FCPS This Week e-newsletter - December 7, 2021

Winter Weather Watch

School buses in snow.

The current forecast has the potential for winter weather Wednesday. Like you, we are monitoring the forecast and making plans just in case schedules are impacted. 

The first five inclement weather days will be traditional inclement weather days. These five days may occur consecutively due to a single weather event or may take place as several individual events. 

Make sure you’re familiar with how decisions about school schedules are communicated.

Some Students May Now Return from Quarantine After Seven Days

Girl in a mask and a coat.

CDC guidance allows for a reduction of the student quarantine period to seven days “when diagnostic testing resources are sufficient and available.” With FCPS now offering drive-through diagnostic testing at six sites across the county, in addition to the many alternative ways to access COVID-19 testing, FCPS is now providing the option for students who have been exposed to COVID-19 to return to school and in-person activities after seven days.  

If your child is quarantined due to exposure at school, please keep them at home until one of the following quarantine periods is met:

  • Seven days of quarantine, your child remains symptom-free AND you provide both: a negative COVID-19 test (Rapid Antigen or PCR) taken on day five of quarantine or later, as well as a copy of the FCPS pause letter indicating the return to school dates; or
  • 10 days of quarantine, your child remains symptom-free AND you provide a copy of the FCPS pause letter indicating the return to school dates; or
  • 14 days of quarantine and you provide a copy of the clearance letter (SARA-Alert) from the health department. 

If your child is quarantined due to exposure outside of the school, please contact the school as soon as possible and you will receive a Return Letter for Exposures Outside of FCPS. The timeline for quarantine return begins when you alert the school. Keep your child at home until one of the following quarantine periods is met

  • Seven days of quarantine, your child remains symptom-free AND you provide both: a negative COVID-19 test (Rapid Antigen or PCR) taken on day five of quarantine or later, as well as a copy of the Return Letter for Exposures Outside of FCPS indicating the return to school dates; or
  • 10 days of quarantine, your child remains symptom-free AND you provide a copy of the Return Letter for Exposures Outside of FCPS indicating the return to school dates (you must contact your school to request the letter at the beginning of the quarantine period); or
  • 14 days of quarantine and you provide a copy of the clearance letter (SARA-Alert) from the health department. 

The above options only apply to a student returning to in-person learning and school-sponsored activities. Other organizations, such as SACC, may have different requirements for return.

We continue to balance the need for students to have a high-quality in-person learning experience with student and staff safety. By adhering to our layered prevention strategies and increasing vaccination rates, we are all doing our part to keep schools safe.

Stay Safe This Season: VaxUP and Test

Vax Up!

The holiday season and colder weather brings more indoor gatherings. Delta continues to spread and a new variant’s impact on community transmission remains unknown. We are fortunate to have easy access to two tools to keep ourselves safe and schools open.


Vaccination opportunities are available across Fairfax, whether you need your first dose or a booster. Visit the health department’s website to find a list of providers or make an appointment. 

Diagnostic Testing 

Diagnostic testing is now available for students at six drive-through locations. You may take advantage of these services if you are a close contact or are experiencing symptoms. Appointments are not needed for diagnostic testing but families do need to register in the secure online portal. Information about student diagnostic testing, including site locations and schedules, is available on the FCPS website

Optional Screening Testing

Parents and guardians can use the secure online portal to register their unvaccinated child(ren) for optional COVID-19 screening. If you do not want your child to participate, no action is required. You will have the option to update your child’s vaccination status and/or withdraw consent for testing anytime. Student-athletes do not need to pre-register with the online portal for screening testing, they will use a separate portal provided by their school’s student activities director.

FCPS COVID-19 testing sites will not be available from December 18-January 1. Testing will resume on January 3, 2022. If needed, other local providers are available for testing and vaccinations during that time. 

Superintendent Search Update

Superintendent search graphic

As the search for FCPS’ next superintendent gets underway, we are committed to keeping our staff, families, and community members informed about the process and aware of opportunities to provide feedback. Below is a snapshot of upcoming community engagement opportunities:

  • December 13, 1 p.m.: School Board work session to discuss the process, timeline, and engagement opportunities. Watch on FCPS Cable TV Channel 99 (Verizon Channel 11), the FCPS YouTube Channel, or the FCPS website.
  • December 14: GR Consulting, the search firm handling the superintendent search, will be administering a survey. The survey will be available in multiple languages and will be a great opportunity for the FCPS community to weigh in on the most important qualities our next superintendent should possess. Look for this in your inbox next week!
  • January 10-12: The search firm will hold in-person focus groups with previously identified parents, students, and community members.

Please visit our Superintendent Search webpage for additional information.

