Additional Back-to-School Health and Safety Information

Hello, Springfield District Families!

I’ve had several families reach out to me with questions regarding monkeypox. Please be aware of the below health and safety information as we prepare for the first day of school. Here’s to a safe, strong, and successful school year!

All my very best-

Laura Jane


Additional Back-to-School Health and Safety Information


With the emerging concerns regarding the monkeypox virus, we want to provide you with information about the precautions that FCPS is taking in partnership with the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD). This is a serious health concern that may touch our entire community.

What is Monkeypox?

According to the CDC and FCHD, monkeypox is a disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. The disease can spread through close contact including: 

  • Direct skin-to-skin contact with monkeypox rash or scabs.
  • Body fluids from a person with monkeypox.
  • Sexual contact including kissing.
  • Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
  • Exposure to respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact.

Monkeypox Signs and Symptoms

Illness usually begins about 6-13 days after exposure, but possibly as long as 17 days, and can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Exhaustion

After 1-3 days of illness, a rash develops progressing from red bumps to fluid-filled sores (vesicles) and pustules. There may only be several monkeypox sores or the sores may be widespread. The rash may be located on or near the genitals or anus, but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.

Monkeypox in Fairfax County

Since May 2022, a global outbreak of monkeypox has occurred. As of Tuesday, August 16, there have been 56 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Fairfax County. To date, monkeypox has been rare in children nationwide; in Virginia, monkeypox cases have ranged in age from 18-70. 

Prevention in FCPS

Per CDC recommendations, we encourage our community to prevent the spread of monkeypox by engaging in the following steps: 

1. Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.

  •  Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
  •  Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.

2. Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.

  • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.

3. Wash your hands often.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.

Additional prevention strategies may be implemented in athletics or activities that are sport specific. Information regarding any additional prevention strategies in athletics or activities will be disseminated to participating students through the school’s Director of Student Activities.

FCPS Response Protocol

FCPS has worked with the communicable disease experts at the health department to develop a response protocol. FCPS will provide a notification letter from the health department to the entire school community if a positive case is identified at a school site and it is deemed that exposures may have occurred in the school setting. FCHD Public Health experts will identify people who may have been exposed and contact parents and guardians if it is determined that a child needs to be tested or monitored. Vaccination also can prevent infection in those who have recently been exposed to monkeypox.

FCPS will continue the disinfection and sanitization processes that were begun in response to COVID-19, which are also effective against monkeypox. At least once a day, high-touch surfaces, including counters, tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, stair rails, elevator buttons, desks, keyboards, phones, toilets, faucets, and sinks, are cleaned. Cafeteria tables and chairs will continue to be cleaned and disinfected using Virex II 256. Standard personal protective equipment (PPE) remains available for use. 

Guidance for Families

Children with a rash should stay home from school and be evaluated by a healthcare provider. This is true for all rash illnesses. Rash illnesses such as hand, foot, and mouth disease and chickenpox are much more likely to affect children than monkeypox.

If you or your student has a new or unexplained rash or symptoms consistent with monkeypox, seek medical care from your healthcare provider. If you do not have a health care provider, contact the Fairfax County Health Department at 703-267-3511. Your school’s public health nurse is also a good resource. The CDC recommends vaccinations for people who have been exposed to monkeypox and for those who are more likely to contract monkeypox.

Viruses do not discriminate by race, religion, or by sexual orientation. Our caring culture reminds us that we should treat each other with respect and dignity and that bullying of any kind will not be tolerated. 

The CDC’s What You Need to Know about Monkeypox if You are a Teen or Young Adult is a good resource to educate about monkeypox. FCPS will continue to consult with the Health Department to provide updates to the community.


Managing Back-to-School Anxiety

The start of any new school year tends to bring about a mix of emotions for students. Many students will feel excited about their return to school. Most will also feel increased worry about the year that lies ahead. Even children who typically adjust well to change and new situations often feel this spike in their anxiety. Fortunately for most, this anxiety will fade fairly quickly over the first couple of weeks. However, for others, it may persist and have a larger impact on a student's social and academic performance.

Here are some ideas for parents to help ease their children's anxiety with this transition back to school.

Stay Informed

  • Having a solid understanding of the plans at your school for the coming year will help you to better address any of your children's concerns. Read e-mails and participate in any activities that your school may offer as a means to share information.
  • Have your children take advantage of any open house opportunities provided by your school to give them a chance to take that first small step of entering the school building. 
  • If you have unanswered questions, reach out to your school for support.

Maintain Open Communication

  • Consistently check in with your children and keep open lines of communication to gauge how they are feeling. Make sure your children know that you are available to talk if they have concerns about the return to school...or about any concerns that arise during a school day.
  • Give your children space to express themselves and validate their feelings. Taking the time to listen allows parents to more clearly understand what their children are feeling most anxious about. It then provides an opportunity to offer acknowledgment of their concerns and a chance to direct children towards thinking of something they can do about it.
  • Let your children know that it is normal to feel anxious in new situations. Remind them of times they have started something new and overcome fears in the past. Emphasize that learning to adapt to changes leads to a growth mindset, greater confidence, and resiliency.
  • Avoid talking about your concerns in front of your children as they will pick up on your anxiety and likely incorporate your worries into their thoughts about school. 
  • Let your children know you care. If your children are anxious about school, consider sending personal notes in their lunch box or book bag to let them know you are thinking about them.

