Return to School Countdown - August 24, 2020

By Communications and Community Relations Staff
August 24, 2020

FCPS Launches New Parent Technology Help Desk, Readies Students and Families for Virtual Learning

To support families who are working with their children during distance learning, Fairfax County Public Schools is launching a new Parent Technology Help Desk, effective today, Monday, August 24. The number is 1-833-921-3277 (833-921-FCPS). It will be answered by staff 7 11 p.m., seven days a week. If the help desk is unable to solve the issue on the phone with the parent or guardian, they will enter a ticket on the parent’s behalf and the request for help will be transferred to the appropriate FCPS team. 

Parents or guardians who need help in a language other than English should let help desk staff know, and a interpreter will join them on the line. (FCPS also has existing parent information phone lines, available in eight different languages, that can assist with general questions about FCPS.)

FCPS has also set up an online portal to allow older students and parents and guardians to request technology help directly. 

Get more information about the new Parent Technology Help Desk

Next Superintendent Town Hall to Be Held Wednesday, August 26

Join FCPS Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand for another opportunity to ask questions and provide your thoughts on Wednesday, August 26, from 6 to 7 p.m. The focus of the Aug. 26 town hall will be special education. 

Send your questions in advance to or call into the town hall live at 1-800-231-6359. The meeting can be viewed on FCPS cable TV channel 99 or on the FCPS website. View last week’s town hall.  

Spanish Language Town Hall on September 1

FCPS will hold a virtual town hall in Spanish on Tuesday, September 1 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. It will be broadcast on cable TV channel 99 or on the FCPS website. It will also be shown on the FCPS Spanish Facebook page.

Student Attendance for the 2020-21 School Year

FCPS welcomes new and returning families for the 2020-21 school year. Our September 8 virtual opening poses some interesting challenges, so we hope this will help families understand the new attendance routines.

In Virginia, public school students aged 5-18 are required to attend school regularly. That is true whether FCPS is offering distance learning or in-person instruction. Teachers will take attendance during learning sessions and ensure that all students are counted. Parents can assist with this process by doing the following:

  • Ensuring that their student(s) logs in to classes on time, and throughout the day.
  • Calling or emailing the school attendance line if their student(s) are unable to participate.
  • Communicating any concerns to the school, such as difficulty logging in or having access to FCPS classes.
  • Reporting any hardship, such as student illness or any issue that might prevent the student from participating regularly.
  • Returning phone calls or emails when notified that their student(s) did not participate that day.
  • Ensuring that your student(s) submit activity logs as directed.

If your child is unable to login to live, face-to-face online instruction with their teacher, the teacher will be recording the class and posting the video within Blackboard/Google Classroom so it can be viewed at a different time. The video can also be used to provide review for all students.

If a parent calls and indicates their student will not be there for a certain class period, they are excused for the class period. Accessing the material later will not change the status of the absence.

If there is no parent contact, and the student failed to log in, the student is unverified for that class period. FCPS bases attendance for secondary students on “present” one or more periods of the day, and reports which periods a student did not appear in class.

FCPS staff members will work with parents to ensure that the transition to virtual learning is as smooth as possible. Help us to help you set your students up for success.

More information about attendance is available online

Planning Ahead for Our In-Person Return to School

At the School Board work session on Tuesday, August 18, Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand provided the preliminary metrics FCPS will use to decide when to return to cohort (more information below), hybrid, or full in-person learning. These include:

Virginia Department of Health Metrics 

  • The number of new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population.
  • The percentage of tests that are positive (PCR test percent positivity).
  • Rate of Covid-19 outbreaks.
  • Percent of Covid-19 cases among healthcare workers.
  • Rate of emergency department visits for coronavirus-like illnesses.
  • Rate of confirmed Covid-19 intensive care unit hospitalizations.
  • Percent of hospital beds currently occupied.
  • Number of hospitals reporting trouble acquiring personal protective equipment.

