Welcome Back to School

Dear Dranesville families:

Welcome Back to School!!

It was so nice to see you and your children at the Open House events I attended, and I was happy to participate in the Dranesville ES Welcome Walk.  Seeing everyone’s excitement to meet their teachers was heartwarming and got me excited about the year to come.  I was in schools last week to see how our opening went.  For the most part, things seemed to be running very smoothly and I thank our school based staff for that.  I was amazed at how well behaved our littlest students were even with the little time they had in school last year.  I was in a Clearview ES kindergarten class at the end of the day one and the kids looked tired—they had a fun-filled active day and they were feeling it!! It was a good kind of tired.

Safety when eating:   Principals are still working on maximizing outdoor protocols for eating. At our work session and board meeting last week, the Board made it clear that this is a priority for COVID safety. I pushed hard for funds for our schools to be able to add supervisory staff however they can to allow for students to socially distance and to be outside when their masks are removed.  I was happy that we voted last Thursday to provide $10M of our Federal ESSER dollars for this. Principals are able to start hiring immediately. In addition, we asked for teachers to take students outside for learning whenever possible.  I plan to be out in schools this week supervising outdoor lunches. 

Transportation:  Dranesville has had a number of transportation difficulties in pockets of McLean and in the Langley pyramid.  Transportation personnel are aware of the bus routes with issues, and I appreciate you sending me notices on where there are problems. I have passed all of that information along and hope this week will be better.  We still have a number of “double-back” routes due to the bus driver shortage.  I agree fully that it is unacceptable for students to miss class due to late busses so we are trying to work on creative solutions to solve the near term issue.  We did vote at our Thursday board meeting to up the pay of our starting drivers and to offer sign-on bonuses.  If you know anyone that might like to be a bus driver, send them our way!!!  I will continue to work on bus driver salaries to ensure we keep the experienced drivers we have.  

A huge thank you to John Foust’s office.  When I notified them about the county construction project snarling traffic during Langley HS arrival and dismissal, they got right on it and got us the county contacts we needed to rectify the situation.  We expect Kiss and Ride to run more easily now and I will be watching that this week.

We made it through our first week.  A huge thank you to all of you for your help to make the first week the best it could be.  I look forward to working with all of you as we move into this new year.  I’ll hope to see you in person and virtually as our school year events unfold.



School Visits around Dranesville

Spring Hill visit

Thank you to all the principals, school staff and students. I loved visiting Dranesville ES, Herndon ES, Chesterbrook ES, Haycock ES, Clearview ES, Franklin Sherman ES, Spring Hill ES, and Longfellow MS. 

Calendar reminder

Calendar Reminders: Labor Day-September 3 and 6 are Student and Staff Holidays, September 7 is Rosh Hashanah

The school year has just begun but we wanted to make sure you’re aware of some important upcoming calendar dates. Friday, September 3, and Monday, September 6, are Labor Day holidays for all FCPS employees and students. 

Tuesday, September 7, is a religious and cultural observance day for Rosh Hashanah, the two-day celebration of the Jewish New Year. 

Tests, quizzes, field trips, graduation, homecoming, or FCPS-scheduled athletic events cannot be scheduled on any religious and cultural observances. 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.

Return to School Resources

Be sure to bookmark the following links with helpful information about the return to school:

Return to School- Safety

FCPS is striving for a strong school year this fall. Students are in in-person learning five days a week in safe and supportive schools. COVID-19 case numbers are increasing in Fairfax County, driven by the highly-contagious Delta variant and slowing vaccination rates. The key to maintaining a healthy environment for learning is a robust vaccination rate and layered prevention strategies, including universal masking in FCPS school buildings. FCPS’ layered prevention strategies are designed to work together to create safe learning environments for all students. In addition to our previously mentioned layered mitigation strategies, parents will no longer be walking students to their classrooms

There are things we can all do:

Wear a mask


FCPS masks graphic

To ensure the safety of students and staff, we begin the school year with a mask requirement in place for everyone indoors on school properties and buses. Outdoor masking is recommended for those who are unvaccinated. Any student who does not comply with the mask requirement, and is not exempt from the requirement as outlined in Regulation 2109.1, will not be allowed to participate in face-to-face learning. Students who fail to attend school due to a refusal to wear a mask, will receive an unexcused absence. Intentional removal of, or refusal, to wear a face covering will be treated as a violation of the FCPS dress code policy (Regulation 2613).

