December Newsletter

Dear Fairfax County Students, Families and Staff,

As we finish out 2021, I can’t help but reflect on this last year - the ups and downs of the pandemic, adapting and then adapting again, the happiness and joy of in-person school, of seeing students and teachers form those critical connections, learn together, and also come together at school events. I have loved my school visits and seeing the learning and enthusiasm in the classrooms. And I have especially loved attending sporting events, plays, and concerts. The talent of our students is incredible and there is nothing quite like seeing them on stage or on the field doing what they love.

I also know this year has had incredible challenges, which continue as students adjust to the stamina required for in person learning, staff are exhausted, as are parents, and FCPS is contending with critical staff shortages, particularly in bus drivers and substitute teachers. January 2021 feels like a lifetime ago and January 2020 seems like another life altogether. I don’t know what twists and turns 2022 will bring but I can only hope it will be better than 2021. In the meantime, I will relish in the small joys, because if I’ve learned one thing, it is to never take the little things for granted again. I look forward to winter break, with my daughter coming home for the first time since August. I hope you and your loved ones will also be able to rest, recharge, and spend time together during the winter break. 

School Board work has been very busy, including much time devoted to the Superintendent search.  Please watch your email and the Superintendent search site for opportunities to be involved in the process.  

I have had the opportunity to visit a few schools in the last few weeks, including two visits with members of the General Assembly.  I visited West Springfield HS with Speaker Filler Corn and my colleague, Laura Jane Cohen.  I also visited Fairfax High School with Delegate David Bulova and my colleague, Stella Pekarsky.  Melanie Meren and I visited James Madison HS and were grateful to sit in on a session of the regular student listening sessions at the school.  It is always valuable to listen to the ideas, thoughts and concerns of our students and it is impressive to hear how clearly and confidently they can voice them. Every time I hear our students speak, I know our future is in good hands.

December school visits


I held a virtual town hall with Stella Pekarsky a couple of weeks ago.  We were able to respond to many questions that covered topics including COVID-19 protocols, school calendar, mental health, Youth Risk Survey, curriculum and grading policies and more.  Thank you to all who submitted questions and attended. 

I will be hosting a virtual town hall with my colleague Laura Jane Cohen on January 10, 2022 from 7:30pm-8:30pm.   I’ll send more information and links after the break.

My very best wishes to you for a wonderful winter break and a very happy new year.  May our community be healthy, strong, and together in 2022!

My warmest regards,


Below you will find:

  • School Board Updates
  • FCPS News
  • Community Resources
  • Performances
  • Good News!

School Board News

Below, you will find some of the latest on what we have been working on and topics at our upcoming school board meetings.

school board


Superintendent Search Update

As the search for the next FCPS 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.

The School Board held a Work Session on the superintendent search timeline on December 13th.  You may view the meeting materials and the meeting recording.

Below is a snapshot of upcoming community engagement opportunities:

  • 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. 
  • The search firm will hold in-person focus groups with previously identified parents, students, and community members.

Please visit the Superintendent Search webpage for additional information.

2022 Fairfax County School Board State and Federal Legislative Program

The School Board annually adopts a legislative program and legislative priorities to inform local, state and federal public officials and others of its positions on legislative policy and budget issues of potential importance to Fairfax County Public School students, teachers, staff, and community. The School Board voted to adopt the 2022 Fairfax County School Board State and Federal Legislative Program and Priorities with several amendments that can be found on Board Docs.

Public Engagement Committee Recommended Changes to the Governance Manual Regarding Community Participation

The School Board welcomes community members to provide comments at its regular business meetings and public hearings on school board deliberations, school-related issues or particular topics. The School Board voted to approve the recommended changes from the Public Engagement Committee, including adjustments to the submission of video content.

Modification of Contract - Fairfax County Public Schools Special Education Comprehensive Review

The Audit Committee recently recommended additional funding for the Year 2 Special Education Comprehensive Review over: (a) Stakeholder focus groups, (b) Classroom observations, (c) Extant data analysis, totaling $87,443. The School Board voted to approve the recommended modification of the Special Education Comprehensive Review Contract between Fairfax County Public Schools and American Institutes for Research (AIR).

