Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III - Plan for Safe Return

In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services

Section 1: Introduction

The purpose of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III Fund is to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impacts of COVID-19 on the nation’s students by addressing students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. This plan describes how Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) will maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other school and division staff during and following the return to full in-person instruction. 

A summary of the FCPS response to COVID-19 has been posted online.


Section 2: Maintaining Health and Safety

FCPS has taken and will continue to take actions to ensure the health and safety of students, educators, and other school and division staff during and following the return to full in-person instruction. A description of actions already taken and additional actions planned is below.

Steps to maintain health and safety during and following the return to full in-person instruction are listed on the Return to School - Safety webpage.

In addition, FCPS has adopted policies on each of the following safety recommendations established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): 

  • Universal and correct wearing of masks 
  • Modifying facilities to allow for physical distancing 
  • Handwashing and respiratory etiquette 
  • Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation 
  • Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the health department 
  • Diagnostic and screening testing 
  • Efforts to provide vaccinations to school communities 
  • Appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to health and safety policies.  
    • Any student requesting an exemption to wearing a face covering/mask will provide a written statement from the physician that an exemption from this requirement is necessary due to a health condition, communication impairment or disability or it has been determined that the student meets Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) criteria for exemption from the face covering requirement (under the age of two (2) years or unable to remove their mask without assistance). 
  • Coordination with state and local health officials 

Details on these policies can also be found on the Return to School - Safety webpage. 


Section 3: Continuity of Services

FCPS has taken and will continue to take actions to ensure continuity of services, including but not limited to services to address students’ academic needs and students’ and staff's social, emotional, mental health, and other needs.  FCPS is committed to continuity of learning during the 2021-22 school year and the school division is using layered prevention strategies to do everything possible to ensure our schools remain safe, healthy and open. Our plan is to remain open using these strategies unless directed otherwise by health officials or Executive Order.  A plan is in place to ensure continuity of learning in the event health authorities or an Executive Order require a temporary closure to protect the health of students, staff, and the community.

With the return to five days of in-person instruction, FCPS describes academic plans in detail here.

A virtual instruction program was created to support students who have a documented medical need related to COVID-19 and were approved to attend. 

Recovery Services are available to students with disabilities whose teams determined there remains a significant educational impact due to the COVID-19 school closure and virtual learning during the 2020-21 school year. Recovery Services are designed to address learning gaps and are determined by IEP teams.

The school division uses a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) framework to make decisions in order to provide high quality instruction and intervention - and to address student academic social, emotional, mental health needs.   A listing of community resources on health and mental health is also available to staff, students and families.  

In addition to the services listed above, the FCPS Food and Nutrition Services team offers no-cost meals to all students and children under the age of 18 in Fairfax County through June 2022.  


Section 4: Opportunity for Public Comment

In developing the ARP ESSER Plan, FCPS sought public input and took such input into account.

Town Halls with the Superintendent and senior leadership were held on August 2021 and on several other occasions.


Section 5: Periodic Review and Revision of Plan

During the period of the ARP ESSER award (until September 2023), FCPS will periodically review and, as needed, revise its plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services. The plan will be reviewed at least every six months, and FCPS will seek and take into account public input during the review process. Plan revisions will address updated CDC guidance on safely reopening schools, if any are issued.


Section 6: Making the Plan Available to the Public

FCPS has taken the following steps to make this plan available to the public:

  • The plan is posted at ESSER Spending Plan;
  • The plan is available in FCPS’ eight most common languages AmharicArabicChinese, Farsi, KoreanSpanishUrdu, and Vietnamese;
  • The plan may be orally translated for parents. Contact the Office of Communication and Community Relations at 571-423-1200 to request translation; and
  • Upon request, a parent who is an individual with a disability as defined by the ADA may be provided with the plan in an alternative format accessible by contacting the Office of Communication and Community Relations at 571-423-1200.



For answers to questions about Return to School, contact Chief Academic Officer Sloan Presidio at sjpresidio@fcps.edu.