Return to School - Comments
Comments from Parents and Staff
Health and Safety
I am incredibly disappointed at the options presented for returning to school this fall, which only include partial in-person options and virtual. The science does not support the measures that are being suggested. Concerning students K-12 age, 0.003% of our 0-17 year olds have tested positive for coronavirus with ZERO deaths. They should be in school full time. All the while, child abuse is going up, suicide attempts have gone up, parents cannot return to work because their children are not in school. Too much is being sacrificed and it is NOT data driven. It is abhorrent the amount of money FCPS is considering spending for this. Just one example is that buses will only take 10 students at a time in phase one, not even allowing siblings to sit together which is completely illogical. Let the children return to NORMAL school. They are not the ones suffering nor spreading the disease according to the statistics. These fear driven options are going to create incredible mental health problems. Countries that have reopened (or never closed their schools) are not seeing an increase in their cases either. The options presented are not data driven and children need to be allowed to return to normal schooling.
As a parent of two FCPS students and a FCPS teacher, it would seem that I have conflicting ideas about what returning to school should look like, but I don’t.
Until there is a vaccine, school should be 100% distance learning. The reasons are myriad, but essentially come down to a few points: safety for students, teachers, and the families of both, lack of staffing and funding to implement safe, consistent in-person instruction, lack of childcare for teachers and parents of young students, and negative impact on content delivery and school climate with in-person instruction.
The first three points speak for themselves, but the impact on content delivery and school climate will be resoundingly negative. The severe limitations on movement and collaboration will make going to school a restrictive, traumatic, and negative experience for students and teachers alike. Staying home would provide consistent, safe, and now-familiar instruction with fewer movement restrictions, more consistent approach to childcare issues, is safe, and wouldn’t require at-risk teachers to retire or take leave in a time where there is already a teacher shortage.
Cobbling together a hybrid return to school situation is harmful in every way. It will not help learning, solve childcare issues, be safe, or save money when FCPS has lost more than 74 million in funds this year. Staying home is the only safe, consistent, and fiscally sensible solution until a vaccine is available.
#1 What will the process be for teachers who have underlying health conditions to communicate those concerns ? Will there be an official process for this before the final decision is made ? Time is tuning out and I have not gotten any communication about this issue from FCPS.
#2 Will you be sharing the results for the parents and staff surveys ? I think we should have access to this information , particularly the percentages of parents and staff that feel comfortable going back to school in person.
My first concern will be a teacher-related concern. What steps will be taken to protect me and other teachers like me? For background, I am a community-based teacher (similar to an itinerant) with a caseload of at least 18-21 students every year. This means that I am going into 18-21 separate homes or classrooms (both FCPS classrooms and community classrooms). Obviously with the amount of places I go and people I see, I am exposed to a lot of germs and then in turn expose a vast amount of other people to those amounts of germs. I'm sure it goes without saying that preschool students do not believe in social distancing, and not only do I interact with my own students, but also with their classmates (visitors in preschool classrooms are the STARS and everyone wants to be involved in what I do). Some of these students/teachers I will be exposing (and exposed to) are not FCPS students. This means that FCPS cannot control the safety measures put in place in the homes or community schools. This is very concerning to me.
It is also concerning to me that FCPS is even toying with the idea of not putting their teachers first. As one school board member stated, "what's best for FCPS students is what is best for FCPS teachers." Given the understandable denial of a previously promised raise and step increase (and probably the denial of one for the immediate future), it seems additionally important to make teachers feel valued, heard, and safe. Aside from the first all-virtual plan, I am not hearing anything in the hybrid or full attendance plans that takes teacher safety and morale into account. In fact, I am hearing the opposite. Teachers already go above and beyond what is expected of us, and these plans call for even more of that to the possible detriment of our own health and our own children. My concern is that too much will be asked of teachers and FCPS is going to face a teacher shortage on top of everything else it is facing. It should also be noted that the claim back in March that FCPS provides disinfectants and sanitizer to teachers is not accurate. I have never had cleaning products or sanitizers provided to me by FCPS. They have all been personally purchased. The burden of keeping people safe shouldn't solely rest on teachers' shoulders. I believe it was the FEA survey that indicated that 75% of teachers felt uncomfortable returning. That should drive your 2020-2021 school opening decision right there.
My next concern is from the parent side. My students attend a school that is already overcrowded and the amount of exposure my kids and their teachers will be subject to is a little unnerving. How will students be able to use bathrooms, especially in light of the new study that COVID aerosols can be flung from toilets? How will they have a responsive and developmentally appropriate school experience with so many unnatural restrictions placed on them? Children are children and are not meant to be physically separated as the plan, at this point, intends for them to be. Additionally, keeping elementary students at school until 4:50pm is not acceptable or appropriate. What, as a teacher, will I do with my kids if we go as the hybrid option? I know FCPS is apparently hoping to get teacher kids into school 5 days, but a) when pushed during the staff town-hall, it was admitted that this was just a hope, and b) that means our kids have additional exposure.
As much as I realize the importance of face-to-face connection and education, it cannot come at the cost of safety and health of your community. It is apparent to me that the only 100% way to keep people safe is to remain in the virtual learning phase until we can resume operation for all students 5 days a week. It also seems to me that anything different than that is completely cost-prohibitive and would handicap the school system.
As a teacher with an airborne food allergy, I am extremely concerned about the possibility of teachers supervising students during lunch. I cannot even enter the cafeteria during the lunch blocks at my school. Are there considerations for this type of situation?
I am writing in hopes that the school corporation initiates a 100% virtual learning option for any child whether they have a doctor's notice or not. Isn't a global pandemic enough of a medical reason to keep children at home?
Until there is at least some sort of successful treatment for COVID19, we do not feel comfortable sending our child to school. There is so much about coronavirus that researchers still do not know. Most troubling to me is that researchers still have no idea what the long-term effects will be for people who acquire the virus.
I think this is a bad idea it’s too soon to open up schools. It puts our children at risk and so many still need to be tested young and old. How can we take the lives of others and put them at risk? This is crazy ! The opening of NOVA was too soon I believe we should have waited a bit longer. I know the economy is bad , people need to work I get all that but we are talking about life or death for our society. With all that being said I hope and pray you reconsider at least wait until after Labor Day or a few more months to see where we are in numbers and testing. With all the protest and gatherings the numbers have gone up in Fairfax County . Some of the protesters have children in our schools, FFX County. Do you really think it’s wise!?
My family feels that it is just to early to take unneeded chances with this virus. Until more is knowing about coronavirus, we want the option of 100% virtual learning.
Return to school with these actions:
Install hospital grade, disinfecting air purifiers in all classrooms and throughout school.
Change all door knobs, soap dispensers, toilets flushing, sinks, trash cans, and paper towel dispensers to touchless/auto motion detected.
Check temperature and physical health symptoms for everyone who enters the building.
Provide or ask each family to bring their child’s personal supplies including bottled water and toilet paper.
Do 20mins at least of online instruction per day for 5 days even if in person instruction was offered, for example onsite school in morning and remote learning in afternoon.
Have antibacterial wipes, disposable masks, and face shields available at school.
Have a janitor sit outside of the bathroom to disinfect after each use focusing on cleaning the toilet seat, cover and faucets if not motionless.
Deactivate water fountains, use disposable cups and plastic utensils.
Our child has a disability (visual impairment). Distance learning was not consistently accessible for my child; however, this was due to a learning curve on everyone's part while teachers, staff, parents, etc. figured out what was needed in order to provide accessibility and learned how to provide that. Braille instruction and accessible general education distance learning are both very possible given the right tools and instructional design. My child has no additional disabilities or diagnosis, is cognitively advanced (was just accepted into AAP for math), and has successfully completed braille instruction virtually during school closure. Despite inconsistencies in accessibility of school-based distance learning, there have been impressive improvements made by the school to provide accessible distance learning, and we are hopeful that this new knowledge/ability to provide accessible instructional design/materials will carry over to next year. We are NOT comfortable sending our child back to the school building and in-person instruction during a pandemic. If non-disabled peers are provided opportunities for distance learning, all special education students must be provided equal opportunities; mandating that all special education students return to in-person school simply because they are disabled is discriminatory. We understand other families have different concerns and different needs, so it seems providing options offers the greatest equity for all. Alternatively, honoring IEP services for families who wish to homeschool might work for families in our situation (we have not made any official decisions regarding fall schooling); however, we also value the sense of community provided by maintaining connections with our child's base school.
I will briefly share that I have four young children (2 school-agers) and work remotely part time. My 1-year old child is in a CDC high risk category and so our family has remained sheltered in place since March.
I had assumed that I would choose Scenario 3 (opting to full-time distance learn), but after reading the details in the June 15 briefing, I feel that it does not meet my needs.
Here are my questions/concerns related to Scenario 3:
1. My 4th grader receives Level 4 AAP services, and I do not want him to be separated from his regular class, since they are basically a cohort that travels together through each grade. I don’t have a high level of confidence that the scheduling match-ups in Scenario 3 (which teachers and kids are choosing the Opt-out) would lead to a guaranteed Level 4 AAP instruction. My 2nd grader receives Level 2 AAP services, and I would have a similar concern for differentiation with her.
2. I do not want to be “boxed in” to a commitment of “distance learning only” for the entire year when there could be a vaccine halfway through the year, or I could re-evaluate the relative benefits/risks of physical, social and mental health in keeping my children at home.
3. We are an intentional “low-technology” family and I do not want my children on screens (even if learning) for several hours every day. Can the schools provide paper workbooks/materials or items we can print off, and then parents can at least have an option for children to complete with paper and pencil, take a picture, and send to the teacher? Basically, I am asking for both paper/pencil work and digital work, as I know the digital work is probably easier to distribute and grade.
A parent of two FCPS students: As parents we are highly uncomfortable sending our children to schools in August, unless the virus transmission/spread is fully contained in the county and surrounding areas. We strongly believe that despite any best efforts it will be impossible to practice and ensure 6 feet social distancing is observed either on school buses, in school hallways or in classrooms. Alternating days and limiting the number of children in the building on a given day will not truly address the issue.
I am not comfortable with sending young 2nd grader to school early, until things get safer. Young kids will not stay apart, and will touch everything, including their faces.
This is very disturbing, as we are not taking into account the safety of all. There is no way students or staff should be forced to be in contact until the numbers have drastically reduced. It sounds like the decision is already made to bring us back in the building. The safest way right now is to remain virtual
Please do not expect children to wear masks all day. This is not reasonable. It is difficult to breathe with masks on for any length of time- especially students with asthma.
How will specialists and other staff members who see a large section of the school population be protected? Public health guidelines do not recommend being exposed to hundreds of people, even outdoors, so I don't know why this would be permitted indoors, with children who are not being mandated to wear masks, at that.
Increased hand washing is the best fight against viruses and I would prefer to see increased breaks for the children to be allowed to wash their hands with soap and water more often (every two to three hours) than I would prefer to see masks or desk shields. Additionally, being outside, with increased ventilation has proven helpful. Consider having some class lessons outside (especially in the cooler mornings) where kids can spread out.
We are concerned about the health of our child - it appears school requires a lot more screen time than the pediatrician recommended 2 hrs per day. Our daughter has been spending 3-4 hours a day on a computer to complete all her-school-related activities (not counting any extra-curricular classes). This put a significant strain on her eyes and her vision has worsened and continues to decline. In addition, she is having a hard time falling asleep, as this is too much screen time for a child. We ask that you please consider instructing schools on providing written materials/text books for homework and not on-line apps.
We have decided to not go to school due to the repercussions of the crowded area that might cause an higher risk on getting coronavirus.
