FCPS Wellness Newsletter Winter 2023

Winter 2023


FCPS Wellness Newsletter

Preventing Seasonal Flu

graphic of lion and cat with words "go from wild to mild"


Flu season is here, and flu activity is expected to increase as winter approaches.  Protect yourself and your loved ones by following the tips below to stay healthy and avoid becoming severely ill.

  • Get vaccinated. It is recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older as the single best way to reduce the risk of seasonal flu.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Stay home if you are sick, if possible.

  • Always cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

  • Wash your hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; especially after contact with high touch surfaces.

  • Get plenty of sleep, manage stress, stay hydrated, and eat healthy food.

For more information, visit the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Influenza webpage.

Know the Facts About Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that affects the lungs and breathing passages. RSV season starts in the fall and peaks in the winter in most regions of the U.S.

It is spread from person-to-person through close contact, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms of RSV can include coughing, sneezing, wheezing, runny/stuffy nose, fever, and decrease in appetite. For infants and older adults, an RSV infection can lead to serious illness, hospitalization, and even death.

The Fairfax County Health Department encourages RSV immunization for those who are eligible. A new RSV antibody preventative treatment for babies and toddlers was recently approved by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It may take time for the new treatment to become widely available. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine which option is best for you and your children.

These immunizations will not stop RSV from spreading in our community but will protect those people most vulnerable to severe illness. Everyone can continue to help limit the spread of RSV and other respiratory illnesses by practicing healthy habits, including washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning frequently touched surfaces, and staying home when sick.

#FFXHealthFacts about RSV to share

  • RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but can be serious for infants and older adults. 
  • RSV infections can be dangerous for older adults, adults with chronic heart or lung disease, and adults with weakened immune systems.
  • RSV infections can be dangerous for premature infants, very young infants, children younger than 2 years of age with chronic lung or heart conditions, and children with weakened immune systems.
  • Help prevent the spread of RSV. Stay home when you are sick and practice good hand and respiratory hygiene.
  • If you have cold-like symptoms, avoid contact and refrain from kissing children at high risk for severe RSV disease.

For more information, visit https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/rsv.

Life is Better with Clean Hands



December is Handwashing Awareness Month. The CDC has created a nationwide campaign, “Life is Better with Clean Hands,” to help encourage clean hands through healthy hand hygiene habits. 

Handwashing is an easy and effective way to prevent the spread of germs from one individual  to another, or within our community, including at home, the workplace, schools, and childcare facilities. Studies have shown hand washing can prevent one in three gastrointestinal-related illnesses and one in five respiratory-related illnesses, including the common cold and influenza.

The CDC outlines five essential steps for effective handwashing:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. It is important to include the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice. 
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

When soap and water are unavailable, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, containing at least 60% alcohol, can be used. 

For more information, visit the CDC’s Handwashing page.

Social Connectedness and Our Health

people's hands in a stack

Youth and adults are social beings by nature. According to the CDC, “when people are socially connected and have stable and supportive relationships, they are more likely to make healthy choices and have better mental and physical health outcomes.They are also better able to cope with hard times, stress, anxiety, and depression.” Regardless of age, building relationships supports the individual, and others in the community. 

There are ways of improving connectedness to others. Although it is not a one-size-fits-all approach, we can all contribute to the well-being of our youth and families by expanding our connections to others. 

Some helpful tips for building connectedness include:

  • Enjoy time with friends and family. Consider removing external distractions such as technology while eating meals and engaging in other activities. 
  • Consider volunteering in the community. Supporting others can help someone and make you feel good too. 
  • Get to know your neighbors.
  • Connect with a social group with shared interests. This may include sports, hobbies, or activities through community.
  • Be mindful of the amount of time spent online. Time online means less time spent in-person with friends and family.
  • Review local resources that support individuals and families in Fairfax County through Neighborhood and Community Services.

If you are experiencing concerns related to stress or loneliness, talk with a health care provider. They can support you in managing major life changes, and feelings of isolation. If you or someone you care about is in crisis, call or text the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988, or go to your nearest emergency room.