How to Make a Mask Fit Better on a Child

Is your child's mask too big?  Here are some ways to create a better fitting mask for your child.

CDC video: click here

Video with picture guides: click here

Instruction with pictures: click here


Vax Up

Vaccine Requirements for Teachers and Staff

FCPS announced FCPS will require staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit routine negative COVID-19 tests by the end of October. To keep our students safe and our schools running smoothly, it is critical that everyone in our community who is eligible gets vaccinated — not only our educators and school employees. The vaccine and testing requirements reinforce existing layered prevention strategies and the school division’s commitment to the safety of students and staff. For more information please visit here.

Vaccine Requirements for VHSL Athletes starting November 8th

Beginning November 8, FCPS will require proof of a COVID-19 vaccination for any student participating in Virginia High School League (VHSL) winter and spring sports for the remainder of the 2021-22 school year. Proof of a COVID-19 vaccination will also be required for participation in any other activity that requires a physical. This includes dance team and step team, as well as out-of-season practices and workouts. More details coming soon.

Fairfax County Walk-in Vaccinations

Vaccination is the key to moving us all out of the pandemic and reducing the need for pauses in in-person learning. If you haven’t done so already, get vaccinated today.

FCPS will soon begin division-wide vaccination clinics to help students and staff get vaccinated. 

Health & Safety Guidance

The health and safety of all FCPS students is paramount to everything we do. Here is some information from FCPS that gives tips on how to stop the spread, as well as explains the process we use when there is a positive case.

FCPS Health and Safety Guidance Webpage

Our Health and Safety Guidance Webpage has the most current information about our layered prevention strategies, what happens if your child becomes ill at school, and the process when there is a pause in instruction or activities after a positive COVID case.

Flow Chart for Notification of a Positive Case

We know the pause process is frustrating and sometimes confusing for families. The flowchart below is posted to the FCPS website and explains the exact process sc FCPS, and the Fairfax County Health Department use to identify and notify close contacts after a positive case.

Flowchart outlining process for students identified as a close contact

COVID Dashboard

All FCPS COVID-19 cases are reported via a dashboard posted to the FCPS website and updated daily. While this does not outline the number of students quarantining, it has tabs showing total number of cases, cases by school and cases by date.

FCPS Covid-19 Dashboard

Getting to School

FCPS electric school bus

Bus Transportation

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to address the impact the national bus driver shortage has on FCPS and your students. If these delays impacted you or your family, we understand your frustration.

FCPS increase “double back” bus runs, meaning a bus is required to run two scheduled routes back to back that would normally have been covered by two separate buses. These “double backs” may impact delivery time to schools or bus stops and may have a domino effect throughout the day, affecting after-school drop-off times. We ask families and students to have patience and flexibility at the start of the school year while we work through the issue. 

Parents may access the Bus Delay Notification System online or use the Here Comes the Bus mobile app to receive the delayed bus reports.

You may consider driving, walking, or biking to school while we work through the driver shortage and adjust routes. Car pools or group walks and bikes are also encouraged for those who are able to help relieve pressure on buses. Please be patient during the increased presence of cars at your school's Kiss and Ride and follow your school's Kiss and Ride tips.

Improving Physical Health and Social/Emotional Health through Walking and Biking to School

Safe Routes to School supports increased physical activity, helps students and their families form healthy habits that can last a lifetime, and decreases the risk of chronic disease and obesity.  Students who walk both to and from school will usually meet the recommended levels of 60 or more minutes of physical activity on weekdays.  Walking and rolling to school provides an opportunity for physical activity outside of school time and allows students to ready their brain for academic work in school.  Physical activity, movement, and play can also help to combat stressors your student may be experiencing as they return to the classroom.  Walking and biking together can build stronger friendships.  Increasing the number of interactions with neighbors and other families walking and rolling to school can build and reinforce positive social connections.

As we transition to full time in person learning the Kiss and Ride at many of our schools may be overwhelmed with cars dropping off one child.  If you need to use private transportation to school, consider parking away from campus and walking your child the rest of the way.  This gives your student a chance to exercise before the school day begins.  We should all want to get to school the healthiest way and carpooling with neighbors is another way to reduce the number of cars coming onto the school campus thereby making a healthier choice to reduce carbon emissions and make it safer for others using active transportation to and from school.

Here is a pedestrian safety video from McNair Upper Elementary students and the FCPD.  

Bus traffic safety

Driving safety- buses, school zones and crossing guards

This is shared from Supervisor Foust's newsletter. Please go here to read past newsletters and sign up for his newsletter for the latest in Dranesville and Fairfax County news.


