Fairfax County School Board Unanimously Supports Superintendent's Plan to Bring All Students Back into Schools By Mid-March
The Fairfax County School Board today gave unanimous support for an updated timeline that will offer all students the opportunity to return to school buildings two days a week beginning February 16 through March 16.
Under the updated timeline presented by Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand at a School Board Work Session today, the first students, including students with disabilities, English Language Learners and younger students will begin returning to in-person learning on February 16.
“I’m excited about moving forward to return students to the building as has been the goal for many months now. I’m delighted that the Board was unanimous in its support of the superintendent's updated schedule,” said School Board Chair Dr. Ricardy Anderson.
School Board members came to consensus to support the plan after hearing specifics on the school division’s ability to meet updated, research-based decision-making protocols provided by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) for safely returning students to the classroom.
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has implemented Safety Teams that are monitoring FCPS’ adherence to five health and safety mitigation strategies that the CDC says will help to keep school transmission rates low. FCPS schools currently rate “low” in terms of infection risk.
In addition, vaccinations of FCPS staff began January 16 and are continuing. Ninety percent of FCPS staff have requested or scheduled appointments to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Fairfax County Health Department is also working closely with Inova Health System and FCPS to ensure that staff will have access to their second dose in the course of the next few weeks.
Students that are most disproportionately impacted by a lack of in-person instruction will be among the first groups to return to school buildings and centers. These groups comprise FCPS Groups 1-6 and include early learners, students with disabilities and English Language Learners.
“FCPS believes in-person instruction is best to meet our students’ academic, social and emotional needs, and I am truly grateful to the Board for their continued support of our students at this difficult time. We will continue to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff remain our highest priority as we begin to return to in-person learning on February 16,” said Superintendent Brabrand.
FCPS has hired 92% of the classroom monitors necessary to bring back the first group of students on February 16, which includes some career and technical education classes and special education students. 86% of the monitors needed to bring back the second group of students (Grades 1 and 2) are in place. An additional 205 additional monitors are still needed and our Talent and Acquisition Management Team is working diligently to recruit them. Classroom monitors are necessary to cover in-person classrooms for instructors who are teaching from home.
The last group of students scheduled to return under the updated plan will be students in grades 3 through 6. By March 16, all students who wish to return to in-person learning will have been provided the opportunity. Classes may need to transition back to virtual learning if a teacher needs to quarantine or the class experiences an outbreak.
FCPS will implement a new bell schedule due to social distancing requirements which limit capacity on school buses. The bell schedule change, which will start on February 16, will apply to both in-person learning as well as students who are doing full-time virtual learning.
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