Message for Families - Navigating the January 2022 COVID Surge

By Office of Communication and Community Relations
January 06, 2022

Dear FCPS Families,

As we prepare to reopen our doors for student learning following winter break, we continue to watch another winter storm approaching that could impact our schools tomorrow. We are watching the forecast. Any changes to normal school operations will be communicated as soon as possible. 

We also continue to face another challenge brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. A surge of cases will have a significant impact on our operations for at least the next few weeks. In alignment with national, state, and local health and educational leadership guidance, we are committed to keeping our schools open for student learning. 

We have been working hard to prepare for staffing shortages we are already experiencing. These shortages will impact us in every way, from classroom instruction to operations. It will not be business as usual. There will be some things that simply cannot happen as we move central office staff to supporting school operations. 

I want to share this plan with you and ask for your partnership and patience during this time. 

Our central office and management staff are being deployed to assist in every aspect of school operations. Our number one priority is to provide continuous in-person instruction. Here are some important things you need to know:

Classroom Coverage

When a classroom teacher is out, we will consider the following in this order:

  • Dedicated class coverage by:
    • a substitute teacher from the sub pool
    • another teacher or staff member
    • Central Office volunteer subs who have instructional experience. 
  • Pairing two classes together with one teacher.
  • Grouping multiple classes to provide supervision during asynchronous instruction.

Our teachers will be reminded to upload classroom materials to Schoology, when students need to access lessons asynchronously. While we hope to continue to offer StreamIn/CheckIn for students who are paused, quarantined or in isolation, this may not always be possible.

Transportation

Staffing shortages are impacting our operational staff as well. Expect that there will be delays in bus routes with more double-backs that may mean students will arrive after the bell. Schools will adjust instruction to ensure that no child is missing important classroom time. Access the Bus Delay App to receive current bus delay information. When possible, please consider driving your child to school, or walking or biking if you are nearby.

Food Services

Breakfast and lunch service has not been impacted at this time, but it is possible that with greater staff absences, we may need to change to providing bag lunches, instead of the regular menu. 

Here are some ways that you can partner with us to keep our schools safe and open for learning.

Health and Safety

  • Keep your children home when sick.
  • Consider vaccination, which is the best protection against serious illness caused by COVID-19. 
  • Sign your child up for optional screening testing and make use of our diagnostic testing if your child has symptoms. 
  • Remind your child about our layered prevention strategies including proper mask wearing, hand washing and using hand sanitizer. 
  • Be sure your child brings home their laptop and charger every night.

Supporting Our Classrooms

Apply to be a substitute teacher. Watch for emails from your school leadership for other volunteer opportunities.

We will follow this operational plan for the next 2-3 weeks. During this time, we must adjust our expectations about instruction and give our staff the space needed to make adjustments and on the spot decisions needed to combat this COVID spike. 

Please know that while things will not be perfect, we are all doing our best. We are all in this together as a community, and it will take all of us to keep our schools open. I believe that we will come through this better and stronger, because I believe in the value of public education for the success of our students. Thank you for supporting our schools.

Sincerely,

Scott S. Brabrand
Superintendent