Summer Recap; Fall Preview

Dear Community,

In just a few days, our students begin another school year amidst a global pandemic. However, this year, we are each more experienced with assessing risk and reward about physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This is no easy calculation, and it will vary from student to student, family to family, and staff member to staff member. 

But we do know this: there is only forward. 

As a school division, we are moving forward to help children thrive during precarious times. This means educating them in person, because this is the superior way for most students to learn. Currently, it also means wearing masks to further mitigate risk. 

I recognize that the calculation of risk that produced these plans does not please everyone. For this reason, let’s continue offering each other - students and adults alike - more patience and support than we otherwise may have. I’ll continue listening to constituents as the year begins, and engaging with School Board Members, the Superintendent, and staff about any needed adjustments. 

Through the end of August and into September, I’ll be attending back to school events, and I’m so excited! Reviewing the events list of about two dozen schools where I represent many constituents, it’s clear that energy levels are high for welcoming students and meeting families!

Below please find a recap of the Board’s work since school let out in June, plus information regarding the new school year! 

Finally, be on the look out for information about subscribing to a new email update that will be shared after Regular Meetings (usually Thursday night meetings) to inform you about the School Board’s work and votes, and public discussions.

Return to School

FCPS has been planning for the return to school since spring, and cannot wait to have students back in classrooms five days a week! You can prepare for a strong start to the school year by visiting the Return to School page, frequently checking the Return to School FAQs, and reading FCPS This Week for the latest information.

FCPS is aligned with the recent state mandate of universal masking indoors for all VA K-12 schools, and encourages all who are eligible  to receive a full COVID vaccination series. For the latest health and safety information see this website.

Be sure to note that the first day of school for the 2021-22 school year will be Monday, August 23. The last day of school is June 10, 2022. See the complete 2021-22 school year calendar.

FCPS mask guidelines graphic

Return to School Town Halls with Dr. Brabrand

Superintendent Scott Brabrand

Superintendent Scott Brabrand hosted a virtual community Return to School Town Hall last night (Monday, August 16), joined by Benjamin Schwartz, of the Fairfax County Health Department - you can look for that recording here.


Dr. Brabrand will be hosting another Town Hall on Tuesday, August 17 from 6 - 7 p.m. (In Spanish) where he will answer questions about returning to five full days of in-person learning and measures to help keep everyone safe. The Town Hall will be streamed live on FCPS Facebook en Español. Please email your questions to You may also send a message on the same Facebook page or leave it in the “Comment” section during the Town Hall. 

Introducing Schoology

FCPS transitioned to Schoology as the new divisionwide learning management system this summer. It is a learning space that supports instructional practices aligned to FCPS’ learning model and helps students reach the Portrait of a Graduate goals.

The Madison Pyramid will be hosting a virtual Schoology Community Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, August 18th at 6:00 pm. A link will be provided around 5pm on August 18th.There will be a form for the submission of questions that will be live during the presentation. You can access the form here. If you are unable to attend, look for a recording of the town hall on the Marshall Road ES website.

Watch the short video below to learn more!

Schoology video clip

Fall Plans to Address Student Learning Loss

As FCPS prepares for a full return to five days of in-person learning this Fall, its top priority is to ensure there is an appropriate plan to bring students up to grade level or higher. Below is a brief snapshot of the key strategies FCPS will use to address student learning loss during the upcoming school year:

Reviewing and Reteaching. FCPS is updating its curriculum instruction guides to ensure that teachers are provided with effective information and strategies to review and/or reteach previous grade standards as they teach current year content. This is critical towards helping students master essential knowledge and fill any skill gaps. This approach will also allow FCPS to accelerate learning, as opposed to starting a cycle of remediation. For students who have more significant learning needs, FCPS anticipates providing a variety of interventions. Some examples are:

  • Built-in time during the school day for individualized or small group instruction by current teacher or specialist
  • After school/Saturday “tutoring”, delivered at the school by paid staff 
  • Online tutoring, delivered in the evenings

Identifying Student Needs. During Fall 2021, assessments will play an important role in identifying gaps in learning, and determining next steps. Students at all levels will participate in classroom assessments based on grade level units to identify specific learning gaps that need to be addressed during its regularly scheduled grade-level instruction. 

  • Elementary students will participate in a VDOE Fall “SOL-like" assessment, as well as the iReady screener. These will serve as “initial indicators” for each student’s needs in literacy and mathematics.
  • Middle school students will participate in the new VDOE assessments, and mathematics/literacy inventories.
  • High school students who have risk indicators will participate in mathematics and literacy inventories. 