Fairfax County Public Schools runs more than 1,600 buses daily. And if you drive, there’s no doubt you will encounter FCPS and private school buses. The rules are pretty simple if you encounter a school bus with flashing red lights.

Drivers must stop in both directions, unless separated from the bus by a median. Please remember, it is considered reckless driving - a criminal offense - if you pass a stopped school bus unloading children. It is not worth getting to your destination a few seconds faster when you are risking the safety and lives of others.


Pay attention to school zones, especially where they start and end. Those slower school zone speed limits are there for a reason. Follow the speed limit when the lights are flashing. It’s important to add more time into your commuting schedule so you’re not in a rush and perhaps decide to pass a school bus or speed through a school zone.


Heeding the whistles and waves of our dedicated crossing guards is yet another way you can ensure the safety of students. Pay attention in crossing guard zone areas as you drive.



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. For more information see this website.

A Schoology Parent Account gives you access to:

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

Schoology Snippets (short videos on how to navigate Schoology)

The Schoology Parent Resource Kit 

Students use their regular FCPS login information to login. Student resources for Schoology

Student Information System (SIS) will still be the official grade book and the official record keeper for your student. For more information on SIS and to login or sign up, go to this website.

Student and School News

Welcome Ms. Almquist, the new Clearview Elementary School Principal!

Stephanie Almquist, current Assistant Principal at Herndon Elementary School, has been selected as the new Principal of Clearview Elementary School effective September 7, 2021. Interim Principal Jamie Meier will continue to serve the Clearview Elementary School community until Ms. Almquist’s start date and will immediately begin collaborating with Ms. Almquist to ensure a smooth transition. FCPS is exceedingly appreciative of the positive leadership Mr. Meier has provided.

Dr. Patrick, the Longfellow Principal, in the News

Learn more about Dr. Patrick and Longfellow Middle School in this INSIDENOVA article.

Congratulations to Mr. Kraft, new Region 3 Assistant Superintendent!

I want to congratulate Jesse Kraft, current principal of Lutie Lewis Coates Elementary School, has been named an Executive Principal for Region 3.  His official start date will be October 1, 2021. I wish him the best and we will miss him at Coates ES. Information about the principal search at Coates ES will be coming soon.

Lemon Road Volunteer Fairfax Event- 9/11

Lemon Road Elementary School is hosting a Volunteer Fairfax event on the 9/11 Day of Service on September 11th. This in-person project will remove invasive plants from the grounds at Lemon Road Elementary School and use natural methods of weed control. Volunteers will be able to learn about some plants that are found throughout our region and prepare the school’s garden areas for student outdoor learning. Please bring water and your mask. All ages welcome with adult supervision. Click on this link below to register.

McLean High School Tennis Court Update

The courts are ready! 

MHS completed tennis courts

Eagle Scout Project Renovates McLean HS Front Entrance Sign

The McLean HS PTSA helped sponsor MHS student Kevin Fan's Eagle Scout project to renovate McLean's front entrance sign.  The project  included many upgrades- addressed erosion; planting a native plant bed; and cleaning and maintaining the sign. Many thanks to Dr. Reilly, Kevin's project advisors, and community volunteers for their support. 

MHS sign Eagle Project

FCPS Launching eSports Program

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 in the second quarter.

Conservation Poster Contest

The Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Districts poster contest is open to K-12 students, and scouts are eligible to receive a patch for participating. This year’s theme is “Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities.” The deadline is Friday, October 1, 2021. Learn more about the contest, eligibility, and how to submit a poster on Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District's poster contest website.

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 www.CongressionalAppChallenge.us.

FCPS Parent Resource Center

September Webinars at the Parent Resource Center

How to Improve Your Child’s Executive Functioning Skills Without All the Arguments This School Year

September 9, 2021 6:30-8 p.m. and September 10, 2021 10-11:30 a.m.

Register for How to Improve Your Child’s Executive Functioning Skills Without All the Arguments This School Year

Military-Connected Students and School Transition: A Family Webinar

September 17, 2021 10-11:30 a.m.

Register for Military-Connected Students and School Transition: A Family Webinar

5 Ways to Stop Anxiety, Power Struggles, & Behavior Issues: A Webinar for Families

September 23, 2021 6:30-8 p.m. and September 24, 2021 10-11:30 a.m.

Register for 5 Ways to Stop Anxiety, Power Struggles, & Behavior Issues: A Webinar for Families

PRC PACKS: Prepackaged Materials Ready for Checkout!

