News Items for Use in School, Department, and Office Newsletters and Other FCPS Publications

These articles are provided as a service from the Office of Communication and Community Relations. They can be used in any FCPS or PTA publication. For more information or to suggest an article idea, contact the curator below. This page is updated monthly during the school year.

Note: If you would like to be notified when new content has been added to this page, sign up to receive information from the News You Choose system and select the Newswire option. (NEW!)

New Articles for May:

Recent Articles and Articles of Continuing Interest:

Articles of Year-Round Interest

Statement from Fairfax County School Board Chairman Pat Hynes on Board of Supervisors Passage of the FY 2017 Budget

On behalf of the Fairfax County School Board, I want to express my appreciation for the Board of Supervisors' support of our budget goals for Fiscal Year 2017 (2016-17 school year). The county's FY 2017 operating budget, adopted today (April 26) by a majority of Supervisors, includes the greatest increase in the transfer to the schools in a decade, and reflects a shared commitment to reinvesting in our great school system.

When the School Board adopted our FY 2017 Advertised Budget in January, we knew it was a very hopeful budget. It proposed a basic raise for all employees, a $40 million investment to move teacher salaries closer to market average, new lower caps on elementary class size, and no more cuts to an already strained school system. We hoped that with support from the community and our county and state funding partners, we could turn the corner after eight years of austerity and begin reinvesting in our great schools. 

With today's vote, the Board of Supervisors joins us in that commitment. We look forward to continuing, deeper collaboration as both boards plan for future needs and challenges, beginning with support for a more diverse and stable revenue base. Continued over-reliance on homeowners' property taxes is not sustainable.

I must also take this opportunity to thank the thousands of community advocates who lifted a clear, positive, and sustained voice in support of restoring funding for our beloved school system. We have more work ahead and it is very gratifying to know that this community is fully committed to its schools.

Learn more at

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Fairfax County School Board Directs Superintendent to Draft Pre-Labor Day Start Calendar for 2017-18 Year

The Fairfax County School Board has directed Superintendent Karen K. Garza to draft a calendar for the 2017-18 school year that begins the school year one week earlier prior to Labor Day. Due to this action, the 2017-18 school year will begin on Monday, August 28, 2017.

This change is being made to provide more instructional time before winter break, enhanced flexibility to help students and school staff members meet college application deadlines, and to end the school year earlier in June.

In order to help families and employees adjust, the board is providing direction 15 months prior to the change going into effect.

Input from employee, parent, and community stakeholders will be considered when developing the final 2017-18 calendar for School Board consideration in late fall.   

The 2016-17 school year calendar was approved by the School Board on December 3, 2015; the first day of the 2016-17 school year will be September 6

See the 2016-17 calendar at

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Parents: What Are Your Thoughts About Grading?

Fairfax County Public Schools is examining the grading policies in middle and high schools to ensure that grades represent learning and that grading practices are equitable across schools. See information at

Students were recently surveyed about grading and now FCPS wants to hear from parents.

There are four specific areas of grading under consideration for change:

  • Separating work habits from achievement.
  • Providing opportunities for students to retake assessments.
  • Minimizing impact of a single grade on a quarter grade.
  • Examining the impact of zeros in a 100 point scale.

Share your thoughts about current grading practices and on how best to ensure grade equity within the school division by going to

The four identified areas were selected intentionally to ensure that grades are an accurate representation of student learning and that FCPS’ practices support all students as they work to master the content. Schools need to be a place where students continually increase their knowledge and develop their skills, and as a result, FCPS must have practices in place to help students succeed.  

Many of these practices are already in place at the school or teacher team level. The current policy allows for principals to implement best practices as school communities are ready. It is now time to update division policy to bring all schools into better alignment to ensure all students are provided the opportunity to reach their full potential.

We invite you to learn more about FCPS grading by viewing the FCPS Parent's Guide to Examining Grading Policies (video), available at, which provides additional information and a timeline for decision-making and implementation.

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Registration Now Open for Select 2016 High School Summer Programs

Registration is now open for Fairfax County Public Schools Credit Recovery Academy, SOL Remediation, SOL Test-Only, Summer Online Campus High School, and ESOL Online. Students should register for programs based on the grade they are in during the current 2015-16 school year.

  • Credit Recovery Academy—For students in grades 9-12 who are repeating a class and are seeking credit for high school level courses. This program will be held at Stuart High School, West Potomac High School, and Herndon High school. Courses run July 11-29. Registration is open until July 5.

  • SOL Remediation—For middle and high school students who have passed a high school level course and need to pass the SOL test. Held at Stuart High School, West Potomac High School, and Herndon High School from July 11-29. Registration is open until July 5.

  • SOL Test-Only—For FCPS seniors who plan to graduate by the end of August and passed an SOL course but failed the SOL test. Students in Grade 11 English during the 2015-2016 school year may register for the writing test. The non-writing tests in reading, math, science, and social studies will be held July 29 and writing will be held July 18 to 21. Registration is open until July 5.

  • Summer Online Campus High School—New and repeat online high school courses for high school students and middle school students who meet the prerequisites. Health & Physical Education (9 and 10) and Geometry Honors run July 5 to August 5; Algebra Head Start runs July 25 to July 29; other courses run July 5 to August 2. Registration is open until June 24.

  • ESOL Online—The ESOL Online Campus class provides FCPS middle and high school ESOL students the opportunity to engage in thematic lessons in an online environment with an ESOL teacher.  Through this three-week class, students will continue to develop their academic reading and writing skill in an online discussion with an ESOL teacher. This is a noncredit class that starts July 5 and ends July 22. Registration is open until May 27.

Visit for information about all FCPS Summer Learning Programs.

