January 6 Update on Return to School Plan

By Communication and Community
January 06, 2021

Dear Parents, Caregivers, and FCPS Staff,

At the January 5 Fairfax County School Board Work Session, I provided an update on our plan to bring students and staff back for in-person instruction. I shared a proposed timeline for a return to in-person learning that would bring back those staff and students who were already in buildings first, followed by a phased and measured approach to bringing in new groups of students and staff in January and early February.

Current community transmission of COVID-19 in Fairfax County remains high. After discussing the plan with the School Board and hearing from many parents and staff, we are going to continue to pause the plan to bring students and staff back into school buildings.  I will provide an update on the Return to School plan to the School Board on Tuesday, February 2.

Using Metrics and Mitigation Strategies to Make Decisions

We have developed a decision-making tool for in-person instruction in partnership with the Fairfax County Health Department that includes all three CDC core indicators.

There is accumulating evidence that demonstrates that schools can be safe when infection-control protocols are consistently implemented. In other words, the rate of COVID-19 transmission in the schools does not match the rate of community transmission when strong health and safety measures are in place. FCPS is focused on the strict implementation of these measures through education of staff, students, and families and the use of safety teams to monitor and support the efforts.

Pausing will provide additional time to work on our health and safety mitigation strategies, training and education, and also give us time to hire more classroom monitors.

New Bell Schedule Paused

Because we will not be transporting students to school during the pause in our plan, we will not be moving to the new bell schedule on January 12. We will continue to use the current bell schedule until we have a revised Return to School schedule. We will communicate any future changes to the bell schedule in advance. 

Looking Ahead

As previously shared, Monday, January 11 will remain an independent (asynchronous) learning day for students and a teacher preparation day. 

When we move closer to students and staff returning for in person instruction in school buildings, we will need to provide preparation days for teachers. Students will be doing independent learning on teacher preparation days. We will communicate those dates once we confirm return to school dates in the future.

We remain vigilant and we are working to develop a plan that will allow us to bring students and staff back to school buildings. We must all work together to stop the spread of COVID. Keeping schools safe for in-person learning is a shared responsibility - staff, students and families - and it can be done when we all work together.

Thank you for your continued support of our students.

Sincerely, 

Scott Brabrand, Superintendent

Fairfax County Public Schools