Return to School News - March 15, 2021

By Communication and Community Relations
March 16, 2021

Returning Strong! Final Group of Students Returns as FCPS Looks Forward to Five Days in the Fall

FCPS schools are filling with staff and student energy again with approximately 98,000 staff and students completing the return to school buildings this week after more than a year apart.

Tomorrow, Tuesday March 16, students in grades 3-6 and secondary public day programs (special education) return for in-person instruction, marking the final phase of cohort returns.

FCPS is planning for a strong 5-day in-person start to the 2021-22 school year and is currently weighing all options to find ways to keep health and safety at the forefront while ensuring all students get the access to in-person learning they want and need in the fall.

For those whose children returned in-person this past month, we thank you for your trust in us. Our return to school has been largely successful and we look forward to continuing to expand opportunities in a safe and responsible way.

For those who have remained virtual with us—we thank you for your patience. We will continue to meet your child’s needs in this environment. However, we also hope to continue to build trust and confidence to return all children for in-person instruction this fall.

We are returning strong.

Video: Back to School Smiles at Greenbriar East Elementary School

On Tuesday, March 9, FCPS welcomed first and second graders back to in-person instruction. Everyone at Greenbriar East Elementary School couldn't wait to see the smiling faces and hear the happy voices in the halls again. 

FCPS Playgrounds Reopen for Students 

FCPS is now permitting the use of playground equipment during recess. Students will adhere to mitigation strategies before and after use, but this is a welcome step for returning to school safely as playing outside is important for students’ social-emotional well-being and a healthy outlet for stress. More information on playgrounds reopening and other student health and safety guidance is available online.

2021 End-of-Year Ceremonies

Fairfax County Public Schools is committed to and planning to hold in-person graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2021. While our traditional venues (Eagle Bank Arena at George Mason University and DAR – Constitution Hall) will most likely not be available in June, we are actively exploring other venue options to include the use of our high school stadiums and/or other outside entertainment sites.

Governor Northam will be providing new and updated guidance for in-person graduation ceremonies, indoor and outdoor social gatherings, and public health and space restrictions for certain outdoor sports and entertainment venues in the next few weeks. This information will help to inform us about the health and safety requirements and laws for culminating events such as graduation: All Night Graduation parties, prom, and end- of-year celebrations for our elementary and secondary students.

We will promptly notify school staff, students, and parents as soon as we have the additional guidance and plans.

2021 Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate Testing Information

The College Board and International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization announced changes to this year’s exams. Information is now available online about 2021 AP and IB testing in FCPS, including exam formats, dates, times, cancellation procedures, and answers to frequently asked questions. 

Meal Distribution During Spring Break

FCPS is committed to providing all students access to meals March 26 through April 5 when there is one early release school day, the week of spring break when schools are closed, and one teacher workday when students are not in school. Extra meal distribution begins March 22. See the food distribution web page for more information.

Additionally, the United States Department of Agriculture announced this week that no-cost breakfast and lunch meals for all students have been extended through September 30.

Planning to Travel Over Spring Break? Here's the Guidance

Spring break is just around the corner. Here are some tips to be aware of as you make plans to travel:

  • The Virginia Department of Health urges all Virginians to avoid non-essential travel, especially if you are at higher risk of serious COVID-19 or if you will be visiting someone at higher risk of serious COVID-19. This recommendation applies to everyone, even if you have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have fully recovered from COVID-19.
  • FCPS does not currently have travel restrictions. Students are not required to quarantine or provide COVID 19 test results for either domestic or international travel. Parents may opt to keep their students at home for 14 days after they return from travel, however, it is not required.
  • Per the Student Health and Safety Guidance Document, a Daily Health Screening Questionnaire will be required for all students attending in-person instruction. These daily health screening questionnaires will be completed on an honor basis and will not be required to be submitted to the school.
  • Upon returning, any student, staff or visitor demonstrating symptoms of illness is asked to stay home to help “Stop the Spread” of COVID-19. 

Updates and more information are available online

Photos of the Week

See students being welcomed back to school and hard at work in school buildings in this week's photo gallery.

Multilingual Podcasts Focus on Wellbeing

En Pocas Palabras Podcast Explores Strategies for Enhancing Parents’ Well-Being

In the latest En Pocas Palabras podcast, Silvia Stone, an FCPS school psychologist, shares strategies that parents can use to manage their and their children's stress, the importance of self-care and how to recognize signs of stress in their children, and who to turn to in schools for help.  

Healthy Minds Podcast: Purposeful Conversations

In recognition of National Social Work Week, join Sharita Crawford, a social worker in Region 3 in this week’s Healthy Minds podcast. Sharita shares a day in the life of a social worker and discusses the importance of purposeful conversations as we continue to process our thoughts around the pandemic.