Register for summer programs by visiting     

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All Fairfax County High Schools Make Washington Post’s List of Top High Schools in U.S.

All Fairfax County high schools have been designated among the most demanding public schools in the country and are featured in the 2016 Washington Post list of more than 2,300 U.S. high schools, found at, which represents the top 11 percent in the nation.

McLean High School had the highest ranking of FCPS high schools on the list, which is based on a formula devised by Washington Post education reporter Jay Mathews.

The Challenge Index measures public and private high schools’ ability to challenge their students. A school’s ranking is determined by dividing the number of college-level tests given by a school to all its students by the number of graduates for that year. The index is designed to identify schools that challenge average students.

Note: Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, which serves students across the region, was not included in the list because of its selective admissions process. It is recognized in a separate group of top-performing schools with elite students. 

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Deadline for 2016 Student "Mentors Make a Difference" Essay Contest Is May 20

An opportunity for students to showcase writing ability and acknowledge an individual who has “made a difference” is available. Students may submit a one-page essay describing a mentor, tutor, school volunteer, or business partner who has had a significant impact on their education or life.

The submission deadline is 4 p.m. on Friday, May 20. Winners will receive notification by June 3. Winners will receive a certificate and cash award of $100 thanks to the generosity of Apple Federal Credit Union.

More information is available online.

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FCPS, Fairfax County Designate May as Parents Who Host, Lose the Most Month

May has been proclaimed Parents Who Host, Lose the Most Month by the Fairfax County School Board and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in support of a countywide initiative that aims to reduce underage drinking as prom and graduation seasons approach. This marks the tenth year county officials have joined in support of this education campaign with the Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County (UPC).

The Board of Supervisors adopted a proclamation April 26 and the School Board passed a resolution at its April 28 meeting in support of the Parents Who Host, Lose the Most: Don’t Be a Party to Teenage Drinking public awareness campaign that informs parents and other adults about the legal ramifications and health and safety risks of serving alcohol to teens. UPC and its high school Youth Council urge parents and county residents to not provide alcohol to teens and to report underage drinking parties by calling the police department’s non-emergency number at 703-691-2131.

“Prevention efforts, including parents talking to their teens and modeling appropriate behavior, are critical and must be consistent, particularly during prom and graduation season,” the School Board resolution notes.

Data from the 2008 through 2014 Fairfax Youth Surveys shows that the campaign by the UPC, its collaborative prevention partners, and parents has worked to reduce alcohol use. The number of eighth, tenth, and twelfth grade students who said they had consumed alcohol in the last 30 days has dropped from 27.9 percent in 2008 to 19.2 percent in 2014, and binge drinking for the same grade levels from 13.7 percent to 8.8 percent overall. Alcohol remains the most commonly used illegal drug by Fairfax County students.

  • Underage youth say they can easily get alcohol from family and friends, even though it is illegal in Virginia for a person under 21 years of age to consume or possess alcohol, and it is illegal for an adult to provide alcohol to a person under 21 years of age.

  • Underage alcohol use is associated with other drug use, including marijuana and prescription medicines, and can lead to traffic crashes and fatalities, rape, depression, suicide, educational failure, violence, and gang involvement.     

Regular alcohol consumption, especially binge or high-risk drinking, impairs learning and memory during critical academic years as the brain continues to develop into the mid-20s. 

UPC is a nonprofit organization that partners with more than 60 community organizations to keep youth and young adults safe and drug free. Parents Who Host, Lose the Most is a program of the Drug-Free Action Alliance.

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Keep Your Emergency Contact and Health Information Up-to-Date by Using weCare@school

Fairfax County Public Schools is committed to ensuring a safe and secure climate in all its facilities. In support of this goal, FCPS provides the weCare@school (weCare) online emergency care information service for parents and guardians who have registered to access FCPS 24-7 Learning (also known as Blackboard), found at

Parents should use weCare to update their information annually at the start of school and thereafter whenever changes to the health or contact information (such as your phone number or e-mail address) occur during the course of the school year.

weCare allows parents to use a secure web-based option for keeping their child’s emergency care and health information current. For example, if a parent needs to change an emergency contact number or update his or her child’s medical condition(s), accessing weCare in FCPS 24-7 Learning provides a quick, easy, and secure method for doing so.

Keeping emergency contact information current also ensures that FCPS will be able to contact you in case of an emergency such as a school closing or delayed opening. 

Parent online access is just one of three major weCare components. Once a parent updates his or her child’s information using weCare, the school’s student information assistant reviews the submission and confirms the information before the student information database is updated.

Additionally, weCare has a mobile component that provides first responders with access to emergency care information via handheld wireless devices. 

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FCPS Prom Dress Shop Now Open at Fair Oaks Mall

Fairfax County Public Schools marketing students from Centreville High School and the Fair Oaks Classroom on the Mall program have opened their annual Fair Oaks Prom Dress Shop. The dress shop, which has been in business for more than ten years, has helped hundreds of financially challenged students attend prom in style each spring.
Donations of stylish, high-quality, dry-cleaned prom dresses and select accessories can be dropped off in the main office of Centreville High School between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. or at the shop in Fair Oaks Mall during the shop hours listed below.

Centreville High School Fashion Marketing students started collecting donated dresses as a way to combine their interest in fashion with community service. They quickly came to the conclusion that students would not feel comfortable “shopping” for a dress at school.  They decided that the shop should be set up in another location to give students a more authentic shopping experience, which led them to partner with the Fair Oaks Classroom on the Mall program.

The Classroom on the Mall students apply the retail marketing and visual merchandising skills learned throughout the school year to transform their classroom into the Fair Oaks Prom Dress Shop. “This is an excellent opportunity to accomplish several goals at once,” said Miranda Schick, Centreville High School and Classroom on the Mall instructor. “First, students apply marketing lessons learned to a real-world retail environment. Second, they support the School Board’s goals to be responsible members of our community by helping those who are less fortunate.” 