Our staff has curated top resources from our library, webinars, and digital resources on some of our most requested topics. One example topic  is Supporting Children and Teens with Anxiety. Learn more at the PRC website.

What’s in a PRC Pack?

  • 2-3 books for a caregiver or educator

  • 1-2 books for a child (perfect for a read-aloud or independent reading for an older child)

  • 1 resource guide with a list of eBooks, free webinars on YouTube, and other resources

  • Tote bag for easy return at any FCPS school

Available in several languages

Safe Community Coailition

Safe Community Coalition:

Back to School Anxiety Virtual Panel Discussion 9/21 7pm

With the start of the school year upon us, but the pandemic not quite behind us, the Safe Community Coalition is planning for a hybrid year with some events online and with some events in person (we hope). Please join us on Tuesday, September 21 at 7 p.m. for an online panel discussion with local mental health professionals Jennifer Weaver, Mimi Weisberg, and Robyne Davis who will discuss Back to School Anxiety and offer concrete ways you can help get the school year off to a great start. Details and a Zoom link can be found on our SCC website (http://mcleanscc.org/) in the coming days.  Please sign up for our monthly newsletter via the website (http://mcleanscc.org/) to hear all about our Launch to College program, newly formed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, acclaimed 6th Grade Ethics Day, and Middle School Forum. Welcome back to school, everyone! 

Volunteer/Service Learning Opportunities for Patriot Day, A National Day of Service and Remembering

VolunteerFest, a countywide day of service will be held on Saturday, September 11, 2021, to coincide with Patriot Day, a National Day of Service and Remembering. Participating students will earn service learning hours and support their community. Make it a family day of service! Sign up now at  VolunteerFest 2021 

Some FCPS Get2Green affiliated projects include:

  • Invasive Species removal at Lemon Road ES (see above);
  • Outdoor Living Classroom clean up at Katherine Johnson MS;
  • Getting our Garden Learning Spaces Back on Track at Centreville ES,
  • Outdoor Learning Area clean up and tender loving care at Burke School,
  • Courtyard Beautification at Marshall Road ES.

Timberlane PTA

Join your school’s PTA/PTO/PTSA

PTA, PTSA, and PTO are organizations where teachers and parents work together to create an environment providing the best experiences for all of our children. They are a way of connecting with other parents in your school and provide avenues to volunteer for your school. Most school websites have a PTA/PTSA/PTO button  under the 'upcoming events" tab connecting you to their PTA/PTSA/PTO website. PTAs provide connections to families and teachers, students, and schools. this year schools have volunteer opportunities at your school. I thank the many Dranesville PTAs for providing their support. Join them at their next meeting!

Reading is Fundamental’s Back to School Books

Back-to-School Book Collection- Books about School, Teachers, and Classmates

Heading back to school can be both exciting and nerve-wracking! New friends, new challenges, and new teachers await. Browse some favorite books about school in our Back-to-School Book Collection. Each book has supporting reading activities and puzzles to help children head back to school with confidence!

Virginia Students Will Take New Fall Growth Assessments

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.

ESSER III Spending Plan

The School Board approved a $188.6 million spending plan for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) funding. The plan was developed following an involved community engagement process. Thank you to all of you who participated in this process.

The majority of the ESSER III spending (82%) will address learning loss and student academic, social, emotional, and mental (wellness) health needs. FCPS has allocated $170 million to support students with academics and social-emotional learning, as they return to our school buildings this year. The use of these funds to support learning loss or unfinished learning is outlined in an Academic Support Plan aimed at ensuring all students receive the academic and social-emotional support they need to succeed. 

The remaining funds will be used for prevention and mitigation strategies and other uses such as communication, technology, transportation, program management, and school monitors. 

Some examples include: 

  • Funding an increase in the starting pay of FCPS bus drivers to $22.91 per hour. This is in addition to a current recruitment bonus of $3,000 and is intended to  counter the national bus driver shortage.
  • Supporting monitors to help with cafeteria lunches and outdoor learning. The funding can also be used for additional substitute coverage as needed. 
  • Providing additional multilingual support and translation services.

Read the full news release.

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

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.  

Community Information and Resources

Much of the below community news is from Supervisor Foust's informative newsletter. Please go here to read past newsletters and sign up for his newsletter for the latest in Dranesville and Fairfax County news.

