FCPS This Week - December 6, 2023

By Office of Communications
December 06, 2023

⛄ No Virtual Learning on Snow Days This Winter

FCPS will be returning to its previous procedure for snow days for the 2023-24 school year. There will be no virtual learning when school is closed due to bad weather. 

During snow days, students may still access Tutor.com, complete any supplemental learning opportunities recommended by their teachers, and view educational programming (available online and on public access television channels):

Eleven snow days are built into FCPS’ existing calendar. Eliminating virtual learning days will enable us to maximize students’ in-person learning and provide equitable access to instruction and student services.



🏆 Congratulations to Our 2023 Fall Sports Champions! 

Congratulations to all the FCPS student-athletes who participated in the 2023 fall sports season! This year, three teams and four individuals won the Virginia High School League Class 6 championship in their respective sports, and three teams and one individual were the state runners-up. Read the full list of winners.



🙋‍♂️ Attend Today, Achieve Tomorrow!

The weeks surrounding winter break often see more empty seats in classrooms. This year, let's nurture a rock-solid attendance habit.

Every hour of every school day is a unique opportunity for students to learn, connect, and grow. 

A big thank you to:

  • 🌟 Students and families who show up every day.
  • 👩‍🏫 Teachers who create a welcoming environment for learning.
  • 👨‍💼 Administrators who provide a safe and engaging place to grow.
  • 👏 Bus drivers, support staff, and volunteers who help our learners. 

If you or your child need support, please reach out to a school counselor, social worker, or family liaison. If your child is not feeling well, please refer to our When Should I Keep My Child Home? resource for guidance. 

Mark your calendars! Winter break runs from Monday, December 18, to Monday, January 1, 2024. School will resume on Tuesday, January 2, 2024. Visit our website for more attendance resources



💻 No-Cost Mental Health Teletherapy for All High School Students

Is your high schooler experiencing anxiety, behavior changes, or challenges with peer and family relationships? Do they seem withdrawn or are they not engaging in their usual hobbies? 

Parents/caregivers can refer their children for weekly therapy with a licensed therapist through Hazel Health. Visit the Teletherapy webpage for information on how to opt in to this service.  



🕑 Middle School Start Times

In September, FCPS awarded a contract to Prismatic Services, Inc., to develop a plan for potentially changing middle school start times. The plan will explore starting the middle school day no earlier than 8 a.m., without changing high school start times or impacting FCPS’ budget.

Prismatic will present their findings to the School Board in January. The board will decide in the spring whether or not to proceed with changing middle school start times. Read about the middle school start times project.



📝 Keep Learning Over Winter Break with Tutor.com

Does your child need help getting up to speed in high school math, science, or English? Tutor.com offers diagnostic quizzes to help students test their knowledge and find areas where they may need help. Quizzes can be taken anytime, and students can connect immediately to a tutor. 

Test prep is also available for students preparing for the PSAT, SAT, or ACT. 

FCPS students have unlimited access, 24/7, to online tutoring support services through Tutor.com at no cost to families. Students can connect online any time, any place, and in most K-12 subjects for however long they need. 

Languages spoken by tutors on Tutor.com include English and Spanish (available 24 hours a day), and Vietnamese, Mandarin, and French (available from 6 p.m. to midnight). 



📚 Librarian of the Year Helps Students Find Their Authentic Self

Rachel Grover was named Librarian of the Year by the Virginia Association of School Librarians (VAASL) in November. Read about what inspired her to be a librarian

Also honored at the VAASL conference were Katie Bruechert, Thoreau Middle School, Rutherford Memorial Award; Heather Baucum, Crossfield Elementary School, Ignite Award; and Maura Madigan, North Springfield Elementary School, AASL Presentation Award.



📖 Cozy Up With Books Over Break

Fairfax County Public Library’s (FCPL) winter reading adventure has begun, and will continue through Wednesday, January 31, 2024. Visit your local FCPL library branch or visit their website to register and get a sneak peek at the prizes being offered.

