October 2021 Newsletter

Dear Mason District Community,

It’s hard to believe that our students will be completing the first quarter at the end of this week. The year is moving quickly and given the public health climate and circumstances, our students, teachers, and staff have done an exemplary job re-acclimating back to the school buildings and safely engaging in school activities. 

In Mason, our students have been thriving in our schools, on our stages and on our athletic fields. Both the Justice HS field hockey team and the cheer team were named National District Champions! Annandale HS football brought home the win in the Battle of the Beltway contest over Falls Church HS last weekend. Finally, don’t miss Falls Church High Schools’ theater production, Clue on Stage, premiering tomorrow night!

I also want to offer a reminder that Fairfax County Public Schools is hiring in numerous positions. If you are interested or know someone who may be interested in teaching, or in serving as a Substitute teacher, Bus driver, Instructional Assistant - ESInstructional Assistant – MS/HS, or Substitute Instructional Assistant, please share the links in this newsletter.

I value the input I receive from the Mason Community and am happy to address questions or concerns via email or phone. You can reach me by email at rjanderson@fcps.edu. If you are interested in scheduling a phone call, please reach out to my assistant, Cristy Coffey, at cmcoffey@fcps.edu to arrange a time.


Justice HS Addition / Justice Park Update

A virtual community meeting was held on October 12, 2021 to provide an update on the plans for the Justice HS addition. During the meeting, staff presented a new parking option as the Fairfax County Park Authority rejected the original proposal citing community concerns. The new option proposes a rezoning which will extend the expansion timeline significantly, but staff will work closely with County staff to be as expedient as possible.

The Q&A from the presentation illustrate the community’s concerns, chiefly the lack of input from all facets of the community. Due to that concern, I will be working with staff to disseminate a survey to families, employees, students and residents to ensure a wide range of feedback on both proposals.

Please visit the dedicated page for the Justice High School Addition for a link to the recording of the October 12th meeting and historical  information on the project.The slide presentation from the October 12th meeting can also be found on the webpage.

Vaccinations & Testing

COVID-19 Screening Testing

FCPS will begin optional COVID-19 screening testing in schools. FCPS will test at least 10% of students who are not fully vaccinated and have parent/guardian consent, which follows the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Screening testing for students will begin:

  • The week of November 1 for student-athletes (required for participation in VHSL).
  • The week of November 8 in elementary schools (optional and with parent/guardian consent). 
  • The week of November 15 in middle and high schools (optional and with parent/guardian consent). 

Parent/guardian consent is required for students to be part of the testing pool. Parents may provide their child(ren)’s vaccination status and indicate consent via a secure online portal. More information, including links to the online portal, will be available soon.

Test results are to be kept confidential, like all medical records. Parents/guardians will receive their child’s test results through the vendor’s online portal. There is no cost to families for testing.

Get all the details about COVID-19 testing on our website.


Vaccination for Children Ages 5-11

FCPS is collaborating with the Fairfax County Health Department, the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Inova Health System in its coordination of the anticipated vaccine rollout for ages 5-11. 

The plan includes multiple opportunities to support different needs, ranging from community vaccination sites to targeted vaccination clinics in evenings and on weekends, and targeted vaccination clinics during the school day. 

Learn more about the plan to roll out vaccination options for students aged 5-11 by watching a video of Dr. Brabrand’s presentation or reading the Power Point presentation.


TJHSST Application Process Opens for Class of 2026

The Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST)  application process for eligible 8th grade students opened on October 25th. Applications must be started by 4 p.m. Wednesday, November 17, with a deadline to submit the application by Friday, November 19, at 4 p.m. Detailed information is posted on the TJ Admissions Office website.

TJHSST’s admissions process continues to be merit based and race neutral, and includes a holistic review. Students will be evaluated on the following:

  • Grade point average. 
  • A portrait sheet asking students to demonstrate Portrait of a Graduate attributes and 21st century skills. 
  • A STEM problem-solving essay. 
  • Experience factors, including being economically disadvantaged, an English learner, a special education student, or a student who is currently attending an underrepresented middle school. 

Prospective students must be currently enrolled in Honors Algebra, a science honors class, and a third honors class (English or social studies), or they must be identified as a Young Scholar. Students must also have acquired a minimum GPA of 3.5 as of the end of the first quarter, Friday, October 29.   

For more information, please visit the TJHSST Admissions webpage.

