Message for Families - New Guidance for Returning to School After Quarantine, Pause or Isolation

By Office of Communication and Community Relations
January 09, 2022

Dear FCPS Staff, Families and Community,

As we get ready to head back into our school buildings tomorrow, we would like to share some health and safety updates that should make this coming week run smoothly. This new guidance is effective Monday, January 10, 2022. The information provided below provides a summary of the updates. Please reference the FCPS Health and Safety Guidance for additional details. 

New Guidance for Returning to School After Quarantine, Pause, or Isolation

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance for isolation and quarantine in late December, with multiple updates in January. This guidance reduces isolation and quarantine to five days. The VDH states that school districts may choose to continue more stringent isolation and quarantine requirements or may implement the new CDC guidance.


FCPS will adopt the new guidance with one exception:

  • FCPS will adopt CDC’s recommendation for a five-day period of quarantine for students and staff.
  • FCPS will adopt CDC’s recommendation for a five-day period of isolation for staff.
  • FCPS will NOT adopt CDC’s recommendation for isolation for students as we are unable to implement the required physical distancing protocols during meals.  FCPS students with COVID- 19 will need to continue to complete a ten-day isolation period. 

Return Guidance for Students with COVID-19

Students who are COVID-19 positive are able to return to school when ALL of the following criteria are met:

  • Student completes at least 10 days of isolation from symptom onset for symptomatic students or 10 days since testing positive (day test administered) for COVID-19 for asymptomatic students; AND
  • Student is fever free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication; AND
  • Student’s symptoms have improved; AND
  • Student submits the FCPS Isolation Letter with the return date to their attending school

Return Guidance for Students who are Close Contacts to School Related Exposures

Asymptomatic students who are close contacts and required to quarantine are able to return to school when all the criteria for one of the two options below is met:

  • Option 1:
    • Student completes five days of quarantine; AND
    • Student is asymptomatic; AND
    • Student is able to wear a face mask at school- Day 6 thru 10 ; AND
    • Student submits FCPS Pause Letter with the return date to their attending school
  • Option 2:
    • Student completes ten days of quarantine; AND
    • Student submits FCPS Pause Letter with the return date to their attending school
    • Students with mask exemptions will need to utilize Option 2 to return from quarantine.

Some students and staff may be exempt from quarantine if they meet the CDC criteria, are able to wear a face mask, and are asymptomatic:

  • Students must complete the FCHD vaccination survey, and receive a clearance email from the FCHD prior to resuming in-person learning and activities.
  • Staff must complete the Fully Vaccinated Exemption Form

Return Guidance for Students who are Close Contacts to Community Related Exposures

NEW!   FCPS will no longer require Return to School documentation for a student deemed a close contact in the community, outside of the school environment. FCPS recommends that families adhere to the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) quarantine guidance, as appropriate. If families have questions regarding COVID-19, they are encouraged to consult their physician or the Fairfax County Health Department

Updated Health and Safety Guidance Documents

The best source of the most up-to-date information, including how students return to school after quarantine or isolation, is available on the Health and Safety Guidance Document on the FCPS website.  

FCPS staff should refer to resources on the Employee Hub for updated guidelines to return to work.

Second Quarter/First Semester Timeline and Grading

The second quarter and first-semester calendar and grading timelines will remain as scheduled to stay aligned with the January 21 and 24 student holidays. Schools will work with individual students to support them and allow flexibility in the instructional pacing and grading.

  • The FCPS Standard School Year Calendar includes Friday, January 21 as a Teacher Workday and Monday, January 24 as a Staff Development Day. These days will remain as scheduled.
  • Teachers and teams have the flexibility to:
    • Move previously planned assessments to third quarter to allow for additional instructional time in second quarter prior to the assessment
    • Reduce the minimum number of assignments for second quarter (currently nine are required)
    • Make adjustments to the weighting of individual assignments if necessary due to an adjustment in the minimum number of grades required. However, the maximum weight of any one assignment should be approximately 30%.

Attendance Guidance 

We continue to follow our FCPS attendance policies as we navigate our return after Winter Break. Families should send their healthy children to in-person learning at this time, given the negative impacts of missing school. Students that miss school for reasons that fall outside of the acceptable excused absences, as outlined in FCPS attendance policies, will be counted as unexcused. Students with excused absences should communicate with their school regarding how to address missed instruction. If you have questions regarding your child’s attendance at school, please reach out to your school directly. 

Thank you.