FCPS this Week e-newsletter - September 22, 2021

By Communication and Community Relations
September 22, 2021

Students Keep Learning in Pause, Quarantine with StreamIN/CheckIN

FCPS students being paused, quarantined, or isolated due to COVID-19 will soon have a way to stay connected with their classes until they return to in-person learning.

StreamIN/CheckIN provides meaningful instructional support for students who are paused, quarantined, or isolated due to COVID-19. Participating in StreamIN/CheckIN offers these students the opportunity to stay engaged with their classes so when they return, they haven’t missed a beat. 

Learn more about StreamIN/CheckIN on our website.

Sangster Elementary School Named 2021 National Blue Ribbon School

Sangster Elementary School has been named a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. The Fairfax County school is among seven schools in Virginia receiving the honor this year.

The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors high performing schools and schools making exemplary progress toward closing achievement gaps. Sangster was recognized as an Exemplary High Performing School based on its high achievement in reading and mathematics during the 2018-2019 school year. More specifically, Sangster was recognized for closing the achievement gap in math by 15% for students who receive special education services.    

“At Sangster, we believe that student success is a result of the shared partnership between school, parents, and the community,” said principal Allison Jankovich. “Sangster’s strength lies in the welcoming and celebratory environment it strives to create, where everyone who walks through its doors knows that they are valued and appreciated.”

More information about Sangster’s Blue Ribbon Award is available online.

Updates to the Student-Athlete Vaccine Requirement

Students who are 16 years of age or older (age as of November 8 for the Winter season) and want to participate in athletics will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have either a medical or religious exemption. Unvaccinated students who are 12-15 years of age must provide a weekly negative COVID-19 test to be eligible to participate in team activities. 

Submitting Proof of Vaccination

Starting October 4, student-athletes can submit their proof of Covid-19 vaccination to their school. Students will need to either show their vaccination card to authorized school personnel or provide clear documentation via an electronic format of the vaccination card or photocopy to the authorized school personnel. Schools will provide specific details of submitting proof of vaccination information.

Religious Exemption

Starting October 4, student athletes (both middle and high school) can submit the Religious Exemption form to their school. The form must be notarized and should be submitted directly to the Student Activities Office of their high school. Students who are not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine due to religious reasons will be required to submit a negative COVID-19 test weekly. Please use the Commonwealth of Virginia Certificate of Religious Exemption form.

Medical Exemption

Starting October 4, student-athletes can submit the medical exemption information to their school. They will need to provide documentation of a medical exemption from their physician. Students can do this through a letter from their doctor (on the doctor’s office letterhead) stating the student has a medical condition that prevents them from receiving the Covid-19 Vaccine. Students who are not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine due to documented health or medical reasons will be required to submit a negative COVID-19 test weekly.

Deadline for Medical and Religious Exemptions for Winter Sports Season

The Deadline for submitting medical and religious exemptions for the Winter season is Monday, November 1. The exemption must be received by the November 1 deadline for students to participate in winter tryouts. This will allow enough time for those students with a medical or religious exemption to provide proof of their negative Covid-19 test that week so that they may participate in tryouts. As a reminder all students with a medical or religious exemption for receiving the Covid-19 vaccination must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test weekly. 

Students with a Religious or Medical Exemption and Unvaccinated Students Aged 12-15 (Age as of November 8 for the Winter Season)

Unvaccinated students who are 12-15, or students with a Religious or Medical exemption must provide a negative test weekly to participate in team activities. Currently, FCPS is working on securing a vendor to assist with providing access to weekly testing for athletes. We will share more information as it becomes available.  

Updated Virginia COVID-19 Close Contact Definition and K-12 Indoor/Outdoor Classroom Exception

The state of Virginia has updated the definition of a close contact for COVID-19 and provided a K-12 classroom close contact exception. 

If a COVID positive individual was on-site during their infectious period, the following individuals will be paused from in-person instruction until notified by FCPS that they can resume in-person activities:

  • Students who were within 6 feet or less of a Staff Case for a cumulative amount of 15 minutes or more within 24 hours. 
  • Students wearing masks who were within 3 feet or less of a Student Case in the indoor or outdoor K-12 setting for a cumulative amount of 15 minutes or more within 24 hours. 

