Health and Safety Protocols for Assessments

Protocols ensure student and staff safety during in-person assessments

Fairfax County Public Schools is committed to the health and safety of all staff, students, and parents/guardians. Assessment procedures and safety protocols are followed for all in-person tests to ensure physical distancing and cleaning practices meet current health department and division guidance. Additionally, where it is allowable and practical, assessments are being shifted to an online at-home format to reduce dependency on in-person safety protocols. 

In-Person Assessments in FCPS Buildings

Throughout the school year, certain standardized tests will require in-person assessment at FCPS elementary, middle, and high schools. These are tests mandated under state or local policy for which test security requirements prohibit a virtual delivery format. Some of these in-person assessments will impact only a small number of students (such a WIDA Screener), while other in-person assessments will impact an entire grade level (such as PSAT) or even an entire school (such as SOL). Schools will communicate with the families of impacted students ahead of these in-person assessments to explain benefits of participation and specific plans and time frames for each. Parents and guardians will continue to have the right to refuse participation for these in-person tests. 

Assessment Health and Safety Guidance

School staff will follow all CDC, Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), and the local health department guidance. All planning for in-person assessment uses the most current public health procedures and requirements, as reflected in FCPS Student Health and Safety Guidance Document. This includes guidance on use of:

  • masks and face coverings
  • social distancing
  • daily health screening
  • daily temperature checks
  • hand sanitizer 
  • personal protective equipment
  • cleaning and sanitation of school facilities
  • water fountains

Specific Protocols for In-Person Assessment

In addition to the normal Student Health and Safety Guidance for in-person interactions, staff have developed protocols for how these division health and safety guidelines apply to in-person assessment experiences.  

Appointment-Based Assessments

  • When students are attending school virtually (based on school operational status or parent/guardian instructional choice), in-person assessments must be scheduled using appointments. School staff arrange appointments with parents/guardians, based on the requirements of the specific test. The protocols below apply for students who are testing by appointment and supplement the standard practices used for students who are attending school in-person on a routine basis.

    Student Arrival and Check-In

  • Parents/guardians dropping off the student for their appointment must remain in their cars and are not permitted to enter the school.
  • Because these students are not attending in-person on a routine basis, each student must respond verbally to the Health Screening Questionnaire, given by staff members, at designated sites (bus drop off, kiss and ride, door entry).
    • Students who answer "Yes" to any question will not be permitted to enter the building.
    • Students who are being dropped off by families via Kiss-n-Ride should be screened prior to the parents departure.
  • Because these students are not attending in-person on a routine basis, temperatures will be taken for all students entering the building.
    • Any student demonstrating a temperature greater than or equal to 100.4° Fahrenheit will not be permitted to test. 
  • Schools will arrange to use multiple building entries, as needed, to ensure that appropriate social distancing can be maintained while processing large numbers of students arriving for a scheduled test appointment. 
    • No more than 100 students should be designated for a single entrance at the same time
    • For large-scale assessments, students should be assigned a specific door number as indicated by the site.
    • Supplemental signage or floor markings will be used, as needed, as reminders for social distancing and masks/face coverings. 
  • Appointment arrival times will be staggered to reduce the number of students waiting for check-in at any time and ensure social distancing practices can be maintained.
  • Students who meet the screening requirements proceed to their exam location (for small scale testing) or check-in location (for large scale testing) 
  • Student Check-out and Departure

    Depending on their mode of transportation to and from the testing appointment, some students may be required to wait inside the school until transportation home is available. Students who have been dismissed from the assessment may access electronic devices, including FCPS-issued laptops.

  • Staff will monitor student dismissal from the building to ensure safe exit from the school; generally, students will exit the building from the same door they used to enter.
  • For car transportation, students or parent/guardian should leave school grounds promptly to avoid congestion in driveways and parking lots.