Increase of Substitute Hourly Rate

The Board unanimously approved the Superintendent’s recommendation to increase the pay of substitute teachers to help attract and retain employees. The pay was adjusted according to the scale shown below:

sub pay

Because schools are experiencing extreme shortages in securing substitutes for Instructional Assistants, I proposed a follow-on motion that was unanimously supported by the Board: to direct the Superintendent to provide an analysis of the Instructional Assistant (IA), Public Health Training Assistant (PHTA), and Public Health Attendant (PHA) substitute pay scales to determine potential enhancements to the adopted scale to ensure FCPS is competitive with WABE districts and increase fill rates.

Superintendent Search Update

The Fairfax County School Board has contracted the recruitment firm GR Recruiting to conduct a nationwide search for the next Superintendent of Schools.

GR Recruiting has a proven record of hiring top quality education candidates across the United States. The company was selected based on its depth of superintendent search experience with large K-12 school districts, its understanding of the community engagement process, and its focus on future transition support for the School Board and new superintendent. GR Recruiting will begin working with the Board immediately to ensure the best candidate is selected and in place by July 1, 2022.

The community’s voice will be critical in helping define leadership characteristics, qualities, and qualifications of the next superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools. Parents, staff, students, and community members will be deeply involved in the process. Community engagement will be conducted in multiple languages.

In July, Superintendent Brabrand announced he would not seek an extension of his current contract when it expires at the end of the 2021-22 school year. He will continue as superintendent until June 30, 2022 to assist the School Board with the transition.

Updates and additional information, including the search process timeline, will be posted on the FCPS website.

Division-wide Comprehensive Plan

The School Board voted to adopt the Division-wide Comprehensive Plan. The Division-wide Comprehensive Plan consists of School Board strategic plan goals, aligned with the operational plans of the system. Every two years, an updated division-wide comprehensive plan builds on the previous plan and outlines the work that is necessary to accomplish long-term priorities. Read the plan.


Equitable Access to Literacy Plan

FCPS’ Instructional Services Department unveiled a plan to create an Equitable Access to Literacy Plan aimed at providing every student with the education and support needed to develop the reading and writing skills necessary for school and life.

The Equitable Access to Literacy Plan is designed to close the opportunity gap in literacy for students with disabilities, English Learners, economically disadvantaged students, Black, and Hispanic students. 

Read more or watch the School Board work session presentation to find the division’s current plans and next steps with this effort. 

2022-2023 Calendar Development

FCPS is in the process of developing the 2022-2023 School Year Calendar. FCPS is committed to maintaining a transparent process, working to build a calendar that is inclusive and equitable.

The development of the 2022-2023 School Year Calendar will be guided by:

  • The legal framework that FCPS is required to consider when creating the school year calendar; 
  • The requirement under state and federal law to provide 180 days or 990 hours of instruction and to have a secular reason when considering holidays or days off;
  • The need to prioritize the delivery of high-quality instruction necessary for students to be successful;
  • Operational considerations, including minimizing student and staff absenteeism; and
  • Community feedback through a Calendar Feedback Committee: a staff, student, and family survey; and a Calendar Development Webinar. 

Next Steps:

  • FCPS employees, parents, families, and students in grades 7-12 will be invited to participate in a calendar survey to share their opinions. Participation in this survey is a critical component in building a calendar that reflects the values of our community. Watch for the email and be sure to complete the survey before November 10, 2021.
  • There will be a virtual Calendar Development Community Webinar on Monday, November 8 at 7 p.m. More details are coming soon.


Multilingual Parent Podcast: Establishing Routines Helps with Time Management

Listen and subscribe to an FCPS multilingual family podcast to hear timely, important information related to school news. The podcasts are produced in conjunction with the Office for ESOL Services and the Office of Professional Learning and Family Engagement.

In the latest podcast, hear suggestions for daily school routines to promote time management. Routines can offer parents a peace of mind and ease the stress of hectic days.

Listen and subscribe:


School Bond Referendum on November 2 Ballot

A school bond referendum will be on the general election ballot Tuesday, November 2. Bond sales, a form of long-term borrowing, are used to finance the building and renovation of schools and must be approved by voters since they are a future obligation for taxpayers. The building and renovation of schools are not financed through the school system’s operating funds, but through bonds. 

Falls Church High School and Bren Mar Park Elementary school in Mason District will be directly impacted by the 2021 School Bond Referendum.  

