Upcoming Town Hall and New Year Update

Dear Community Members,

Hello to you in the new year!

I join many of you in the wariness of entering yet another year of the COVID pandemic. However, I've also seen how we are trying to live through this challenge, and that includes providing in-person instruction for students. To continue forward with safety and courage, here are some points that resonated with me personally, and I think can help us collectively in our schools and community:  

  • This pandemic is an ever-changing situation. Our lives will continue being interrupted and changed, against our desires, plans, and expectations. We will continue to face decisions weighing risk and benefit, and will make those calculations differently among one another and over time.
  • Being vigilant against COVID has been and continues to be the right thing to do. It was worth it all this time, despite the increased incidences of being contracted - there’s no shame in having tried to avoid it but ultimately getting it.
  • Prepare yourself for the news of a positive COVID test, and consider how to share this with children. As Omicron makes cases more rampant - and yet seemingly more survivable at this time for many with vaccines - it is important to prepare yourself that you or loved ones may have a positive test result. Children will need help understanding the changing nature of the virus and the pandemic so they can feel as safe as possible about themselves and their loved ones.
  • Our Fairfax County Public Schools are doing all that is within our capabilities to keep students and staff safe - yet more help is needed. Other government agencies and individuals need to do their share - this will take not just funding, but people power. The 205,000 souls attending and working at FCPS are simultaneously served by other agencies, like health departments. Here's how to look up your elected representatives who oversee those services, and ask for their help. Let’s help keep our public schools focused on the work they are designed to accomplish - student success.

Finally, here is a letter from Northern Virginia health agencies. I appreciate the collective information being share, and want you to hear it, too.

I look forward to working together with you and others in the new year to help our students succeed. 

Be well. 

Hunter Mill Virtual Town Hall

When: Wednesday, January 12

Time: 5 - 6 pm

Where: Zoom

Join me for a virtual Hunter Mill District Town Hall where I will provide an update on various developments in FCPS and respond to submitted questions. Topics of particular interest include instruction and student supports, operational updates, school facility construction/renovation, and budget development.

Please use this link to register and submit questions in advance. 

*Interpretation services available upon request - must register and specify request by Tuesday, January 11.


January Town Hall flyer

COVID-19 Related Updates

Introducing Test to Stay

FCPS has been accepted into a pilot program for Test to Stay run by the Virginia Department of Health. More information is forthcoming, as the Test to Stay program is implemented across the Commonwealth.

Updates to Quarantine Guidance

FCPS is aware of the recent CDC announcement that changes the recommended quarantine and isolation period from 10 days to 5 days. FCPS is working with the Fairfax County Health Department to determine how this impacts schools. For the time being, FCPS is continuing to follow existing guidelines regarding returning to school or work following an exposure. 


Athletic practices and events will continue, following the division's existing vaccination and testing requirements. Please be aware that individual teams or events may need to be paused for the safety of all participants.


FCPS is aware that the division may continue to experience issues with staffing school bus routes. Where possible, FCPS will try to alert families to bus issues the evening before. 

Recent Work

FCPS to Send BE SMART Gun Safety Reminder Message

On the issue of school safety, we are aware of incidents that have caused alarm in our community and in the nation. With this in mind, the Board advocated and the Superintendent agreed to communicate with our families regarding gun violence prevention. FCPS will send a stand-alone email and SMS text message-linked communication to parents/guardians informing them of their legal obligations to protect minors by securely storing all firearms and of the dangers of irresponsible storage.

This communication will include supplemental resources aligned with the BE SMART framework on topics including, but not limited to: 

  • the importance of securing all firearms in home/s or vehicle/s; 
  • modeling responsible behavior around firearms; 
  • asking about the presence of unsecured firearms in others’ homes; 
  • recognizing the role of firearms in suicide; and 
  • seeking help for a child who could be a threat to themselves or others.

Family Engagement Policy

The Board unanimously approved the Family Engagement Policy. The purpose is to establish policy that is inclusive of all families to promote effective and meaningful family-school partnerships as an essential component in supporting student success. The policy can be viewed on Board Docs.