Arrangement of Testing Rooms

When setting up a room for a group assessments:

  • Desks will be placed 6 feet apart, facing the front of the room. 
  • Adults will wear gloves when handling desks, chairs, and all test materials.

These guides apply all student assessments, both for students routinely attending in-person and for virtual students who are at school for a scheduled assessment appointment. 

Due to the division guidance to cohort students as much as possible, virtual students who are at school for a scheduled assessment appointment should be assigned to a separate testing group, when possible. However, there may be cases where it is necessary to assign virtual students in a group together with students who routinely attend school in-person.

What Students Should Bring

Whether a student routinely attends school in-person or is at school especially for an assessment appointment, they should plan ahead for what to have with them in their assigned testing room.

Required or Recommended Materials

The following materials are necessary for students to bring to the assessment environment. 

  • Mask/face covering
  • FCPS-issued laptop, if directed to do so by the staff arranging the appointment (Some in-person assessments require that students use their personally-assigned computer to access the test)
  • Pencils (Recommended)
  • Emergency contact information (Emergency contact information is needed only for students who are at school only for an assessment appointment.)

Permitted Materials

In addition to the required and recommended materials above, students are permitted to bring the following materials to their assessment room. These items may be inspected prior to the start of the assessment to maintain test security. 

  • Approved calculator
  • Wired headphones or earbuds
    • Headphones/earbuds are only relevant for assessments that have an audio component, including audio testing accommodations.
  • Gloves
  • Personal hand sanitizers and/or sanitizing wipes
    • Sanitizers must be kept underneath the desk while the assessment is underway.
  • Food and/or water 
    • Food and water must be kept underneath the desk while the assessment is underway and may be accessed only during breaks, unless a specific testing accommodation allows otherwise.
    • Virtual students who are at school only for the assessment appointment should be aware that they will not be allowed to drink directly from water fountains. Water fountains may only be used to refill a water bottle that the student has brought with them to school. 

Prohibited Materials

Students are not allowed to use personal electronic devices at any time while in the assessment environment, including while on during breaks. These devices may only be accessed before the assessment appointment begins or after the student has been dismissed at the end assessment. The Assessments and Personal Electronic Devices webpage provides additional information on restrictions to device access. 

  • Prohibited personal electronic devices include cell phones, smart watches, fitness bands, and any other devices with recording, internet, or communication capabilities.
  • All devices, including cell phones and wearable devices, must be turned off and placed out of sight.
  • Special testing accommodations may be available for students who access a cell phone or other electronic device in order to monitor a health condition. Parents/guardians should make school staff aware of the student's health need when arranging an assessment appointment so the necessary approvals and procedures may be put in place to allow access to a Health/Medical Device.
  • FCPS-issued laptops that are not being used to complete the assessment will be treated like a personal electronic device for the purposes of access within the test environment.  

Specialized Sanitation Protocols for Assessment Supplies

Students will use personally-assigned or disposable assessment materials whenever possible.

Communal Items

If possible, students will use their personally assigned laptop during testing. When additional materials must be supplied for the assessment, all non-disposable items will be thoroughly cleaned or disinfected according to student health and safety guidance. Such materials include:

  • School computer, calculator, headphones/headset, keyboard, mouse/mousepad
  • Math manipulatives
  • Colored pencils/highlighters
  • Visual aids, math tools, and assistive technology provided as approved testing accommodations
  • Dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries (Note that student health and safety guidelines for returned library materials will apply for any book assessment tool. Returned book materials require 7 days of isolation without access by students and staff before reuse.)

Paper-based Materials

For paper-based tests, the student test booklet and answer sheet will be held in isolation for at least 72 hours before being returned to the Assessment Office. Used scrap paper and paper testing tickets will be held for 7 days before shredding. Other non-secure paper materials, such as paper math manipulatives, may be appropriately discarded after testing. 

Complete FCPS Student Health and Safety Guidance is available

More information about student assessments is available.

Find out more.

More assessment information for families is available.

Find out more.