Return to School News- September 14, 2020

By Communications and Community Relations Staff
September 14, 2020

First Day of School Pictures

Welcome to the 2020-21 school year! Thank you to everyone who shared the excitement of the first day of school by posting photos and videos even though things were a little different this year. Want to see them for yourself? Go to the FCPS website or FCPS Facebook page to see some photo galleries or visit Twitter or Instagram and search for #firstdayfairfax or #fcpsready. Together, let’s make this a great school year!

School Board to Discuss Health and Operational Metrics for Return to In-Person Instruction on Tuesday, September 22

At the Tuesday, September 22 School Board work session, Superintendent Brabrand will provide updated information on health and operational metrics to guide the decision-making process to resume in-person instruction. Information will also be provided on an updated plan to begin to offer in-person instruction by phasing in students in small cohorts when these metrics are met.

The work session can be viewed on FCPS Cable TV Channel 99 or on the FCPS website

Food Program Expanding; Additional Bus Routes Starting September 16

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that FCPS and other school districts can continue serving free meals to all children through December 31. FCPS has distributed more than 2.4 million grab and go meals since schools closed in March. The goal is to provide every FCPS student daily access to a healthy breakfast and lunch.

Grab and go service hours have been extended to 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) with both breakfast and lunch being served at the same time. Bus routes for food distribution are being added and the current routes updated. Meals on buses will be distributed Monday through Friday beginning at 6:30 a.m.

New for this fall: Breakfast and lunch meals for Saturdays will be distributed at all sites and bus routes each Friday.   

Specific information about meal distribution locations and bus distribution schedules (updated daily by 5 p.m.) is available online

School Is Open—Make Sure Your Child Is Logged On

The new school year has begun for students in Fairfax County Public Schools. All students are expected to attend school virtually.

If your child has not been attending school because you do not have a laptop or internet access, please contact your school. If there are other reasons your child is not able to attend, please call your school. Schools want to help you and your child.

In Virginia, public school students ages 5-18 are required to attend school regularly, whether they attend virtually by logging onto a computer or in-person instruction. Teachers are taking attendance every day. If a parent calls and indicates their child will not be able to attend for a certain class period, the student is excused for the class period.

We know this is an unusual school year for everyone. We want each child to succeed. Your school will work with your family to achieve that goal.

The first step is up to you. Please make sure your child is attending school by logging on to their online classes. If you need help, please contact your school.

More information about attendance is available online.

FCPS Student School Board Member to Serve as Moderator for Virtual Discussion on Voting and Government on Thursday, September 17

FCPS School Board Student Representative Nathan Onibudo, a senior at South County High School, will serve as moderator for a panel discussion with U.S. Senator Tim Kaine on Thursday, September 17, beginning at 6 p.m. in recognition of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. The event will be broadcast live on FCPS Cable TV Channel 99 and on the FCPS website. The discussion, which will include other FCPS high school seniors, will focus on the importance of voter registration, exercising one’s right to vote, and informed and active participation in government. The League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area is supporting the event.

On September 17 of each year, FCPS schools hold an educational program recognizing Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. The purpose of this federal requirement is to commemorate the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787, and to “recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.” This 2004 Congressional initiative applies to educational institutions receiving federal funding from the United States Department of Education.

Note: The Fairfax County School Board recently approved a resolution in support of the FCPS High School Voter Registration Challenge.

FCPS Virtual Mental Health and Wellness Conference Begins Today

FCPS will host its seventh Annual Mental Health and Wellness Conference over a three-week period beginning today, Monday, September 14, through Saturday, October 3. The conference features multiple keynote speakers who will address social emotional learning and resiliency. Our Minds Matter will also host a student strand. Inova and Kaiser Permanente will again be sponsoring the conference.

Registration information and the complete schedule and list of speakers are now available online

Fairfax County Government Community Services Board Virtual Event to Be Held Tonight—A Safe Space to Dig Deep: Mental Health and Wellness in the Black Community

Join the Community Services Board for a discussion about mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health within the Black community tonight, September 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Participants will dig deeper into conversations about common signs and symptoms of trauma and stress, particularly during the current COVID-19 pandemic and increased racial tensions across the nation.

