FH Back to School Update

Welcome to School Year 2021-22!


Dear Freedom Hill Community,

It is time to launch into another great school year! The staff at Freedom Hill have been working diligently to prepare a welcoming, safe environment for students and families. As we return to the building this year, we look forward to re-establishing traditions and celebrating our togetherness. Our goals for the beginning of the year are like each school year – to know each child by name and by need, and to provide learning opportunities that allow our students to develop the skills they will need to make their dreams a reality.

This year, special steps will also be taken to mitigate current health risks and to keep our students safe. More information on mask requirements and other health-related updates are shared below.  As noted in FCPS communications, all school will start the school year with universal masking in all FCPS buildings. Masks will be worn indoors at all times during the school day by both staff and students with the exception of when eating.

Classroom teacher assignments were mailed from the school today and should arrive soon. In addition, we look forward to hosting families on August 20 for our annual Open House. Times are listed below, and we have assigned times by last name to promote social distancing and more time to speak with teachers. If you have several students, you are welcome to attend both sessions if needed to stop into each classroom. 

We encourage our new and returning families to read this newsletter each weekend, making special note of the "Upcoming Dates" section below. We also feature updates from our wonderfully supportive and enthusiastic PTA at the end of each newsletter.

We look forward to continued partnership this year!

Nicholas Zapadka, Principal

Eric Kopacz, Assistant Principal

Upcoming Dates for Your Calendar

  • August 16 - Teacher assignments mailed home to families
  • August 18 - Virtual FH Principal Q&A, 7:00PM, LINK
  • August 20 - Student Open House, 10:00-11:15 AM
    • Last Names A-K: 10:00-10:30
    • Last Names L-Z: 10:45-11:15
  • August 23 - First Day of School 2021-22 (Calendar)
  • August 31 - Parent Virtual Back to School Night, 6:00-8:00 PM

We are hiring!

  • Long-term Substitute (Music)
  • Cafeteria Host/Hostess (Daily 10:45 - 2:00)

Freedom Hill is looking for a new Cafeteria Host/Hostess to be paid to support lunch daily for our students. This is an hourly position from 10:45 AM – 2:00 PM daily. This is ideal for a stay at home parent or a college student who has a few hours available to join us each day. If you or someone you know is interested, please email Kelly Harris or call our front office.

Calling All Laptops!

This school year students will be assigned a laptop. The FCPSOn program, https://www.fcps.edu/resources/technology/fcpson, is designed to transform learning and prepare our students with real-world technology skills.

Mr. Fenton is busy organizing devices for our students. We need your help. There are still devices from last year that have not yet been returned. Perhaps you used the device for our summer programs. Perhaps you forgot to return the device in June. We need all devices returned to prepare for our upcoming school year. You may return any Freedom Hill technology to our building between 9:00 – 3:00 daily. Thank you for your help as we prepare for another great year.

School Supply Lists


SCHOOL SUPPLY LISTS ARE IN! School supply lists for next year for each grade have been updated. Check them out here. Please note: we are not doing pre-ordered school supplies via Sprout this year. 

Breakfast / Lunch Information

Breakfast and a hot lunch will be offered to ALL students for free. Students may purchase some items a la carte.  Additional information regarding lunches can be found at this link. Book our menus here

Transportation Information

Bus transportation information will be shared with families this week and will continue to be populated prior to the start of school. Please access the information via ParentVue. Additional information regarding bus transportation and how to access please access these links: 

Bus Delay Notification System  and the Transportation page.

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As we prepare to begin the 2021-22 school year, FCPS is aware of your questions and concerns about the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. The health and safety of our students, staff, and community are the school system’s highest priority and every day we are working closely with health officials to review our layered prevention strategies and ensure our schools and buildings are safe places to learn and work. Vaccination levels among 12-18 year olds are high and we will continue to offer vaccination opportunities in our schools. We are also using universal masking as a key mitigation strategy as we gear up to start the school year five days in-person. We look forward to welcoming you back on August 23.


Masks are an essential tool in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting those unable to be vaccinated. To ensure a safe start to the school year, masks will be required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, inside FCPS buildings. 

As we bring large numbers of students and staff back to buildings, FCPS is committed to doing all we can to provide a safe environment for everyone to learn and work. Therefore, existing mask requirements have been extended to include everyone, regardless of vaccination status and location. We will all wear masks indoors, unless we are alone in an office or room. Outdoor masking is still recommended for those who are unvaccinated.

There are some situations in school when students and staff are permitted to remove their masks, including:

  • When actively eating or drinking (if eating indoors, individuals are required to put their masks back on when not actually eating or drinking)
  • When outside (e.g. outdoor recess, outdoor physical education, outdoor instructional groups; anyone not fully vaccinated is recommended, but not required, to wear a mask in crowded settings)

While FCPS is unable to implement full physical distancing in our schools with the return of 99.5% of our students, we will implement it to the best of our ability when space permits.