Preparing Teachers to Tackle Learning Loss. Upon return to school, teachers will engage in professional development so they are prepared to implement updated curriculum guides and effectively use data and strategies to support social emotional learning. Ongoing professional development will take place throughout the year with specific supports for teacher leaders/coaches at each school site. In addition, resource teachers from Central Office will be deployed in schools to support professional development, planning, and instructional delivery. 

Upcoming Meetings and Topics to be Covered

School Board Meetings Resume

  • Aug 24th at 11 am - Work Session
  • August 26th at 7 pm - Regular School Board Meeting

Accessing Board Meetings

View this link for a comprehensive list of upcoming meetings and associated information.

Click here for meeting logistics, agendas and handouts (to view the slides and materials, scroll down to the bottom of the page). Meetings are live-streamed on the FCPS website and televised on FCPS Cable Channel 99. For more information about signing up to speak at a regular meeting, click here.

FCPS School Board Members

Recent Work

Chair and Vice Chair Elected for SY 2021-22

At the July 15 Regular Meeting, the School Board unanimously elected Stella Pekarsky (Sully District) as School Board chair and Rachna Sizemore Heizer (Member-at-Large), as vice chair for a one-year term.

Sweeping Climate, Sustainability Goals Set by School Board

Carbon Neutral 2040

At our July 15th meeting, the School Board voted unanimously to adopt the recommendations of the Joint Environmental Task Force (JET) to achieve zero waste by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2040. Our Board's action followed the same action from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors just days earlier. Read all about it here.

Adjustments to Allow for More Citizen Participation

In February of 2020, public input and discussion began around increasing opportunities for public comment at School Board meetings. Most recently, the School Board approved adjustments to public participation, which will increase accessibility to the speaker slots and topics. This:

  • Increases speaker slots to 16.
  • Ends requirement for speakers to only speak to items on the meeting agenda. 
  • Eliminates spots set aside for organizations, and everyone is subject to the same time limit. 
  • Reserves three spots for current students and three spots for video submissions.
  • Selects speakers at random from those who register, making it accessible to those who cannot be online at 6 a.m.
  • Retains ability for community members to testify virtually, allowing for greater access and ease of participation.
  • Adds two public hearings each year without a preset number of speakers.

ESSER III Funding 


At our Board's July 15 meeting, we authorized Superintendent Brabrand to develop and submit a formal plan to the state for accessing an allocation of $188.6 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) funding. These funds will support the safe reopening and operation of schools and address the pandemic's impact on students by focusing on their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. Funds will be spent during fiscal years 2022-24. Additionally, our Board requested a briefing on the detailed plan before it is officially submitted to the Commonwealth. Read the details here.

Student Rights and Responsibilities

The School Board unanimously voted to adopt Regulation 2601.35P, Student Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R). Improvements to the SR&R for the 2021-22 school year reflect FCPS’ commitment to ensuring students feel safe, supported, and respected in every one of our schools. 

Notable changes include:

  • Edited language throughout the document to reflect gender neutrality.
  • A new section entitled Notable Changes for Students and Parents that highlights changes in the SR&R from last school year.
  • Restructuring of the Rights and Responsibilities Chapter with student rights prominently featured.
  • Language that further defines interaction of law enforcement and students.
  • Additional terms in the glossary to increase understanding.

In our interest to serve all students, FCPS has also updated our LGBTQIA+ resources page on the FCPS website. 

Superintendent Search

Fairfax County Public Schools is beginning its search for a new superintendent to lead the school district when Superintendent Brabrand's contract expires at the end of the 2021-2022 school year. 

The Fairfax County School Board is charged with hiring the new superintendent. To assist with the search, the Board will engage a search firm with expertise in identifying and recruiting executive level school district leaders. 

There will be opportunities for parents, staff, students, and community members to participate. Your voice will be critical in helping define leadership characteristics, qualities, and qualifications of our next superintendent. 

Updates will be posted regularly regarding the hiring process, timeline, community engagement, and other important information.

Read Superintendent Brabrand's letter to the community.

Grading and Homework Changes Approved 

Two changes to secondary grading have been adopted for the 2021-22 school year:

  • Establish 50 as the lowest grade on a 100-point scale
  • Allow late work on major assignments with minimal penalty

In addition, homework expectations have been recalibrated to account for both student wellness and the existing FCPS regulation on homework. FCPS is committed to consistent grading regulation and practices where grades are an accurate reflection of student learning.