Indoor/Outdoor Classroom Exception

In the K-12 indoor/outdoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student (laboratory-confirmed or a clinically compatible illness) if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) wore well-fitting masks the entire time.

Note: The inclusion of “outdoor” in the K-12 Exception was made at the state level (Virginia Department of Health). The federal exception continues to include only indoor settings. 

More information is available online.

To know what to anticipate if your child is impacted by a COVID-19 exposure and placed on pause or quarantine, see an updated guide to the return to school process on our website.

Concerns About Mask Compliance

Everyone should follow current FCPS mask requirements, unless specifically approved for an exemption, to keep our schools safe places for in-person learning. If you have concerns about mask compliance, speak with your principal or program manager.

If you feel your concerns have not been resolved, families and staff may reach out to the Region Office or make a confidential report to the Office of the Ombudsman by calling 571-423-4014, emailing ombudsman@fcps.edu, or submitting a question on the Ombudsman webpage.

Students who have concerns are encouraged to share with a teacher, assistant principal, or other trusted adult in the building. Students may also contact the Office of the Ombudsman.

Do Your Part: Hold Up!

Hold up! Pause before heading to school or work. Do you feel sick? Are you having any symptoms of COVID-19? If so, please stay home until you are better.

Fairfax County Health Department Mobile COVID-19 Testing Sites

The Fairfax County Health Department’s mobile laboratory provides testing in locations throughout the county for individuals who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Visit fairfaxcounty.gov for an up-to-date schedule of mobile testing sites and schedules.

Fairfax County Public Schools to Host Virtual Job Fair on Friday, September 24

Fairfax County Public Schools, the largest school system in Virginia, is searching for individuals to serve as student monitors and school public health/COVID case managers. FCPS school administrators will conduct virtual interviews with candidates at a Virtual Job Fair on Friday, September 24.

Individuals interested in becoming a part of a dynamic and diverse community are encouraged to register to attend one or both of the following sessions:

  • Middle and high school session, 9 to 11 a.m.
  • Elementary school session, noon to 2 p.m.    

More information about the Virtual Job Fair is available online.

Last Chance: Complete the Boundary Policy Survey by September 24

The Fairfax County School Board is in the process of reviewing Policy 8130, Facilities Planning, Local School Boundaries, Program Assignments, and School Closings. As part of the process, MGT Consulting (MGT), an education consulting firm, is surveying parents and community members on what factors should be considered when making boundary changes. 

  • A survey link was sent to the enrolling parent listed on a student’s contact information. 
  • Employees and community members are invited to take the survey using this link

The survey closes on September 24. Read more information about the boundary policy review

FCPS Virtual Mental Health and Wellness Conference Starts September 27

The 8th Annual FCPS Mental Health and Wellness Conference and Inova Act on Addiction presents Strategies for Today and Beyond. The conference will be virtual this year September 27-October 1. The conference will kick off on Monday September 27, with a panel of esteemed guests, moderated by Jummy Olabanji from NBC4. 

On Tuesday, September 28, keynote speaker, Dr. Dan Siegel, will present The Resilient Brain: Cultivating Courage and Curiosity to Expand a Child’s Capacity to Build Inner Strength. Dr. Stacey Hardy-Chandler will be the featured keynote speaker. She will discuss how to embrace our strengths as a means of coping during uncertain times.

Our Minds Matter will host a student session on Tuesday, September 28. Students learn how to use journaling as a method to support their mental health and well-being. 

Registration information and the complete schedule and list of speakers are now available online.

Fairfax County Schools, Students Open Doors and Arms to Afghan Refugees

Sosan Barakzai, who moved to Fairfax County from Afghanistan at the end of fifth grade, has a lot to share with the six Afghan refugee students who have enrolled at Annandale High School since the year began. The six students at Annandale High are just a fraction of the more than 80 Afghan students who have enrolled at Fairfax County Public Schools across the district since U.S. troops pulled out of Afghanistan, and planes carrying hundreds of refugee families landed at nearby Dulles Airport. 

Many refugee families found temporary shelter at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, and some made the decision to remain in Fairfax County permanently.

High Schools and Secondary Schools Plan Adjusted Schedules for Wednesday, October 13

FCPS high schools and secondary schools are hosting a PSAT and SAT School Day on Wednesday, October 13. Students in grades 10-12 will be participating in these exams, and all students will see a change to their schedules on October 13, as follows. 