The Prom Dress Shop is located on the upper level of Fair Oaks Mall in the vacant space next to Papyrus.  The entrance to the shop is located next to the Pepsi machines inside the Cheesecake Factory and Brio Tuscan Grill mall entrance across from the Picture People.  Students from any area high school who are in need of a prom dress, and do not have the funds to purchase one, can come to the Prom Dress Shop. They must show a valid student ID, or other form of school identification, in order to select a free dress during the following store hours:

  • Friday, May 13, 4 to 7 p.m.

  • Saturday, May 14,  2 to 5 p.m.

  • Sunday, May 15,  1 to 4 p.m.

  • Friday, May 27, 4 to 7 p.m.

  • Saturday, May 28,  2 to 5 p.m.

  • Sunday, May 29, 1 to 4 p.m.

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Adult and Community Education 60th Anniversary Celebration to Be Held on May 22 at Plum Center

Fairfax County Public Schools' Adult and Community Education (ACE) is celebrating its 60th anniversary on Sunday, May 22, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Plum Center for Lifelong Learning (6815 Edsall Road, Springfield). The event includes activities, demonstrations, and food for children and adults.

As part of the celebration, event participants who register for one class will receive 40 percent off tuition for a second class (with an equal or lesser tuition amount*).

This is a one-day promotion that applies only to walk-in enrollments at the Plum Center during the ACE 60th Anniversary Celebration.

* Certain restrictions apply. This offer cannot be combined with any other discounts or coupons.

To learn more about ACE, go to

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FCPS Families in Free Meals Program May Be Eligible for Low-Cost Internet Program

Fairfax County Public Schools families who are enrolled in the free meals program may be eligible for Cox Communications’ Connect2Compete program, which provides broadband Internet connectivity to low-income families.

Connect2Compete supplies broadband Internet access to low-income, unconnected families who live in Fairfax County, providing Internet access at home for homework help, online educational materials, and job searches. Qualifying families—those who are eligible for free meals and who meet other criteria—will be offered Internet service for $9.95 per month, a free modem rental, free installation, and a price guarantee for two years.

For more information about the program, call 1-855-222-3252 or visit

Families who live in areas served by Comcast may be able to get low-cost Internet and computers through the Comcast Internet Essentials program. Call 1-855-846-8376 or visit

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Foundation for FCPS Meets Challenge Grant from Community Foundation for Northern Virginia

The Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools and the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia (CFNV) have partnered to increase cybersecurity awareness and education in FCPS. Students in 10 middle schools throughout the district will be invited to participate in Cyber Patriot afterschool clubs beginning in the 2016-17 school year, thanks to a challenge grant from the CFNV that was matched by the Foundation.

"We are delighted to be able to work with the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia on this endeavor for our students," said Elizabeth Murphy, executive director of the Foundation for FCPS. "FCPS is already a Cyber Patriot Center of Excellence, and to expand the program into middle schools is exactly the kind of work that the Foundation was established to do."

The 10 middle schools are currently in process of identifying the teacher champions for the program in each school, and then will let students and parents know of the opportunity and when it will be implemented. 

As Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said recently, one of the most important catalysts for long-term economic growth in Virginia will come from the burgeoning cybersecurity sector. Enabling students to learn more about this growing field at an earlier age will inspire them to make room in their high school schedule for cyber courses, and perhaps lead to a career in this exciting work.

The Foundation for FCPS secured funding from Oracle, the Fairfax Economic Forum, and Apple Federal Credit Union in order to meet the match. Thank you to our donors and supporters for seeing the value of this project to FCPS.

More information about the Foundation for FCPS can be found at

Support the Foundation for FCPS Through your Amazon Purchases

When you shop at, you can benefit the Foundation for FCPS. To do so, register at and designate the Foundation for FCPS as your charity. The Foundation supports programs in workforce development, classroom innovation, and student success.

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Tip Sheet for Parents: You Can Say ‘No’ to Teens Without Feeling Guilty

You’re not alone if you have a hard time telling your teen “no.” To most people, saying “no” feels like you’re rejecting your teen, not just your teen’s request. And when parents say no, they’re usually in for a fight most would rather avoid.

But since parents must say “no,” here are some ways to make the task easier:

  • Realize that teens count on our saying “no.” It gives them a sense of relief to know what the limits are. Sometimes it lets them off the hook with their friends.
  • Give yourself time to think about your answer. Kids like it when they know parents consider their requests. Plus it’s easier to say “no” when you understand the reasons why you need to. If you find you don’t need to, you can say “yes.”
  • Ask questions, so you can make an informed decision. For example, why does your teen want to do this? Does he feel it’s safe? Is there something else he should do instead?
  • Get other opinions, if this is a decision you don’t want to—or shouldn’t make—on your own. Tell your teen, “I need to speak to your father” or “I want to talk to your friends’ parents before I decide.”
  • Don’t say “no” flat out (“That’s it, Bud”). It sounds too much like a challenge—a direct attack on your teen’s autonomy. Your teen will likely respond to this “call to arms” with a counterattack.
  • Give information. Instead of saying, "No, you can’t play now, ” say, “We need to get ready to go to the store.”
  • Describe the problem. “I’d like to do that, but I have to get dinner ready by six.”
  • Say what you’re “willing to do,” instead.

Always mean it when you say it—so kids can count on your word and not have to second-guess you.