Hunter Mill Happenings

Fight Suicide Walkathon - Hunter Mill Team

Join me on Saturday, August 21 for a ‘Fight Suicide’ Walkathon held at Lake Fairfax Park, organized by the Family Counseling Center of Greater Washington! Please register here to receive information on our Hunter Mill team meeting spot and time, prior to the start of the walkathon.

Fight Suicide Walkathon group picture with banner

Madison HS Junior Passionate about Foreign Service 

Madison junior Sophia Brown

Madison High School junior, Sophia Brown grew up around volunteer work and community service, but she’s always been particularly drawn to helping kids in Africa. In second grade, she began working with the non-profit ‘Wheels to Africa’, which provides used bikes to communities in need. At just 14 years old, she collected more than 1,000 books to help create a library in the African country of Malawi. Now, Sophia is working toward the highest honor in Girl Scouts, the Gold Award, through her project ‘Books and Bikes For Africa’. 

I am so proud to know you, Sofia, and to be able to watch you and help along your journey!

Other Information of Interest 

FCPS Launching eSports Program

Image of keyboard

Calling all eSports lovers!

FCPS is preparing to launch an eSports program, following the approval of the Virginia High School League, which governs sports, activities, and competitions in public schools throughout the Commonwealth.

Former FCPS Athletes at Summer Olympics 

Every four years, the world’s best athletes pack their bags, board a plane, and embark on the journey of a lifetime to the Olympic Games. This year, some of the remarkable young men and women that went to Tokyo are Fairfax County Public School graduates:

  • Trevor Stewart: Track; Team USA. He is a 2016 South County High School graduate.
  • Chioma Onyekwere: Discus; Team Nigeria. She is a 2012 Robinson Secondary School graduate.
  • Andrew Seliskar: Swimmer; Team USA . He is a 2015 Thomas Jefferson High School graduate.

Hear about their stories and memories of FCPS! 

3 former FCPS athletes at Olympics

Helpful Family Resources 

The FCPS Parent Resource Center provides access to information and resources to support all families, educators, and students, including those with special needs, learning challenges, and disabilities

Following are other resources that might be helpful for you and your family:

Tools 2 Thrive graphic

Fairfax County Early Childhood Programs and Resources

Learn about the Neighborhood School Readiness Project (NSRP), which works to establish, sustain, and increase collaborative
partnerships that support children so they enter
kindergarten ready to be successful in school and life.

Transition to K and Resources for Families has information for parents of 5-year-olds entering kindergarten in August and for parents of 4-year-olds who have another year before kindergarten. 

Fairfax Early Childhood Programs Flyer

View in Spanish here!

Bag Tax Public Hearing September 14

Plastic Bag 5 cent tax

The Board of Supervisors authorized a public hearing on a proposed new law to impose a 5-cent tax on disposable plastic bags. The public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 4:30 p.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center. Residents must sign up in order to provide testimony in person or by phone that day or offer written or video testimony in advance. The purpose of the proposed tax is to make sure the environmental cost of plastic bags is reflected in the price consumers pay to use them.

Fairfax County Historical Markers Contest 

Ona Judge historical marker

FCPS is partnering with the Board of Supervisors to host the inaugural Fairfax County Historical Markers Contest. This project will showcase previously untold narratives and highlight the histories of those who are underrepresented in school curriculum. This year's focus will be on African American history in Fairfax County. With assistance from the FCPS Instructional Services Department, the contest will be integrated into the K-12 social studies curriculum as a Project-Based Learning Initiative for the upcoming school year. Read all the details here.

2021 Congressional App Challenge

The 2021 Congressional App Challenge has begun!

This challenge runs from June 24 to November 1 and offers middle school and high school students interested in coding a chance to enhance their skills and interests in computer science and STEM.

Local judges will evaluate the student submissions and choose a winning individual or team. For additional details, you can visit

2021 Congressional App Challenge ad

Contacting Me

I prioritize responses to Hunter Mill constituents, so please be sure to identify yourself as such if you contact me. If you are unsure of your county magisterial district, you can look that information up here.

To contact me, it is most helpful to please use the official School Board contact form. This form prioritizes emails to me from constituents, and helps me track communication so I can be sure you receive a response. Thank you for your cooperation.


Please take good care,

Melanie Meren


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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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