Tips for Keeping Kids Active in Winter

graphic of people playing in the snow with text "Let it snow"

Winter arrives bringing shorter and colder days.  With a little planning and the tips below, you can have fun while staying safe and warm:

  • Wear Protective Clothing
    • Dress in layers for warmth
    • Wear hats and gloves
    • Insulated boots are a must
    • Wear bright/light colored clothing if outside as it gets dark earlier
  • Take Breaks Indoors
    • Set reasonable limits on amount of time spent outside
    • Kids lose heat more quickly because they are smaller
    • Trade wet clothes for warm, dry wear
    • Stay hydrated, even in winter
  • Have Fun!
  • Take family bike rides or walks
  • Have relay races
  • Enjoy the snow
    • Build a snowman
    • Go sledding
    • Have a friendly snowball fight

For some ideas of what to do outdoors, take a look at the Fairfax County Park Authority’s winter events happening across the county.

New Menu Offerings for Students Across All Grade Levels

photo of group of students sampling food at a food services  event

The Office of Food and Nutrition Services is delighted to introduce more than a dozen new recipes to the menus. Beginning in October, 1-2 new recipes have been introduced to students each week. New additions to the lunch menus include a chicken parmesan sandwich, meatball sub, and flatbread pizzas, just to name a few. Hot sandwiches have also been added to the breakfast menus. To view our complete list of menu offerings, please visit https://fcps.nutrislice.com/menu/.

In addition, the Office of Food and Nutrition Services held its inaugural “Future of FCPS Student Food Show on Monday, November 13th. More than 200 students were invited to sample and provide feedback on various breakfast and lunch recipes. Students were able to sample dishes, including Nashville-style hot chicken tacos, Korean-style BBQ chicken and Greek-inspired turkey gyros. The feedback gathered from the event will shape future menu offerings, which will not only have an emphasis on being scratch made but are also inclusive to cultural and/or religious dietary needs, including vegetarian, vegan, halal and kosher options.

Revamp Your Holiday Baking

photo of Student baking with teacher in background


It’s the time of year when we allow ourselves the opportunity to enjoy the comfort foods that bring back memories of holidays past. We look forward, all year long, to Oma's delicious macaroni and cheese and the scrumptious chocolate pecan pie that Gigi brings each year. The smells and tastes of our favorite holiday dishes bring such joy to each of us, how could we possibly resist. The answer is, you shouldn’t.  

Holiday foods come around once a year, family and friends eagerly anticipate sharing meals and recipes of their favorite dishes all year long. But as the season kicks off and there are more and more holiday events, there are some easy ways to continue to enjoy these favorites. With just a few little tweaks we can offer a slightly healthier version of those staple menu items. So as you plan for your upcoming holiday events, consider making these recipe swaps to lighten up your favorite recipes.

Instead of:

Try this:


Unsweetened Applesauce

Sour Cream

Plain non-fat Greek yogurt

White Flour

Whole Wheat Flour

Whole Milk/Heavy Cream

Evaporated Milk

Chocolate Chips

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Cream Cheese

Low-fat Cream Cheese

Ground Beef

Ground Turkey or Chicken

Pie Crust

Graham Cracker Crust

Whole Milk

Skim Milk

Spread Joy, Not Germs, and Enjoy a Healthy Holiday

As friends and family gather, we remind all to help spread joy not germs. Also, are you aware of your dietary patterns and guidelines for 2020-2025? Check them out to ensure healthy eating for a healthy weight for yourself and those you care about.

2023-2024 Wellness Reporting

This spring, FCPS will implement annual wellness reporting, as required by FCPS Regulation 2100. Previous wellness reporting results for each school are available to the public and may be accessed on the FCPS Wellness Reporting Webpage.

In April, principals will again receive communication from the FCPS Wellness Leadership Team to complete the 2023-2024 Wellness Survey for their school.  Wellness committee members may be asked by administrators to support wellness reporting in their school communities. Thank you, in advance, for your support of FCPS wellness reporting.