I know our students and families are of great concern in how we (FCPS) begin the next school year. However, I hope that in the forefront of administrators’ minds is the fact that many of the teachers/adults that work with these students have underlying health issues as well. Also, you cannot regulate/control students’ behavior in hallways and other areas in regard to how they congregate, especially at the middle and high school levels.
I have an elderly family member who lives with us, and is vulnerable to contracting Covid-19. I would be very interested in learning more details about how people can return to the classrooms, while still being safe enough to not somehow contract the virus and bringing it home. My child will be entering the 3rd grade.
There’s likely to be a second wave because we’re reopening everything and this will affect our children. Some parents don’t want their child returning to a public space come August and I would like to know what is the plan if that is the case.
Teachers are used to working through illness/injury because it’s already difficult to find a last-minute substitute. If daily health screenings are to be mandated, even minor illnesses will require a sub. What is FCPS going to do to address the sub shortage?
We have three children in FCPS. We won't feel comfortable sending them back to school 2020-2021 until vaccines and treatment for COVID-19 are available to the public.
The reasons being:
1. Confirmed cases are still adding EACH DAY. Many other countries that have successful control of the pandemic are much more careful about reopening until there is ZERO confirmed case for at least a month. The U.S. is reopening while the case numbers are still rising. We are concerned.
2. According to CDC, there will be likely waves of outbreak in the coming seasons. We don't think it's worth risking putting children in close-contact space, i.e. classroom, gym, cafeteria.
If the county decides to have the students back to school in the Fall anyway, we plead that making it an option for students to be homeschooled or online instructed.
I am the parent of one of your students . I have diligently followed CDC guidelines and other epidemiologists for the last 3 months. From what I have read and heard, no one seems to have a conclusive evidence as to how Covid transmits from one person to another My concern is , knowing that kids will not care to wear their masks all the time( I don’t blame them as it is suffocating) and cleanup regularly, having an in person class when cases are expected to spike is risking the kids as well as the families. I would have liked to see Fairfax spend money on distance learning and training the teachers to be up to date with it. I believe that rushing to go back to school will have a disastrous effect in the long run. We need to take our time to do distance learning as effective as it is done at the college level and see the outcome of the fall and winter. If a vaccine is available, going back to school is a must. But now, I think Fairfax needs to consider distance learning 5 days a week just as in person class. Thank you for giving us the chance to state what is in our mind Hope you will do what is best for the health of our kids and Fairfax residents in general.
I am hoping that the FCPS board takes into account the psychological health of the children in addition to the psychical health. For many kids, the social isolation and lack of opportunities to develop emotional-social intelligence is detrimental to their progress and mental health. In addition, being at home again in the Fall with stressed out parents who are trying to work in order to pay their bills will also cause harm to the family unit. Increases in disparities will also occur, based on research, if children are once again forced to learn from home with less than 4 hours/week of actual instruction not done by teachers. I encourage the FCPS board to do their best to have a hybrid system of classes where many are held in person (especially for younger kids in most need of the social interactions in-person vs. online) but there are online options for children whose parents are able to keep them at home and feel that is the best place for their physical health. I do not see why they don't consider parents being able to choose. For example, perhaps at some elementary schools there are 4 second grade classes. Perhaps 20-25 children (based on health issues/parental preference) will be in an online class together with a teacher who is unable to teach in-person. The other 3 classes are held in-person. There needs to be some flexibility during this time and an understanding of the diverse needs of families in the area.
I think it is best if they return little by little, for the health and wellbeing of our children.
I think there should be options for taking all classes online for students that are in high risk categories, and for families that don't want to put their kids at risk. My son has asthma, and I would not feel comfortable sending him back to high school until after there is a vaccine available. The high schools are too crowded, hallways are jammed with people and classrooms are too crowded to observe any social distancing. The lunch room is also jam packed with people. This puts kids at risk of getting coronavirus, even if they have no symptoms they would then bring it home and infect their families. Please consider delaying reopening in-person instruction at the high school level until it is safe for students, teachers and staff. Also, giving non-essential staff the option to work from home in the Fall would help keep the virus from spreading among employees in offices.
I fully support a return to school on a normal schedule in the fall. It has been very difficult for those of us with our own children at home to teach synchronously and monitor our own children’s education, when they are unable to do it themselves. I managed for this short period but don’t know I would be able to if it continues in the fall. Also please consider some of us teach in Fcps but live in the surrounding counties- we need to be on the same schedule as our children or this will not work.
I’m strongly disagree with opening the school before COVID-19 vaccines comes, because first even with all the measures that schools take most of the kids don’t follow it and second some parents aren’t responsible and send their sick kids to school. COVID-19 spreads before showing symptoms, so even if you check their temperature you can be sure they are sick or not.
In a time where equity is so important, how do you find equity in the virtual learning option for those with underlying health conditions versus the one day a week plan for children who have to return to school? Total virtual learning will provide 10+ hours of teacher instruction a week (2.5 hrs a day) whereas one day of school will provide only six taking away lunch and recess time. Also the student who gets total virtual time is learning from the safety of their home where the child that is made to return to school cannot be guaranteed safety from those around them. I don't see how the one day a week option can even be considered as the inequity of those two learning scenarios is tremendous.
Hundreds of Americans are dying everyday; why won't the Superintendent and the School board make wearing masks and social distancing mandatory for teachers, students and staff if we must go back to face-to-face instruction next year? All of the top scientists and health organizations say that both of those strategies (along with strict cleaning protocols) will definitely help to stop the spread of COVID-19. Why aren't there very tight and mandatory measures being put in place to help save the health and lives of teachers??
I have 13 years of classroom experience with FCPS, grades K-2nd. I miss my students and colleagues and I am eager to see them all, when it is safe to do so. I have underlying health conditions and I am over 55, putting me in a high risk category. I know that the deadline to resign without prejudice has been extended. It is possible that FCPS will lose valuable teachers who don’t want to leave the profession and won’t be able to return. I have to work and want to return to my students as soon as I can, but at what risk? How will teachers be selected for virtual learning under scenario 3? When will teachers know their status?
As a health care provider my thoughts are to keep option of distance learning available through the fcps for the duration of 2020.
If the County needs to adopt "IN-SCHOOL LEARNING WITH HEALTH & SOCIAL DISTANCING" - PLEASE create an adjusted bell schedule that actually aligns itself with the circadian rythms of children and teenagers. Teenagers still need 9-10 hours of sleep (ideally) and their bodies are meant to go to bed later and get up later. How can they get adequate sleep if you are going to start MS at 715am and have TJ start at 810am? Please do NOT adopt the adjusted bell schedule!
Fairfax County needs to fully Re-open school this fall. Children need school, sports and activities. It is safe for most kids to attend school this fall.
Have you conducted exposure risk assessment? The results will show risk is very, very limited to 18 and under. Reopen school.
- The 2020-2021 academic year coincides very closely with the onset of flu season in our region, which could exacerbate the spread, the currently known symptoms, and their impact on children.
- There is still much that the scientific community does not know and is still learning about the virus (e.g. MIS-C).
- To date, there is no safe or effective vaccine.
- Even with strict social distancing measures put in place, it would be highly challenging and potentially for a single teacher to regulate even 5 children within a physically restrictive classroom environment.
- Younger children will not be able to safely or effectively practice social distancing guidelines or maintain safe or effective use of PPE.
- There may be gaps in any screening process set in place prior to contact with teachers and/or other students.
- Some families are more deliberate and consistent about adhering to social distancing requirements/recommendations, while others are more lax and/or even negligent. Once contact is allowed, there would be too many uncontrolled variables and exposure.
- It would be disruptive to start the school-year with in-person classes, only to have to return to distance learning soon thereafter if we start to see spikes occur in positive COVID-19 cases, if a school experiences an outbreak, or because we are entering the normal flu season.
As a parent of children in FCPS, I am urging the FCPS Board to prioritize the health and safety of students and to commence the 2020-2021 school year by quality online learning.
As a parent of two children in Fairfax County, one in elementary school and one entering middle school , I am struck by how important the return to school decisions are to the health and safety of my children, our family, the teachers, all the classmates and their families. In a normal school year, as you know, our children come home with endless runny noses, sore throats, temperatures, coughs and all sorts of viruses. Viruses spread like wildfire in elementary and middle schools. This Covid-19 virus of course is not only more contagious than the flu and other viruses, but much more serious and without a treatment or vaccine to boost immunity. We are older parents and also taking care of elderly grandparents with underlying conditions.
It is always a personal decision in terms of the risk reward benefit that you are willing to assume. While I would of course love for my children to be able to return to life the way it used to be and return to the classroom with all their friends, I am not comfortable with the risk that puts my children in. I would not send them to school during flu season without a flu shot or start the school year without being up to date on all immunizations, nor would the county allow my children to attend without being immunized. Without a vaccine and without treatment, and knowing that the country is seeing a steady 21,000 new infections daily with a good chance of a surge in the Fall, we would be sending our children into a situation that involves a high level of risk.
I remember in March, when the parents were sent an email on a Thursday evening that a preliminary decision was made to continue to send children to school until there was an outbreak in the school at which time the school would contact trace. Parents were not at all comfortable with that decision and the school system received so many emails, the schools were closed the following morning. The virus is of course much more widespread now, than it was then, and waiting until there is a positive case in the school to close is just not acceptable. At that point, it’s too late.
Let’s keep our children, families and teachers safe until there is a treatment available or a vaccine. If schools do decide to go ahead and open despite the virus circulating, then all families need to be given the option to attend virtually or choose an online option instead. Home schooling is not always an option for all families and the county should provide educational options for those families not comfortable with the risk of attending school physically.
Hello and thank you for your hard work on this. You are definitley in a tough decision making situation and I applaud your fortitude and dedication through this time.
My concern refers to the air circulation in our school buildings. I recently read an article on website called Fast Company (https://flip.it/ekUjrF) which brought up some good points.
1. What is the air quality index of our schools filtration system?
2. Would the county be prepared or financially able to get the school system if the air system doesn't meet requirements for airflow as stated in the article up to par?
3. My concern is for the concern of our educational instructors who may be disadvantaged by a air filtering system that would not adequately meet their safety. Would the county be able to confidentally state that the safety of the faculty and students can be assured based on the air quality flow of the school buildings?
4. If the air quality system is not meeting safety standards, what steps or measures will the county take to see that these measures are going to be met prior to school opening?
- Students would get more synchronous time with a virtual option- that was clearly stated during the school board meeting
- With option 2, there would be no way for the HS Academies to operate, as travel time - on school busses - would take up class time
- With option 2, students in Academies will not be able to earn industry certifications
- With option 2, large groups such as choir, band and orchestra would not fit in their rooms and still maintain distancing
- With option 2 parents would have a far more difficult time arranging reliable child care
- With option 2, with no requirement for students to wear masks, or to have temperatures taken which will be policy in the entire state of California and the city of Chicago, teachers and staff are put at grave risk
- Certain schools have very few windows and inadequate ventilation
- Why will special ed teachers alone be given PPE? This implies the rest of us have no need of protection
- The amount of hand-sanitizer ordered per the Town Hall last night would last about a month, if lucky
- As teachers and administrators have to “share the burden” of cleaning - actual statement in Town Hall, valuable time would be spent sanitizing reducing instruction. Hint - read social media reaction to that statement of last night!
- The proposal to use tents for child care defies reason - can’t believe it is being entertained.
- The value of social-emotional health paired with being in a brick and mortar building is based on normality, not being in a building with masks, PPE, lunch in classrooms, changes to schedule, restrictions on large groups and other measures to support health. It would not be the same experience in any way and thus should be rethought.
- Read the news. Look at what is happening in Beijing, Florida, and other Southern states
- Why start in a piecemeal fashion when the evidence is there that a flare up will ensue and we will soon be closed and back at square one?
