Reopening Schools Plan - In-Person Operational Continuum

This option delivers a flexible continuum of in-person instruction based on changes in public health data

Content below reflects information as of the August 28, 2020, Reopening Schools Plan publication. 

In-Person Instruction Continuum

As noted in the chapter on the FCPS operational approach for 2020-21, the operational levels are designed with the overarching aim to provide safe in-person learning for all FCPS students. The operational levels adapt to changing health conditions throughout the year to dial in or dial out to the greatest level of safe in-person learning possible at any point in time. For students whose families choose the in-person operational continuum, service is provided at different operational levels, as described in the section below, ranging from the most restrictive Level 1, 100 percent virtual learning, to the least restrictive Level 4, 100 percent in-person learning.

Instruction Within the Operational Levels

The 5-day instructional week provides guaranteed services for students by level. 

  • All Levels: Students access independent, asynchronous learning each Monday. Certain students are identified to receive additional intervention or specialized instruction on Monday morning to meet their program needs, such as IEP goals. 
  • Elementary School: Students participate in all core classes each day, Tuesday through Friday. Depending on the operational level and student group, teacher-directed instruction for core instruction could occur two to four days per week. 
  • Middle and High School: Students participate on a block schedule Tuesday through Friday, with odd-numbered periods on Tuesday and Thursday and even-numbered periods on Wednesday and Friday. Depending on the operational level and student group, teacher-directed instruction for core instruction could occur two to four days per week.

As illustrated in the table below, FCPS students experience a range of learning models as the division dials in and out among operational levels. Because in-person service dials in and out based on changing health data, it is difficult to outline all possible variations for service.

operational continuum level descriptions

Cohort Learning Model 

The Level 2 cohort learning model is designed to safely serve students on a limited basis to meet critical assessment, intervention, and instructional needs. The following three models of Level 2 cohort learning are planned for implementation beginning in fall 2020, as soon as the division metrics indicate readiness. 

Assessment and evaluation by appointment, including:

  • Individual students based on need
  • Groups of students for prioritized assessments, such as college entrance exams, abilities tests, and state-mandated assessments

Half-day Monday opportunities for cohorted groups of students to supplement virtual learning, including:

  • Intervention/supports for students disconnected from virtual learning in the previous or current school year
  • Students identified through the MTSS process needing additional academic or sociaI-emotional supports
  • Specialized high school courses that require in-person access to equipment and experiences

Phased-in in-person learning throughout the week for students likely to experience challenges with virtual learning, including:

  • Students with disabilities: Preschool autism, preschool special education,private day schools, adapted curriculum, comprehensive services
  • English learners: Students with limited or interrupted formal education, newcomer ELs
  • Primary grade students: PreK-K, grades 1-2
  • Specialized courses requiring hands-on experiences: Behind the wheel, in-person requirements defined by external regulatory boards, content requiring hand-on learning, such as career and technical education

Health Protocols and Social Distancing

In-person instruction within the FCPS model requires continuous monitoring and safety measures to mitigate health risk. All health monitoring protocols and social distancing are implemented in accordance with CDC and VDH guidance, as detailed in the chapter on health mitigation strategies. This includes required use of face coverings, daily health screening questions, frequent sanitation of high-touch points, and visitor restrictions. Six-foot separation is maintained whenever possible for both staff and students, with new capacity limits and seating guidelines for classrooms and school buses.

Sample classroom layouts with social distancing

image of sample bus distancing


The sample schedule below illustrates how instruction is delivered under operational level 1, 100 percent virtual learning. This is the operational level launching the 2020-21 FCPS school year.

weekly schedule for temporary online learning within the continuum

Implementing operational levels 2 and 3 requires a reduced schedule in school buildings to ensure students and staff can meet physical distancing requirements and to allow for enhanced cleaning and sanitation routines. Under these operational levels, identified students are generally in-person at a school site one or two days per week and receive online instruction on days they are not present in a school building. Transportation is provided to FCPS facilities on students’ scheduled in-person days, according to FCPS transportation guidelines. 

Under operational level 2, identified cohorts of students are scheduled to attend school in-person on specific days. Similarly, under operational level 3, all students have the opportunity to attend school in-person on specific days. The sample schedule below illustrates one model for part-time in-person instruction under operational levels 2 to 3, where a group of students attends at the school on Tuesday and Wednesday and another group attends at the school on Thursday and Friday. Students who are not attending in-person on any given day participate in online learning.

weekly schedule for part-time in-person within the continuum

Decisions about bell schedules at each school, adjustments to the percentage of the student population attending a school each day, and actual rotational schedules are confirmed for each operational level based on s health data and stakeholder feedback. Individual student schedules for in-person learning at the school are communicated to families prior to each change in operational level. 

Reopening Schools Plan - Complete Information