Operational Metrics

  • Ability to staff the health room with a public health nurse or student health aide.
  • Classroom teachers available for in-person learning.
  • Available staff on-call to monitor in-person learning (including substitutes).
  • Administrative staff available for in-person learning.
  • Transportation staff available.
  • Food and nutrition managers available.
  • Custodial staff available.

Finalized metrics will be shared with the School Board in September.

Cohort Learning Groups

FCPS has identified groups of students that are most in need of returning to in-person learning and hopes to bring them back using a phased-in approach (one group every two weeks) beginning in September. They include:

  • Group 1: Preschool autism and preschool class-based students, English learners with limited or interrupted formal education, and limited Adult and Community Education classes including English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), workforce training, and behind-the-wheel driving classes.
  • Group 2: Key Center and Kilmer Center students, secondary and elementary students who access the adapted curriculum, elementary comprehensive services sites, new English learners and PreK and kindergarten students.
  • Group 3: First and second grade students and Burke School elementary school students. 

View the complete School Board Return to School work session: Part I | Part II

Library Resources in FCPS

FCPS provides access to many print and digital products for all of our students, PreK-12 and their families, to support research, learning, and recreational reading. Browse our collection of online databases and eBooks by visiting Log in information is available from your school library.

Other resources include:

  • eBook Highlight - MackinVIA: MackinVIA is the FCPS eBook and audiobook platform. Users can download the MackinVIA app from the iOS and android app stores to read or listen on their mobile devices, or log in to using their FCPS network username and password. Also, users on a school-issued computer can search for the MackinVIA app shortcut. In all cases, be sure to log in to the FCPS blue bar with your network credential, NOT the Follett prompt.
  • How to Navigate MackinVIA: Take a look at a four minute video demonstrating the features of MackinVIA.
  • Digital Book Licenses: Most FCPS purchases are limited to single-user licenses by publishers. That means that if a copy of a book is checked out, other users can make a request to place it on hold, but only one person may engage with the book at a time.

Virtual Orientations Underway

Parents and students should plan to attend a virtual orientation with their teachers and school staff prior to the first day of school, September 8. Each school will schedule the virtual orientations and communicate the dates and times to families. The goal is to make the student transition to virtual learning as smooth as possible and to reduce any anxiety leading up to and on the first day of school.

The virtual orientations will give families the opportunity to:

  • Build relationships with school staff and community.
  • Meet the teacher(s).
  • Participate in an overview of how virtual learning will work, such as basic expectations on logging into students’ FCPS Gmail accounts to access virtual classroom links, and how to use Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, GoogleMeet, and Schoology.
  • Get more information about how to prepare for the first day of school.

After school starts, each school will also have a virtual Back to School Night to further orient families to the virtual learning environment. Back to School Night will provide an overview of the curriculum and provide clear expectations related to attendance, grading, and student supports. 

Special Education Resources

The Special Education Return to School webpage has been updated and includes the latest information for families.

Additional supports for our special education community can be accessed through these resources:

•    Procedural Support Liaison (PSL) Assigned by School
•    Office of Due Process and Eligibility
•    Office of Intervention and Prevention.
•    Office of Special Education Instruction
•    Section 504 Information.
•    Assistant ombudsman for special education, Dawn Clements, at
•    Parent Resource Center at or 703-204-3941.

Supporting Return to School

Fairfax County is offering a new program for school age care in response to this year's virtual return to school. Supporting Return to School (SRS) reflects Fairfax County’s and FCPS’ joint commitment to One Fairfax, and to ensuring that all families have equitable access to the services they need to support children’s virtual learning.

Beginning September 8, SRS will provide full-day, on-site programming for children in kindergarten through sixth grade residing in Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. The program will serve approximately 2,000 children in 37 of our schools. It will offer support and assistance for children's online learning experiences as well as implement a curriculum to engage children and support their growth and development.

Visit the Supporting Return to School webpage.

New Healthy Minds Podcast: Finding Someone to Listen

Being apart from each other hasn’t been easy for anyone. Listen to Fairfax County Public Schools’ Healthy Minds podcast this week to hear a conversation with Laura Mayer, director of PRS CrisisLink, an important FCPS community partner.

FCPS in the News