- Advise starting virtually and use empty buildings staffed with volunteers to teach students who need one on one care and instruction due to disabilities
- If the decision to forge ahead despite patent risks to heath and welfare, allow at-risk employees to liberally use their accumulated sick leave until they can be assured that a flare up won’t occur. Allow teachers to put in for a LOA - thus do away with the March 1 deadline.
- Inform parents and staff immediately when cases pop up within schools rather than keeping a lid on infection news
- Be prepared for a closure within two to three weeks of opening. That is what science is teaching us.
1. Have you considered the tremendous anxiety and burden placed on teachers if you implement the 25% or 50% plan and teachers report everyday to their school - exposed to different groups of children everyday and doing the extra that everyone in the county is supposed to do, that their kids will be home 3 out of the 5 days a week while their parents are gone. I checked into child care and it is now higher than it was before Covid. Their openings are now limited, because they also have partnered with the health department and followed the Governors suggestions. We worry about the mental health of students that are subjected to online learning, you might want to consider the mental and physical health of your essential/ frontline employees that are risking it all, and spending it all to make your plan work.
2. I have strong chemical allergies. My skin peels, eyes are irritated, throat itches and I experience migraine headaches. Using industrial strength chemicals in the classroom employed by me or the custodial team may bring on a severe allergy attack or an asthma emergency. I know I had several students this school year with the same problem. While I can appreciate being protected from Covid, I don’t want to do it at risk of creating another complication and lowering my immune system so I am at greater risk of catching Covid.
3. While I want to return to a brick and mortar school, I do not want to ignore the fact that we are in a middle of a Pandemic. Even though stores are opening, I can avoid risk by limiting time or exposure, creating distance, everyone serviced and that enters must wear a mask. However what you are proposing ( Plan 2) is increasing my chances of risk. Let’s not pretend students leave households where adults are out in the community and may have or encountered Corona. Dr. Brabrand, said he can not guarantee mask wear all the time, or even 6 ft social distancing, and a form and a stern talk is going to stop parents from lying and sending sick students or exposed students to school while they work. My risk factors are lower at a grocery store than in a FCPS school building. I strongly urge you to think about the safety of your employees. If there is spread and contact in one of our FCPS schools and even one person dies or becomes severely damaged from FCPS initiating plan 2, it will be catastrophic for FCPS, think about the liability!
The governors plan simply will not work and I suspect you know this. The physical space required to allow kids to stay 6 feet apart doesn’t exist. Nor are their enough teachers to accommodate every child in the smaller class sizes this would also demand. Not to mention with younger elementary school kids getting them to socially distance themselves is not only impossible but likely seriously detrimental to their education and well being.
Speaking as a parent of 2 kindergarten children virtual learning has been an utter failure. So that cannot be an option next fall.
The issue here is that when you consider all the negative implications of not reopening school it should be clear that those consequences far outweigh the risks that Covid poses to children.
Which means that school will essentially have to reopen as it was before the shutdown last year. Reasonable precautions can and should be taken. But ensuring our kids get the education they need and deserve should be the first and foremost priority.
That the governors order is nonsensical and physically impossible should be obvious. There is no point in trying to develop plans that are physically impossible to implement. The superintendent would do well to call this out and demand changes.
Open schools and let the children learn and teachers keep their jobs!
Please consider teachers’ ability to facilitate learning in person and online. Teachers should not be responsible for both. Students whose parents choose to opt out of returning to school need to have the ability to access a cyber school program. Given the demands of distance learning, it has to be one or the other.Will schools be hiring more staff to in the event that more will be needed to accommodate such scenarios?
It is my belief that YES. Kids should go back to school! Full time! Parents that feel differently should have the option to homeschool. This was the hardest year as a parent of 4 that I have ever had. We have spent 100s of years redefining the public school system to try our hardest to teach to the masses. It just isn't realistic to change the system in one year so that it reaches so many different childrens learning styles.
We should try our best to be safe and sanitary once schools open in every way shape and form. But its time for our children to stop crying about missing their teachers and their friends.
Why is there no option to open schools as usual? You can have an opt out option (with virtual learning) for kids who are not comfortable returning to school.
We can adjust behavior to encourage kids to stay home if they have symptoms and clean classrooms more thoroughly at the end of each day. This virus is low risk to kids and we are doing far more damage to our kids by denying them social interaction, learning, athletics, and a daily routine.
The virtual learning option is a disaster. I suspect that a partial attendence option will also be a huge embarrassment for the school system.
As parents, we expose our kids to measured risk everyday. Just getting in a car to drive to a friend's house poses a greater risk than this virus. Please give parents an option to send their kids back to school under the normal conditions. If there is a resurgence of the virus, then you can reconsider the mandatory distance learning option.
I have three kids in fcps and they all want to get back to school. Spending their day alone in their rooms is a horrible option for them.
My preference would be for the kids to have as much in-person learning as possible. Virtual learning was not a success at our house, and so much of the learning at the middle school and high school levels is psychosocial, as well as academic. We struggled as a highly-educated family with one stay-at-home parent and one parent with flexible work-from-home hours; I can only imagine how difficult it was for families with greater constraints. If the governor were to allow a return to the regular in-person school schedule, we would support this.
For families like ours with two working parents, anything less than at least 50% of in school instruction will not be feasible. We expect work routines to return to “normal” (with precautions) by the fall and working from home may be constrained. Additionally, social skills are being hurt during this period of isolation
These are challenging times for everyone. some parents have lost their jobs, some got furloughed and some are trying to work remotely. Neither of these are great options that allow for appropriate home schooling. especially the latter. And while some who are currently on unemployment have the time to help their children with school work, not all are built to be teachers or help their kids excel. That is why we send our kids to school. They are educated by professionals in a fitting environment, surrounded by peers. The home environment is not to be compared to the one in the school. It lacks the social interaction, the time spent with their teachers... Us working parents do not have the time to commit enough attention and time to our kids, no matter how much we want to. And so my fear as many other parents I have spoken to is that our children's education will lack and thus falling way behind. 30 minutes or 1 hour of face time virtually won't suffice. Our young K-2 kids need more. Especially those who are about to start kindergarten. They need structure, peers and be challenged in order to excel. For their age,virtual won't be sufficient. Safety comes first. But knowledge should not be jeopardized. They are the future. We need to set them on a right path... not sure how either of these options will benefit our kids.
I presently have a son attending a FCPS as well as a another son working within the FCPS system. FCPS built its reputation on quality education, health and care. As many parents, educators, administrators and students are eager to return to in-person facilitation, the school board may be challenged on its Immunization Policy and conflict regarding Covid-19 exposure. During this unprecedented time it is imperative local officials maintain their high level of standards regarding health and care FCPS built its reputation.
I would like to to voice my strong support for Scenario 1 (daily online synchronous learning) and strong opposition to a hybrid approach that contemplates only one or two days in school and “self directed” learning the other three or four days each week. I have three key concerns:
1. If there is a viral outbreak identified in the school, the school will almost certainly need to close. Then all the efforts gearing toward and “in school” and “work at home” approach rather than comprehensive daily online instruction will likely be wasted—or at least constantly disrupted. Spending the time now to set up a robust daily distance learning platform to replace the daily school day seems a much better use of resources.
2. Kids and classes will cover so much more material with daily teacher-led instruction (even if virtual) than “self-directed” packets 3 or 4 days a week. While it would be great to be in a classroom, one day of classroom experience a week seems a poor trade for four or five days of virtual classrooms each week.
3. Public health professionals are concerned about Second Wave in the Fall and Winter 2020. It is safer for kids, teachers, and staff to have a robust distance learning platform. We should be doing the prep work now to apply the hard lessons learned this last semester and try to make that online experience the best we can for the students.
I am going to try to not be so negative, but I am extremely frustrated FCPS right now. These kids need to go back to school! They have been home for three months, and the only thing that FCPS provided was one hour of online teaching from Monday through Thursday. Are you kidding me??!!!! We live in the wealthiest County in Virginia, and this is the best that you could come up with??? And it took a month to even start to get paperwork. I am beyond frustrated!! And now I'm being told that there's a possibility that children might only go back to school one day a week. That is just insane!!! What are working parents supposed to do???!!!! My husband and I are going to try our best to attend the town hall meeting tomorrow. I am just beside myself. I am a nurse and understand covid-19 probably better than anybody. At some point in time, all of us will in some way come in contact with this virus. Having children not attend school is just NOT acceptable. First off the number of deaths of children can probably be counted under 50 across the United States. The kids that are getting affected have underlying conditions. What on Earth are you hoping to accomplish by doing this???
Most parents and students want school to open in the fall. Many counties across the state and country will make that happen and I hope FCPS has one. Find a way.
Another large school district is considering this schedule: Open schools at 50 percent capacity. Students with last names A through K would be taught in-person Mondays and Thursdays, L through Z in-person Tuesdays and Fridays. All students would do remote learning Wednesdays and the days they are not in school during the week. Wednesdays would be utilized for deep-cleaning the schools.The advantage of having Wednesday be a Staff development/asynchronous day for students is that:
- Teachers will have a break in the middle of the week to plan instead of at the end of the week
- Custodians could do deep cleaning after 2 day of school instead of 4
- Students would get 2 days to complete asynchronous work (Monday/Thursday students would be able to do homework Tuesday and Wednesday before going back to face-to-face and Tuesday gets Wednesday and Thursday to complete work.
I've seen the plan to open the school in fall. Although the options given look okay keeping in mind the health and safety of the students and staff, it mainly focused on the needs of young students (grade levels Kg-2). I want to know why don't you think it's equally important for middle school and High school children to get the instructions in person. As middle school and high school kids are more mature, they can follow all the guidelines to attend the school in person. Middle school and high school years are very important and specifically junior and senior are milestone years in high school. So my suggestion is that FCPS should take High school age kids also into account while choosing the option to start the school with in person instructions. Their social and emotional needs are equally important considering their age. Also, If there is no grading done, kids are least motivated towards studies.
Children have missed 3 months of school - that cannot be replaced. To continue that disconnect is a huge disservice to my child, the other children in her class and all FCPS 2nd grade students.
I urge you to consider:
alternating days of in-person instruction, so every student gets at least 2 or 3 days a week in the real classroom,
providing alternative settings and instructions for students with disabilities and English language needs, which will also give teachers a more manageable workload, and dramatically improving every aspect of the virtual learning experience.
I recommend FCPS should start strong and ease back if necessary, and give parents the discretion to decide.
Much of my work is in the P.E. Dept. Locker room areas should be addressed carefully. They are very confined and crowded. The circulation of the air is very concerning. I think you should consider holding off on sports in the first semester.
My child’s school hallways are not even 6 feet wide; I feel that ESOL students should be in school since they would benefit most from in-person teaching; all others should be online and could make appointments with teachers if they need additional help.
I am a part of a huge community of families who believe all children from K-12 need to return to school this Fall to 100% in person learning. The transmission from children to adults has been seen to be nonexistent. Please let our children go back to school full time.
I am writing in the hopes that the school board is making all the necessary plans to get kids back to school in the fall. As an employee of the federal government returning back to work full time, I expect my children back in school in the fall, and not online. Spring's online schooling was not, in fact, schooling at all. It was a disaster. I will put my children in another school if Fairfax county does not get them back in school and learning in the fall. I understand that fcps was slow to recognize the situation in the spring, but overcompensating for your springtime mistakes by trying to keep school online in the fall is not the answer. Open the schools and let children learn. If folks do not want to return, have those teachers online school those children.
The more I process the return to school plans, the more questions I have. Let me say first and foremost, that as an FCPS teacher and parent, I am ready to return to school face to face. The risk for my family and myself is statistically low. With that said, though, I understand the concerns and risks of face to face learning.