Check out their Winter Reading Events webpage to learn about laser tag, movie nights, crafting sessions, book discussions, and an event with Newberry Award winner Amina Luqman Dawson



❄️ Get Outdoors for Winter Fun! 

The Fairfax County Park Authority has rounded up their seasonal fun into a handy list of events happening across the county

Learn more about the Winter Wonderland and the Holiday Train at Burke Lake Park, Holiday on the Farm at Frying Pan Farm Park, Candy Cane Lane at Oak Marr Mini Golf, and many more fun events. 



🍲 Food Insecurity Resources for Families

Food insecurity impacts more than 60,000 Fairfax County residents. There are many resources available to support those who need food assistance. Read more on how to receive or offer support on the Fairfax County website or view their Human Services Resource Guide to find organizations that offer help.



📊 Results of the 2022-23 Fairfax County Youth Survey

At Monday’s School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid presented findings of the Fairfax County Youth Survey during Academic Matters. The survey provides insight into the behaviors and attitudes that affect the health and well-being of Fairfax County youth. 

The percentage of students who reported considering or attempting suicide were at their lowest rates since 2015, as were the reported rates of alcohol and substance use.

Dr. Reid stressed how the Youth Survey isn't just a snapshot of how students are doing, it also serves as a barometer for the efficacy of our programs and how well FCPS and the community are serving our youth. 

Read more about the report’s findings, and view the full report on the county’s website.

Protective Factors Support Healthy Habits and Positive Choices

Survey data shows that students with at least three protective factors have a lower likelihood of reporting mental health challenges and engaging in a variety of risky behaviors, including substance and opioid abuse. Protective factors are individual, family-based, school-based, and community-based assets (such as participating in extracurricular activities, having parents available for help, or having teachers recognize good work) that support healthy habits and positive choices. 



🌏 World Languages Offerings in Elementary Schools Survey

Fairfax County Public Schools is considering expanding our Dual Language Immersion programs to include new languages and school sites, and new languages for our Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools program.

Parents/caregivers with elementary school students should have received a reminder email today with a link to our World Languages Survey. Please participate and let us know your thoughts about World Languages offered in elementary schools. The survey is available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Urdu, and Vietnamese. The survey will close Friday, December 8.   



📅 Calendar Reminder: Chanukah and Bodhi Day 

Chanukah, an eight-day Festival of Lights, is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple and the miracle of a small quantity of oil that lit the Temple’s menorah for eight days. 

This year, Chanukah begins at sundown on Thursday, December 7. That day will be an evening-only observation day, and major events cannot be scheduled that evening. Learn more about Chanukah in National Geographic Kids.

Bodhi Day

Bodhi Day, Friday, December 8, is the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment, also known as bodhi in Sanskrit and Pali. Learn more about Bodhi Day in this video from the Miami Children’s Museum. 

The school calendar recognizes Bodhi Day as a religious observation day. There is school on this day, however, the School Board has directed that certain events will not be held on these observance days.

Winter Break

As a reminder, there will be no school from Monday, December 18, to Monday, January 1, 2024 for winter break.

To help make sure you and your children have a restful break, no homework will be assigned during this time. Teachers may assign long-range assignments in the weeks ahead of the break, allowing students to practice time management skills, but no assignments will be due immediately following the break. 

We look forward to welcoming students back in the new year. Classes will resume on Tuesday, January 2, 2024. See the complete school year calendar.



🐕‍🦺 Service Animals Permitted in FCPS Buildings

FCPS permits service animals access in all public areas, including schools, in accordance with federal and state law. A service animal has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. A service animal is not a pet, and the work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. 

Generally, therapy animals are not considered service animals and are therefore not permitted. 

The ongoing use of a service animal by staff members, parents, or members of the community must be coordinated through the Office of Employee Relations

To coordinate a student’s use of a service animal, contact the Due Process and Eligibility section of the Office of Special Education Procedural Support at 571-423-4290

If you have any questions regarding service animals in FCPS buildings, contact the Office of Employee Relations at 571-423-3070.