Networking Opportunity for Future Teachers 

Teacher in front of a classroom.

FCPS high school juniors, seniors, graduates, and former Teachers for Tomorrow or Early Childhood Careers students can network with teachers, administrators, and professional groups in Fairfax County Public Schools during the Fourth Annual Back2Fairfax Teacher Seminar virtual event on Tuesday, December 14, from 5-8 p.m.

Breakout sessions will cover a variety of topics including developing a resume, preparing for an interview, applying for a license, finding the school that is the right fit, and teacher and administrator panels.

Guidelines for School Visitors, Volunteers, and Guests

Man in a suit in front of a classroom.

We ask guests to follow a few guidelines to help keep our schools safe and healthy. If you are visiting, please review the health and safety guidelines for visitors in advance to prepare.

Supporting the Development of Life Skills in Students

Four students in masks.

We want to ensure that all our students have a grasp of appropriate life and behavioral skills, and can feel comfortable expressing feelings, talking about relationships and have sound mental health awareness.

Earlier this fall, students in grades 3-12 had the opportunity to participate in the SEL screener. This optional activity helps us understand students’ life and behavioral skills, feelings, relationships, experience of the school environment, and general mental health and well-being.

In the coming weeks, parents and guardians of students who participated in the fall 2021 screening window will be mailed a letter with their student’s self-reported ratings. The letter includes tips for understanding the ratings and discussing them with your child. Families may use this information to reinforce their child’s strengths and give extra support in areas of growth.

More information is available online.

Parent Tip Sheet: Teens Respond Best to Specific Praise

Hands holding a smiley face.

Praise from you can motivate your teen. But vague compliments, such as, “You’re great!” may do little to inspire them.

Try instead to praise your teen’s actions. Say they have done a fabulous job painting their room. Don’t say “How wonderful!” Instead, say, “I don’t see one stray mark on your walls. Look how even and smooth they are. It must make you feel proud to know you put a lot of care and attention into your work. Thank you very much.” Knowing that their actions have merit encourages your teen to repeat them.

This kind of specific praise can motivate your teen's efforts in school, too. If they have produced a well-thought-out presentation, say something like “You backed your points up with great examples. I can really understand your argument!”

Copyright 2021, the Parent Institute, a Division of PaperClip Media Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Get more tips for parents and other family engagement resources.

Multilingual Parent Podcast: Winter Vacation … Stay Calm, Set Expectations, Connect with Family and Friends

En Pocas Palabras graphic

Winter vacation will soon be here. In this episode the hostesses offer tips and reminders to get through the holidays and vacation with joy and peace. They talk about staying calm, envisioning a realistic holiday, setting expectations, and connecting with family and friends. There is also a reminder about FCPS Food Distribution for Winter Vacation. Call the Office of Food and Nutrition Services at 703-813-4800 with any questions about food distribution.

Listen and subscribe:

Consider a Year-End Donation to Support Students and Teachers

Educate Fairfax logo

As 2021 comes to a close, please consider a year-end gift to Educate Fairfax (formerly the Foundation for FCPS), the independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports FCPS. 

Educate Fairfax works alongside teachers, principals, administrators, and leadership to keep our diverse school system robust and innovative. During its annual year-end appeal, Educate Fairfax is raising funds for its four focus areas: Innovative Classroom Grants, Kids in Need, Literacy, and Employee Recognition

Your $100 contribution can provide emergency basic needs to a student in need. Or a $250 donation will allow a teacher to purchase books for the classroom library. More information about Educate Fairfax and its impact can be found on the Educate Fairfax website

Your tax-deductible contribution can be made through a secure donation portal. Thank you in advance for your support.

Service Animals Welcome 

Service dog

Service animals are trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Service animals are allowed in all schools and buildings, in accordance with federal and state law. 

The ongoing use of a service animal by staff members, parents, or members of the community must be coordinated through the Office of Equity and Employee Relations, by contacting EERADA@fcps.edu, to submit an accommodation request. To coordinate a student’s use of a service animal, contact the Due Process and Eligibility section of the Office of Special Education Procedural Support at 571-423-4290. Therapy animals are not generally considered service animals and are not permitted. 

If you have any questions regarding service animals in FCPS buildings, contact the Office of Equity and Employee Relations at 571-423-3070.

Calendar Reminder: Winter Break Is December 20-31

Calendar Reminder

As a reminder, winter break will be held December 20-31. To help make sure you and your children have a restful break, we have asked that no homework be assigned during this time. Teachers may assign long-range assignments in the weeks ahead of the break, allowing students to practice time management skills, but no assignments will be due immediately following the break.

Classes resume on Monday, January 3, 2022. See the complete 2021-22 school year calendar.

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