Happy Holidays!!

Happy Holidays

Dear Mount Vernon Families,

I hope that you are all enjoying the start of a much needed winter break.  I wish each and every one of you the happy holidays and a joy filled New Year.  I am optimistic that 2022 will be a great year for all. 

I have visited almost every one of our schools in which Mount Vernon students attend over the past two months.  It has been so exciting to have all of our students back in their classrooms, engaged in learning, socializing and participating in extra curriculars and clubs. In every classroom students are engaged and teachers are working with them to achieve both their academic potential and support their socio-emotional needs. Their dedication to addressing the challenges our students are facing due to COVID is inspiring.  I know that our students and staff are ready for a much needed break. 

This holiday season, I am focused on gratitude. I am grateful for our families, students and staff for their positivity and partnership in the face of the many challenges that we all have faced with COVID 19 and continue to face as we navigate out of this global Pandemic. I also want to thank the many parents whom have reached out to me to let me know how their students are doing.  Please continue to do so. 

Social Media

As many of you know, this past week was incredibly difficult for our schools because of a series of threats of violence made via social media, which were later found not to be credible.  Parents and students have expressed how vulnerable and increasingly anxious they feel because of these threats of violence. This weaponization of social media is not acceptable and must stop. It terrorizes students and teachers, wreaks havoc in our schools and traumatizes our community.  Sharing these messages, retweeting them or forwarding them to others, that are not in the position to investigate them, only leads to increasing the angst, and creating panic.

I have been working with our IT and safety and security staff to address the most egregious behaviors.  Please be assured they are working around the clock and with the social media companies and the police department to address individual issues. 

But school administrators and teachers cannot deal with these issues on their own.  We need for parents, community members and our students to partner with us to stop these acts.  Let me be perfectly clear making threats of violence via Instagram, Tik Tok, twitter, texting or any other social medium is tantamount to yelling fire in a crowded entertainment venue or movie theater.  It is against the law. 

Parents, please talk to your children about the responsible use of social media and the risks associated with irresponsible use.  Know what platforms your student is accessing.  Make sure that they understand that engaging in irresponsible behaviors can have a lifelong negative impact on a child’s future.

Together, we have to stop this behavior.  Students, if you see something, say something to a responsible adult either in the school building, via our tip line, to the police department or to your parents so that they can take action.   We were among the first in the nation to offer this as a “text to tip” option as well as online and by phone.  We encourage you to use these resources.

For those of you whom are involved in crafting these dangerous messages, let me be crystal clear this is not funny, it is not a prank, it is not an excuse for a day off from school.  It violates our SR&R and if it is a threat of violence, the law.  This board member is calling upon the Superintendent to ensure that we use every tool available to deal with these bad actors and prosecute any illegal activities.

Some Background on How Safety and Security Work With Our Schools

Our administrative teams meet with FCPS Office of Safety and Security (OSS) and our School Resource Officers (SRO) regularly to review our procedures and to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to keep our students and staff safe while they are in our schools. Our security operations are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. FCPS is one of only a few school districts in the nation to have a specialized technology section that supports using state of the art equipment to enhance both physical and digital security.  

Our crisis and emergency response plans have been cited as a national model. We continually work with county, state, and federal health, safety, and emergency personnel leaders to ensure coordinated responses to potential threats. We also drill and train with staff and students for emergency situations and then review and revise plans as needed.

Our building administrators work with this team when there are incidents that are of concern such as those we experienced last week.

Superintendent Search Update

Superintendent Search Update

On December 13, the School Board held a work session to discuss the Superintendent search process, timeline, and engagement opportunities. Watch the work session on the FCPS YouTube Channel.

There are many ways you can share your voice during this process. Below is a snapshot of upcoming activities which will assist us in developing a profile of the next superintendent:

  • Survey: 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 the survey in your email inbox next week.
  • Parent, Student, Community Focus Groups: The search firm will hold in-person focus groups with previously identified parents, students, and community members. These focus groups are planned for January.

Please visit our Superintendent Search webpage for additional information.

Covid 19

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.  Recent developments in Virginia with vaccine availability both for adults and school aged children, high vaccination rates in Northern Virginia, the availability of testing, have led us to advocate for the state health department to offer health guidance to school districts regarding tiered pathways for reducing mitigation protocols based on vaccination and COVID-19 transmission rates.

Supporting the Development of Life Skills in Students

Life skills

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.

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