Fairfax County Office for Children

The Fairfax County Office for Children provides many wonderful resources for families with young children. Check out their School Readiness page for helpful information including early childcare and education, child care assistance, kindergarten readiness, and Virginia Preschool Initiative. Please visit the Fairfax County Office of Children website to learn more about the many programs available including child care referrals, School Aged Child Care (SACC), and Head Start and Early Head Start.

FC Office for Children

Temporary Expanded Child Care Eligibility Available Now

The Child Care Assistance and Referral Program (CCAR) may be able to help with your child care expenses. Child care assistance may be available to families that are income eligible and demonstrate a need for care (due to employment, enrollment in school or participation in training). CCAR provides assistance with the cost of child care of children from birth to age 12 in family child care homes, centers and school-aged child care. Additionally, families co-payment (family’s share of the child care fee) will be waived for a limited time.

Applications received through December 31, 2021 are eligible for the following expanded eligibility criteria:

  •     Families currently looking for work
  •     Expanded income

For more information, visit the Fairfax County Office for Children website here, call: 703-449-8484 or email: OFCCCARinfo@fairfaxcounty.gov

Countywide Strategic Plan Virtual Meeting

Please join Supervisor John Foust for a virtual Community Update and Feedback forum on the Countywide Strategic Plan for the Dranesville community on Wednesday, September 15th from 7 – 8:30 p.m. County staff will make a presentation on the planning process, and there will be ample time for participants to engage in an interactive survey and ask questions.

swimming dog

Water Mine Dog Daze Returns

The Water Mine at Lake Fairfax Park is going to the dogs on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, when Dog Daze returns from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

As pool time comes to a close for humans, canines get their day to splash in the water. Dog Daze features dogs-only swimming, a Canine Resource Fair and fun for all members of the family. The cost is $10 per dog. All proceeds go to the Fairfax County Park Foundation to benefit parks. Learn more here.

Quiet Clean NOVA

Quiet Clean NOVA was founded earlier this year by a group of Fairfax County residents concerned about the noise, pollution, and environmental injustices caused by gas-powered leaf blowers. While gas-powered leaf blowers may at first sound like a narrow issue to many people, the more people learn about them the clearer it is that they have an outsized impact on health and quality of life. One of the things QC NOVA is doing is asking Fairfax County Public Schools to lead by example and switch from gas-powered blowers to less noisy, emission-free battery blowers. Thus we were delighted to learn in a meeting with School Board Member Elaine Tholen on Aug. 18 that the school system is already exploring the possibility of switching to all battery-powered lawn and garden equipment – mowers, blowers, edgers and trimmers. More information coming soon.

QC NOVA is also asking the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Arlington County Board to also lead by example and phase out gas-powered leaf blowers on all county property. The facilities manager told us that the landscape industry is already moving in this direction. We hope that if enough large property owners like Fairfax public schools and the county governments switch to battery blowers, we can accelerate that shift. For more information contact QC NOVA at qcnova1@gmail.com or visit our website.

8th Air Force WWII planes

The 8th Air Force Historical Society’s Student Corner

The 8th Air Force Historical Society (8thAFHS) is introducing its “Student Corner” – a new section of our Internet website focused on the history and unique facts we hope students and educators will find helpful in teaching and preserving this important history of the United States’ involvement in World War II (WWII).  Via the “Student Corner,” the 8thAFHS’ goal is to assist any student interested in learning about (and helping to preserve) this important United States history with numerous research resources available online or by sending a request to Debra Kujawa, Managing Director of the 8thAFHS at managingdirector@8thafhs.org.

In addition, we invite any student who has written an historical essay on WWII and the 8th Air Force to submit their essay to the 8thAFHS for possible publication in a future magazine and/or publication on our website.

The Eighth Air Force Historical Society, founded in 1975 by a WWII 8th Air Force pilot, Lt. Col. John Woolnough, 466th Bomb Group, serves as a central organization for its individual State Chapters and Wings.  With the creation of the “Student Corner,” the 8thAFHS’ goal is to assist any student interested in learning about (and helping to preserve) this important United States history.  You will be amazed at the numerous research resources available online or the indepth assistance available by sending a request to Debra Kujawa, Managing Director of the 8thAFHS at managingdirector@8thafhs.org.  We can’t wait to help you!

Upcoming School Board Meetings

  • September 9 at 7 pm - Regular School Board Meeting
  • September 21 at 10 am - Work Session: Special Education Audit and Return to School
  • September 23 at 7 pm - Regular School Board Meeting

How to watch meetings and sign up to speak

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