Note: Copyright 2016. Reprinted with permission from the Parent Institute. Additional tip sheets and other resources for parents and families can be found on the Family and School Partnerships website at

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FCPS Homework and Grading Policy Review

Fairfax County Public Schools is examining current grading policies and practices in the middle and high schools.  This effort began last year and continues as we work towards meeting the related outcome included in the FCPS strategic plan:  Grading will be an accurate reflection of learning

This one statement has prompted important questions such as:

  • Do grades represent a student’s achievement or their work habits?
  • Does the way grades are calculated result in misrepresentation of student achievement?
  • Do grading practices encourage students to be persistent in achieving mastery?

Each of these questions provides opportunities to reflect on the current state and investigate best practices for future actions.

Another aspect of the grading work is related to concerns that policies and practices are not consistent across all schools, and therefore, there may be inequity when competing for post-secondary opportunities. Parents, students, and teachers have expressed their concerns and highlight the need for divisionwide policy.  

School and division leaders have been meeting with teachers and students to discuss grading policies. Just recently a survey of high school students across FCPS was conducted to better understand their experiences and beliefs related to both grading and homework. 

Thousands of responses were submitted and the results will be analyzed and used to inform the decision making. Through all of this work, it is clear that most people have very strong beliefs and opinions about the divisionwide grading policies. For this reason, FCPS is taking time to consider the multiple perspectives, the current research, and the lessons learned by schools inside and outside FCPS as we move towards changes to our policy for the coming school year. 

FCPS will provide updates as the process continues and decisions are made about changes to our grading policy. 

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Corey Thornblad Named FCPS Outstanding Teacher; Justine Klena Named FCPS Outstanding Principal

Corey Thornblad, social studies teacher at Kilmer Middle School, and Justine Klena, principal of Herndon Middle School, have been named the 2016 FCPS Outstanding Teacher and Outstanding Principal, respectively.

Thornblad has taught at Kilmer since 2004, and served as social studies department chair and civics collaborative team leader. She will represent FCPS in Virginia’s Teacher of the Year competition; the winner will be announced in fall 2016. Thornblad is also a finalist for the Washington Post's Teacher of the Year Award, which recognizes excellence in teaching, encourages creative and quality instruction, and contributes to improving education in the Washington area. Thornblad receives a $3,000 prize from FCPS for being named 2016 Outstanding Teacher.

More information about Thornblad's award is available at

Klena began her career in FCPS in 2002, serving as an assistant principal at Herndon Middle School. She then served as an assistant principal at Cooper Middle School from 2004-08 before returning to Herndon Middle as principal. Klena is a finalist for the Washington Post's Principal of the Year Award. She is also an executive board member of the FCPS Middle School Principals Association. Klena receives a $3,000 prize from FCPS for being named 2016 Outstanding Principal.

More information about Klena's award is available at

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Virginia Department of Education Implements Changes to Math SOL for Grades 3, 7, and 8

Beginning this spring, students taking the grade 3, 7, or 8 Standards of Learning (SOL) mathematics tests will be administered a computer adaptive version of the test. Last year, the grade 6 mathematics SOL was administered using the computer adaptive format for the first time. The result was the overall pass rate for FCPS sixth graders in mathematics increased by three percentage points from 88 percent in 2013-14 to 91 percent passing in 2014-15.

A Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) is an assessment that is customized for each student based on how the student responds to the test questions. A correct response leads to a more difficult question, while an incorrect response leads to the selection of a less difficult question. Based on the student’s responses, the computer selects questions and problems that are neither too difficult nor too easy for the student.

Computer adaptive testing has been proven to increase student focus and engagement because students are asked questions based upon their responses to previous questions. The development of computer adaptive testing is part of the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) continuing efforts to provide students with the best possible testing experience. 

All questions on the computer adaptive version of the SOL mathematics test for grades 3, 7, and 8 will be based on the grade level mathematics standards. Scores on a CAT are determined by the number of questions a student answers correctly and the relative difficulty of the correctly answered items.  While the questions and problems on a CAT vary in difficulty from student to student, all students must answer the same number of questions to complete the test.  Due to the customized nature of the test, a CAT is able to determine a student’s proficiency with fewer questions than a traditional SOL test.  Student responses on a CAT are scored in the sequence in which they are presented; therefore, students are not able to skip questions or return to previous questions. 

Students taking the grade 3, 6, 7, or 8 mathematics tests will take the SOL test administered in a computer adaptive format this year. Other SOL tests that students take this year will be administered using the traditional format in which all students who take a particular version of the test respond to the same test questions. Teachers and other instructional staff are working with students who will take the computer adaptive mathematics test this year to help them prepare for this new testing experience, including opportunities to practice taking this type of test before the Spring SOL testing window begins.

For additional information about the Computer Adaptive Test, go to the Virginia Department of Education's website at

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2016 Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair Results

The Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair, was held March 11-13 at Robinson Secondary School. Results and photos are available at

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FCPS Named Top 10 Digital District by Center for Digital Education

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has been named one of the 2016 top 10 Digital Districts in the Center for Digital Education’s and National School Boards Association’s annual Digital School Districts Survey. Now in its 12th year, the Digital School Districts Survey Awards recognize school districts and school boards for exemplary and innovative use of technology in the classroom and in the delivery of district services.

Additional information is available at   

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Registration Now Open for Spring 2016 Adult and Community Education Classes

Registration is under way for spring 2016 classes offered by Adult and Community Education (ACE). Course offerings may be viewed at, and online registration is available. The course catalog, ACE Classes, has been mailed to residents and is also available at Fairfax County public libraries and at the Plum Center.

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2016-17 Kindergarten Orientation and Registration

Will your child be five years old by September 30? If so, contact your child's school to make arrangements for kindergarten enrollment. Most schools begin getting information together in late March or early April for parents of incoming kindergartners, and many host an orientation or open house. Forms and other information about registration are available at

Please note that most kindergarten orientations are usually scheduled between mid-March and the end of June. Check the school's web page or contact the school directly for specific information about kindergarten in 2016-17.