There are a number of benefits to our students when learning in updated schools as FCPS designs and builds schools to meet current and future technology, safety and security, and capacity needs. And our schools are increasingly “green” saving everyone money. Watch the video

Learn more about the 2021 School Construction Bond Referendum.

Record Graduation Rates

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) reports that 94.6% of Fairfax County Public School students in the class of 2021 graduated on time, up from 93% in 2020. Congratulations to these students and families for their resilience and hard work! More information on the FCPS graduation rate is available online.

bus pass

Free Student Bus Pass Program

Students can now sign up for the Free Student Bus Pass Program at all FCPS high schools and middle schools. Visit the Fairfax Connector website for more info and to download the application. 

Electric Bus News

Fairfax County Public Schools officially launched its first fleet of electric school buses earlier this month as part of a commitment to providing carbon neutral student transportation by 2035.

The eight electric buses, which are already operational, help to transport 140,000 eligible bus riders to and from school each day.

FCPS is part of the Fairfax County Joint Environmental Task Force (JET), which was formed to address climate change and environmental sustainability proactively and collaboratively in Fairfax County. The JET is composed of representatives from both the Board of Supervisors and the School Board, and community partners from higher education, industry, and community and student advocacy groups. One of the JET’s goals is for FCPS to transition to electric or zero-carbon alternatives for school buses and eligible fleet vehicles by 2035. 

FCPS was chosen to receive the buses in a competitive process after applying for a grant from Dominion Energy in fall 2019. Dominion Energy covers the difference in cost so that school districts pay no more for electric buses than they would for diesel models. The required charging infrastructure has been installed and is maintained by Dominion at the Stonecroft Transportation Center.

FCPS applied for and received another grant from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for an additional 10 electric buses and should receive them in early spring 2022.

October is National Principal Appreciation Month

Let’s celebrate our principals! Under normal circumstances, our principals work hard to meet the needs of our students and support staff, however, during the past 18 months, our principals have seen their workload quadruple and called to engage in their tasks beyond their training and instructors and supervisors. Thank you for your continued devotion to student success, rebuilding community and leadership.


Proposed Redistricting

Redistricting is the process to draw new electoral boundaries. Redistricting is required by law, and it takes place every 10 years after the Census. Under the Board of Supervisors’ legal and policy criteria for redistricting, the population deviation between the most and least populated districts must be less than 10%. Based on the 2020 Census, the County’s population growth was uneven geographically and ranged from a low of 119,416 (Mason) to a high of 139,268 (Providence).

The county will draw new electoral districts that will apply to both the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Fairfax County School Board. Please note that this process will not change school boundaries or electoral maps for state legislators or members of Congress.

The Board of Supervisors appointed the 2021 Redistricting Advisory Committee to recommend proposed new electoral districts. The 24 maps proposed by the committee, along with 40 submissions from the public, are being advertised ahead of the November 9th public hearing.

Sign up to speak at the public hearing or provide input or comments on the plans before the hearing.

The Board of Supervisors anticipates adopting new local election districts at their December 7, 2021 meeting.

Job Openings in FCPS

Make a difference in a child’s life—find your next job with FCPS! We have openings for bus drivers, substitute teachers, COVID case managers, and school health aides (employed by Fairfax County Government but work in schools). 

More information and applications are available online:

If you want to earn money while making a difference in your community, say yes to FCPS!

Calendar Reminder

Calendar Reminder

As a reminder, Friday, October 29, is the last day of the first quarter, and a two-hour early release for students. Also, schools are closed for students on Monday, November 1, and Tuesday, November 2, for teacher work days. See the complete 2021-22 school year calendar.

Student-Parent Survey for Federal Impact Aid

FCPS is currently asking all families to complete a Student-Parent Survey for Federal Impact Aid.

Returning this form is important because information from this survey results in an additional $3 million in grants each year from the U.S. Department of Education. These funds are used to support all FCPS schools and centers—but only if you complete the form.

For each school-aged child in your household, please complete, sign, date, and return the survey to your child's school. If sections 1 and 2 of the survey do not apply to you, just check the boxes in Section 3. All forms must be signed, dated, and returned by November 5. All results are confidential. 

Watch this video to learn more about the Federal Impact Aid Form.

educate fairfax

Educate Fairfax

For over a decade, the Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools has been investing in programs to help every FCPS student find a path to success. The global pandemic provided an opportunity for it to re-evaluate its mission and improve the organization’s reach in the community. The result is a new name that clearly expresses its purpose and goals to FCPS employees, students, donors, and the community.   