As you are working through the plans, I ask you to please consider the following:
Having elementary schools dismiss at 4:50 is not a workable idea. As you know, children work best in the mornings, when they are fresh. My third grade students consistently check out around 3:00 every day. I can only imagine how disengaged they will be at 4:00 and after. How will the K, 1, and 2 students handle it? Couple that with the fact that through much of the year, the students would be walking home at dusk, or even in the dark, during the evening rush and FCPS has a recipe for disaster. I know commuters use my neighborhood as a cut through and consistently speed and run stop signs. In the dark with young children walking home or from bus stops? I shudder to think what could happen.
FCPS must address the substitute teacher shortage before we return to school. Subs were difficult to get pre-Covid. Many times, classes were split between the grade, giving each class an extra 5 - 7 kids. With social distancing guidelines, that is no longer a possibility. I, along with just about all of my colleagues, have come into school sick because we have been unable to obtain a sub. Even if we are not sick with Covid, with the health screenings, I think we can expect a much higher absentee rate of staff. Many staff have children who would be unable to stay at home alone if they are sick. Given that many of our subs are retirees and moms who would be home with their own children when their children are not in school due to the block schedules, finding a sub or coverage for a teacher who cannot be in school post-Covid is going to be a monumental task.
I have many concerns, which was raised, about teacher work load. When the question was asked in yesterday's work session whether teachers would be responsible for both synchronous and asynchronous learning, no real answers were given. I have been teaching since 1993, and can say that I have never worked harder than I did with distance learning. To plan and implement both synchronous and asynchronous lessons would be two full time jobs. There is not enough time in the day to do both effectively. FCPS staff is already feeling unappreciated and defeated. As they say, you cannot pour from an empty cup. To be told we need to do both, especially with the lack of planning time in elementary schools, will result in even lower staff morale and poor student performance.
My understanding is that students will eat in their classrooms. Teachers are not paid for their 30 minute duty free lunch. While 30 minutes may not seem like much, and it may seem like teachers should just offer up this time, 30 minutes a day is 2.5 hours a week. In 180 school days, that is 90 hours of time that teachers would be volunteering. While I love my students, I also need to eat and use the restroom! We as staff deserve to be compensated for our time.
Finally, an idea was floated yesterday that teachers would do a daily whole class morning meeting. I question the technical and legal implications of this. First, would my laptop camera be used to broadcast to the students at home? During distance learning, unless I was right in front of my laptop, my students could not hear me. Will FCPS be purchasing cameras and/or microphones for each teacher? Legally, what are the implications of broadcasting student behaviors? We have students who elope. We also have students who become aggressive with staff and other students. Will these behaviors be broadcast to students and their caregivers? What are the legal implications of an outburst by a student being recorded by another student or parent? Am I liable if this were to happen?
I am writing to share to my thoughts, as a teacher, on returning to school. As a kindergarten teacher, I believe we need to get back to in-person learning as much as possible. Students in this age group are not ready for full-time digital learning, and starting their kindergarten year online would only be detrimental to their growth, development, and learning. At the beginning of the year, kindergarten students do not have the ability to sustain attention for long periods of time. Getting these students online and keeping them online for lessons will be a significant challenge. Young children learn best through playing and doing, and working virtually with them does not allow this. Our jobs as kindergarten teachers are to teach our students the skills that they will need for their future in education, including social skills, fine motor skills, and academic skills. Further, we have already noticed regression in our students during distance learning this academic year, despite providing robust DL. Addressing those losses while also teaching the new material to these first graders will be nearly impossible via distance learning.
I am a parent of a raising 8th grader (AAP). I have been disappointed with the virtual learning experience - while technology part improved since April, there is a big gap in how committed and involved are the teachers to this process. Some teachers don't seem to even review the submitted work, there is no feedback from them and some don't even reply to a student email. All classes are not the same rigor and in classroom. However, the most concerning is the negative impact the virtual learning has in my son's mental, emotional and physical health. Here are my suggestion for school opening in the fall:
- All schools are open in fall and all students in third grade and older who choose to be back in classroom setting are required to wear face masks while in school and classrooms.
- All classes are 'live' online learning /streaming so students who cannot be in school (due to sickness) or parents who are not comfortable with sending their kids to school can have this learning option.
- Have a 'sign up' a month or so before school starts to allow the parents to choose between full time in school and full time online. This should allow schools to plan for capacity. Also, this 'sign up' should be set for the first 2 or so months of school and then redone/retaken again to evaluate the potential return of more kids to school. Allow those who chose to be 'back in school ' to switch to online at any time. Have a follow-up 'sign up' to give an option for those who elected online only to return to school.
- Have a temperature check available or maybe required prior to the kids getting on the bus.
Final thoughts. Whatever you decide to do, please remember that virtual learning does not work well for kids. Also, one or two days a week would not be sufficient. Perhaps consider shorter school days and 2 shifts for kids to attend the school (morning and afternoon), although that might require hiring more teachers.
A quality education for children is the goal that we are trying to achieve. This goal should not be forgotten or placed on the sidelines when developing a back to school plan during the global COVID-19 pandemic. If the goal cannot be met then the plan needs to be corrected to meet the goal. When considering a return to school policy during a global pandemic multiple concerns arise that need to be addressed. A few of the concerns that come to mind include the quality of education, safety measures for the students, facilities operators, and teaching staff.
As stated in the opening paragraph, the end goal is to be able to provide a quality education that our children will find useful and that they can benefit from. Online schooling provided by FCPS for the 3rd and 4th quarters of spring 2020 was not a good example of meeting the education goal as it turned out to be a complete embarrassment and disservice for our students. The online tools used by student were inadequate and did not meet a standard educational level. Use one online tool, either Blackboard or Google classroom. Colleges use Blackboard may the school system should do the same to prepare our kids for their anticipated academic career. Either way choose one. Online learning at the high school level needs more interaction and structure from the teaching staff to become effective. It is not rational to expect high school students to perform at a maturity level of a college students in an online environment. Teachers posting assignments on blackboard and/or google classroom with expectations of the students able to complete the work without questions turned out to be a complete failure. There is zero accountability for the teachers.
For schooling to be effective for high school students it must include face to face teacher to student instruction. Classes need to be scheduled every other day and multiple student check-ins need to be completed to keep students engaged during the week. A free day for the teachers at the end of the week simply gives the teachers a 3-day weekend. In a non-COVID environment this would not be an option. COVID-19 lives on surfaces for 3-12 hours. To ensure the safety of the students, faculty and staff the school facilities and classroom cleanings need to be completed after each class. Students should have all classes in one room and not traverse narrow hallways at the same time. Social distance spacing should be enforced in each classroom, entering and exiting schools, and walking through hallways. Restrooms should cleaned and sanitized after each use.
If any of these items cannot be met to ensure a safe learning environment for everyone then the best solution for this issue may be a gap year. A gap year solution would provide the best answer to this global issue. A gap year would keep students, staff, and facility operators safe. A gap year would provide the best quality of education for the students as they would be able to return to face to face teacher to student learning environment once a vaccine has been created.
Why would we want to put our students, teachers, and staff endanger?
My son is a rising 7th grader who has been part of the fcps distance learning program. One of the things that struck was the generally low quality of the online classes. These are, for the most part, veteran teachers who should have full command of their subjects and how to do a classroom presentation. It didn't show. Given the greatly reduced load they should have more than sufficient time to plan and prepare, especially since they are teaching their usual subjects. Further they are required to provide only a single 45-50 minute class each day for only four days (or less) a week. I would expect those to be amazing, spectacular classes. Presentations that would blow yer socks off. Instead there was a lot of half-hearted presentation, unfamiliarity with the tech (still) and an impression that their hearts just weren't in it. Too many class were cut short and a couple times not presented at all. Lot of reliance on second source video clips. disappointing performance. This version of distance learning just doesn't work very well.
I watched the FCPS board meeting on return to school. No option was presented that was a full time return to school. Our family and a larger percentage of our neighbors want a full-time return to school with the option for the vulnerable to opt out. Put our children back in school. Let people opt out if they don’t want to attend.
I am an employee and mom of a ffx teen. The teens need school, friends, sports and activities. They need it now! Their mental health is suffering.
Whatever you decide to do, please remember that virtual learning does not work well for kids. Also, one or two days a week would not be sufficient
Please consider your disabled student body in your decision. There is no way distance learning will work for my special needs child. Online teaching does not work for her. She has a right to an equitable and fair education. Children being left behind and left out because of disabilities. Unacceptable.
One to two hours per day of distance learning is considerably inadequate for children to learn. Other schools are able to do full day curriculums via Blackboard Collaborate, 5 days per week. I recommend that if FCPS goes back to teaching via Blackboard, that teachers teach the full curriculum including assigning and grading daily homework and 6 or more hours per day of DL class instruction. Anything short of this is not meeting the educational learning objectives that our students need to succeed.
As a mom of a new kindergartener, I do not want his first school experience to be without play (playground) or distancing at lunch. I do not feel my 5 year old should be forced to sit at a desk all day. He loves to learn and I do not want this stifled because of distancing guidelines. If these are the new guidelines I propose you also give these children a way to do their curriculum at home through distance leaning. Having children go to school every other day does not make sense because they can be carriers and asymptotic? Thank you for listening and giving us a chance to voice our opinion as parents.
The hybrid model is completely unworkable for elementary school age kids. Young elementary students are supposed to watch recordings 4 days a week? The one day they are in school will be spent reviewing and barely getting anything done. A better plan: allow parents to choose either full time distance learning, or returning to school full time. Everyone can make their own risk choices. Alternatively, MS and HS students should be full time distance learning and elementary students should be in school full time, spread out among the now-empty MS and HS buildings.
We are happy to see that schools were able to organize virtual classrooms and continue instruction. However, we are disappointed to see how much homework material is also on-line.
Core subjects should be prioritized. Disadvantage students should be prioritized. PE should be in open spaces only. Classroom population of 15 to 20 students. Extended school days should be considered focus on essential standards Use the warmer months for school and longer vacation in winter.
I prefer that my children resume face-to-face classes on school property as soon as possible. I believe they missed vital instruction this past Spring. So starting earlier than usual (mid-August) would be preferable.
I understand distance learning has been challenging for many and that I speak from a privileged place to have been able to put my career on hold for my daughter. However, my career pales in comparison to protecting her life. Please consider...
Children with disabilities, like my daughter, absolutely need their education. It is vital. It is also the reality that individuals with disabilities are more likely to contract Covid and more likely to die from it. My daughter would be a danger to herself and others in a classroom setting due to, what her pediatrician refers to, as her "beautiful nature". She wants to be close to people and seeks out physical proximity with little ability to understand "six feet". She also has processing delay that results in an inability to cover her sneezes, requires 1:1 for toileting accidents, etc. Please consider a robust online option for students with disabilities who need their education but also need the most protection from Covid.
Children who are high risk due to a multitude of factors need educational opportunities like everyone else. As a family we have been on a very strict lockdown for months. We have to make choices that reflect the most vulnerable person in our family which is our, soon to be, third grader. We make those choices in conjunction with her medical professionals who have advised us it is unlikely the fall will be safe for her to return to school. Please consider virtual learning for students who cannot risk exposure to Covid.
Although we have not been the loudest of voices that you have been hearing, for many of us, distance learning has been a success. And again, I recognize I am speaking from privilege to have been able to put my career aside to support my daughter, but it has been a fruitful decision. In fact, for the first time since beginning elementary school, she is receiving ESY services due to her emerging skills in math and reading - two very difficult subjects for her. She has thrived with the 1:1 support from myself and with a shorter and more focused academic day. Please consider expanding online services for students who have thrived in this distance learning environment. If expansion is not possible please consider allowing a stipend or other opportunities for families to choose private online school or homeschool curriculum.
