Distance Learning Plan - Introduction

An introduction to distance learning for all students and families

Introduction to the FCPS Distance Learning Plan

The Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Distance Learning Plan is intended to communicate the division’s approach to providing ongoing high-quality academic, social-emotional, and wellness supports for students and families through the remainder of the 2020 school year. Through our Distance Learning Plan, FCPS will provide students with diverse learning experiences that prepare them for academic success as teachers creatively challenge and inspire their students with engaging and meaningful learning activities. At the same time, we acknowledge that distance learning cannot substitute for daily in-person instructional programs. Distance learning requires adjustments to the curriculum while ensuring our standards are not compromised. Questions and feedback from families, students, and the community are continuously reviewed by the division’s senior leadership and School Board to enable agile responses to developing community needs.

FCPS remains committed to creating learning environments that foster creative thinking, a culture of caring, and personal connections. Within distance learning, students will continue to develop and apply Portrait of a Graduate skills as communicators, collaborators, ethical and global citizens, creative and critical thinkers, and goal-oriented and resilient individuals. We are particularly mindful of health and wellness issues, including the amount of screen time that is developmentally appropriate for students in different grade levels within a distance learning environment. 

The distance learning plan reflects a community-wide approach to education that supports the unique needs of students, teachers, and families. Teachers and school-based staff have received specialized training in techniques and strategies to connect remotely with their students to both maintain and strengthen relationships and to address the academic needs of individual learners during distance learning, just as they would in face-to-face classroom environments. Educators who are not in the classroom work to support both teachers and students with the transition to distance learning and to provide a safe environment for them to experience learning in new ways.

Distance learning requires different skills and approaches for students and teachers alike, whether it is a high schooler engaging with their whole class through online learning or an elementary student connecting with their teacher by phone to talk about their experience completing exercises in the distance learning packets. Additionally, schedules for planning and instruction must be flexible enough to provide choice within structured and independent learning time for students, families, and staff. 


Guiding Principles for Instruction and Health During Distance Learning 

The following are guiding principles for each of our key stakeholders involved directly in our Distance Learning Plan.

  • Teachers require time to develop lesson plans and collaborate with colleagues, time to provide direct and guided instruction for students, time to check in with students, and time for their own health and family needs during school closure.
  • Students have differing developmental considerations regarding screen time, attention spans, and independent learning, which should be addressed in teachers’ lessons; they likewise require time for their own health and family.
  • Families and caregivers should provide guidance related to scheduling learning times for their children that help avoid conflict with use of home resources; and, certainly, they require time for their own health and family.


Phases of Distance Learning 

The FCPS distance learning plan consists of four phases, which are at varying levels of development. 




Phase 1- Preparation

March 16 to April 10

Posted resources for self-directed continuity of learning, grades PreK-6 (March 16-20); Learning packet review materials mailed and posted, grades PreK-12 (March 30-April 3); Teacher check-ins with students; Laptop and MiFi distribution; Staff preparation and training; Spring break (April 6-13)

Phase 2 - Distance Learning

April 14 to June 12

Learning packet new instructional content mailed and posted, grades PreK-12; Teacher-directed synchronous and asynchronous learning sessions; 

Teacher check-ins with students and virtual office hours; Continued distribution of laptops and MiFi devices; Ongoing staff training and collaboration

Phase 3 - Summer Learning

June 22 to July 31

Virtual programs provided:

  • Preschool Autism Classroom (July 2-30)
  • Extended School Year (June 29-July 24) for students with disabilities identified for these services in their individualized education program (IEP)
  • High School Credit Recovery (July 6-24) for students who failed a course or may need extra academic support
  • Summer Online Campus (June 22-July 22) for new high school credit courses
  • ESOL Online Language and Literacy Connections for English Learners in grades 7-12

Continuity of learning resources provided in grades K-12 (June 29-July 31)

  • Self-directed print and digital materials
  • Teacher virtual office hours

Phase 4 - Return to Schooling

Starting August 24

To be determined. Considerations for return to school include the need to:

  • Ensure safe learning and working environments for students and staff
  • Provide options for students and staff who are unable to return to school or work
  • Comply with any social distancing requirements
  • Provide student access to technology devices and internet services at home
  • Provide staff with adequate time and training to prepare for the new school year
  • Make decisions as soon as possible for scheduling and communication with families

Scenarios requiring preparation may include:

  • Virtual start to the school year
  • Return to school with social distancing in place
  • Return to school with some students and/or staff unable to return and needing to participate through virtual learning


Coronavirus Update - Distance Learning Plan

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Distance Learning Plan - Complete Information

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