Return to School Update

By Office of Communication and Community Relations
October 05, 2020

Dear Parents and Caregivers, 

This week a small group of students will be the first to return to in-person instruction in Fairfax County Public Schools. 

This is the beginning of in-person cohort learning in FCPS. Cohort learning means that groups of students, teachers, and staff stay together throughout the school day to minimize exposure. By the end of October, we plan to be offering in-person instruction to approximately 3.5 percent of FCPS students. 

We have always said that we will return to in-person learning as soon as we can do so safely. Health metrics demonstrate that the incidence of COVID-19 in our community is low and we now have enough staff, safety precautions, and facility readiness to accommodate this number of students. We have developed a plan to respond if health conditions at a school or in a particular classroom change. We are ready with schedules, technology, classrooms, nutrition, and other support to make in-person learning a success for this number of students. 

As we begin this gradual, phased approach we will provide in-person instruction first to those who need it most. Our very first cohort includes certain specialized Career and Technical Education (CTE) students, who cannot be expected to learn their trades without hands-on experience. In mid-October, we will begin to welcome back our youngest learners, including students in Preschool Autism and Preschool Class-based programs. We will then open for cohorts that include students at the Key and Kilmer Centers, elementary and secondary students who access the adapted curriculum, elementary comprehensive services sites, and English learners with limited or interrupted formal education and students who recently entered the United States, our newcomer students. Finally, in late October, we will further expand the specialty high school courses and add elementary students at Burke School. 

Our hope, of course, is to continue to increase the number of students receiving in-person instruction from FCPS. I will present to the School Board at an upcoming meeting our plan to bring additional students back in November prioritizing early learners and transitioning students for in-person instruction. We are encouraged that Fairfax and Northern Virginia are currently experiencing a low disease burden with a decreasing trend while the overall community transmission extent is low. We have safely implemented two SAT test days along with laptop pickups and daily food distributions.  However, we will be monitoring the situation closely and will dial up or dial back in-person instruction based on current community health conditions. We are entering a critical time when the change of seasons, beginning of flu season, and other factors may force us to pause, scale back, or even suspend in-person learning. 

Today we can be proud that our school system is moving toward a return to in-person instruction. We will continue to do everything possible to hasten the day that all students and staff can safely return. We deeply appreciate your patience and understanding, along with the tremendous effort that is making virtual learning at FCPS a great success. 

You can review detailed information about our plans for return to school here


Scott Brabrand, Superintendent

Fairfax County Public Schools

Dr. Brabrand updates the community on past, present and future plans for Return to School with the first small groups of students returning to school this week: