Welcome Back to School!

Welcome Back to School!

Melanie Meren Back to School Video

Click here to watch my Back to School message.

It’s been a momentous first few days of school in FCPS! Stories of student and staff excitement have bubbled across our county. I’m aware that improvements have been needed in some elementary schools in particular, regarding lunch time and keeping students safely distanced and protected while eating. This relates to having ample space outdoors to eat as well as learn. I’ve reiterated these concerns to the Superintendent and Leadership Team, who continue to work with principals and staff to address needs and improve practicing the mitigation strategies.

At the August 24 Work Session, Superintendent Brabrand reported to the Board the following:

  • FCPS welcomed 2,300 new staff, including 1,500 new educators! Of all teaching positions, 98.8% are filled - that is, there remain 183 vacant positions out of 15,631.
  • On the first day, of approximately 7,000 school bus routes, just 14 bus routes arrived late for morning drop offs. This is despite having 152 vacancies of 1,121 needed to drive our school buses. In total, FCPS has 86.4% of bus driver positions filled.
  • About 400 students are in all-virtual instruction due to submitted medical need, having gone through that application process in the spring.

View the Work Session meeting materials:

More details about the return to school effort and the "state of the schools" will be provided at a public September Board Meeting.

Let’s continue communicating and working together to keep safety paramount as we all adjust to these new practices in our schools.

FCPS is Returning Strong

collage of back to school and first day pictures

I have had an amazing time visiting open houses and back to school events! Thank you to McNair Upper and Lower Elementary, Rachel Carson Middle, Hunters Woods Elementary, Westfield High, Langston Hughes Middle, and Terraset Elementary for having me!

I loved seeing how teachers have set up their classrooms, and hearing how students, families, and staff are feeling about the new school year. The best, though, has been seeing students connecting with peers and getting reacquainted with school routines. 

Listen to a back to school message from Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn!

Be sure to bookmark the following links with helpful information:

Screening Tests and Vaccination Clinics

FCPS will soon begin division-wide vaccination clinics to help students and staff get vaccinated and receive booster shots when eligible.

The school division will partner with a third-party provider for screening testing among other health service supports for students and staff. Screening testing of individuals who are not fully vaccinated is important given the recent surge of the Delta variant. FCPS will also 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. Details about these efforts will be available soon.

If you and your child are eligible for the vaccine and would like to schedule an appointment or have questions, please visit the Stay Well NoVA website.

Safety First!

Melanie helping with bus safety patrol

Student Safety Patrols help their peers travel safely to and from school. To learn what their job entails, I joined my daughter and 44 student volunteers from Wolftrap Elementary School for their training at the West Ox FCPS Bus Training Facility. Wolftrap P.E. teacher Andy Bechtle is the patrol sponsor coordinating the training and supporting the group throughout the year.

Also, I learned that only elementary schools have safety patrols; yet, the information students learned seemed critical for someone on board a school bus other than a driver to have in case of emergency. I will follow up to see about how middle and high school riders can learn this knowledge in case needed.

See some video footage from the day here!

Sharing Our Successes

Student holding drawing

FCPS' strong return to school builds on the division's foundation of success. Great things happen in FCPS schools every day. Take a look at Sharing Our Success, stories and highlights from the 2020-21 school year. 

Upcoming Meetings and Topics to be Covered

  • August 26 at 7 pm - Regular Meeting: FY21 Year-End, ESSER Spending Plan, School Board Liaison and Committee Assignments, State Technology Grant Resolution, etc.
  • September 9 at 7 pm - Regular Meeting: ERFC Annual Report, Tennis Court Replacement at Holmes Middle School and Chantilly High School, etc.
  • September 21 at 11 am - Work Session: Special Education Audit and Return to School
  • September 23 at 7 pm - Regular Meeting: Opening of Schools Annual Report, Fairfax County Purchase Resolution, George Mason Elementary School (Professional Development School Network) PDS Contract, Challenged Materials Interdepartmental Review, etc.

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).

Regular Meetings are live-streamed on the FCPS website and televised on FCPS Cable Channel 99. Work Sessions are live-streamed on FCPS YouTube. For more information about signing up to speak at a regular meeting, click here.

FCPS School Board Members

Other Information of Interest

Schools Closed September 3- September 6 

Calendar Reminder

Virginia legislation requires that schools opening prior to Labor Day must be closed the Friday immediately preceding Labor Day.

As a result, Friday, September 3, is a holiday for students and staff members in addition to the Labor Day holiday, Monday, September 6.

See the complete 2021-22 school year calendar.

Fairfax County Offering Grants to Eligible Businesses

  • The Board of Supervisors approved a third grant program since the pandemic began: the Active and Thriving Community Grants Program.
  • Grant applications will be accepted between August 31-September 14. The application portal will open on Tuesday, August 31.
  • Funded through the Federal American Rescue Plan Act, the total amount available for the grant program is $10 million.
  • The grant will help the most negatively impacted small businesses and nonprofit organizations remain in business and retain employees. It will also help our most vulnerable residents by supporting programs and services that provide a social safety net and promote positive childhood environments. This effort will sustain business sectors which employ disproportionately higher numbers of low-income and minority workers and assist impacted small businesses and nonprofits by mitigating financial hardship, funding implementation of COVID-19 prevention or mitigation tactics, or both.

More information, including eligibility, can be found here.

Active and Thriving Grants graphic

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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