exam can only serve to improve a student’s grade for the year
  • Allowing students/families  to choose a mark of “P”  (pass) instead of passing letter grades (C’s or D’s, for example) as their final mark in up to two courses 

Key options for middle school students are:

  • Use of No Mark (NM) instead of F grades for all courses
  • Students receiving a final mark of D / D+ in any course will be assigned a mark assigned  a mark of  “P” (pass) on the report card  
  • Allowing students/families  to choose a mark of “P” (pass) instead of passing letter grades (C’s, for example) for any course

Teachers, counselors, and administrators will be communicating with families regarding these grading policy changes as well as any other potential options to best support the student’s final grade. Details of these changes are posted on the FCPS website here and additional details will be provided by schools.

Reaching out to in-person students to confirm their spots 

The return to in-person learning offers us an important opportunity to engage and support our most vulnerable students in new ways. To that end, we are working to maximize our in-person learning capacity and are asking that all students who have registered to attend in-person do so on a regular basis. If registered students are not attending regularly by March 26th schools may reassign them to virtual learning and allow other students to receive in-person support in their place.

Updates, including summer programs and opportunities, will continue to be posted online and shared as we continue to develop, plan and support our students, families and FCPS community.

Planning to Travel Over Spring Break? Here's the Guidance

Spring break is just around the corner. Here are some tips to be aware of as you make plans to travel:

  • The Virginia Department of Health urges all Virginians to avoid non-essential travel, especially if you are at higher risk of serious COVID-19 or if you will be visiting someone at higher risk of serious COVID-19. This recommendation applies to everyone, even if you have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have fully recovered from COVID-19.
  • FCPS does not currently have travel restrictions. Students are not required to quarantine or provide COVID 19 test results for either domestic or international travel. Parents may opt to keep their students at home for 14 days after they return from travel, however, it is not required.
  • Per the Student Health and Safety Guidance Document, a Daily Health Screening Questionnaire will be required for all students attending in-person instruction. These daily health screening questionnaires will be completed on an honor basis and will not be required to be submitted to the school.
  • Upon returning, any student, staff or visitor demonstrating symptoms of illness is asked to stay home to help “Stop the Spread” of COVID-19. 

Updates and more information are available online



Meal Distribution During Spring Break

FCPS is committed to providing all students access to meals March 26 through April 5 when there is one early release school day, the week of spring break when schools are closed, and one teacher workday when students are not in school. Extra meal distribution begins March 22. See the food distribution web page for more information.

Additionally, the United States Department of Agriculture recently announced that no-cost breakfast and lunch meals for all students have been extended through September 30.

2021 Advanced Placement / International Baccalaureate Testing Information

The College Board and International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization announced changes to this year’s exams. Information is now available online about 2021 AP and IB testing in FCPS, including exam formats, dates, times, cancellation procedures, and answers to frequently asked questions. 

2021 End-of-Year Ceremonies

We will celebrate the Class of 2021 with in-person graduations!

Earlier this week, Governor Northam provided updated guidance for in-person graduation ceremonies, indoor and outdoor social gatherings, and public health and space restrictions for certain outdoor sports and entertainment venues, effective April 1. This information will help to inform us about the health and safety requirements and laws for culminating events such as graduation, All Night Graduation parties, prom, and end-of-year celebrations for our elementary and secondary students.

Graduation guidance includes:

  • Graduation events held outdoors will be capped at 5,000 people or 30 percent of the venue capacity, whichever is less.
  • Graduation events held indoors may have up to 500 people, or 30 percent of the venue capacity, whichever is less.
  • Graduations are defined as events where a diploma or degree is conferred.
  • Masks and social distancing are required. 

Town Hall Meeting with Dr. Brabrand

Superintendent Brabrand will be hosting a virtual Town Hall Meeting on April 12 to share the latest information based on the Governor’s Executive Order.

Monday, April 12, 2021

6 - 7 p.m.

View on Channel 21 or the livestream at https://www.fcps.edu/tv/ch99.

Send your questions in advance to returntoschool@fcps.edu or call 1-800-231-6359 during the town hall.