For more information about kindergarten, go to

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2016 Graduation Schedule Available

The 2016 FCPS high school graduation schedule is now available online at

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Important Immunization Requirement: Do You Have a Student Entering Sixth Grade Next Year?

Sixth grade students cannot begin school in September without documentation of the Tdap booster. Parents or guardians should ask their private health care provider, or the health department, to review their child’s immunization record if they are unsure if their child has received the Tdap booster.

Documentation must be provided to the school registrar as soon as possible. A signed and dated immunization record from the physician stating that your child has received this immunization will be required. You may send in your documentation in advance, while your child is still in the fifth grade, to ensure that he or she meets this requirement before the first day of school in the fall.

Fairfax County Public Schools tracks compliance with this state requirement and students who do not meet the requirement before September 6, 2016, will not be able to start school.

Students can receive immunizations required for school at any Fairfax County Health Department immunization clinic. Information about health department clinic locations and hours can be found at  

More information about immunization requirements and exemptions can be found in the current version of FCPS Regulation 2101 and on the FCPS website at

If you have any questions, contact Sally Borkowski, school health specialist, Department of Special Services, at 571-423-4313 or  

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New Communication Tool: Get the FCPS Information You Want Through News You Choose

Fairfax County Public Schools has launched a new subscription-based e-mail communication tool, called News You Choose. This system replaces the Keep in Touch Plus subscription portal.

Parents will be able to select what information they want to receive and how often from individual schools, the School Board office and members, departments, programs, and PTA/PTO and booster organizations. 

Anyone can subscribe to News You Choose. Subscribers can select which schools they want to receive information from and what type of information—news and updates, athletics, band, PTA/PTO, and more. Subscribers can change their settings or unsubscribe at any time. 

News You Choose does not replace the essential information FCPS communicates through Keep In Touch (KIT) Basic using the Blackboard Connect system. Parents will continue to receive emergency messages, delayed openings and school closings, attendance messages, low lunch balances, and other critical information sent to the e-mail address listed on their child ’s emergency care card. Parents are automatically signed up to receive this essential information and will continue to receive messages.

News You Choose is now available for users to begin subscribing. FCPS is now using News You Choose to send e-mails. Please note that Newswire is now being sent through News You Choose.  

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Inclement Weather and Emergency Closing Plans

Due to inclement weather or other emergency situations, it may be necessary to close schools for the entire day, to open schools late, or to close early.

Parents are urged to make arrangements now for the care of their children when schedule changes are made (and to provide for the rare situation when it is necessary to close an individual school because of a power failure or other circumstances). Children should know where to go if a parent will not be home.

Decisions on schedule changes are made after careful study of the best information available from many sources including weather services, the highway department, the police, and FCPS transportation staff members who are out checking the roads. FCPS will make every effort to decide, before 4:30 a.m., whether to close or delay schools and will begin communicating the decision once it is made. The 4:30 a.m. decision time is a goal. Weather conditions can deteriorate after 4:30 a.m., which means that it may not be possible for FCPS to meet that goal. While no sources dealing with weather predictions can be infallible, decisions are made with one overriding consideration—the safety of all students—those who ride buses and those who walk to school each day.

FCPS has several schedules set up to deal with inclement weather; these are put into effect when conditions threaten the safety of children who are walking or riding school buses to schools. These schedules are:

(1) Keep schools closed. (2) Open two hours late. (3) Close two hours early.

When Fairfax County Public Schools has a schedule change (closing or delay) due to inclement weather or other emergencies, the information is communicated as soon as the decision is made in these ways:

  • Sent via e-mail and text message (SMS) to parents using the parent e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers that are listed in the Student Information System.  

  • Sent via e-mail to News You Choose subscribers of Delayed Openings and School Closings. (New, beginning January 2016)

  • Posted on

  • Posted on cable Channel 21, a channel programmed by FCPS.

  • Posted to the FCPS Facebook page at, and in Spanish at
  • Posted to the FCPS Twitter page at, and in Spanish at

  • Called in to local radio and television stations.

Please note: FCPS schools are open unless information is posted or sent that indicates schools are closed, opening late, or closing early. During an emergency closing situation in which other local school systems are closed or delayed and FCPS is open on time, the crawl for local TV stations WJLA (ABC 7) and NewsChannel 8 will indicate "No Report" for FCPS.

Instead of trying to phone a school or a news station for school closing information, update your contact information in the following ways:

  • Parents: View and update the e-mail and phone number contact information listed on your child(ren)'s emergency contact information form online using the "weCare@School-Update Emergency Care Info" module of FCPS 24-7 Learning (Blackboard), found at, or update manually by submitting the Emergency Care Information form (Form SS/SE-3), found at, to the office at your child's school.

  • Community Members: Subscribe or update your e-mail address through the News You Choose system. (New, beginning January 2016)

For more information, go to

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Technology@Home Program Offers Free Microsoft Products for FCPS Students

Technology@Home, a program offered by the FCPS Department of Information Technology, enables students and staff members to purchase technology products for home use directly from vendors at discount rates. It includes computers, software, and other technology products. One of the offerings is a benefit of the FCPS Microsoft Enterprise Agreement that allows current FCPS students to download Microsoft Office 365 for free and staff members to download these programs for a nominal fee.

For additional information, go to

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New for 2015-16: Text Messages for Parents

Beginning in mid-September, parent cell phone numbers will be enabled to receive text messages from FCPS. Only cell phone numbers that are listed in the parent/guardian contact information section of the emergency care information form (available at and recorded in the Student Information System will receive text messages. Parents and guardians can also use the weCare@school section of FCPS 24-7 Learning (available at to update contact information.

