FCPS This Week e-Newsletter - August 18, 2021

Returning Strong Graphic

First Day of School Countdown

Elementary students getting off a school bus.

The first day of school, Monday, August 23, is just a few days away! Use our First day of School Countdown to make sure your child gets off to a great start. Every day we’re sharing tips on how to get ready for the first day of school. Get tips on bus transportation, staying connected, lunch, staying on top of assignments, and more! 

Share Your First Day of School Photos

FCPS parents, students, and staff members are invited to share their favorite pictures or videos from the first day of school on social media using the hashtags #firstdayfairfax and #FCPSReturningStrong. We will share some of the photos on the FCPS Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages. 

Returning Strong: Your Questions About the Opening of School Answered

Superintendent Brabrand at FCPS Town Hall


On Monday and Tuesday evenings this week, Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand; Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, director of Epidemiology and Population Health at the Fairfax County Health Department; Jeffrey Platenberg, assistant superintendent of the FCPS Department of Facilities and Transportation; and Michelle Boyd, assistant superintendent of the FCPS Department of Special Services answered your questions about the layered prevention strategies that FCPS will be using to keep our schools safe and healthy as we return to in-person learning five days a week on August 23. 

If you missed the live town halls, you can watch them online.

Returning Strong: Health and Safety Updates in FCPS Schools

Picture of a Covid-19 test.

FCPS continues to review and update safety measures for fall to ensure our students and staff will learn and work in a healthy, safe environment. The latest on our Return to School safety measures is always available on our website.

Some updates of note this week include:

Will FCPS Use Testing as a Layered Prevention Strategy?

FCPS is in the process of partnering with a third-party provider to provide access to screening testing among other health service supports for FCPS students and staff. We recognize that screening testing of individuals who are not fully vaccinated is important given the recent surge of the Delta variant. We look forward to sharing details regarding this emerging partnership soon.

In addition to the emerging partnership for screening testing described above, we continue to partner with the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) to provide diagnostic testing for symptomatic, in-person students or staff who are unable to access testing independently. The partnership for diagnostic testing for in-person students and staff who need support was established during the 2020-21 school year and will continue as we start the 2021-22 school year. 

Lunch Update (Elementary Only):

Elementary schools are to provide seating charts to minimize the number of potential close contacts while masks are removed. This is a new prevention strategy for elementary students as they are generally not age-eligible for the vaccine.

Masks and Outdoor Recess

FCPS is following CDC guidance on masking and does not require masks to be worn outdoors, including during recess. Parents who have specific requests for their child can contact their school. Schools will make the best possible effort to ensure the parent’s request is followed when possible. Please understand schools cannot guarantee all requests will be able to be met.

How to Prepare for Breakfast, Lunch, and Snacks at School

Picture of school breakfast food on a tray.

With the final countdown to the first day of school underway, take a moment to be prepared for school meals. 

Each student is eligible for one no-cost breakfast and one no-cost lunch each school day. If your student would like to purchase additional meals or a la carte items, they will need to pay. The best way to purchase items this year is to use MySchoolBucks. Set up your student’s MySchoolBucks account and help them memorize their pin. If you have questions about MySchoolBucks, your school’s front office staff can help.

Your child may choose to bring their meals and snacks to school this year. FCPS encourages this practice for students who have specific dietary requirements or are particularly picky. Bringing food from home ensures your child will have the meals and snacks they enjoy to fuel their day of learning.

Check out FCPS school meals menus.

2021-22 Back to School Night Schedule

Picture of Back to School Night schedule

The schedule for this year's Back to School Nights is available online. The schedules are posted by the region your child’s school is in.

Don’t know your school’s region? Do a search for your school in the Schools and Centers Directory, then click on the school name. You can also check your school’s website for more information on its back-to-school events.

What Is Schoology?

Picture of Schoology website.

Fairfax County Public Schools’ contract with Blackboard ended on June 30. Our new learning management system, Schoology, is a learning space that enhances face-to-face and distance learning through communication, collaboration, and personalized learning.  

Teachers use Schoology to post their classroom materials online; to provide a safe forum for students to discuss their ideas and collaborate on projects; and to assign and collect homework electronically. It helps students stay organized and it keeps the class connected.

Parent Accounts

A Schoology Parent Account gives you access to:

  • Your child’s classes.
  • Your child’s upcoming assignments.
  • School, class, and group announcements.

Parent accounts will be available in mid-August. To access Schoology, parents will need to have an active SIS/ParentVUE account. 

More information on how to login and use Schoology is available online.

Preparing for a Strong Start: Technology Readiness

Child's hands typing on a computer

Every FCPS student will be assigned a computer the first week of school. What will your child do with their FCPS device?

