Return to School Update from the Superintendent

Dr. Brabrand Outlines Options for School Year 2020-21

Dear Parents,

I’m pleased to inform you that, in collaboration with the Fairfax County School Board, we have developed a general plan to reopen schools that will provide students 100 percent virtual, online learning or part-time, face to face instruction in our school buildings for the upcoming school year.  You will be receiving an enrollment letter later this week asking you to state your preference.

There are two choices.  Both choices will offer all students new instructional content and student work will be graded.  The choices are:

A. Full-time online instruction. Virtual, interactive instruction will be provided four days a week. 

Or

B. At least two full days of instruction in your child’s school each week with students engaged in independent study and work on the days they are not in the school building. It’s possible we will be able to provide more than two days of instruction at school each week depending on the number of students who choose to go virtual, full time. 

One day each week will be set aside for teacher planning and intervention support for some students in either scenario.  The plan also includes increased in-person or synchronous instruction for Special Education students and English Language Learners.  Additional details about the plan will be shared with the community in the weeks ahead as they are developed.   

Teachers will also be surveyed for their return-to-school preferences.

Our first preference, of course, remains 100 percent in-person learning.  However, based on current health data, that seems unlikely by Tuesday, August 25, the first day of the 2020-21 school year.  Even as Virginia moves into Phase 3 of its reopening plan, we will want to comply with the guidance provided by the state and the CDC for the safe reopening of schools.  In developing this plan, our first priority is the health and well-being of our students and staff.

Social and physical distancing recommendations in classrooms, buses, and shared spaces are included in the phased reopening guidance and are considered important COVID-19 prevention strategies.  Physical distancing limits the number of students and staff who can be inside a school at any one time.  

A dedicated web page is set up where additional details about Reopening of School plans are posted: https://www.fcps.edu/returntoschool.

At some point in the future, we expect to move beyond Phase 3 which may allow us to bring everyone back into the school buildings on a full-time, pre-COVID basis.  But until that time, we believe the back to school model described in this letter – while not a perfect solution - best addresses the concerns and desires we have heard in surveys, town halls, online comments, and other feedback from our families, students, community members, teachers, and staff about reopening schools in a safe and responsible manner. 

Please be on the lookout for the enrollment letter asking you to state your return to school preference.  It’s critical for us to know your choice by July 10 so we can begin planning virtual and in-person class schedules. 

School will look different in the fall.  We will continue to work diligently in partnership with the School Board to prepare for the very best start to the 2020-21 school year we can possibly offer our students and families. 

Thank you for your engagement and involvement with us during this process. 

Sincerely,

Scott Brabrand, Superintendent

Fairfax County Public Schools