The text messages will only be used for emergency messages, attendance, and essential communications. Parents will be able to opt out of receiving text messages if they choose. Instructions on how to opt out will be sent to parents when the feature is launched.

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New Online Tool Provides Access to Student Information for Parents

The SIS (Student Information System) Parent Account is a new online tool parents can use to access information about their child’s attendance, class schedule and performance, discipline incidents, health information, and more. 

The secure account offers parents the ability to use one username and password login for both the SIS Parent Account and FCPS 24-7 Learning (Blackboard). Parents will continue to access FCPS 24-7 Learning via the URL Upon login, they will find assignments and course information, weCare@school (for emergency care forms), and Family Connection (goal setting and college and career resources) for their students.

Beginning in September, parents will use their newly activated parent accounts to log into FCPS 24-7 Learning.

During the past year, FCPS has phased in the implementation of SIS Parent Accounts in 11 pyramids. Beginning this year, all schools will be online allowing all parents access to their child’s information. Parents will receive a letter in the mail (if you haven't already) with instructions on how to create an account. Information parents will be able to access includes:

  • Attendance.
  • Class schedules (elementary will only show homeroom teacher).
  • Grade book, including assignments, quizzes, and tests with scores (high school and secondary schools).
  • Health information.
  • Discipline incidents.

In addition, parents will also be able to view school information, including teacher e-mail addresses, the FCPS calendar, and emergency contact information.

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Telephone Parent Information Line Available in Eight Languages

Parents who speak Ahmaric, Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, Urdu, or Vietnamese can call a telephone information line to help them learn general information about FCPS and to receive support if they are having difficulty communicating with their children's schools due to a language barrier.

The Parent Information Line numbers are:

  • Amharic—571-423-4957.
  • Arabic—571-423-4952
  • Chinese—571-423-4953
  • Farsi—571-423-4954
  • Korean—571-423-4951
  • Spanish—571-423-4950
  • Urdu—571-423-4955
  • Vietnamese—571-423-4956

A parent may call at any time, leave a message in his or her language, and receive a return phone call in that language from an FCPS staff member within 24 hours Monday through Friday.

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Phone Number and Web Address for Telephone Tip Line for Safety

As part of Fairfax County Public Schools' continuing efforts to maintain safe schools, a confidential and anonymous telephone hot line is available. The Tip Line phone number is 571-423-2020.

Individuals wishing to report activity can now text their concerns to 571-418-6870 by using the keyword TIP. An automated banner will respond allowing the person to text in information.

School administrators encourage students and community members to report school safety issues, such as threats, dangerous rumors, bullying, drug use, theft, harassment, gang activities, existence of weapons, and vandalism. Tip Line users may identify themselves or remain anonymous, and calls will not be traced.

Also, anyone can anonymously report information by using the comment field on a new page found at

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FCPS Directives Available Online

Virginia’s Standards of Quality require all school divisions to notify the public annually of the availability of the school system’s policies. Fairfax County Public Schools policies are available at A continuous review process ensures ongoing examination and revision of each policy, regulation, and notice as needed.

Any citizen who requests a hard copy of a directive has a right to receive it and should be provided the most current version printed from the website. The School Board office, at Gatehouse Administration Center, maintains the historical records of all directives.

For more information, call 571-423-1075.

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FCPS Bring Your Own Device Registration Process Streamlined

Fairfax County Public Schools is committed to assisting students and staff in creating a 21st century learning environment. In an effort to support this progress, students and staff are able to access the FCPS wireless network with their personal devices (laptops, netbooks, tablets, smart phones, etc,), also known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), during the school day. 

BYOD within FCPS has grown rapidly during the last several years. In fact, over 10,000 students registered for BYOD last year. While the registration process is essential and helps protect students and the FCPS network, the process itself has largely been a manual effort. As the BYOD program continues to grow, a new, more seamless and automated process for students to self-register their personal BYOD devices is being implemented. 

The system, FCPS Onboard, uses an application called Cloudpath XpressConnect to provide secure wireless authentication on the FCPS network. Users simply select the FCPSonboard wireless network from their device and follow the prompts to gain access. This secure connection protects both the resources on the FCPS network and the personal device connecting to the network. Once connected, students have access to FCPS resources on their personal devices throughout the school year.  

This year, BYOD is covered and governed by the Acceptable Use Policy for Student Network Access and within the Students Rights & Responsibilities (SR&R) document. Inclusion of BYOD expectations in the SR&R eliminates the need for a separate permission form to be signed by students and parents and school staff are no longer required to manually register and record each student device.

Does the BYOD Wireless System, FCPS Onboard Allow FCPS to Monitor Activities on BYOD Devices?

The BYOD wireless system, FCPS Onboard, is used solely for device registration, not device management and, therefore, doesn’t provide FCPS the capability to monitor activities on BYOD devices. The purpose of the system is to provide an easy-to-use mechanism to register BYOD devices to allow students and employees the ability to use their own device on the FCPS enterprise wireless network and Internet.

During the registration process, information such as IP address and MAC address are collected and logged. This information would be used to locate a device if it is misplaced or if inappropriate activity, in possible violation of the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), was traced back to a particular device on the network. It is not the intention of FCPS to actively manage, monitor or access BYOD devices. In situations where there is a potential AUP violation, FCPS does reserve the right to investigate all devices and activities on the FCPS network, including BYOD devices, to determine if any wrongdoing occurred.

More information about the FCPS BYOD program can be found at

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New FCPS Facebook Page in Spanish

FCPS now has an official school district Facebook page in Spanish.

Connect with FCPS in Spanish and get news, videos, emergency announcements, and parenting tips. Go to or search for “FCPS en Español - Fairfax County Public Schools”.