  • All high schools and secondary schools have a 2-hour early release.
  • High School Academy classes and shuttles are cancelled. 
  • Students with disabilities taught on an adapted curriculum (Category B) who are not participating in PSAT or SAT exams receive normal in-person instruction for the shortened school day.
  • Grade 9 students—as well as Grade 7-8 students attending a secondary school—have a virtual asynchronous learning day.
  • Any Grade 12 students who have chosen not to take the SAT exam have options for prearranged college visits or civic engagement, independent college and career preparation, or other activities, as directed by school staff. 

For questions about PSAT and SAT School Day or the adjusted schedule for October 13, contact your student’s high school.

Multilingual Parent Podcasts: Connecting Parents and School with Schoology

Listen and subscribe to an FCPS multilingual family podcast to hear timely, important information related to school news. The podcasts are produced in conjunction with the Office for ESOL Services and the Office of Professional Learning and Family Engagement.

In this week’s episode, hear Manuel Gomez Portillo, an FCPS ESOL resource teacher, answer questions about Schoology (pronounced SKOO-luh-jee). Schoology is the new FCPS learning management system. This system promotes communication, collaboration, and personalized learning for students. 

Parents who use Schoology can stay connected to their child’s schoolwork and participate in specialized groups like PTA, sports, and band. Teachers use Schoology to post their classroom materials online; provide a safe forum for students to discuss their ideas and collaborate on projects online; and to assign and collect homework electronically. It helps students stay organized and it keeps the class connected.

Listen and subscribe:

Video: 2021 School Construction Bond Referendum

Students benefit from updated schools and better learning environments–and the entire community benefits too. FCPS designs and builds schools to meet current and future technology, safety and security, and capacity needs. A School Bond Referendum is on the ballot on Tuesday, November 2Watch the video

Learn more about the 2021 School Construction Bond Referendum.

Congratulations to Our July/August FCPS CARES of the Month Winners 

FCPS Cares is an opportunity for parents, staff, and community members to recognize FCPS employees for going above and beyond to help others and show they care. All FCPS Cares submissions were reviewed, and six winners were selected for the months of July and August—one for each region and the central office—to receive extra recognition for their work. They are:

  • Region 1: Reva Smith, Cooper Middle School.
  • Region 2: Jamila Alarcon, Rashawn Luckman and Candace Hyman, Justice High School.
  • Region 3: Maria Flores and Ingris Marquez Villalobos, Edison High School.
  • Region 4: Fred Allard, Robinson Secondary School. 
  • Region 5: Mohamed Alie and Amadu Jalloh, Frost Middle School.
  • Central Office: Felix Funes, Lorton Center.

Get more information about the winners and how you can acknowledge an FCPS employee who has gone above and beyond.

Four Stone Middle School Staff Members Return to Their Roots at School that Shaped Them

Coming ‘full circle’ is the best way to describe the journeys of four Stone Middle School staff members. One is the principal, one is a teacher, one is a security specialist, and one is an office assistant. While their jobs may be different, they have one special thing tying them together: they all attended Stone as students. Each one took a different path back to the middle school, but they all returned because of the close-knit “family” feeling at Stone.

Real Assistive Technology for Everyone (RATE) Conference to Be Held on October 23

The 2021 Real Assistive Technology for Everyone (RATE) Conference, sponsored by Assistive Technology Services, part of the Office of Special Education Instruction in the Department of Special Services, will be held on Saturday, October 23, from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

This year’s conference will be virtual with a keynote presentation and synchronous (live) sessions via Zoom. The RATE Conference is an educational conference which focuses on strategies for using assistive technology tools and supports to enhance learning for all students, especially those with special needs. 

All FCPS parents are invited to attend. Registration is now open. For more information, the conference schedule, registration, and session descriptions visit the conference website.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month is acknowledged annually from September 15-October 15. The celebration was created to honor the rich history, culture, and many contributions of Hispanic Americans. Learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month.

School Board Meeting on September 23

The School Board will hold a regular meeting on Thursday, September 23, at 7 p.m. Agenda items include: 

  • Presentations: Opening of Schools Report.
  • New Business (no vote taken): Divisionwide Comprehensive Plan.

See the complete regular meeting agenda.  

The meeting can be viewed on FCPS Cable TV Channel 99 (Verizon Channel 11) and on the FCPS website.