View the video of the November 22, 2021 Fairfax County School Board meeting. 

Calendar Development Update

The 2022-2023 calendar development is well underway. FCPS is working to build a calendar that is inclusive and equitable. The framework for creating the calendar can be found on the calendar webpage

Upcoming School Board action on the 2022-2023 calendar:

January 11 - Discussion at Work Session

January 13 - Presented as new business with opportunity for public comment

January 27 - Vote on final calendar with opportunity for public comment

Upcoming School Board Meetings

  • December 14 at 11am -- Work Session: John Lewis Leadership Program, Boundary Policy Consultant Report
  • December 16 at 7 pm - Regular Meeting: Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Presentation, Fiscal Year (FY22) Midyear Budget Review, Family Engagement Policy
  • January 4 at 6 pm - Public Hearing: CIP
  • January 11 at 10 am - Forum: Gun Violence, Trauma Informed Schools
  • January 11 at 11 am - Work Session: CIP and Office of Auditor General (OAG) Report
  • January 13 at 7 pm - FY 23 Proposed Budget Presentation, Firearms Possession Policy, Architectural and Engineering Services
  • January 18 at 11 am - Work Session: School Year (SY)22-23 Calendar and FY23 Budget
  • January 24 at 6 pm - Public Hearing: Budget
  • January 25 at 4 pm - Work Session: FY 23 Budget
  • January 27 at 7 pm - Regular Meeting: SY22-23 Calendar

Please note, times and topics are subject to change.

Accessing Board Meetings and Materials 



 Inclement Weather Reminder 

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.

Updated Quarantine Information

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.

COVID vaccine

Vaccination and Testing Updates



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. 

school building


Guidelines for School Visitors, Volunteers and Guests

FCPS asks 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.

Report of Activity on FCPS Devices Available to Parents


FCPS has new tools to help parents and guardians know more about their child’s activity on any FCPS device. These tools are provided by Lightspeed, our internet content filtering service, at no cost to families. You may sign up for a weekly Parent Report, which will provide a list of the top sites your child visited. If you want more detailed information, sign up for the Internet Use Parent portal and log-in anytime to see more detail about your child’s browsing and “pause” access to the internet during non-school hours. Find out more and sign up for these services on the website.

Office of the Ombudsman - SY 2020-2021 End-of-Year Report

The Office of the Ombudsman provides an independent, confidential resource for students, families, employees, and community members, offering informal help to resolve concerns, problems, complaints, and other student-related issues.  The staff of the Office of the Ombudsman will listen, review, and provide resources for information and referral; serve as a neutral advocate for fairness, equity, inclusion, and consistency; and foster positive working relationships. Learn more.

The Office of the Ombudsman SY 2020-2021 End of Year Report is now available in the November 19, 2021 Brabrand Briefing. The report includes data analysis of contacts and community outreach from July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021. The Office of the Ombudsman also publishes quarterly reports summarizing the current work of the office. Questions regarding the End-of-Year Report can be directed to Armando Peri, Ombudsman at or 571-423-4014.

Educate Fairfax

Consider a Donation to Support Students and Teachers 

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.

New Multilingual Family Podcasts Available

multilingual podcast

Winter Vacation...Stay Calm, Set Expectations, Connect with Family and Friends (December 6, 2021)

In episode 7 for this school year, 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.

FCPS Advanced Academic Program Continuum of Services (November 15, 2021)

In episode 6 for this school year, the hosts discuss the FCPS Advanced Academic Program (AAP) Continuum of Services. Hear about the different levels of services for elementary and secondary students. All students from Kindergarten to grade 12 receive instruction to develop critical and creative thinking skills as part of AAP instruction. The goal is to build upon students’ individual talents and skills to maximize their academic potential as learners. Equity of access to the services is a priority within FCPS. 

More information about how to listen and subscribe.

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

Community Resources

Financial Aid Assistance Available to Class of 2022 Parents

financial aid


On January 8, 2022, College Access Fairfax and FCPS are offering presentations to help with questions about the financial aid process, completing the FAFSA and finding and applying for scholarships.  To join the sessions, click on the links below.

