Staying Connected!

Happenings in the Mount Vernon District!

Dear Families and Community,

I have been visiting our schools since the beginning of the year. It is so exciting to see our students happy to be back in our buildings with their teachers and peers and enjoying being outside for lunches and individual classes!  While we continue to face some challenges we are in week 5 and have had many wonderful experiences. Our school leaders are focused on addressing learning delays associated with the pandemic and addressing achievement gaps. We know that student success depends on a shared partnership between school, parents, and the community. This year it is especially important for all of us to work together.

Many of our schools are looking to hire hourly staff and substitute teachers to support the student learning experience. Please consider joining the FCPS team.

Walt Whitman Middle School

Principal Craig Herring and Walt Whitman Middle School Staff at the School Board Meeting recognizing the 60th anniversary of the school


I was honored to be able to recognize Walt Whitman Middle School for its 60th Anniversary (Diamond Anniversary) at our last board meeting. Having attended the school when it was located on Richmond Highway, it was especially poignant. Community members were given the opportunity to travel down memory lane and see photographs from across the years when they attended the open house on Thursday evening.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

South County Teen & Senior Centers at the Original Mount Vernon High School Ribbon Cutting

I was thrilled to participate in the ribbon cutting for the South County Teen and Senior Centers.  The opening of the centers is the beginning of the redevelopment of the building.  I led the task force on visioning for the building prior to joining the board.  When fully redeveloped, the building will provide intergenerational opportunities for local residents to take Northern Virginia Community College and FCPS Adult and Community Education classes.  There will be an early childhood learning center and a business incubator where our students will be able to gain career skills.

Teen Center Hours: Monday - Thursday, 2pm to 9pm; Friday, 2pm to 10pm; Saturday, Noon to 10pm.


Topic: Celebrate National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Two hundred fourteen students from 16 high schools from across Fairfax County Public Schools have been named semifinalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation for 2022. This is an increase of two from the previous year.   All semifinalists are eligible to compete for 7,500 National Merit Scholarship awards worth more than $30 million, to be awarded in spring 2022. Semifinalists advance to Finalist standing in the competition by meeting high academic standards and other requirements including a recommendation from their principal.

Students attending schools in Mount Vernon and Lee whom are listed as 2022 National Merit semifinalists are: 

  • Hayfield Secondary School: Dan Nguyen.
  • South County High School: Ronit Reddy.
  • West Potomac High School: Geoffrey Dubay, Grant Hamilton, Matthew Morris, Cara Omohundro.

Please join me in congratulating all of these students!

Mount Vernon District Town Hall –               October 6, 7:00 p.m.

I am delighted to have At Large Member, Karen Keys-Gamarra join me for a  Mount Vernon District Virtual Town Hall to address any questions or concerns you may have.

To respond to as many questions as possible, we invite you to use this online form to submit your questions in advance. You may also submit questions through the form during the town hall. If time permits, we will address questions submitted via chat as well.

                      When: Wednesday, October 6, 2021

                           Time: 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM EST

                      Where: ZOOM Web Link - Click here to join

October is Bullying Prevention Month

Childhood bullying is a significant problem nationwide. It can cause school absenteeism, mental and physical stress, poor school performance, poor self-esteem, and in some cases, school violence. Statistics show students who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school. School board members, superintendents, teachers, and parents play a critical role in creating a climate where bullying is not tolerated. It has been proven when adults and children stand together, bullying ends.

What is Bullying?

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.

In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:

  • An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.

Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.  Please talk with your students about this important topic.  If you have concerns about your child being bullied, contact the school principal.

Updated Virginia COVID-19 Close Contact Definition and K-12 Indoor/Outdoor Classroom Exception

I know many families continue to ask questions about the procedures for identifying close contacts and pausing students in person learning.  The state of Virginia has updated the definition of a close contact for COVID-19 and provided a K-12 classroom close contact exception. 

If a COVID positive individual was on-site during their infectious period, the following individuals will be paused from in-person instruction/work until notified by FCPS that they can resume in-person activities.

  • Staff who were within 6 feet or less of a Staff Case for a cumulative amount of 15 minutes or more within 24 hours. 
  • Staff who were within 6 feet or less of a Student Case for a cumulative amount of 15 minutes or more within 24 hours. 
  • Students who were within 6 feet or less of a Staff Case for a cumulative amount of 15 minutes or more within 24 hours. 
  • Students wearing masks who were within 3 feet or less of a Student Case in the indoor or outdoor K-12 setting for a cumulative amount of 15 minutes or more within 24 hours. 

Indoor/Outdoor Classroom Exception

In the K-12 indoor/outdoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student (laboratory-confirmed or a clinically compatible illness) if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) wore well-fitting masks the entire time.

Note: The inclusion of “outdoor” in the K-12 exception was made at the state level (Virginia Department of Health). The federal exception continues to include only indoor settings.

Potential close contacts of positive cases will receive real time notifications. These notifications include instructions that are time-sensitive.

In addition, families will be notified of outbreaks at their schools immediately.

Once a week, either on Friday or the last day of school for the week, school leadership will share an update if there were any reported COVID-19 positive cases in the school that week. The FCPS COVID-19 Health Metrics webpage will still be updated for families who wish to know about cases in real time.

The Superintendent and his team continue to work with the Fairfax Health Department to ensure that we are using best practices in determining close contacts and contact tracing.  Additionally, changes have been made to allow students whom are paused to be able to maintain better contact with the school to include live streaming and opportunities for teacher and staff check ins.

Continuing Life in the Community: Virtual Resource Fair

For students with intellectual disabilities who may require ongoing supports after graduating from high school.

OCTOBER 19, 2021

6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

This resource fair assists parents, guardians, and caregivers with future planning for students with intellectual disabilities who may require ongoing supports after graduating high school. Participants include representatives from vocational, residential, leisure, recreational, independent living, and advocacy programs/organizations.


Staff Bonus Added to FY21 Budget as Part of Final Review and Changes made to the Transportation Pay Scale

The School Board voted to approve revenue and expenditure adjustments to the FY21 budget, to include a one-time bonus for FCPS employees to recognize the extraordinary contributions and sacrifices that all FCPS employees made during the pandemic. The bonus structure allowed for a $1000 bonus for all full time and contracted hourly employees and $500 for all temporary hourly employees.  This bonus is similar to that provided to Fairfax County Employees by the Board of Supervisors.

Fairfax County Public Schools is facing a bus driver shortage much like all school divisions around the country. Vacancies have resulted in crowded buses and the need for our drivers to make double runs to get all of our students to school.  These double runs result in our students arriving after the first bell rings.  We have made some changes to our hourly pay scale to recruit and retain the best bus drivers.

In August, FCPS offered a $3,000 recruitment bonus for new drivers and increased the starting hourly pay to $22.91. At our last board meeting, the Fairfax County School Board voted to accept a recommendation to apply a 2.5% market scale adjustment (MSA) to the schedule H transportation salary scale.

The 2.5% MSA will benefit any bus driver whose salaries were not increased when we raised the hourly salary to $22.91 in August. The MSA approved by the School Board will be applied to the salary scale effective for the pay period from October 9 to October 22. This increase will be seen in your paychecks starting November 5. 

Upcoming School Board Meetings

Regular School Board Meetings (Luther Jackson Middle School)

  • October 7, 2021 at 7 p.m.
  • October 21, 2021 at 7 p.m.

Work Sessions (Gatehouse Administration Center)

  • October 5, 2021 at 3:30 p.m.
  • October 19, 2021 at 11 a.m.

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.

© 2020 Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax County, Virginia