I have no doubt that Fairfax County will find unique ways to meet the needs of a variety of students during this unprecedented time. I thank you for your time in reading this and your consideration.
My children have suffered from a lack of in person instruction and interaction with friends. Children can't learn by sitting in front of a screen. One of my kids has attention issues and was not able to cope. They miss their school and their friends. Most European countries have reopened their schools safely and I think we should do the same.
What about an option to return to school as normal? That is the best option for all.
My daughter will be transitioning to 3rd grade for the 2020-2021 school year. As you consider returning to school, I would like to encourage you to consider transitioning kids in earlier grades with their current teachers. Younger kids have not only had to transition to learning remotely, they have also had to learn how to use the equipment and connect with their particular teacher's online approach. Their teachers too have spent countless hours trying to find engaging ways to connect with our kids. With all the uncertainty that is to come, it would be ideal not to have to add learning a new teacher's style (or student's style for teachers) the new school year. This has been done in the past at Fairview when second grade teachers would stay with their class for two years. Coming back to someone who knows them can go a long way to help our kids cope and reduce anxiety. I hope you will strongly consider it in your return to school plans.
As a mother of a teenager I feel strongly that if it is safe teens need to be in school I have watched my daughter steadily decline from the isolation. Teens need structure and unlike smaller children they are more capable of practicing good hygiene and social distancing. Even if’s a half day of school it gets them up and doing something other than social media and Netflix.
There have been no deaths due to COVID with children in VA. Kids of all ages need structure, a routine, and face to face teaching. Home schooling did not work for my son who will be entering high school next year. We need to get all of the kids back to school in the fall. Masks if need be but the kids need to get back to their normal routines. We urge you to send them back in the fall.
The children need to get back in school for in person learning. Distance learning was do-able for a couple months, but any longer will cause children's mental and physical health to disintegrate. And coupled with the fact that in person camps are difficult to fine this summer, we are really counting on the school to be open for all starting August 25th. The kids need it! It is especially important to have in-person / in-school learning for families where both parents work, outside the home and those who are able to telework. We can not give our children the appropriate support needed during on-line learning and still do our jobs that pay us.
After 3 months of observing my 6th grade (now rising 7th grade) daughter's distance learning experience I offer the following:
1. If any distance/online learning is required next year, significantly lower your expectations. Online learning does not work for my child. She is easily distracted at home, and my husband and I are both teleworking full time and cannot monitor her. She is too anxious/scared to use video or microphone and will only sparingly use chat. She needs a controlled classroom environment with in person teacher support.
2. Don't try to make up for lost academic time. My daughter already had issues with anxiety and depression related to "normal" school. If you throw her into a different learning environment with accelerated academic expectations, it will create more pressure and will not go well. Add to that the transition from elementary to middle school and it's downright scary.
3. Completely rethink the education system - what you're doing and why you're doing it - because the old system was stressing everyone out. The pandemic has made this abundantly clear. SOLs didn't happen and it was great. Education was reduced to core curriculum and it was fine. There wasn't homework outside of the planned school day and it was wonderful!
4. Don't go back to the way things were! My daughter has remarked many times that she's glad the shutdown happened because it improved her mental health and she's gotten to know us (her parents) better. Our home life immediately improved once homework was gone. Seize this opportunity to create an educational model that serves the kids, not the establishment. Start school later for the teens. Eliminate homework by cutting unnecessary curriculum and do "homework" in class. Let the kids pursue elective interests after school and give them elective credit for extracurricular activities like dance and community sports.
5. Put the kids' mental health first in everything you do and be gentle with them. This year has been so hard for them - a global pandemic, police murders, racism laid bare, political chaos - and they'll all return with mental challenges. They may seem fine, but they're not. Stressed kids cannot learn, so please give them time and space to recover.
You have a monumental task and I don't envy you. But this is also an amazing opportunity to rebuild things from the ground up. You have the chance to make school a place my child wants to be, instead of a place I force her to go. I hope after all the lessons learned over the past few months you can make that happen.
I'm mom to a rising 6th and 2nd grader. As hard as this Spring has been, I think the Fall will be even more challenging! I am lucky I have the ability to work from home if I need to, but many aren't so lucky. I want my kids to be in school because I think they are able to focus better and they just learn more in a full day of class. I'm not even sure how you would manage rotating or splitting days and cleaning the entire school in between but our kids need get back to learning and 1 hour each day 4 days a week with their teacher isn't enough especially for the 2nd grader and under who can't sit still and focus on a computer. I know this doesn't offer a solution or any ideas. I don't know how you would pull it off but I think those who don't have the option to work from home should receive be allowed to send their children to school a head of those who can work from home. I also believe that kids in 2nd grade and lower must be at school for some amount of time in the fall. Thank you for letting me voice my opinion! Thank you to all the teachers who have had to find their way in this situation!
I strongly believe the kids should go back to school in the fall. Full time.
As much as we like the kids to get back to normal life style and start a regular in person school, we feel it is not worth taking a chance with out any vaccination and a real cure for Covid-19 in place. We strongly request a choice for parents to continue with remote learning for the coming school year. If we lose one year , we can always make it up in future with additional courses or even be behind!! But if we lose life, we cannot get it back! It is not a worthy cause to put anybody in harms way and lose to this virus.
I have a lot of reservations regarding the upcoming school year. Our children were in Kindergarten and 2nd grade this year with the littlest one on an IEP for a few things. In my opinion, the youngest children need the in-person experience with the teachers to help establish the solid foundation that will carry them through the rest of their school years. If the schools are not able to provide an in-person experience for K-3, I feel that there will be an almost impossible learning hurdle. Do we then make graduation at grade 13 instead of 12 for the kids affected by COVID? Highly unlikely.
I must say the teachers/schools really went out of their way to bring learning to the children during the last few months but there is only so much they can do. Have you sat through a morning BB meeting with 20+ Kindergarteners? All 20 children talking over each other (our kindergarten teacher belongs to a special class of people who have unlimited patience and kindness) - thankfully with some of the advanced securities on BB this got better with more control given to the teachers -- and that's with kids that spent some of the school year together and know their teacher. Can you imagine a new kindergarten class in the fall doing distance learning ... I think I might pull my hair out as a parent.
Also, it is extremely difficult for any type of evaluation to be done on a student's progress, during the critical beginning years, while in this distance learning environment. My kindergartener began school on a speech IEP and was making great progress. We met to re-evaluate the IEP in March and then COVID struck. To be honest, we were devastated. We were extremely excited about this new IEP and how much progress our little one would make with it. To say the least, we are VERY hopeful that the kids will be back at school in the fall.
Additionally, we are a dual income household and both work outside the home. I'm glad we are both still employed but it makes the distance learning even harder to accommodate. I am sure you are getting lots of emails with everyone's individual concerns and worries but I still felt like I needed to share my thoughts with you in the midst of the school board's decision on returning to school in the fall. I'm not sure how many parents of Fairfax County students are dual income and wanted to voice the concern from the perspective of 2 working parents ... WE ARE IN FAVOR OF REOPENING SCHOOL IN PERSON IN THE FALL.
I am writing to ask you to please open Fairfax County Public Schools on time for in-person learning this fall. While I am aware of the serious health concerns Covid-19 brings, with the rest of the country re-opening (including Fairfax County and all its businesses) it does not make sense to keep students at home any longer. While I do agree those immune compromised and vulnerable should remain quarantined if they choose, this should be a choice, with the norm being having schools opened for all that will attend. Please note as well that summer sports have started back up, so students are already gathering together at this time. As a parent of a high school student who has worked extremely hard academically since he was 4 - with dreams of getting into his top college choice - this minimal distant learning is hurting his chances. Other school districts nationally will be opening in the fall, and if Fairfax County doesn't, it will put high school students here at a huge disadvantage for college admissions when competing against students who have been attending in person school daily and the opportunities and extra curricular sports and clubs that go along with it. I would also like you to consider those struggling with depression, or the children stuck in abusive homes. Keeping these students home gives them no chance to talk to others, or get in person help if they needed. In-person teaching not only allows for more effective education, but it enables teachers to bond with their students, giving them ways to check in. I cannot presume to understand the gravity of these situations but it saddens me daily to wonder how children in violent homes are doing with no where else to go. Keeping children out of school in Sept will affect more then just education, it affects their social life and their over well-being. I would please urge you to respect that parents will do what they feel is right for their children and family. This means opening up Fairfax County schools on time - all grades - and letting those who want to opt out do so.
I hope that FCPS will have a back to school plan this fall that will allow for as much in person learning as possible. It is so isolating and depressing for our children to be left sitting in front of a computer screen and for us it was just two days a week. The other days they basically didn't do anything school related. My children miss the connection with their teachers and peers. No matter how hard a teacher works to craft productive distance learning plans, there is no substitute for human interaction and connection.
I’m supporting back to the school. But avoid inside the school building more. Hours in virtual class. No just one. Like this year.
I anticipate that there will be some form of splitting students/staggering days. I favor anything that gets the kids back to some form of regular learning! These comments apply primarily to elementary level children. I considered if there is a possibility of all classes meeting every day (half class size, increased cost of buses if routes now needing to be run 4x per day); some parents expressed concern about impacts on working families as well as what can realistically be accomplished in a 4 hour day. Could consider an alternative where Monday is a half day of instruction for all students and then the students would come two full days per week (alternating - Tu/Th or W/F) with ability to dial in for distance learning and virtual extracurricular activities and specials on their "off" (off campus) days. As health care provider, would consider having virtual instruction for orchestra/band/music. Situations where there will be higher percentage of respiratory droplets aerosolized and would require more detailed cleaning of affected spaces. All kids should not be in school at the same time. High schoolers should be in school based on the classes they have for the day.
In reading and thinking about this, it seems that some parents/kids want to be back in schools in the fall, while others prefer an online system. I’m wondering why not give people a choice. If there is a possibility that we will need to use some sort of hybrid schedule anyway, then we would already have the infrastructure to do both on line and in person teaching. Instead of subjecting kids to both types, why not allow people to choose one - or at least get an idea of how many people actually want to physically be back in schools. The number may be low enough that it makes social distancing easier. The same could be done for teachers. Some may want to be in the classroom, others may want to stay online. Maybe there’s a chance of pairing up students and teachers who want to be online full time - and let them learn that way. Similarly, the teachers/students who want to go back to schools can be paired up as well. That way each could focus on one type of learning, which may be better than them having to switch back and forth between online and in person. I realize it is unlikely to work out so clear cut, but I hope it is something you can consider, and may possibly help find a path forward.
There are cons and pros for coming back to school. Many kids are bored of being home, some even not motivated at all to study, and some even being abused and hungry at home. For many the school is a safe place kids can go to and spend their day to escape an abusive situation or even to eat. Also, we are humans, we weren’t meant to live in isolation or confined for too long. Otherwise, people will start losing their sanity. If the kids do come back to school, I just hope you don’t make the kids wear mask all the time. They will be suffocated wearing this mask all day the long. I think the classrooms could be outside or at the gym and think of a new way of doing school. Maybe from kids whose last name start with A through D come on Monday, E through I comes on Tuesday and so forth, for example. We can let the Covid-19 run its course and continue to do online and partial in person school for this year 2020 to 2021. Making sure we are cleaning the schools thoroughly.The parents who feel that they can educate their children at home should not be forced to send their kids to school. However, these families should be visited periodically, at least once a month to make the kids and the parents are mentally well. A triage should be done with the kids to seem to be at risk at home. If a child speaks about not feeling well at home or don’t have enough to eat at home, they should be allowed to come to school everyday. All children should be encouraged to speak and talk about their home situation. SACC should continue to be open, specially for those who are single parents, but with a limited number of children. A triage has to be made to see who gets priority. There are pros and cons about this situation. However, the benefits outweighs the risks.