Video: Student Voice-Sean Talks About Mental Health

FCPS student Sean created and shared this video about ways to stay connected and to improve your mental health and wellness.

Calendar Reminder: Two-Hour Early Dismissal on March 26; Spring Break Is March 29-April 2

As a reminder, Friday, March 26, is the last day of the third quarter. Students will be dismissed two hours early and attend their in-person or virtual classes as planned.

Spring break is March 29-April 2. Also, Monday, April 5, is a teacher workday and a holiday for students. Teachers will not be available for office hours and students are not expected to complete asynchronous assignments. See the complete 2020-21 school year calendar

FCPS Is Hiring Classroom Monitors and Long-Term Substitutes

FCPS schools and centers are hiring classroom monitors to provide in-person classroom assistance for students when some staff members continue to work virtually. If you would like more information about the position, review the job description online and apply if interested. Please share information about this opportunity with anyone else you think may be interested. 

Fairfax County Public Schools to Host Long-Term Substitute Interview Day on March 19

FCPS is searching for individuals to serve as long-term substitute teachers. School staff will interview candidates at the Long-Term Substitute Interview event on Friday, March 19, from 9-11 a.m. Individuals interested in becoming part of the FCPS Substitute team are encouraged to register to attend.

Feedback Wanted on 2021-22 School Year Calendars

The FCPS calendar will be among the topics discussed at the upcoming School Board Meeting on Thursday, March 18. Information about the calendars will be posted on Board Docs prior to the meeting. Read about the options and provide input here.

Marina Qu of McLean High School Named 2021 Virginia Journalist of the Year

McLean High School senior Marina Qu has been named the 2021 Virginia Journalist of the Year by the Virginia Association of Journalism Teachers and Advisers. Qu serves as editor-in-chief of The Highlander newsmagazine and The Tartan literary magazine; she has been on both publications’ staff for three years.

Providence Elementary School Teacher Named Virginia Finalist for Presidential Math and Science Teaching Award

Tracy Cabacoy, a mathematics resource teacher at Providence Elementary School, is one of four finalists in Virginia for the 2020 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Learn more about Tracy Cabacoy.

In the Spotlight: FCPS Winter 2021 Virginia High School League Sports Champions

FCPS student-athletes had another successful sports season this winter. Six FCPS teams and 36 individuals won the Virginia High School League (VHSL) championships in their respective sports.

See who won winter 2021 VHSL sports championships

Have Your Say on Virginia History and Social Studies Standards of Learning

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has established a timeline for the review and revision of the History and Social Science Standards of Learning, scheduled to be completed before November 2022.

An important part of the review process for the History and Social Science Standards of Learning is the solicitation of comments from teachers, administrators, students, families and community stakeholders who have an interest in curriculum reform or expertise with the content of the current Standards. Make your voice heard at [email protected].

Website Nugget: How to Find What You Are Looking For

Did you know that the FCPS website search tool is the most efficient method for finding information on the FCPS website? The tool is available in the top left of every page of the website (look for the magnifying glass, next to the translation tool) and in the center of the home page. 

Some recent refinements include a spell check (if there are no results) and the ability to filter content by type and date. Remember to use double quotes when searching for a phrase like “community relations”. 

Fairfax County Government Vaccine Update

Recently, Jeffrey C. McKay, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and Dr. Stephen Jones, president of Inova, announced the creation of a new mass vaccination facility in Alexandria that will open at the end of March for all Fairfax County and City of Alexandria residents.

Once the facility is running at maximum capacity it will be able to vaccinate nearly 12,000 people a day. Eligible Fairfax County residents can register through the County's vaccination webpage.

Fairfax County Government Strategic Plan Survey

Help shape the future of Fairfax County and your community by giving feedback to the Fairfax County Government on the proposed Countywide Strategic Plan. 

Give your feedback online in English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

2021 Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair

The 2021 Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair participation and judging will be held virtually the week of March 13-20. The announcement of the winners will be broadcast on FCPS Channel 99 (Verizon Channel 11) on Sunday, March 21, from 3 to 4 p.m. and will be livestreamed on the FCPS website. The list of award winners will be posted on the Science Fair Website by Monday, March 22.

Newsletter Distribution Switching to Wednesdays Starting March 24

Starting on March 24, this newsletter, Return to School News, will be distributed on Wednesdays, and will return to a familiar name: FCPS This Week. Based on your poll feedback, FCPS This Week will go out in the mornings and include more information on events, school division initiatives, and student and staff achievements.