Get an overview of some key barriers and stigmas around mental illness experienced within the Black community that might make Black people less likely to reach out for help. All are invited to attend.

Get more information and register

Special Education Newsletter

The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide parents of special education students with updated DSS information, tips, and ideas to support special education families during distance learning. See the latest issue

Two Hundred Twelve Students Named 2021 National Merit Semifinalists

Two hundred twelve students from 18 high schools have been named semifinalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation for 2021. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), which also serves as the Governor’s Regional School for Northern Virginia, has 132 semifinalists.

All semifinalists are eligible to compete for 7,600 National Merit Scholarship awards worth more than $30 million, to be awarded in spring 2021.

See who was named a national merit semifinalist

FCPS Has Many Technology Supports to Help with the Virtual Start to the School Year

As your child continues to move forward with virtual learning, there are resources that can help you with basic technology issues. FCPS’ YouTube channel has videos that walk you and your student through basic technology topics and highlight some of the key FCPS tools, such as Google and Blackboard. These videos can provide a quick solution for quick, simple questions. Additionally, there are tip sheets available on the FCPS Parent Technology Resource page in multipale languages. 

These tip sheets provide answers to basic questions about FCPS technologies. Often you can find the answer to your question in these resources. These resources will continue to be updated throughout the year; we encourage you to check there first.

If you can’t find answers in FCPS’ online resources, there are several places to seek help. Below is a guide to help you get information quickly:

  • Inquiries about your child’s schedule or classes, school events or programs, checking out an FCPS laptop, or updating your information, contact your child’s school directly.
  • Broader inquiries about FCPS programs or resources available to families may be directed to the Parent Resource Center at 703-204-3941, or use one of our eight Parent Information Phone Lines for information in multiple languages. 
  • Technical support questions about your online parent accounts, your student’s FCPS laptop, or your student’s online applications, should be directed to the Parent Technology Help Desk (toll free) at 833-921-3277 or enter a support request ticket via the Parent and Student IT Portal. Please note that the Parent Technology Help Desk and school tech teams continue to experience a high volume of support requests. We appreciate your patience, and highly recommend the self-help resources above to solve simple technology issues quickly. 

We hope this information helps point you to the right resources, and we look forward to working with you and your child on a successful school year.

Upcoming Jewish Holidays

This month, Jewish people throughout the world will be observing what is known as the High Holy Days or High Holidays. Most Jewish families will celebrate these holidays, which are often thought of as the holiest days of the year. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins Friday evening, September 18. Yom Kippur begins on Sunday night, September 27, and goes through Monday night September 28.

All FCPS leaders have been provided this information along with tips and guidelines for consideration towards students and staff during this time. 

See FCPS guidelines on excused absences for all religious holidays

Healthy Minds Podcast: Changing the School Culture Around Mental Health

This week’s Healthy Minds podcast features a discussion with Lauren Anderson, the executive director of Our Minds Matter, a local non-profit organization working toward the day when no teens turn to suicide.
Anderson co-founded the organization in 2012 after the death of her brother Josh. She shares information about Our Minds Matter club activities, and her thoughts about important conversations for young people to have.

From the Healthy Minds Blog: Being Kind to Ourselves

With all the changes and uncertainty in our lives right now, making decisions can seem overwhelming and unsatisfying. Am I doing the right thing? What are other families doing? Is this decision in the best interest of myself and my child? Even when we are fortunate enough that we are not in immediate danger, this constant level of stress wears at our emotional balance and can pull us into a negative self-critical spiral.
Research shows that self-criticism makes us weaker in the face of failure, more emotional, and less likely to learn from lessons of our failures. Self-compassion is a far better alternative to self-criticism

Check out these tips to learn how can you begin to show more self-compassion

Fairfax County Public Schools Annual Public Notice: Career and Technical Education

Fairfax County Public School Division’s Career and Technical Education Program offers a variety of career and technical programs to all students at the middle and high school levels. The program areas include the following:

  • Business and information technology.
  • Family and consumer sciences.
  • Health and medical sciences.
  • Technology education.
  • Trade and industrial education.

For more information about Career and Technical Education call 571-423-1339 or visit the FCPS website at and search for Career and Technical Education.

FCPS in the News