Letter on Middle School and High School Changes to Social Distancing

Transmission rates indicate move to 3 feet social distancing

Dear FCPS Middle School and High School Families,

Earlier this week, we shared the news that CDC guidance allowed for a reduction of social distancing in our elementary schools from 6 feet to 3 feet with universal mask wearing.

However, the guidance also required a reduction in the community transmission rates before the changes could be implemented in our middle and high schools.

Today, we have good news to share. Wednesday’s release of weekly data shows that community transmission rates have dropped in our region from “high” to “substantial.”

This means that middle and high schools are able to join elementary schools in using 3 feet social distancing in classrooms where mask use is universal. As a reminder, the move to 3 feet applies only between students, with universal mask wearing. Staff to student, and staff to staff distance will remain at 6 feet. Six feet will also be required during lunch, when students remove masks to eat and are seated facing the same direction.

The ability to move to 3 feet social distancing means that middle and high schools may be able to return more students to four days of in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year, if space and staffing allow.

Please be aware that while our schools intend to bring back as many students as possible, it will not be possible to offer this opportunity to everyone who wants to be in schools four days a week. Parents will be contacted directly by schools should this option be available. Please do not reach out to your school directly.

Given this information, each school will:

  • Assess each class’ capacity for adding additional students.
  • Invite students via our Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) process to attend four days per week.
  • Determine how many additional “seats” are in each classroom. 
  • Contact impacted families.  

We are awaiting confirmation from the Health Department on our recommended approach for addressing any uptick to community transmission back into the high range. Our approach will be to minimize instructional impact. We will update you on this in the next few days.

Thank you for your patience. Again, schools will be in touch with families that are impacted by these changes soon.    

Fairfax County Public Schools