Reopening Schools Plan - Future Closures

FCPS must be prepared for the possibility of future school closures

Preparing for Future Closures

Changes in public health data could necessitate rapid adjustments to the level of in-person instruction that can be offered at any time in 2020-21. Students, families, and staff who are participating under the in-person instruction continuum option should recognize the potential of short-term closure for a classroom, school, or the division at any time. Based on the experience in spring 2020 and the continuum design of the 2020-21 in-person instruction model, FCPS is prepared to rapidly adjust the continuum level, as needed, to respond to specific cases of infection and exposure within a particular class or school as well as broader community health trends for the county and region to inform decisions about overall division operations. Division leaders will communicate promptly to staff, students, and families in the event that local health conditions warrant school closure or a change in instructional delivery.

FCPS is in the process of defining specific multi-faceted metrics and thresholds to determine when the division can safely provide in-person instruction. These metrics will inform decisions on dialing in or dialing out on the instructional continuum at the division level and for individual schools and classrooms, as needed. Metrics will include three levels of context for decisions: community transmission and disease trends, system operational data, and school-level data, as follows. 

  • Community Transmission and Disease Trends: Defined by Virginia Department of Health (VDH), reviewed weekly with the Fairfax County Health Department, and used to determine if the level of community transmission will allow for face-to-face instruction. 
  • System Operational Metrics: FCPS capacity to support face-to-face instruction and used to define continuum level for school operations. These metrics include the level availability of staffing, personal protective equipment, and cleaning supplies.
  • School Metrics: Responsive analysis to maintain health and safety, used in the event of confirmed cases of COVID-19 to determine the need for a shift to temporary online for all at the individual classroom, cohort, or school level.

During a health closure for one or more FCPS sites, no students would be allowed in school buildings for instruction. Staff would access buildings for critical purposes, as permitted within health department guidelines. In rare circumstances when a necessary specialized service cannot be provided remotely, individual students may be permitted into a FCPS facility by appointment and with strict mitigation strategies in place. 

Experts studying health trends for COVID-19 and past pandemics recognize that there is the potential for a range of shifts in public health risk as we move toward eventual stability. As we begin to ease social distancing, we work from an assumption that the worst is behind us. However, analysis of historical data and trends from other areas of the world experiencing COVID-19 suggest the likelihood that we will see a resurgence in cases. This resurgence could take the form of a spike, possibly in late fall when flu season also prompts more COVID-19 transmissions. Another variation could bring recurring waves across many months until a vaccine is developed, reflecting loss of stamina for strict health and social distancing precautions.

Possible patterns for COVID-19 public health risk


Reopening Schools Plan - Complete Information