Midyear Budget Review

The Board approved revenue and expenditure changes reflected in the Fiscal Year 2022 Midyear Budget Review agenda item.

View the video of the December 16, 2021 Fairfax County School Board meeting. 

Expansion of Special Education 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 unanimously 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.

Upcoming Meetings and Topics to be Covered 

The January 4 Public Hearings have been canceled due to weather, and will be rescheduled for a future date.

Accessing Board Meetings

View this link for a comprehensive list of upcoming meetings and associated information.

Click here for meeting logistics, agendas and handouts (to view the slides and materials, scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Regular Meetings and Work Sessions are live-streamed on the FCPS website and televised on FCPS Cable Channel 99. Meeting recordings can be found on FCPS YouTube. For more information about signing up to speak at a regular meeting, click here.

FCPS School Board Members

Other Information of Interest

Fairfax County General Assembly Delegation’s Pre-2022 Session Public Hearing, Saturday, Jan. 8

Community participation graphic raised hands

The Fairfax County delegation to the General Assembly will hold its annual public hearing regarding the upcoming 2022 session on Saturday, Jan. 8, 9 am. Learn more.

While speaker registration is now closed, the hearing will be televised live on Fairfax County Television Channel 16 (Channel 1016 in HD on Cox; Channel 16 on Verizon or Comcast), and can also be viewed on-line through the Channel 16 stream. This year's hearing will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contact information for individual delegation members is available on the Virginia General Assembly web page.

Lightspeed Parent Report on Student Internet Usage

students on laptops

There is a new functionality available to FCPS parents who are interested in knowing more about their child’s activity on an FCPS device. Parents can sign up to receive a weekly Parent Report from Lightspeed, the division's internet content filtering service, which will provide a list of the top sites the child visited that week. 

Interested parents can submit a request directly via the Technology Support for Families page for weekly Parent Reports. FCPS will validate the enrolling parent’s email in SIS, and once processed, the parent will receive a weekly report over each weekend. Read more.

Report a Road Problem to VDOT

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is responsible for maintaining most roadways. To report specific issues that need attention or repair, visit VDOT’s simple-to-use webpage: https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/.

I continue to work with Fairfax County Supervisor Walter Alcorn’s office on more complex challenges regarding traffic safety around our schools. Please continue informing me of any such repeat instances. Thank you.

Video Series on Strategies to Manage ADHD

Creating daily routines video

Not just for individuals with ADHD, this new video series describes evidence-based strategies for students with ADHD and their adult supports. I found the short, animated videos easy to watch, and engage about with my own kids!

Watch here!

End to Overdue Library Fines

Fairfax County library logo

Earlier this month, the Fairfax County Public Library Board of Trustees approved a new policy that ends the practice of charging overdue fines on most library materials. Learn more.

Walk In My Shoes Empathy Building Program

In my last newsletter, I wrote about the importance of the connection between students, and between students and teachers. Here is an example of a program that addresses this need for human connection, and it started right here in the Hunter Mill District!

Walk In My Shoes graphic logo

Walk In My Shoes is an empathy-building program that started as a PTA program at Floris ES in 2015. It has expanded into 17 other FCPS schools, as well as schools in Miami and Chicago, and it has even been used as a teacher training program in Guatemala. This is a flexible, inexpensive, and dynamic program that enables and empowers schools to demystify disabilities and create a more welcoming school environment for all students. They do this by 1) Increasing knowledge; 2) Shifting perspectives; and 3) Inspiring action--the action of being a good friend.

The Walk In My Shoes Program believes that if people know more about each other, are trained to take the perspective of others, and are encouraged to turn that perspective into action, we can positively impact inclusion and a sense of belonging for all students.

For more information visit: https://www.walkinmyshoesprogram.org/.

Contacting Me

I prioritize responses to Hunter Mill constituents, so please be sure to identify yourself as such if you contact me. If you are unsure of your county magisterial district, you can look that information up here.

To contact me, it is most helpful to please use the official School Board contact form. This form prioritizes emails to me from constituents, and helps me track communication so I can be sure you receive a response. Thank you for your cooperation.


Please take good care,

Melanie Meren


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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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