Reopening Schools Plan - Continuum for In-Person Instruction

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

In-Person Instruction Continuum

As noted in the chapter on the FCPS operational approach for 2020-21, FCPS is  providing families two options for instructional format during the school year. The in-person instruction continuum option is designed to honor the overarching aim to provide safe in-person learning for all FCPS students. The model adapts 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. Service is provided on a continuum, as described in the section below, ranging from the most restrictive “temporary online for all,” with full-time online instruction, to the least restrictive “maximum in-person for all,” providing instruction at school four days per week for students whose families chose the in-person continuum.

Understanding the Continuum

Because in-person service is offered on a continuum and the exact levels of service are subject to changing health data, it is difficult to outline all possible variations for service. However, five key levels of the continuum are described below. Aspects of these key levels may be blended later in the year, particularly in a slow transition between the two least restrictive levels named here: “part-time in-person for all” and “maximum in-person for all.” In general the following progression is applied when dialing in and dialing out on the continuum.

  • May dial in service for individual students identified for supplemental specialized instruction or intervention before other students.
  • May dial in service for special student populations recognized with greater barriers to online learning, such as grades PreK-6, English learners, and students with disabilities before other student groups.
  • Dial in to part-time instruction for all students (e.g., 2 days per week) with social distancing in FCPS school buildings before the in-person increasing frequency
  • Dial in to a maximum of four-days per week of in-person instruction with social distancing in FCPS school buildings only if and when when public health data trends and developments reflect that all significant risk of COVID-19 resurgence has passed

As illustrated in the table below, FCPS students experience some online learning at every level of the in-person continuum to support their core instruction. Note that final decisions about the number of levels in the continuum, level names, and level definitions will be finalized by the start of the school year.

table comparing the amount of in-person versus online instruction within the continuum


At each level of the continuum outside the most restrictive “temporary online for all,” in-person instruction 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. At most levels of the continuum, students are in-person at a school site one or two days per week, with online instruction on days they are not present in a school building. Transportation is provided to FCPS facilities on students’ scheduled days according to FCPS transportation guidelines. 

  • 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 continuum level, teacher-directed instruction for core instruction could be 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 continuum level, teacher-directed instruction for core instruction could be two to four days per week.

The sample schedule below illustrates how instruction will be delivered under the most restrictive continuum level, “temporary online for all.” This is the continuum level planned to launch the 2020-21 FCPS school year.

weekly schedule for temporary online learning within the continuum

The following sample schedule illustrates one model for how instruction could be delivered when in-person delivery has dialed in to the substantially less restrictive continuum level, “part-time in-person for all.” This is the continuum level previously planned for the launch of the 2020-21 school year, and it remains the goal for operations by winter, if health data improves adequately. Under this sample schedule, half of the students are served  at the school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and the other half are served at the school on Thursdays and Fridays. Students are assigned to Group 1 or Group 2 with consideration to maintain family groups on the same days. Students who are not attending in-person on any given day participate in independent online learning, using digital curriculum resources and instructional tasks assigned by their teachers.

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 will be finalized as division leadership processes health data and stakeholder feedback on implications for students, families, and staff. Individual student schedules for in-person rotations at the school will be communicated to families at least two weeks prior to the scheduled start of each new in-person continuum level. 

Health Protocols and Social Distancing

At the heart of the in-person instruction continuum model is a continuous monitoring and balance of safety measures to mitigate health risk. Under this model, health monitoring protocols and social distancing are implemented in accordance with CDC and VDH guidance, as detailed in the chapter on health mitigation strategies.

A daily health screening form requires caregivers to report that their child is asymptomatic and has not been exposed to anyone who is symptomatic. Buildings undergo daily sanitizing for high-touch areas (doorknobs, handles, etc.) using a medical grade solution. Face coverings are required in FCPS facilities and on FCPS-provided transport. Schools and the division collaborate with the FCHD to rapidly and appropriately respond to any outbreaks in the community or school and to implement all necessary health and safety protocols. 

FCPS building access is limited in accordance with health and safety guidelines, and visitor access is restricted. Six-foot separation is maintained whenever possible for both staff and students, and efforts are in place to limit mixing groups of students. A 3-foot VDH protocol combined with required face covering is applied as a back-up when 6-foot distancing is not possible for a particular space. Additionally, buses enact new capacity limits and seating guidelines, per health and safety expectations.

Sample classroom layouts with social distancing

image of sample bus distancing


Reopening Schools Plan - Complete Information