  • 9:00-10:00 AM:   Paying for College - learn about the financial aid process and what you need to do in order to determine your student's eligibility for financial aid:

  • 10:30-11:30 AM:  FAFSA Line-by-Line - walk through the FAFSA with a description of what information you will need to provide in order to complete and submit the form:

  • 1:00-2:00 PM:  Scholarship 101 - learn what kinds of scholarships are available, where to find them, and suggestions on how to complete scholarship applications:

For more information, please visit their website.  To schedule a virtual one-on-one session with a Financial Aid Champion, please email:

Good Enough Parenting with Teens: Free Zoom Seminar by The Ross Center, Monday, January 10, 2022, 8:15 pm

The Ross Center is pleased to offer child psychologist Dr. Abigail Romirowsky’s ‘Good Enough Parenting’ series. As we try to balance the needs of our children, safety concerns with the pandemic, uncertainty, and our own mental health, it is even more essential to support parents in being “good enough.” Research suggests children are healthier when parents do a ‘good enough’ job, rather than striving for the mythical perfect version of parenting. The discussion is offered via ZOOM, and will not be recorded. Questions can be posed ahead of time or live via chat.

As both a child psychologist and a fellow “doing her best” parent, Dr. Romirowsky values creating a warm and inviting atmosphere for these webinars. Feel free to “come as you are”, in sweats, multi-tasking, or curled up with a cup of tea. Attendees can choose to participate with your camera on or off and/or to change your zoom screen name depending on their privacy concerns. For more info  "Good Enough Parenting" - Webinar Series 2 - The Ross Center 

Free Rapid COVID-19 Antigen At-Home Test Kits Available 

free tests


Fairfax County Public Library branches have become distribution sites for free COVID-19 rapid antigen at-home test kits as part of a pilot program. BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Card Home Test kits are available at each of Fairfax County Public Library’s 13 open community branches and 8 regional branches.

Quantities are limited. Neither proof of residency nor a library card is required, and the kits are free of charge.

More information on the free COVID-19 testing kits is available online.

Upcoming Performances

band concert


Here are just a few of the performances happening at our FCPS schools -- check these out or find out what performance is happening at your local school!

Lake Braddock SS High School Choir and Orchestra Concert -- Tuesday, December 14 at 7pm

McLean HS Orchestra Winter Concert -- Tuesday, December 14 at 7pm

Robinson SS High School Orchestra Concert -- Tuesday, December 14 at 7pm

Woodson HS Musical Showcase Concert -- Tuesday, December 14 at 7pm

West Springfield HS Choir Concert -- Wednesday, December 15 at 7pm

Annandale HS Band Concert -- Thursday, December 16 at 7pm

Good News!

Region 1 --  Congratulations to the James Madison HS Warhawks football team that played in the Class 6 State Championship on December 11. This was their first time playing in the state finals! Read more about the game.

Madison football


Region 2 --  During their Homecoming celebrations, students at Thomas Jefferson HSST raised over $9,000 for Miriam’s Kitchen, an organization dedicated to ending chronic homelessness.  Great job!

TJ donation


Region 3 -- Congratulations to Principal Clint Mitchell of Mount Vernon Woods ES for being the subject of an inspiring feature in EdWeek on how to lead an inclusive school.  FCPS is lucky to have him!

Mount Vernon logo


Region 4 -- The historical marker to honor Edwin Bancroft Henderson that was proposed by Kings Glen Elementary student, Sullivan Massaro, was unveiled outside Henderson’s former home in Falls Church on November 20th.  Congratulations to Sullivan and last year’s staff leader of the Kings Glen History Makers Club, Maura Keaney!  Read more about the project.



Region 5 -- The members of the Fairfax HS PTSA Academic Boosters and Student Services recognized 63 students as part of their Lions Taking the Lead award. Student awardees were recognized by staff members for showing significant improvement in academics, demonstrating outstanding leadership and service, or positively contributing to the overall school community. Way to go!

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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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