FCPS This Week e-newsletter - October 13, 2021

By Communication and Community Relations
October 13, 2021

Transforming Learning for Every Child—Equitable Access to Literacy

Last week, FCPS’ Instructional Services Department unveiled their vision to create an Equitable Access to Literacy Plan aimed at providing every student with the education and support they need to develop the reading and writing skills necessary for school and life. 

The Equitable Access to Literacy Plan is designed to close the opportunity gap in literacy for students with disabilities, English Learners, economically disadvantaged students, Black, and Hispanic students. 

Data presented by FCPS and literacy experts show the urgent need for a new approach to literacy education. Literacy has a strong impact on overall academic success, economic well being, health outcomes, social participation, and civic engagement. 

Read more or watch the School Board work session presentation to find out why literacy education is so important, what FCPS is doing now, and what’s to come.

Social Emotional Learning Supports Students 

Research tells us that students with strong Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills are more successful in school, work, and relationships. To help all students return strong this fall, FCPS will be ensuring all students get the social emotional learning supports they need.

To help families understand what SEL is and is not, we’re beginning a series of snippets to explain SEL, how it works in the classroom, and the impact it has on student success.

Today, we’re sharing a brief overview of SEL. SEL helps children and adults learn to understand and manage emotions, set goals, show empathy, establish positive relationships and make responsible decisions by developing:

  • Self-awareness.
  • Self-management.
  • Social awareness.
  • Relationship skills.
  • Responsible decision-making.

Research shows that SEL provides numerous benefits to students including:

  • An increase in academic achievement by an average of 11 percentile points.
  • An increase in prosocial behaviors including kindness, sharing, and empathy.
  • An improvement of attitudes toward self, others, and school.
  • A reduction in mental health problems including depression and high levels of stress.
  • A decrease in dropout rates, behavior issues, drug use, and teen pregnancy.

Research also shows that for every dollar invested in SEL programming, there is a savings of $11 dollars that would have been spent on costly interventions. 

Learn more in our Healthy Minds Blog.

FCPS Students Earn International Baccalaureate Diploma and Career-Related Certificates

Four-hundred-eight FCPS students earned the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma and 58 students earned the IB Career-related Certificate during the 2020-21 school year.

The IB Diploma Program is a two-year program for juniors and seniors that is made up of the core curriculum and six subject groups. The IB Career-related Program enables students to pursue a career and technical education field of interest in addition to taking IB courses. Students enrolling in the IB Diploma Program and IB Career-related Program are prepared for higher education as well as the world of work through their well-rounded experiences.

More information is available online

School Bond Referendum on November 2 Ballot

A school bond referendum will be on the general election ballot on Tuesday, November 2. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Residents of Fairfax County may vote if they are 18 years or older on Election Day and have registered to vote 22 days prior to the election (on or before October 12, at 5 p.m.). 

Early voting is now open and available through October 30. See the Fairfax County early voting website for hours and locations

Our school buildings and outdoor spaces are used by community members as teen centers, recreation and athletic sites, polling places, places of worship, civic meeting spaces, and School Age Child Care facilities. Like a home renovation, school renovations enhance and protect taxpayer investments. 

The building and renovation of schools is not financed through the school system’s operating funds, but through bonds. Bonds sales must be approved by voters since they are a future obligation for taxpayers. As long as debt service costs do not increase significantly as a percentage of combined general fund disbursements, the county's bonded debt is not likely to be a contributing factor to any increase in local taxes.

Learn more about the 2021 Bond Referendum

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Update for the 2021-22 School Year

The Virginia Department of Education has announced that the federal Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program will operate under new eligibility guidelines for the current school year and benefits will only be issued on a case-by-case basis to students who meet specific criteria, as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The P-EBT program is a federal program created in the spring of 2020 to supplement school meals that students missed while schools were closed or placed on part-time attendance schedules due to COVID-19. 

Community Vaccination Clinic Now Open

Vaccination is our best strategy for keeping schools safe and ending the pandemic. Are you not yet vaccinated? Are you eligible for a booster shot? If so, a new, convenient opportunity is now open. The Fairfax Community Vaccination Center (Fairfax CVC) is located at the former Lord & Taylor store at Tysons Corner Center and is open Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m..