Once there, click “Like,” and also click “Follow” to make sure you are always receiving FCPS information in your News Feed.

Note to editors: If you would like to include a graphic of the FCPS Spanish Facebook page with your article, one is available at

Spanish Text:

Nueva página Facebook de las Escuelas Públicas del Condado de Fairfax (FCPS) en español

FCPS ahora tiene una página Facebook oficial del distrito escolar en español.

Manténganse en contacto con FCPS en español por Facebook y vean noticias, videos, anuncios de emergencia y sugerencias para la crianza de los hijos. Vayan a o busquen “FCPS en Español - Fairfax County Public Schools”.

Cuando estén en la página, pulsen "Me gusta" (Like) y también pulsen "Seguir" (Follow) para asegurarse de que siempre reciban información de FCPS en sus Noticias (News Feed).

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FCPS Cares

FCPS Cares is a new way for parents, students, colleagues, and community members to recognize Fairfax County Public Schools employees who do ordinary things in extraordinary ways or who go beyond what is expected.

Learn more at

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Another Great Reason to Download the FCPS Mobile App

Fairfax County Public Schools has a mobile app for parents and students to provide easy access to individual school and district information you need where and when you need it.

Here's what you can do with the mobile app:

  • Get the latest news from FCPS in Top Stories.
  • Need help or know someone who does? Click on Crisis Resources for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Check out lunch menus in the Energy Zone icon.
  • Find your school in the Directory.
  • Find important school year dates and events in Calendars.
  • Go to Settings to get news and updates from schools you select.
  • Need to find schedule information for your sports teams? Click on the Sports icon to get information about all your favorite athletic teams.
  • Check out the FCPS Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages.
  • Read the FCPS Go to Guide (formerly the handbook).

The FCPS Mobile app is free and available now for download on Android devices, iPhones, and iPads in the iTunes or Google Play stores.

Note: The FCPS Mobile app will continue to be updated with new features throughout the year. It is intended to be a convenient tool to find information and is not intended to replace the FCPS website.

The FCPS Go to Guide is also available online at

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Are You Interested in Becoming a Mentor?

Mentoring in Fairfax County Public Schools occurs throughout the entire school system and at all levels. According to data from the 2010-11 school year, a total of 172 mentoring programs are in place in FCPS: 118 elementary school programs, 21 middle school programs, and 33 high school programs. These data also indicated that approximately 5,500 students in FCPS were being mentored.

If you are interested, consider several factors, including the age and number of young people you want to work with—elementary, middle, or high school-age children; one youth or several. (There is a difference between mentoring a child one on one versus coaching a group of young people). Also, consider the setting that you may want to mentor in, such as a school, the community, or a business.

For more information, go to

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FCPSinfo Portal Added to FCPS Website

Do you have a question, idea, suggestion, concern, or compliment you need to have addressed by FCPS? FCPS has an online tool that allows parents, students, employees, and community members to submit information that will be delivered to the appropriate department to address your questions and comments.

The new FCPSinfo portal is available by clicking on the Contact Us link in the upper right-hand corner on every page of the FCPS website, Follow these easy steps:

  • Click on the blue button marked FCPSinfo.
  • Select a category.
  • Submit your comment and contact information.

An FCPS staff member will respond to you soon as possible.

For more information, contact Kathleen Thomas at 571-423-1214 or  

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Help for Parents on Youth Depression and Positive Mental Health

All parents want their children to be successful and happy, and often need help on how to promote achievement, positive self-esteem, adaptive problem-solving skills, and resiliency.

According to Elsie Scimecca, program manager for School Psychology Services, FCPS offers many resources to parents who have concerns about the emotional and behavioral health of their child or teen, and want to know more about what they can do to help them grow up healthy and safe.

"If you have any doubts about your child's emotional health, it's best to err on the side of caution," says Scimecca. "Every school has a school counselor, social worker, and psychologist available. Parents can call their child's school to schedule a confidential appointment with any of these professionals to discuss their child's wellbeing."

She says the key is to recognize possible signs of depression, such as being sad or angry, social withdrawal, feeling worthless, sleeping too much or too little, substance abuse, and risk-taking. Although some of these behaviors are often part of a normal adolescence, any change of mood or behavior that lasts more than two weeks is a potential warning sign.

Scimecca adds that "we want all parents to be aware that there are mental health professionals who are available in the schools to consult with them, help determine if their child is depressed, and work with them to develop a plan to address their child’s concerns. Even during the summer months, consultation with a school psychologist or social worker can be arranged by contacting one of our parent clinics."

The Office of Intervention and Prevention Services also has a website devoted to youth depression and positive mental health, which has answers to questions, such as:

  • What can I do as a parent to help my child foster positive mental health and handle life’s challenges?
  • Are my youngster’s behaviors just part of “normal” adolescence or should I be worried?
  • How do I know if my child is depressed and what can I do to help?
  • When a teen talks about suicide, what should a parent do?
  • Where can I go for more help?

For more information, go to

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FCPS Partnership Starter Website

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has developed a new online tool that will help match potential partners with schools or an FCPS office or program. Business and community groups that are considering establishing a partnership and schools that are looking for a partner can use a new matchmaking tool, the FCPS Partnership Starter, found at

Completing the FCPS Partnership Starter questionnaire, which should take approximately five minutes, will help the Office of Business and Community Partnerships recommend a potential partner by matching keywords and using mapping tools.

If a match is identified, there is no obligation to create a partnership with any potential partner.

When potential matches are identified, the Office of Business and Community Partnerships will first contact the FCPS principal or program manager that is matched to confirm his or her continued interest. If they remain interested, the business or community group contact will be notified so that conversations can begin with willing parties sharing like-minded objectives.