The best option is to continue with distance learning. It is not worth it to blend in person learning with virtual learning when you can continue distance learning. This way there is not going to be any worry about getting sick with Coronavirus. On the other hand I think kids should be graded on assignments. In other countries distance learning during Corona is a serious matter and it is graded.
It is essential that students be graded on their assignments with the normal vigor that would have occurred with no Pandemic. The distance learning this Spring was almost worthless for my kids, since they could not hurt their grades by their performance (or lack thereof). My kids, and I suspect the vast majority of kids, need high expectations, and real consequences, in order to learn the discipline to succeed, especially in areas that they do not like. I also vote for as much in-person stuff as possible, as Covid-19 is a very minor threat to school-age kids.
My daughter is in a special education preschool class that is projected to have three total students enrolled for the 2020-2021 school year. Her classroom as is meets the social distancing and reduced class size requirements for Scenario 2 proposed for the coming school year. In the case of these students, particularly given that they benefit far more from in-person instruction than typical children, would a provision be made on a case by case basis to allow them to attend school for all available in-person days?
I’m a proud parent of a rising 12th grader at Robinson HS this coming fall . My son missed his 11th grade final quarter of school due to the COVID19 Pandemic . This so called Pandemic is preventing 100’s of thousands of kids to finish there schooling by giving into the fear and hysteria that is being fed to all of us by our Government , CDC , WHO , Media and our Governors . We need to stop listening to what information there feeding us because if we continue to allow this to go on than our Children are going to miss the foundation that is created by our teachers throughout the nation specially here in our FCPS system it’s bad enough thousands of kids missed there Graduations , there Senior year in sports Proms and so much more which they’ll never be able to get back , just taken away from them so please !! do not allow this so called Pandemic to do anymore damage to our children than it’s already done .
All Fairfax county K-12 instruction should be conducted remotely for the 2020/21 school year. Teachers would conduct classes remotely, from home or office. At the same time, all Fairfax County students would be given the option to physically come to school during the school day and spend the day with their new "Homeroom". The purpose of the Homeroom would be to supervise the children, ensure their safety, enable parents to return to work, and provide an adult who can oversee their work during school hours.
We are all aware of the problems with distance learning, but the one thing we do know is that distance learning will be a major part of school curricula during 2020/21. To ensure that all students are treated fairly, and to ensure that Fairfax's distance learning approach is as good as it can be, all students should be distance learning students next year. This ensures that there is not a "two-tiered" approach to learning, with favored in-class students receiving more attention than the forgotten distance-learning students. Our school district will need a significant amount of time and effort to create a quality distance learning approach. There is no possibility that teachers will be able to make that happen by next year if they also must plan to manage in-class students as well. Focusing on distance learning will ensure that all students receive their teacher's best effort.
Homerooms would contain students who physically come to school each day. Parents could elect to send their children to school to spend the day in the Homeroom, or the parent could keep their children at home. Either way, students would need to have a laptop, tablet, or other device, and would need to conduct distance learning from their location. Those in the Homeroom would be supervised by an FCPS employee who does not have classes to conduct or prepare. In some cases, these could be otherwise surplus FCPS teachers and administrators. For instance, PE teachers, art teachers, and librarians could transition to being Homeroom teachers, allowing them to remain on the payroll during 2020/21.
Homerooms would be focused on keeping students grouped, and thus isolated from other groups. If a family had multiple children attending Homeroom, all of those children would attend the same Homeroom, even if they were in different grades. This would ensure that families with multiple COVID positive children minimize their exposure to the broader population.
Schools could offer a variety of Homeroom options (e.g., all week, 2 days per week, 3 days per week, etc.) Groups would occupy the same room on a day-to-day basis, would go to recess together, move together, and eat together. They would be kept apart from other groups, so as to minimize the potential for cross-group transmission.
The Homeroom staff would not only supervise the kids but would help with their assignments, ensure students follow guidelines, help them take breaks from the screen, and maybe even do some art, music, or PE with the group.
Most importantly, Fairfax County families could use this approach to provide a steady child care solution with a responsible adult who can help with assignments and technology problems.
The Distance Learning + Homeroom approach has a number of key advantages:
- Child care for families that need it
- Equitable treatment for all FCPS students
- Limits health risks for students that must physically attend school
- Limits social and educational risks for students who don't physically attend school
- Ensures that the maximum possible number of children receive daily adult supervision (either from their Homeroom teacher, or from their parent at home)
- No need to design multiple curricula for multiple learning scenarios
- No need to wait for further medical guidance, research on safety, or best practices. We can make this approach work with what we know now.
- FCPS employees with jobs at risk could be converted to Homeroom teachers, saving their positions
As an advocate for less screen-time and more recess, it's tough for me to recommend a 100% distance learning approach for next year. However, the risk of coronavirus transmission remains high, and the only responsible course of action is to adjust our practices to severely limit transmission. Parents who play down the risk of COVID should be able to send their children to school, but they should not be able to disadvantage the other students and FCPS staff members who rightly are concerned about this deadly disease. With this proposal, fairness and equity are not at odds with health and safety.
What's the point of teaching elementary kids? In my opinion its teaching skills but equally as important supporting emotional /social wellbeing. I am skeptical about how well we'd be able to support these both with social distancing and health measures in place. I'm confident I can support these better virtually. I have countless questions about how I would be able to support them emotionally/socially/academically with social distancing and health measures in place. Also, if we are only meeting twice a week - do the ends justify the means? I recognize that elementary aged kids have a strong desire to see friends and parents have a strong desire to have childcare. Here is my proposal...
What if we created school based groups to watch children? Parents and volunteers can sign up to host a socially distant activity for the day so other parents can do what they need to do. Perhaps they could work in shifts. Fluid employees could also help. I know neighborhood parents are already doing this. One parent will watch all the kids while the other parent works. All hands on deck. We could enlist parents and volunteers instead of just relying on teachers who survey says 74% are uncomfortable with going back to school. If the parent demand for return to school is greater than teacher level of comfortability of returning - can't we ask parents to support us? Teachers without kids at home can also sign up for shifts too.
In speaking with other parents in my community, what I’m hearing is where is the option where kids go back to school four days per week with one day of distance (or virtual) instruction, or even back to a full five days a week in the Fall. The distance learning experience we had in the spring session of 2020 was an unchartered and experimental exercise in elementary education, and to a large degree proved to produce substandard results. Given many parents were forced to telework during this time, we had the luxury to assist our children with virtual learning to keep the children on task and accountable, but did find it necessary to augment the virtual curriculum with additional materials to ensure retention, at least in part, of the information. Unfortunately with many parents heading back to work now, and even more so in the fall, this luxury will no longer exist and the ability to implement an effective virtual classroom environment does not appear viable.
As the largest school district in Virginia, FCPS needs to push back on the State’s proposed phased approach to returning to school. Based on the current guidelines outlining a phased approach with only partial in classroom instruction, it is not feasible for schools to implement an effective curriculum and learning environment, accommodate students instructional needs, decrease transportation capacity, nor provide the necessary child care for working parents. This approach will not provide the students with the appropriate level of instruction they need in order to progress in their educational path from K-12. Children, especially those at the elementary level, must be physically in school in order to receive effective instruction. While a virtual curriculum may be more effective at the collegiate level (which is by choice in most cases), children at the K-12 levels have not yet developed the self-direction, focus or accountability required for this to be successful. Successful instruction requires students to work with manipulatives, receive the face-to-face instruction & support from instructional aides, as well as rotating through learning based centers only present in the classroom. Beyond the standard learning subjects (math, language arts, and social studies) they also need to physically attend specials such as music, art, music and physical education, which is essential in the development of well-rounded children. Outside the educational benefits of in classroom instruction, physical attendance provides necessary socialization amongst the teachers, friends and peers during class, recess and lunch for positive mental health.
In the event an outbreak of this virus (or any other communicable disease), procedures (as an example) could be developed to close the schools for two weeks, disinfect, self-quarantine, then return to school. Following the Governor’s “vision” and “guidelines” for the upcoming school year’s education system by not returning to a normal, or a near normal school schedule and curriculum, is doing our children a disservice that may prove detrimental to their future in learning. As educators, FCPS should accept the State’s direction as mere guidelines and implement their own specific plan for the upcoming school year that they deem necessary and designed in the best interest of the students. Governor Northam is not an educator, but rather a politician, and whose directives should not be the sole basis for how FCPS should implement a plan that is in the best interest of our students this fall.
While I support enhanced sanitation & health protocols and reasonable & viable social distancing practices to continue efforts in reducing/mitigating the spread of this virus, the current options for continued distance learning for the upcoming school year are unacceptable and not a viable course of action if our ultimate goals is to continue effective education for this generation of children. I recommend our time, energy and resources be spent on improving our education tools and techniques rather than attempting to completely overhaul a public-school system to accommodate unrealistic social distance protocols.
The Virginia Constitution reads (22.1-28 Code of Virginia) "Supervision of schools in each division vested in school board.” The power to operate, maintain and supervise public schools has always been, within the exclusive jurisdiction of the local school boards and not within the jurisdiction of the State Board of Education.
Pre-COVAID our kids had developed a base of 8 month in the classroom with their teachers. During this time, they developed a bond with their teachers so that when they transitioned to online education, they had that personal relationship already developed. Starting the next school year with an on-line platform doesn’t give them that same opportunity to be in the same physical classroom as their teachers and create that bond and trust leading to lags in work and a lack of commitment to do the work and preventing the kids from having the quality education they deserve. Which leads me to my biggest concern how many kids will actually pay attention when a screen is between them and the teacher? Teachers can sense confusion or questions when they can actually be in the same physical space, even when they aren’t asked by the students. There is also the concern that a large percentage of kids who are not monitored are not paying attention which will inevitably impact their growth and progression.
It is FCPS’s role to educate all of our children because every child deserves the same fair academic progression. That includes everyone not just a division or portion. We have to make this just for our entire academic population. Allowing some kids in the classroom and creating a division by skill is simply unfair, there isn’t enough data to support if online schooling works. As a parent if I wanted my son to have online schooling, I would have enrolled him in homeschooling as the preferred method of education. We did not because we believe in the benefits of in class education with his teachers and the social and societal benefits of engaging with his peers.
Additionally, we have to consider how many kids even attended class regardless of their aptitude. In my own personal conversations with parents’ kids that were academically achieving in the classroom were so dissuaded by the online platform that there was no interest in developing further. Again, in my conversation with parents that have kids that needed educational support whether be it for dyslexia or other needs had such a hard time grasping the information. Parents aren’t equipped and have not been trained to support these kids. What complicates things as well is the dual parent working family which is the norm in society today. Ensuring that you can help your kids develop as they're learning new material while you're also doing your full-time job is an entire recipe for disaster. I have a motivated son but as a working mother myself like so many others we struggled. If the pandemic showed us parents and hopefully the FCPS administrators, it is the vitality of our teachers in developing our kids. We need them together again!
In class education and instruction with teachers is essential. The safety of our children our teachers and our administrators are essential. While contemplating the scenarios, FCPS should first and foremost make sure that all of our children get the education and in-class in-person support that they rightfully deserve within the safest framework for the kids, teachers and administrators. Again, I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. This isn't easy I don't envy the position that you are in, but an on-line platform is simply not the answer. As a mother and an active PTO and Room Parent, I witness the value of having our children and our teachers together. Please help us bring them together again for all grade levels and all aptitudes.
Under any of the proposed options, please provide time and access for a free and appropriate education to students with special needs.