FCPS Playgrounds Reopen for Students 

FCPS is now permitting the use of playground equipment during recess. Students will adhere to mitigation strategies before and after use, but this is a welcome step for returning to school safely as playing outside is important for students’ social-emotional well-being and a healthy outlet for stress. More information on playgrounds reopening and other student health and safety guidance is available online.

Extended School Plans  

FCPS has been developing supports for students who need additional instruction and engagement this summer to prepare for their next grade level. Robust summer programming will be offered by all FCPS schools. Students will be identified by schools using the Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS) process and students/families will be contacted by schools to coordinate program enrollment.

Importantly, we are continuing to implement crucial social-emotional support structures to provide assistance. Many may be feeling disconnected, and it is imperative that we help all of our students and staff re-engage and re-connect as they come together. We have confidence and hope in our FCPS community and that together, we will succeed in meeting the challenges in the remaining months of the 20-21 school year.

Falls Church High School Community Meeting


Renovation Update

April 12, 2021

7 - 8:15 p.m.

Virtual details coming soon from FCHS

Budget Update 

The School Board is scheduled to present the FY22 Advertised Budget to the Board of Supervisors on April 13th. The FY22 budget documents and timeline can be found on the FCPS Budget website.

SIBSHOPS: An Exciting, Virtual Workshop for Brothers and Sisters of Children with Special Needs

The Sibshop workshops are for children in grades 2-6 enrolled in Fairfax County Public Schools who have siblings with special needs to:

  • Meet other siblings in a relaxed, virtual setting.
  • Celebrate the many contributions made by brothers and sisters of children with special needs.
  • Share sibling experiences and receive peer support.
  • Play games and have fun!

Presented by FCPS School Social Work Services

Monday, April 5, 2021

Two time slots are available:  10 a.m. or 1 p.m.  Sessions run 1-1.5 hours

Register for SIBSHOPS: An Exciting, Virtual Workshop for Brothers and Sisters of Children with Special Needs

2021 NCWIT Virginia Affiliate Winners 

Four FCPS students were selected as 2021 National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) Virginia affiliate winners for participating in computer-related extracurricular activities; leadership through teams, clubs, and teaching peers; and advancing their own computing experience and technical skills. The students are part of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Impressionists group, an afterschool mentoring program that works with middle and high school minority girls interested in participating in career-related STEM activities. Congratulations to our Mason District winner:

Yabesra Ewnetu, Justice High School

Seeking Applicants - Citizens Committee for the Bond

Every two years, Fairfax County places a school construction bond referendum on the ballot. 

For more than 10 years, Fairfax/NOVA Chamber of Commerce has established a School Construction Bond Committee to advocate affirmative votes for the bond. 

The committee seeks representatives from many parts of the community including from School Board members. The 2021 Citizen’s Committee for the Bond is again seeking appointees and each board member is asked to put two names forward of citizens willing to serve.

I am accepting applications from Mason District residents who are interested in serving on the committee this year.

General tasks and commitment for committee members include:

  • Communing support for the bond to HOA boards, other organizations and chambers.
  • Distributing information electronically and in print such as yard signs, shirts, stickers, and Facts booklets, though the committee will be discussing methods as per COVID-19 restrictions.
  • The committee member should expect to meet 6 to 9 times between July and November.

If you are interested in serving, please forward a short narrative describing your interest and qualifications to my assistant, Cristy Coffey, at cmcoffey@fcps.edu by April 19, 2021.

Attention, Mason District PTA/PTSA/PTO Presidents

Save the Date - May Roundtable

Our next roundtable discussion is scheduled for 6 p.m. on May 26th. Details will be emailed next month. I am looking forward to continuing our dialogue. If you have questions, please reach out to my assistant, Ms. Coffey, at cmcoffey@fcps.edu.



Upcoming School Board Meetings


Regular School Board Meetings (Luther Jackson Middle School)

  • April 8, 2021 at 7 p.m.
  • April 22, 2021 at 7 p.m.

Work Sessions (virtual)

  • April 6, 2021 at 11 a.m.
  • April 20, 2021 at 11 a.m.

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

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

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.

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