The center offers:

  • First and second doses of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
  • Booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine to individuals eligible for the vaccine booster.
  • An additional dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines for individuals who are immunocompromised.

Appointments are encouraged but walk-ins are welcome. Individuals seeking a booster of the Pfizer vaccine or an additional dose of either vaccine are asked to bring their vaccination card showing the dates of previous doses. 

Read more about the Fairfax CVC online. To find an appointment visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA. 

Quarantine Data Added to COVID-19 Metrics

To provide additional transparency about the impact of COVID-19 on students and staff, quarantine data has been added to the division’s COVID-19 Health Metrics Dashboard. Daily quarantined cases are reported for students and staff for the entire division and by each school or building site. 

What Is the Office of the Ombudsman?

The FCPS Office of the Ombudsman provides an independent, confidential resource for students, families, community members, and employees who are seeking informal help to answer questions, resolve concerns, and voice complaints regarding FCPS matters. 

Examples of services the Office of the Ombudsman provides include:

  • Sharing strategies for parents to improve communication with, and between, school and home.
  • Helping to resolve disagreements between parents and schools or disagreements involving employees in the workplace.
  • Providing ideas to foster parent participation in Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings.

However, the Office of the Ombudsman does not:

  • Change or make decisions, policies, or regulations.
  • Take sides.
  • Provide legal advice.

Contact the Office of the Ombudsman by using the "Submit a Question" button at the top of the Office of the Ombudsman webpage, by calling 571-423-4014, or emailing [email protected]

Tips for Families: Simple Ideas Can Help Your Teen Overcome Math Anxiety

Some students get so anxious about math that they dread math class. Or they worry so excessively about a test that they make mistakes. Unless they can learn to cope, their fears of inadequacy and failure can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

To turn math anxiety into math success, share these tips with your teen:

  • Remember that everyone can learn math with practice and effort.
  • Be positive. When your teen starts to think math is hard, it will be. He or she is much more likely to solve a problem if they think they can.
  • Stop and take a deep breath when anxiety strikes. Your teen can switch gears and work on something else for a few minutes.
  • Make a list of math worries on a sheet of paper. Next to each worry, your teen can write down a possible solution.
  • Be prepared. Your teen should make a point of studying math every day.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Other students probably have the same questions your teen does.
  • Write questions down while studying. Then your teen can ask the teacher the next day.
  • Keep notes, old tests and quizzes to study from later.
  • Occasionally review past material. This helps your teen show himself how much he or she remembers.
  • Redo incorrect problems. This will help him or her understand them.
  • Study with a friend or discuss the current math topic with someone else. People understand more when they explain it to others.
  • Keep a sense of humor. If your teen misses a problem, it’s not the end of the world.

Copyright © 2021 The Parent Institute, a Division of PaperClip Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Get more tips for families and other family engagement resources

Terri Hodges Named 2021-22 School Psychologist of the Year

Terri Hodges, school psychologist at Fort Belvoir Upper Elementary School, received the Virginia School Psychologist of the Year Award for the 2021-22 school year from the Virginia Academy of School Psychologists. 

Hodges works with military-connected youth in grades 4-6 that often struggle with a variety of distinct stressors, such as multiple moves, deployed parents, and housing displacement. 

Learn what makes Hodges an exemplary psychologist.

From the Healthy Minds Blog: Talk to Your Kids about Drugs and Alcohol- They Hear You

High rates of youth alcohol use, shifting state laws regarding marijuana, and the nation’s opioid crisis are health concerns that affect America’s parents and caregivers. It’s important to start talking to your children early about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs.

Virginia State Police Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry Website

The Virginia State Police Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry Website can be found at http://sex-offender.vsp.virginia.gov/sor/. This website, which includes the Public Notification Database, provides access to publicly available information about persons convicted of specified violent and sexual offenses. Members of the public can use this website to educate themselves about the possible presence of such offenders in their local communities.