The Foundation for FCPS is now Educate Fairfax!

Educate Fairfax remains dedicated to supporting Fairfax County Public Schools by engaging the community to invest in educational and supplemental programs for all students. With its continued emphasis on three focus areas–teacher grants, employee recognition programs, and Kids in Need–Educate Fairfax believes that strong schools are the bedrock of a vibrant community and that every FCPS student has a path to success.

More information is available at www.educatefairfax.org

IB Diploma

FCPS Students Earn International Baccalaureate Diploma and Career-Related Certificates

Four-hundred-eight FCPS students earned the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma and 58 students earned the IB Career-related Certificate during the 2020-21 school year.

The IB Diploma Program (IB DP) is a two-year program for juniors and seniors that comprises the DP core curriculum and six subject groups. Students complete internal and external assessments as well as exams, community service, and a 4,000-word extended essay. Students who earned the IB diploma attended Annandale, Edison, Justice, Lewis, Marshall, Mount Vernon, and South Lakes high schools and Robinson Secondary School.


The IB Career-related Program (IB CP) enables students to pursue a career and technical education field of interest in addition to taking IB courses. IB CP students complete service learning, world language development, and a reflective project on an ethical dilemma in their career-related field of study. These projects can be research papers, presentations, videos, or other options. Students who earned the IB Career-related Certificate attended Lewis, Mount Vernon, and South Lakes high schools.

The IB Diploma and Career-related Programs aim to develop internationally minded students who have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge–students who flourish physically, intellectually, emotionally, and ethically. Students enrolling in the IB DP and IB CP are prepared for higher education and the world of work through their well-rounded experiences.

More information about the International Baccalaureate Diploma and Career-related Programs is available online

Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day

Join San Mateo County students on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, for Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day. The students behind Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day (RBWTSD) have a dream of celebrating this special day across California and the nation. Help them realize their dream by signing your school up for Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day. Get the latest updates and track participation across the country!

Suicide Prevention Advocacy Event 

Event presented by the NoVa District PTA:

“Emotionally Naked Truth About Suicide” with Ann Moss Rogers

Free Virtual Event

Monday, November 15 at 7 p.m.

Learn more and register here

Shark Tank Technology Challenge Open to All High School Students

Calling all high school students! The Fairfax Area 50+ Technology Committee has announced this year’s Shark Tank Technology Challenge with a focus on new or improved existing technology that will have a positive impact in the lives of older adults, adults with disabilities, wounded warriors, or caregivers.

Students are encouraged to consider projects that offer assistance in the following areas:

  • Active free time activities
  • Participation in the arts
  • Caregiving

Students can submit an innovative or creative project as an individual or a team. The deadline to submit the initial proposal is Dec. 6. Final proposals are due February 22, 2022. The Shark Tank event will be held in April 2022. The winning projects will receive a cash prize. More details are available by visiting Fairfax Area Student “Shark Tank” Technology Challenge.

Annandale HS Singers Performed at a Recent School Board Meeting

AHS Singers

Annandale HS Singers performed the National Anthem at the School Board Meeting held on October 7, 2021

Upcoming Theatre

As a reminder, all individuals aged two and older must wear masks at indoor theatre performances. This includes the cast, crew, and audience, regardless of vaccination status.

Justice High School Wolfpack Theatre presents 

The Mousetrap

November 11th - 13th at 7 p.m.

November 13th Matinee at 2 p.m.


Falls Church High School Spotlight Theatre Company presents

Clue on Stage

October 28th - 30th at 7 p.m.

October 30th Matinee at 2 p.m.

fchs clue

Annandale High School Theatre Company presents


November 18th - 20th at 7 p.m.

November 21th Matinee at 3 p.m.

ahs puffs

Edison High School Theatre Company presents

Into the Woods

November 11th - 13th at 7 p.m.

November 13th Matinee at 2 p.m.

edison theatre

Woodson High School Drama presents

A Midsummer Night's Dream

November 7 at 6 p.m.

November 6, 12, & 13 at 7 p.m.

November 6 & 13 Matinee at 2 p.m.

woodson drama

Upcoming School Board Meetings

Regular School Board Meetings (Luther Jackson Middle School)

  • November 11, 2021 at 7 p.m.
  • November 22, 2021 at 7 p.m.

Work Sessions (Gatehouse Administration Center)

  • November 9, 2021 at 11 a.m.


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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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