Information about the value of partnerships and how they are developed is available at

For more information on finding your match, visit the FCPS Business and Community Partnerships website at

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FCPS Families in Free Meals Program May Be Eligible for Low-Cost Internet Program

Fairfax County Public Schools families who are enrolled in the free meals program may be eligible for Cox Communications’ new Connect2Compete program, which provides broadband Internet connectivity to low-income families.

Connect2Compete supplies broadband Internet access to low-income, unconnected families who live in Fairfax County, enabling children to have Internet access at home for homework help, online educational materials, and job searches. Qualifying families—those who are eligible for free meals and who meet other criteria—will be offered Internet service for $9.95 per month, a free modem rental, free installation, and a price guarantee for two years.

For more information about the program, call 1-855-222-3252 or visit

Families who live in areas served by Comcast may be able to get low-cost Internet and computers through the Comcast Internet Essentials program. Call 1-855-846-8376 or visit

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FCPS E-Newsletter: My FCPS - Community

Do you know a member of the community without children in school who wants to know more about what's happening in Fairfax County Public Schools? If so, there is a e-newsletter for them called My FCPS - Community. All issues are available online at, and readers can also subscribe through Keep in Touch Plus ( to be notified when a new issue has been posted.

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FCPS Resiliency Program: Creating “Bounce Back” Kids

Every child has the inner strengths to be resilient. A new program by FCPS provides parents with the resources to build an environment of safety nets and help their children focus on their strengths to “bounce back” from adversity.

The new resiliency program builds on existing areas of focus for FCPS: bullying prevention and intervention, depression and suicide awareness, and crisis situations. Everyone faces life’s difficulties but many researchers have found that the growth of technology and social media has exposed children to increasing and more far-reaching pressures than in the past. They can include serious family and personal struggles, everyday challenges in the classroom, the intense need to succeed, and strained and confusing relationships with peers and parents.

The resiliency training that FCPS psychologists, social workers, and counselors have participated in has expanded to outside the classroom by providing information for parents to be aware, be informed, and know how to access resources to build resiliency in their children.

The web-based resources feature how parents can build on their children’s inner strengths to deal and rise above adversity with humor, creativity, persistence, and flexibility. Resources also include information on how external forces like the presence of a caring adult, clear and established boundaries, setting and meeting expectations, and mentoring or volunteering can help a child build resiliency.

For more information, go to

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Connect With FCPS on Social Media

Fairfax County Public Schools has expanded its use of social media, adding Flickr and YouTube to its existing presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Parents, students, employees, and citizens can view videos featured on FCPS cable TV Channel Red Apple 21 on YouTube by going to; the site is updated periodically. 

The FCPS Flickr account features photos from the schools with a focus on events and activities featuring students. New photos are added to the Flickr page at the end of each month. To view the photos, go to

FCPS has more than 68,000 followers on Facebook, where up-to-date news and information, including emergency school closing information, can be found. New entries are added to the Facebook page daily during the five-day work week. To follow FCPS on Facebook, visit and select Like at the top of the page. 

Over 130,000 people follow FCPS on Twitter (@fcpsnews), where news briefs and helpful information for parents and citizens is posted. To follow FCPS on Twitter, visit and click on Follow. 

Citizens can also receive FCPS news and information by subscribing to the school system’s News You Choose e-mail messaging system (, or by subscribing to RSS (really simple syndication). To learn more about RSS, visit then click on the orange RSS logo on the right side of the page. Links to all of FCPS' social media sites can also be found on the FCPS home page.

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Alternate Transportation Plans

In case of emergencies such as road closures, accidents, or weather-related road problems, drivers may use safe transportation-approved alternate locations to pick up or drop off students. Drivers will return children to their schools:

  • If there is no safe transportation-approved alernative stop.
  • If the driver has any other concerns regarding the safety of releasing a student at a regular stop.
  • If a child expresses concern, for any reason, about getting off of the bus.

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Walker Safety Tips

Parents should plan a walking route to school and choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings. Parents are responsible for selecting their children’s walking routes to and from bus stops, schools, and home. Parents are also responsible for providing supervision that is appropriate for their child’s age, maturity, and conditions on the route. Parents should be encouraged to outfit their children with reflective clothing.

Students should cross streets at controlled intersections and in crosswalks where available. Students should not cross in the middle of a street unless the crossing is supervised by a crossing guard or a police officer. Before crossing, students should look both ways before stepping off the curb. Students should always pay attention for turning vehicles. Students should be encouraged to turn off personal stereos (iPods) while crossing intersections.

Students who walk to and from school should be encouraged to walk with other students. Walkers should go directly home after school and never take shortcuts. Students should avoid parks, vacant lots, fields, and other places where there aren't many people, and, if they are unable to walk home safely, they should return to the school.

It is important to note that school system staff members do not assess all possible walking routes, supervise those routes, or guarantee the safety of any particular route. Staff members provide general safety information to school communities and respond to requests for specific information and advice when practicable. Staff members also assess routes for unusual hazards when concerns are brought to their attention.

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Parent Resource Center Tutor and Speech Clinician List

The FCPS tutor list, which can be found at, contains names of individuals who have contacted the Parent Resource Center (PRC) to offer services. The PRC in no way recommends or guarantees certification or costs of individual tutors. The list is a service provided by the PRC, but parents are responsible for contacting and working with the tutors. The listed FCPS speech clinicians are those who are licensed to provide services privately to clients. The PRC cannot make specific recommendations or guarantee certification, licensure, or costs.

If you have questions, call 703-204-3941 or visit the PRC at 2334 Gallows Road, room 224. Hours are Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Satellite locations are open part-time at Aldrin and Hayfield Elementary Schools.

For more information about the Parent Resource Center, go to

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Webpage Curator

Andy Grunig

Last Updated

May 5, 2016