  • PreK Families: The FCPS device issued to your child is meant to stay home for your child’s school-related use. You should not send the device to school with your child each day.
  • Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd Grades: Students will be assigned a device that stays in school. If devices are needed for schoolwork or projects, or in the event of an extended absence or temporary closure, devices will be sent home with students so they can continue to participate in their classwork.
  • Grades 3-12: Students will be issued an FCPS device for school use. Your child will take their device home with them each day, and should come to school each day with their device fully charged.

Virginia Students Will Take New Fall Growth Assessments

Hand holding a plant

Students in grades 3-8 will take a Virginia Growth Assessment (VGA) this fall. State legislation introduced this new testing requirement to help schools measure student growth through the year. This fall’s VGAs will assess content and skills from the previous grade level so schools can identify learning needs early and form plans to address them. VGAs are about half as long as spring Standards of Learning (SOL) tests.

Learn more about Virginia Growth Assessments, and watch for additional information from your elementary or middle school in September.

Secondary Grading and Homework Updates

Secondary report card

Fairfax County Public Schools is committed to consistent grading practices where grades are an accurate reflection of student learning. Last school year, temporary changes were made to secondary grading and homework expectations in response to pandemic learning. This past spring, a stakeholder group reviewed the grading changes from last year and recommended that two changes be made permanent. The following changes have been approved by FCPS leadership:  

  • 50 is the lowest grade on a 100-point scale. 
  • Allow late work on major assignments with a maximum penalty of 10 percent if submitted within two weeks after the due date.

Last school year, FCPS set temporary limits for homework to account for the conditions of virtual learning and student wellness during the pandemic. FCPS is resetting homework expectations to account for both student wellness and the existing FCPS regulation on homework.

To ensure that student homework falls within existing FCPS regulations:

  • Middle school teachers should plan for homework not to exceed 25 minutes per class block.
  • High school teachers should plan for homework not to exceed 30 minutes per class block.
  • When long-term projects require additional time, teachers should adjust daily homework assignments accordingly.

Reading assignments are considered part of the homework load.

New Immunization Requirements for Grades 7 and 12 

Nurse preparing a medical needle for a vaccination

The state updated immunization requirements for 7th and 12th graders this year–make sure your child is up to date on all required immunizations before the first day of school. 

We understand the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on families and may have limited the ability to schedule or get to medical appointments. FCPS will provide provisional admission to students who do not meet the immunization requirements, and your school will work with you to connect you with immunization resources.

If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to your principal.

The new immunization requirements are:

  • Meningococcal Conjugate (MenACWY) Vaccine–Effective July 1, a minimum of two doses of MenACWY vaccine. The first dose should be administered prior to entering 7th grade. The final dose should be administered prior to entering 12th grade.
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine–Effective July 1, a complete series of two doses of HPV vaccine is required for students entering the 7th grade. The first dose shall be administered before the child enters the 7th grade. After reviewing educational materials approved by the Board of Health, the parent or guardian, at the parent's or guardian's sole discretion, may elect for the child not to receive the HPV vaccine.
  • Hepatitis A (HAV) Vaccine–Effective July 1, a minimum of two doses of Hepatitis A vaccine. The first dose should be administered at age 12 months or older.

2021-22 Annual Notice of Survey, Records, Curriculum, Privacy, and Related Rights

Fairfax County Public Schools wants all parents to understand its policies regarding surveys, records, curriculum, privacy, and related rights.

In its Annual Notice of Survey, Records, Curriculum, Privacy, and Related Rights and Opt-Out Forms (Annual Notice), FCPS provides explanations of the rights listed above as well as forms that may be used to exercise opt-out choices. Two versions of the Annual Notice are available—a grades K-8 version and a grades 9-12 version. Parents with children at different grade levels should read each applicable version of the Annual Notice because the notices and opt-out rights vary depending on the student’s grade level.

Get more information and view the 2021-22 Opt-Out Booklets.

2021-22 Basal Resources Adoptions: K-8 Science and Elementary School Language Arts

Student outside using a magnifying glass

FCPS is engaging in the Request for Proposal and basal resource adoption processes for K-8 Science and Elementary School Language Arts. The process, governed by FCPS regulation 3004.5, will include both a community review period and a deep review by a committee made up of representatives from a variety of stakeholder groups—teachers, administrators, and community members. Each School Board member will have the opportunity to appoint a representative to the review committees for science and language arts.

The review and acquisition are constructed to ensure:

  • Resources align to newly adopted Virginia Standards of Learning and the FCPS Learning Model.
  • Resources meet the educational needs of a variety of learners.
  • Resources reflect culturally responsive curriculum and pedagogy.
  • Students gain equitable access to high-quality, dynamic resources.
  • Input from multiple stakeholder groups is collected and valued. 

Once these processes are complete, the recommended resources will be brought to the Board for approval, tentatively scheduled for March 2022.  

To make certain we have diverse representation from stakeholders in the FCPS community, please send names for the Elementary Language Arts Committee to Donna McConnell and K-8 Science Committee to Brian Mandell by September 27.

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