Return to School News - December 7, 2020

By Communication and Community Relations
December 08, 2020

December 10 School Board Work Session to Focus on Return to School

The FCPS School Board work session scheduled for Thursday, December 10, at 6 p.m. will focus on Return to School. Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand will provide an update on his plans for future groups of students to return to in-person instruction. The meeting will be televised on FCPS Cable TV Channel 99 (Verizon Channel 11) and will also be available on the FCPS website.


FCPS Winter Sports Start this Week

Based on the data and experiences with student athletes who have been conditioning successfully since summer, FCPS is progressing with the return of participation in the Virginia High School League (VHSL) athletic season. To be specific, students have been engaging in workouts and sports-related activities since July 2020 with less than .2 percent of students having been exposed to COVID-19. Of those cases, none were transmissions from school-related workouts. Offering tryouts and practices for our student athletes are the next steps in starting winter sports.

FCPS continues to work closely with VHSL at the state level to ensure the health and safety of our student athletes and coaches are in compliance with federal, state, and local health guidelines. Schools have been provided with detailed protocols to adhere to from VHSL’s guidelines for returning to play. FCPS is following both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) guidelines for health mitigation and masks. The current guidelines for masks from the VHSL is that athletes will wear masks while participating in practice, with the exception of when they are engaged in high physical exertion activities and direct competition. FCPS will continue to monitor health metrics daily and will adapt to any new CDC or VHSL guidelines as required.

All FCPS facility spaces used for indoor sports–including gyms, wrestling rooms, and pools–meet or exceed current heating, ventilation, and air conditioning airflow guidelines. These spaces will be regularly monitored to ensure proper operation for all practices and competitions that take place during evenings, weekends, holidays, and winter and spring break. 

The schedule for return to sports is as follows:

  • December 7–Basketball practice starts.
  • December 14–All other winter sports practice starts (swim and dive, track and field, wrestling, gymnastics).
  • December 21–First contest for basketball.
  • December 28–First contest for all other winter sports.

Photos of the Week

In this week’s photos, see students and staff members getting into the holiday spirit, teachers twinning virtually, and cosmetology students at work. 


Safety Teams Deployed to Monitor COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies at FCPS Schools

Fairfax County Public Schools has implemented new Safety Teams to help the school district monitor each schools’ adherence to five mitigation strategies for COVID-19. These teams, consisting of FCPS staff members and retirees, will conduct random onsite spot checks, deliver education and resources, and report data back to administrators. 

The five mitigation strategies are set forth in the Centers for Disease Control’s Indicators for Dynamic School Decision-making guide, and include proper use of masks or face coverings; social distancing; hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette; cleaning and disinfection; and contact tracing in collaboration with the health department.

More information on FCPS Safety Teams is available online.


Grab and Go Meals Available to All Students

Fairfax County Public Schools is offering no-cost nutritious meals to ALL students through June 30, 2021. Meals are available at school sites and along bus routes. The bus schedule is available online

Breakfast and lunch meals are offered Monday through Friday (excluding holidays). Breakfast and lunch are served at the same time. Breakfast and lunch are also offered at no cost to any student who attends in-person instruction at a school Monday-Friday. Meals for Saturday and Sunday are offered at sites and on bus routes every Friday.

More information is available online, or by calling the Office of Food and Nutrition Services at 703-813-4800.


Calendar Reminder: Winter Break Is December 21 to January 1, 2021

As a reminder, this year winter break starts on December 21 and ends on January 1, 2021. Classes will resume on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. Monday, January 4, 2021, is an asynchronous day.

See the complete 2020-21 school year calendar

Winter Holidays and COVID-19: Recommendations for Family Celebrations, Shopping, and Entertainment

To help families celebrate the holidays safely, the Fairfax County Health Department shared suggestions on how to stay healthy this winter holiday season as you shop, celebrate, and entertain.


Healthy Minds Podcast: How to Experience Joy Through Giving this “Different” Holiday season

In this week's Healthy Minds podcast, Maria Genova, an FCPS psychology supervisor, shares unique ways we can all give through “connections” this holiday season and reap the results of added joy in our lives. She addresses how we can learn to flex our “happiness” muscles and how we can look for the micro-moments to feel and demonstrate and cultivate optimism.

From the Healthy Minds Blog: Free Resources to Deal with Stress from the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused upheaval and unexpected stress in the lives of so many people. To support Virginians, the VA C.O.P.E.S. (Compassionate, Optimistic, Person-Centered, Empowering Support) warmline is available to offer support. The mental health tip line started in May 2020 and, thanks to new funding, the service will be extended through May 2021.

In addition, George Mason University's Center for Psychological Services is offering a COVID-19 Essential Workers Emotional Support Line. Essential workers, including those individuals working in healthcare, schools, sanitation, transportation, hospitality, the postal service, and the military, can call to speak confidentially with a trained provider about stress, anxiety, depression, or grief for free. Additional virtual therapy services are also available.

More information on COVID-19 resources is available online


Haycock Elementary Teacher Takes Teaching to New Levels in Backyard Treehouse

Teachers in Fairfax County Public Schools have developed creative workspaces at home and in their classrooms for virtual learning. For Haycock Elementary School teacher Nellie Williams, creativity took on new heights as she and her husband decided to upgrade their backyard treehouse for her to use as a classroom. Learn more about Nellie Williams’ treehouse.


Parent Resource Center Webinars

The FCPS Parent Resource Center offers several free parent and educator webinars to provide the latest information to help your child succeed. Some upcoming webinars include: 

Coping Strategies for Anxious Kids

Join Dr. Erin D. Berman, a clinical psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, for an important session helping children cope with anxiety.

Webinar highlights:

  • How to identify an anxious child.
  • How to change anxious thinking.
  • The science and biological roots of anxiety in children.
  • How computer technology is transforming the understanding of anxiety.
  • Current treatment options. 

Friday, December 11, 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Register for Coping Strategies for Anxious Kids.


All Behavior Happens for a Reason: Behavior as Communication

  • Overview on the reasons why behaviors may occur.
  • Overview about reinforcing positive behavior.
  • General tips for encouraging replacement behaviors.

Thursday December 17, 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Register for All Behavior Happens for a Reason: Behavior as Communication.

More information about Parent Resource Center webinars is available online.


Video: Foundation for FCPS Leaders and Learners Virtual Event

The Foundation for FCPS held a virtual event on November 30 to celebrate how the Fairfax County community has come together during the pandemic to support our neediest students. Hear from Dr. Brabrand, teachers, and business leaders about the importance of helping students. Watch the video

Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools' Project Cornucopia

The Foundation for FCPS is working to ensure that the neediest students in FCPS can enjoy a special meal for the holidays. Donations to Project Cornucopia will be used to purchase gift cards that can be redeemed for grocery items so that families can enjoy their favorite flavorful traditions–or create new ones. Donations can be made online


FCPS in the News