These students were grossly overlooked for the last quarter of the 2019-2020 school year, so they should be given more opportunities to improve and maintain their skills during the 2020-2021 school year.
This summer put in centralized webcams, mic, and speakers that link to a teachers desktop computers. The camera's would be positioned from ceiling/wall and pointed at a teacher's whiteboard. When the day starts, the classroom would have both online individuals as well as physical students. The teacher would teach the class and online at the sametime, drawing on board and doing the normal routine. This would allow for more students to be involved.
You would then need a classroom assistant, in older grades it could be a student lead, or a parent volunteer, or a teacher assistant would be "in charge" of the online people. If someone had a question for the teacher they would notify digital by raising their hand (putting a comment to the moderator, etc). In certain stopping points, the teacher would ask the entire class if they had questions. The online moderator could notify the teacher, and unmute the child(ren) and the child ask the question, which would be audible to all students with speakers in the classroom. The teacher would then answer as necessary from in front of the class. Much of the classroom could then work the same, and the class is all "one class" just kids have the option to attend in person or not based on provided guidance. The moderator could help keep track of attendance and participation for the online individuals
My suggestion for who attends the physical classroom: Priority is given to those that need meals from school, have low speed or no internet, and those who have parents that are teachers (helps reduce need for our teachers to find daycare if they are working).
Thank you for your thoughts, and let me know if you have any questions. I wish you all the best of luck in solving this new problem!
Also, I know there are budget concerns getting every kid a computer, could you not put a request out to parents/corporation in Fairfax, to see if they would want to sponser the purchase of computers? I'm sure many parents would be willing to help buy a laptop.
We would like to know the reason why FCPS decided not to comply with the guidelines set forth by the Governor for students in Grade 3 in Stage 2. According to the State guidelines, they are allowed face-to-face instruction in Phase 2, while FCPS denies them this right. They are still too young to independently learn online and require a lot of support from their parents. This puts children of parents working full-time in a very disadvantaged position relative to many other parents.
Greetings. I have 2 daughters that will be entering 3rd grade at Sunrise Valley Elementary School. The last 3 months of online learning have been very difficult for them and the family as a whole. Online learning is not a reasonable method of instruction for a 7-year-old for a variety of reasons. They require socialization in a school environment to nurture their mental wellbeing. I can't imagine that Fairfax County is not considering returning children to school 5 days a week. The negative impact of part time school far outweighs the positives. The risk of Covid - 19 to children is minimal. Why are they being punished? I understand there may be an element of risk for adults but they can take suitable precautions. Any decision to return to school part time would be incredibly damaging and is not supported by data. Is Fairfax County basing a possible decision on hypotheticals? What might happen? What could happen? That doesn't make good sense. Life is full of risks. We could all lower our risk factor by never getting out of bed in the morning, but that wouldn't be great for society. How do you expect families with 2 working parents (very common in Fairfax County) to manage with a child or children having to be home 2 or 3 days a week? This will be an impossible proposition for many families. Children, especially elementary age, thrive in a school environment while developing friendships and lifelong memories. We shouldn't be teaching them to live their lives in fear. This is unacceptable. I don't know what recourse the parents have, but children need to be in school 5 days a week. Thank you.
We’ve proven on-line learning is a disaster in Fairfax County.
Covid 19 is very clearly and statistically not harmful to practically all children.
The business of schools is to teach and instruct [to the best of their ability].
Open schools and allow parents/students/teachers to opt out if they so choose. Have the teachers that opt out deliver on-line learning to students that do not attend school.
If people want the terrible on-line learning offered by the cities and county let them suffer through that.
The only way to perform your responsibilities is to open schools.
The entire state is going to open back up and our children are going to stay at home to learn inadequately?
Think it through and you come to only one conclusion. Open Schools. Let people opt for on-line learning if they have reason to choose that course.
Schools open full time for everyone with new policies and procedures that increase hygienic practices, amo custodial services, minimize group space use, add health checks daily and increase sick policy/return to scho to 72 hours.
Students have option to OPT OUT of in person learning and IN to virtual learning if they can't/don't want to retun in person.
Teachers who can't/don't want to return in person will teach those student who OPT out. These teachers can be utilized throughout the county. For example, if Union Mill only has 3 fifth graders who OPT OUT, those students can be taught virtually in a mixed class with teacher and students from other schools in the county. New year, New friends!
All students returning to school in person must sign a waiver of liability. Parents cannot sue the county/school system if their child becomes ill (unless obvious neglect-I'm sure FCPS had great attorneys that can write that correctly)!
Parents sign waivers of liability all the time and moon bounce/trampoline houses. Yes, they're more likely to break their legs there than at home, but it is a risk you chose to take.
I feel this plan provides choice and accountability to all sides.
I am strongly in favor of creating a strong, all virtual learning program for next year. Sending my daughter one-two days a week is not worth the risk. I would also like her to have synchronized instruction daily, instead of only a couple of days a week. This set up will be disastrous for her learning. She needs daily interactive teaching to learn, and this can only be done during this time with virtual instruction. I truly hope that you will have an option for families who are uncomfortable sending their children to school in the fall to have a virtual option, otherwise I may be forced to homeschool.
Please strongly consider having an all virtual option for all, not just for those who are at medical risk.
Schedule and Childcare
Since FCPS still does not seem to being respecting the cries of their staff members, I figured I would send some data.
This morning an article in the Wall Street Journal when discussing how the virus spreads stated, I quote, “Instead, the major culprit is close-up, person to person interactions for extended periods. Crowded events, poorly ventilated areas, and places where people are talking loudly maximize the risk.”
The scientists are describing schools. Why place even one FCPS community member in danger? This risk is not worth it.
If you must insist on opening schools you must extend the deadline for leave of absence. I cannot send my 8 week old newborn to daycare during a global pandemic. To ask me to do that would be negligent. I did not know I was pregnant when the regular deadline passed - you MUST open that option now.
With limited amounts of children allowed on buses, I'm imagining mornings to be chaotic with some coming in and then a period of time before another batch come in. How will that work? When do we start teaching? Do we wait until everyone is there? What do we do with the waiting groups? That will also extend the day at dismissal which takes us well into rush hour which means delays.
How will sanitizing the classrooms work? Who is in charge of doing the cleaning? I work in kindergarten and it's very germy. Will classroom bathrooms need to be sanitized after each use? They are now saying that if an infected person uses the toilet, when they flush it sprays microbes into the air that carry the virus. None of our toilets have lids so I'm imagining a LOT of bathroom cleaning, especially with the younger grades. They use the bathroom a LOT at the beginning of the year. How often will door handles and light switches need to be cleaned? What about all of the books? We also have toys in the classroom. Will all of those need to be sanitized after each use? Math manipulatives? What will be used to sanitize? I haven't seen Clorox wipes in stores for months.
In our rooms we do not have desks, we have tables. What do we do about supplies? Will each child need to keep their own supplies separate? Where will we keep them? We have limited space in the rooms. Will we be able to use school iPads and computers?
Also, when will teachers have bathroom breaks, lunch and planning time? Will there be specials such as art, PE, music, library? Will we be able to have outdoor recess? The first few weeks of kindergarten are pretty intense and the kids need a lot of breaks and downtime to keep their focus. We will NEED outdoor recess. And for indoor recess when weather is not okay for outdoor play, are the children allowed to play together?
1) If an alternating schedule is in place for part of the school year, please consider a week to week rather than every other day (for cleaning and sanitizing purposes). Example: Group A would go to school M-TH/F and then virtual the following week (while Group B would be in the building that week).
2) we need to go beyond posting utube and flip grid lessons and have those ONLY as supplemental. The main lesson should be provided on a specific curriculum topic pre-recorded by a current grade level teacher. Example: Mrs Smith would post X number of lessons on multiplication, Mrs. B would be assigned fractions and post an appropriate number of lessons of her teaching (to an empty class but the content she would normally cover of in a classroom).
3) Please post lessons at a set time and location. The children shouldn’t have to search for this and perhaps a weekly list/outline could be posted so we can follow along.
4) example: “post by deadlines”...(If teachers have a “planning Friday” then lessons and homework for following week could be posted by Friday at 5pm)
Post prerecorded lesson, supplemental activities, and homework at same time (per topic). Host the synchronous lesson shortly following and then require homework completion shortly following this virtual lesson.
Instead of having or considering every child K-2 go back to school, why can FCPS have the children who need to go back (Special Ed, ESOL) go back first (this will allow reduced classes and will maintain children 6” apart) and the rest of the children who are able to K-2 log online for 1-2 hours in the morning (take a break) and log back in the afternoon another 1-2 hours.3-6 can log in a full day (with break in between). 7-12 are capable of logging in with their regular schedules 5 days a week (with breaks just like they received at school).
I had a child suffer an injury in the 6th grade and my child was given an iPad by FCPS and was expected to log in daily to the main core classes, so if this is something my then 6th grade was able to do 5 days a week, I don’t understand how kids aren’t expected or able to do this now during this times. Specially for those kids who are able to provide their own device.
Another suggestion is bringing in kids from title 1 schools first as this children might be underprivileged.
With it very likely the students will have to attend school in A/B shifts, returning to the old 7 or 8 class bells a day will put students in face to face contact with every teacher every other day. My daughter, 11th grade at LBSS this past year, tried to remain engaged, but the lack of real interaction was frustrating for her. She is not the Type A go-getter that much of FCPS is geared toward. I fear that shift attendance plus block scheduling is going to further alienate her and her senior year will be completely lost.
I read the proposed approaches and would offer another consideration for Approach B: Social Distancing. Instead of shifts or alternating days, could alternating weeks be considered? It might make transitions less hectic, plus allow students to experience (at least at an elementary level) school in its entirety, face-to-face (e.g., specials, recess, lunch). On the weeks that students are not in school, assignments and activities could be self-paced with some office hours and/or morning meeting experiences to still provide connections to staff and peers.
I understand elementary school times may be pushed back an hour. Some elementary schools would not get out until 5pm. Could you please consider having elementary students on an earlier schedule?
Open the schools and let children learn. If folks do not want to return, have those teachers online school those children.
The goal was to slow the spread and we did that. You can’t move the goal posts to vaccine and shut everything down again. There is more than one way to get sick and die. The percentage of people infected is also down. Those that NEED to do distance learning because of illness or they are compromised, great. The rest of us need to be in the building.
I just wanted to comment that it would be very helpful if siblings who attend the same school, even at the high school level, could be part of the same "group", so they attend in-person classes on the same days. If that is possible, it would make it so much easier to plan for families!
Has anyone considered an AM/PM 4 day plan for Elementary school kids? It would eliminate need for lunch, but kids could get a grab and go if needed. Half of a class could go in morning and half in afternoon with a break for cleaning and they can focus on Language Arts and Math while integrating science and social studies into the Language Arts and then work on asynchronous activities during the home part of their day and on Fridays. Teachers could use Fridays for planning since they will clearly have to plan for both synchronous and asynchronous lessons.