Demonstrate an Optimistic Outlook

  • Set the tone. Children absorb their parent’s anxiety, so demonstrate optimism and confidence for your children.
  • Model a growth mindset by recognizing that we all have the capacity to change, grow, and develop. When children see growth mindsets in action around them, they are much more likely to internalize and apply this way of thinking for themselves. 
  • Reframing events and circumstances into a more favorable view goes a long way in promoting a more hopeful outlook. 
  • Let your children know that it is natural to be a little nervous anytime we start something new, but that they will be fine once they become familiar with their classmates, teachers, and school routines.

Model Positive Coping and Problem-Solving Skills

  • Children naturally learn through observing others in their environment. Demonstrate coping and problem-solving behavior whenever you can. While children learn through observing actions, they need to observe the language in use too. A great way to do this is to verbalize the steps you are taking to handle a problem of your own...and when a problem is still not easily fixed, let them see how you respond to that disappointment in a healthy way. 
  • If the first few days upon returning to school are a little challenging, try not to overreact. Young children, in particular, may experience separation anxiety or shyness initially, but teachers are trained to help them adjust. If you drop them off, try not to linger. Reassure your children that you love them, will think of them during the day, and will be back. Remain calm and positive.

Reinforce Children's Ability to Cope

  • Talk with your children about ways to manage a difficult situation on their own. Work through examples of challenges faced during prior school years and how your children met them.
  • When your children get stuck using the same strategy that is not working, encourage them to ask themselves, “What is a different way I could try this? How else could this be done?”
  • Encourage your children to tell you, a teacher or another trusted adult at school if a problem persists. Asking for help is another way of growing and adding new ideas to one’s toolbox. 

Remain Flexible

  • There is one thing that is certain...not everything is going to go as planned. Prepare your children for this. Let them know that things may change, but you will be there to provide them information as you have it and support along the way.  

Establish Your New Routine

  • Establishing a predictable, consistent routine is a way to feel some certainty during uncertain times. It can make us feel more secure and in control. Start small with a daily “to do” list or expand upon what you may have already put into place. Just do your best to be consistent.

Reestablish Connections

  • Find ways to get your children reacquainted with peers they may not have interacted with recently. Arrange a time for your children to get together with some of their classmates before school starts to help them re-establish positive social relationships. 

Know that Resources are Available

  • If your children experience anxiety from transitioning back to school that they are struggling to cope with, do not hesitate to reach out for help. Besides the classroom teacher, many other support staff at school are available to assist including the school counselor, school psychologist, or school social worker.

f you or someone you know may be experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis, text HOME to 741741 to reach a crisis counselor, call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 988.


Traffic-Related Back-to-School Safety

Together with the Fairfax County Police Department, FCPS would like to remind everyone how we can work together to ensure that everyone has a safe school year. 

The police department has provided a list of the 5 S’s, which, if ignored, create unsafe situations. 

Speed Limits

School zones are marked with 25 MPH flashing signs. These flashing lights start 30 minutes before the start of school and remain on 30 minutes after dismissal. Do not ignore those signs; even if you do not see children crossing! 

Stop Signs 

Stop Signs are installed at locations where a full stop is necessary for everyone’s safety. A full stop means that your wheels stop turning and you feel the weight of your vehicle shift. Always assume that the pedestrian is going to cross whether they have the right-of-way or not. Parents should remind their children that they need to make sure cars have stopped before entering the street and to wait for crossing guards to wave them across a guarded crossing.

School Buses

Many drivers get confused about when they have to stop and when they can pass a school bus with flashing lights. Drivers must stop when the red lights are flashing on a school bus when there are no raised medians or walls between their travel lanes and the school bus. Police follow school buses and are ready to issue reckless driving tickets. The penalty includes $2,500 in fines and loss of your license for six months and up to 180 days in jail. 

Safe Stopping

Some drivers stop in the middle of the roadway to load and unload passengers. This is extremely dangerous, especially if children exit on the roadway side of a vehicle. State Law does not allow the loading and unloading of passengers from a roadway. Please load and unload children in the designated Kiss and Ride locations, or from designated, safe parking locations. Tickets may be issued for illegal parking in and around schools because of the safety issues that are created.


State Law requires everyone 17 and under to be seat-belted at all times. This is especially important for children. The short drive from home to school may be the time when an accident occurs. Children need to be seat-belted until the car reaches its location and has fully stopped. Children should not be in the habit of removing seat belts because they “see the school” or because they are “almost there.” Drivers CAN be stopped for unbelted children and ticketed.

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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