Students will be required to wear their mask to the cafeteria, through the lunch line, and while seating and not eating. We will assist our student in learning the process of removing a mask only to eat. In addition, several proactive measures are being taken at Freedom Hill to mitigate risks associated with lunch:

  • Expanded cafeteria seating onto our stage to promote increased distance
  • Additional tables in the cafeteria to promote increased distance
  • Plexiglass utilized on tables to protect against transmission 
  • Outdoor seating for some students (weather, temperature, and staffing permitting)

Screen for Illness Every Day, Stay Home When Sick

One of the most important prevention strategies guidelines is screening students daily for any signs of illness prior to leaving home for school. Any student who is ill or has COVID-like symptoms should remain at home. The daily health screening questionnaire and all translated versions can be found on our Health and Safety Guidance webpage

This document provides the details of the policies and protocols related to COVID-19, and it is continually updated to align with public health guidance as it evolves during the school year. Daily completion of the health screening is done on an honor basis and does not need to be sent to the school.

Read more about checking for symptoms and how to prepare to return to school after illness.


Cleaning and Disinfecting

Measures will be implemented to ensure that common areas and equipment, and personal workspaces, are regularly cleaned and sanitized. The Office of Facilities Management has worked closely with FCPS custodians to adjust their cleaning processes to better address current considerations. 

FCPS custodians are using effective disinfectant and sanitizing products to clean our facilities every day. For more detail about cleaning and disinfecting in schools, see the Health and Safety Guidance Document.


Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.



FCPS uses mechanical ventilation systems to provide classrooms with outside air. FCPS schools are designed to ventilate fresh outside air and mitigate the buildup of odors and pollutants. Fresh air is filtered and conditioned before it enters the space. This is in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus that advises windows be opened in the absence of outside mechanical ventilation.


Contact Tracing and Quarantining 

In the event of a COVID-19 exposure, FCPS will work with the Fairfax County Health Department to conduct contact tracing and determine if quarantining is necessary. Further guidance is coming on this topic soon.


Monitoring by Health & Safety Teams 

This year, FCPS will be using an independent third party firm to perform safety team observations. Safety teams will observe and report on the health and safety mitigation measures in schools and make sure they are being implemented with fidelity.

In preparation for a strong return to 5 days of in person instruction,  we will also continuously monitor our community health conditions as well as adhere to FHD, VHD and CDC guidance.


Conditions for Potential Temporary COVID-19 Closure

FCPS is committed to continuity of learning during the 2021-22 school year and the school division is using layered prevention strategies to do everything possible to ensure our schools remain safe, healthy and open.  We do, however, have plans in place to ensure continuity of learning in the event health authorities require a temporary closure to protect the health of students, staff, and the community. Read more about protocols.

PTA Updates

Your Freedom Hill PTA has your back with a great back to school checklist to make sure things go smoothly and you are in the know! See below.


VIRTUAL TOWN HALLS We thought a quick town hall with our parents might help - especially when it comes to getting back into the building 5 days a week at full capacity. Join Dr. Z on Wednesday evening by clicking here from Wednesday, Aug. 18th from 7-8pm.Or dial into 312-626-6799 with Meeting ID #946 7917 6352. This one will be specific to Freedom Hill. Write questions ahead of time to this Google Form.


SCHOOL SUPPLIES Get your school supply lists are here. Cool tip - Target will assemble them for you and you can pick them us using their School Assist link here (adjust it to your location and grade). Also now is the time to take a quick look at things like backpacks, shoes, lunch bags and other things that wear out over time.   


AUTO-EARN MONEY FOR THE PTA Want an easy way to earn dollars for FHES PTA? Designate Freedom Hill ES PTA online for:

  • Harris Teeter TIE program - Go here to designate Freedom Hill PTA or visit your local store and ask the cashier to designate FHES for you
  • Amazon Smile - Go here to designate Freedom Hill PTA as your charity or click HERE to download the app. 


COMMUNICATIONS - STAY IN THE KNOW! Stay in communication with Freedom Hill PTA. Besides this newsletter, you can follow us on Twitter at @freedomhillpta or request to join our private Facebook Group, Freedom Hill ES Community


GET TECH READY Two handy things to have set up are Pay4SchoolStuff and My School Bucks. Pay4SchoolStuff can be used for PTA events, donations, and more. MySchoolBucks is typically used for field trips or lunch money. Sign up for an account today!


TEACHER ASSIGNMENTS Are you wondering who your child's teacher is? Us too! Teacher assignments will be mailed out from school on Monday so expect them between Tuesday thru Thursday next week. Afterwards, the Facebook group is the perfect place to post and chat with other parents and find classmates.


BACK-TO-SCHOOL PICNIC ON SEPT. 10 Save the date for our Back to School Picnic on Friday, Sept. 10th from 5:30-7:30pm on the school's blacktop area. You can bring your own food, order a box lunch from Jason's Deli or grab a tasty ice cream from the Ben and Jerry's ice cream cart! NOTE: Ben & Jerry's will be donating 20% of proceeds to the PTA and a portion of the Jason's Deli order will go to the PTA as well. We're so excited to SEE people again! BIG PROPS to KRUTI VERMA for putting this together for us! Order forms to come out soon!


OPEN HOUSE AND BTS NIGHT Quick refresher on these two important events. Open House is Friday, August 20th from 10-11am. It's where you bring your child to school to meet their teacher, see their classroom and you can drop off school supplies (also helpful so you don't have to bring them the first day of school). The FHES PTA will be in the cafeteria from 10:30-11:30 and selling spiritwear clothing and taking PTA membership donations! We take cash, checks and credit cards *so long as Square works*! Back to School Night is for parents only and will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 31st from 6-8pm. It is virtual this year!