I am a longtime resident of Fairfax County, Virginia - a voter, a taxpayer and a mother of 3. All 3 of my children attend our local, public schools. I understand that we are in the midst of an unprecedented, unexpected Global pandemic that seemed to come out of nowhere. However, this Spring’s distance learning experiment was a disaster. My children will survive missing out on 3 months of their education, but if distance learning or a hybrid model continues into the Fall, something very different needs to be done. It’s a crime that my high school students received a full year of credit for classes for which they had a 6 week break starting in March, followed by a scanty 45 minutes of class ONCE a week. Even worse, most of their high school teachers couldn’t meaningfully fill that 45 minutes per week and often ended class early. I sincerely hope that the kids are back in school in the Fall. They need it for their educational, social and emotional development. In person learning should be a choice. Classes should simultaneously be conducted in person and streamed live. That gives families options and will naturally create social distance when families choose to keep their children home. The only options should be: 1) open all schools in the fall, on schedule, and normal as mandated by the constitution of Virginia and 2) if parents are concerned or have underlying health concerns, then homeschool. Any alternative schedule shouldn’t even be discussed as it does not uphold any sort of high quality standard. If that is deemed absolutely impossible, my second choice would be to have school every day, either in the AM or PM. The other half of the day could be spent completing assignments. My very last choice would be a return to FT distance learning. Note I said full time - all day, 5 days/week. How can you, in good conscious, send kids off to college after a year + of no real, meaningful education? It’s disgraceful to even contemplate such. Virginia is opening up. When the kids are not at school, learning in a structured environment, they are forced to go to daycare, or even worse, they are out mingling in the community. This does nothing to stop the spread of COVID-19. My children need to go back to school. This has been detrimental to their development and mental health. They need the structure of school. School is essential and teachers are essential employees. Please reopen schools and those who aren't comfortable have the option to keep their kids at home.
I have a question regarding the schedule if the students return to school at 50% or 25% capacity.
Will the students attend based on where they live and the busing schedule or based on student’s needs? If it is based solely on location and busing, then it may make it difficult for the students that are in a special education inclusive class. If only one or two special education students are present each day, it will be hard for the special ed teacher to pull them for their small group instruction. It is also possible that there may be a day when none of the special education students would be present, or a day when all but one would be in the class. Has any of this been thought of?
I think preschool to 6 grade should return to school with alternating schedule from am and pm. Students whose parents are essential personal should return to school. Elementary students should be spread out amongst high schools so there is more room for social distancing. High school students should stay home and participate in distance learning. 5th and 6th grades should be spread out in middle schools. 7th and 8th grades should participate in distance learning. Large community halls could be utilized to host large groups that are participating in distance learning. The lower grades need social development so it is important for them to be in school with their peers.
I have an idea of what our county could do for returning next year. Since Fairfax County has a very dense population of students, it wouldn’t be a good idea at all to return to school for the first semester. My school itself has 2,700 students and our hallways aren’t even six feet wide. So, social distancing would be pretty much impossible. Unless you only allowed like ten kids in the hallways at a time, but that’s just impractical. I believe that students in the ESOL programs should be offered the opportunity to have learning in the school since they would benefit the most from in person teaching. Cafeterias should also be open for breakfast and lunch to provide students who rely on the school for those meals. From what i’ve heard, a vaccine for the virus should be available in roughly January which is the end of the first semester. Before returning to school for the second semester, students should be required to get the vaccine and have proof of vaccination. If kids really need in school help, schools could schedule times that students can come in for help. This is just an idea for returning to school next year. Hopefully it’s considered!!
Thank you for your hard work in trying to accommodate an incredibly large school district with so many competing needs. I want to acknowledge that my husband and I are able to flex our work schedules and work from home, providing care for our children while juggling our jobs. We completely understand that this is not the case for most families. As well, we do not rely on school for food, so having our son at home is not compromising his access to meals. We have a rising 1st grader at Union Mill Elementary School.
My biggest concerns are:
1) How is keeping kids 1 to a seat on a bus considered social distancing? That is nowhere near the 6ft apart distance to be safe. FYI--we are walkers, so this does not impact my family. 2) My son is a rising 1st grader, so I am well aware of how challenging distance learning is for the PK-Gr 3 age group. I see how much my son misses his friends and could benefit from in-person time with classmates. I am also incredibly concerned that this is the age group that is hardest to socially distance and to get to keep masks on. I worry that most of the "instructional time" will be spent with teachers keeping kids separate versus actually getting to content.
To that end, I'd like to see continued distance learning in the Fall and more time spent in small groups for the younger age groups. I loved that my son's class was able to be together with synchronous learning sessions, but I am very concerned that there was too little time for individuals to be able to contribute when there were 26 kids on the screen at once. I think shorter sessions with fewer kids would help teachers be able to actually get meaningful content taught. Groups of 6-8 kids would make much more sense and allow greater participation and individual attention. I have an immune compromised 2 year-old and am personally at a greater risk for complications from Covid-19, so we are extremely concerned about limiting our exposure.
Ensure that all classes are Live streamed taped so that if a child is at home he/she can still listen in. Return August 17 and recess November 25. Resume Jan 4 and recess in June 2021. At the Jan 4 resume, test each child using a rapid test. If the child is positive immediately have the child quarantine and participate in live stream. Since 6 ft if desk space is impossible to maintain at Bush Hill, desks should be 3 feet apart. Face masks must be worn In the classroom. Maintain physical education with proper spacing Keep extracurricular activities.
Even if we open slowly over time, we must provide sacc services for parents who must get back to work. This is a Day 1 must-have.
Many working parents have to coordinate daycare for grade school aged children, please keep this in mind. As a parent, I need to coordinate drop off and pick up times at school or at a daycare. Any resident schooling that is not full days and 5 days per week will create a disruption to many working parents. As such, I recommend keeping school hours full days and 5 days per week. Mandating students, teachers, staff and visitors to wear masks is a fair compromise to enable this.
Having days off or rotating days for young children brings undue hardship on working parents. We must plan for sporadic childcare during the off days. Additionally, the expectation of homeschooling young children at home while parents work full time is not possible. Our family would be unable to do so. Older kids who can stay at home and be trusted to do school work on their own may be able to do school virtually in part. But kindergarteners will not. Please have a consistent daily schedule for kindergarten so my family can plan before and after school care.
I suggest that students in the school be divided into two halves 50% of them attending school from 8 in the morning until 12 in the evening, 50% in the other 50 from 12 in the evening until 4 in the evening and without activities or a break for lunch, the working hours will be continuous without stopping, given to the teacher that the number be There is little separation, which helps make every seat empty between each student and a friend. Also the bus deal.
I realize that the pandemic has put significant stress on all of you as well as all of us parents and most importantly, the students. I hope you will consider a few things that I will list below. I know that one of the concerns for getting the students back to school is bus transportation. If you plan to stagger school days for different classes - I wonder if you you should consider sending freshman and seniors on the same days and sophomores and juniors on the same days. Just because you have a number of seniors that drive and almost no freshman. Then you have a limited number of sophomores and a higher number of juniors. If you will be relying more on students to drive themselves then please consider waving the parking fee. This may alleviate some of the financial burden of the student drivers and encourage more to drive and lighten the bus load. Please get the sports back in action too. These children need more normalcy and an active outlet. AND - most importantly, do not tell them that they won't be graded! That was a horrible mistake. I understand that not everyone had/has the ability to learn remotely from home but by making sure they were not left behind , you held back those who do have the ability to learn. Not a fair situation. You need to do better on this.
I think it would be best to give parents a choice for at least the first semester as to whether their child attends school in person or virtually. I also think staggering schedules would help with physical distancing.
I would like to know what is the plan to address the childcare needs of families with two working parents and if SACC will be available.
I know that childcare has been a hot topic for many teachers during this discussion, but please keep in mind that for many of our communities, school is a form of childcare. Parents will be going back to work, and our youngest students are not able to participate in DL independently. It is not realistic to expect every student to have a parent home to help him or her navigate to the lessons, and participate, as well as help to supervise asynchronous work. Many families do not have an adult who is able to do so. We cannot keep constructing barriers to education for some of our most vulnerable learners.
My husband and I are both fcps teachers, one high school and one middle school. We have 2 children in elementary school, one upper and one lower. We have extreme concerns with child care if we are not all on the same schedules when school begins. Exceptions/considerations need to be made in extraordinary times..... *Would we be able to bring a child to our workplace? They could be near us, not having to be socially distant from us. *Would SACC be an option?
We understand that you are faced with very difficult decisions. We do request that if there is a reduced schedule that parents are provided with substantial notice of the particular plan for their child. This would include times or days or attendance well in advance. Notification at the customary time (week before) for class placement would not be sufficient. We all need to be adaptable, but working parents require notice to make proper arrangements. This is important at all age levels. If there was a partial or full return to remote learning, we hope a plan could be put in place to enhance consistent participation in class activities, improve homework completion incentives, as well as expand direct teacher contact time. Our child was discouraged in that she perceived reduced levels of participation of her peers over time.
I have serious concerns regarding the return to school plan options for Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), especially the virtual options and alternative schedules. I also have concerns that FCPS’s plan for health screenings would not mandate daily temperature checks for students and for teachers entering school grounds.
My husband and I are full-time working parents, and I believe virtual plans or alternative schedules seriously leave out the interests and needs of working parents. The one-day or two-day in-person and alternating schedules are not feasible for working parents, especially if different children of those same parents are on separate schedules. It also requires that parents have daycare options available to them. It’s also hard on younger students who need continuity day-to-day. Furthermore, my demanding work schedule does not allow for me to supervise and ensure that my kids are doing the work required for virtual education. I also have major concerns with the quality of education that my kids would get under these proposed options. Regardless of the teacher, virtual education does not work for my kids who will be rising second graders. My children have short attention spans, and are not engaged in virtual learning. Because of the lack of in-person instruction this Spring, I think my kids are behind in writing, math, and reading, which are critical for building success in upper grades. I think the virtual and alternate schedule options would ultimately fail my children and the community. I think it is critical that kindergarten through third grade get full-time in-person instruction.
I would propose that FCPS consider including under the third option, to allow those students whose parents do not feel comfortable with sending their children to school to opt out of in-person instruction in addition to those who are vulnerable students. Partnered with the fact that there are parents who are considering homeschool options this Fall regardless of the option FCPS chooses, this will likely free up space in the classroom and allow for social distancing for the kindergarten through third grades.
While I believe it is critical for full-time in-person instruction for kindergarten through third grades and for students requiring special education, I also believe it is so important to have safeguards in place, such as daily temperature checks for students, teachers, and any visitors entering the school building. I do not think daily reports from parents are enough to protect students and teachers. Under the proposed plan by FCPS, parents would either lie or may not know that their children are sick when filling out the daily health screening form. Way too many parents send their children to school sick, either intentionally or unintentionally. We’ve seen this with the spikes in flu cases in schools this past school year. Should FCPS not mandate daily temperature checks, there likely will be outbreaks, which will affect the community at large. FCPS should also require that students and teachers wear masks, and that the masks cover the nose as well as the mouth.
Can you make it clear if whatever is decided will be in place for the full 2020-2021 school year? Or if things change could we go from scenario 2 (1 day a week in school) to scenario 3 (2 days a week in school) possibly after the 2rd or 3rd quarter?
Also, if a student or family member has a fever and is keep home can they opt into scenario 4 (complete online for those at higher risk) for a week or 2 until all members in the home no longer have a fever or symptoms of illness? This way they are not losing out on instruction that's being given in classroom (if that is the decision the board makes).
Have you considered allowing parents to OPT OUT of using bus transportation for the 2020-2021 school year? If many parents would opt out of using school bus transportation, FCPS could possibly reduce the number of buses used for some schools, freeing the extra buses to be used elsewhere.
Personally, two out of my three students are provided bus transportation to West Potomac HS, and I would be willing to opt out if it would be helpful. I believe many other parents would do the same. Carpooling could be arranged instead.
I was wondering why half days for students instead of alternating days has not been discussed as an option? Expecting children to sit in one desk with very little chance for physical activity and interaction is a recipe for disaster. If the students were only expected to do this for 3/4 hours a day it would be much more feasible. I have a generally well behaved rising kindergartener but I worry he will find it impossible and grow to dislike school. I think behavior problems across the entire student population will explode now that so much of the hands on learning and team collaborations are no longer an option. I strongly urge the board to reconsider this option.