Health and Safety Guidance Document for 2023-24

FCPS Guidance on School Health Practices

Consistent with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FCPS is providing the following:

Wash Your Hands Often

Face Masks (Cloth or Disposable)

  • FCPS has revised requirements for face covering in alignment with the Code of Virginia (COV). In alignment with the COV, the parent/legal guardian of any child enrolled in an FCPS school, may elect for such child to not wear a face covering while on school property (to include FCPS buildings). No parent/legal guardian making such an election shall be required to provide a reason or any certification of the child's health or education status and no student shall suffer any adverse disciplinary or academic consequences as a result of this election.
  • Students, staff, and visitors mask use is outlined in FCPS Regulation 2109 (to be updated).
  • Students, staff, or visitors may choose to mask at any time.
  • When the CDC COVID-19 Hospital Admission Level is high, FCPS recommends that all students and staff wear a face covering when indoors (except while actively eating/drinking) on school property (to include the buildings, school buses and other school provided vehicles).

Considerations for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommends use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and standard precautions when there is a potential risk of being splashed or sprayed by bodily fluids.
  • Below is a list of all supplies and materials that are available to all FCPS sites:
    1. Hand sanitizer – 1-gallon pump bottles are available at the warehouse as needed.
    2. Face coverings/masks – For students, staff or visitors who choose to wear a mask, a cloth or disposable mask will be made available by the school.
    3. Gloves – to be used in custodial cleaning and by staff working in special capacities (i.e., special education, technology specialists, bus drivers, etc).
    4. Face shields– for use by bus drivers/attendants and special education staff and any other staff upon request.
    5. Gowns – for use by bus drivers/attendants and special education staff
    6. Cleaning supplies – additional supplies will be provided for custodians to use during routine and enhanced cleaning.  High schools will continue to use the VMI process.  Elementary schools and middle schools can order additional supply through FOCUS.
    7. Spray bottles and paper towels – to be used with Virex cleaning solution during enhanced cleaning by custodians and, possibly, staff cleaning their individual workspaces.
  • All the PPE currently available from the warehouse has been reviewed and approved by School Health and are acceptable.

Cover Coughs and Sneezes

  • Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Health Monitoring

  • Parents, caregivers or guardians, are strongly encouraged to monitor their children for symptoms of infectious illness every day in accordance with FCPS Attendance Guidance .
  • Any student, staff or visitor demonstrating symptoms of infectious illness should stay home.

Clean and Disinfect

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If a facility has had a sick person or someone who tested positive with COVID-19 within the last 24 hours, the space should be cleaned and disinfected. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • Then, use an EPA-approved disinfectant for Coronavirus (COVID-19). Here is a list:  EPA disinfectants for coronavirus will work.
  • Follow recommended procedures for cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfection after diapering, feeding, and exposure to bodily fluids.

Ventilation

  • To optimize ventilation, FCPS uses mechanical ventilation systems to provide classrooms with outside air.  FCPS schools are designed to ventilate fresh outside air and mitigate the buildup of odors and pollutants.  Fresh air is filtered and conditioned before it enters the space. 
  • The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is providing free portable HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) purifiers to all schools as part of a CDC ELC Reopening Schools Grant.  
    • The CDC ELC grant program in Virginia provides funding for up to ten portable air purifiers with HEPA filters per school. Schools can use the air purifiers in classrooms, common areas, or other areas where students and staff congregate.
    • Schools began receiving air purifiers this summer.
  • Air purifiers provide many benefits to classrooms and offices.  These benefits include:
    • Can help to improve air quality in the classroom, which can benefit the health of all students and staff.
    • Can help to reduce the number of sick days taken by students and staff.
    • Have a HEPA filter that can remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 microns in size or larger.
    • Are portable; they can be moved from room to room as needed.
    • Are able to cover a minimum of 500 square feet.
    • Are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Schools

Office of Facilities Management (OFM) has worked closely with FCPS custodians to ensure their cleaning processes.  FCPS custodians are using an effective disinfectant and sanitizing products to clean our facilities every day.

  • Clean high touch surfaces at least once a day or as often as determined is necessary. Examples of high-touch surfaces include pens, counters, tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, stair rails, elevator buttons, desks, keyboards, phones, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • Cafeteria tables and chairs must be cleaned and disinfected between lunch periods by custodial staff using Virex II 256.   Ensure no students or visitors are present in the room while disinfecting surfaces.  If surface cleaning with Virex II 256 must be done with students in the room, maintain a minimum of 6 feet between surfaces being disinfected and students in the room until the surface is completely dry.  For maximum effectiveness, allow surface to remain wet for 10 minutes.  However, a spray and wipe application is effective to a lesser degree when the full dwell time cannot be met.

Maintaining Water Quality at FCPS

  • All FCPS facilities in use are connected to public water supplies, which are required to meet water quality standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and enforced by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).  
  • The safety of the drinking water is primarily the responsibility of the water authority that supplies the water.  Many of these water authorities have designated FCPS buildings as their distribution sampling sites.
  • The Offices of Safety and Security (OSS) and Facilities Management (OFM) work collaboratively with the water authority to provide samples at these designated sites each year, with OSS managing a lead in water testing program.
  • FCPS will continue to monitor and update its procedures in accordance with VDH, Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), and local health department guidance for the upcoming school year.

Water Fountains

  • Water fountains can be used as normal.
  • Custodians should clean high-touch surfaces (faucets and handles) at least once a day.
  • Students should be encouraged to bring their own water bottle for use during the day.  

Students sent home from the health room 

  • After being seen by the PHN or SHA in the Health Room, students sent home, due to a fever of 100.4 or greater and/or COVID-19 respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, runny nose), may return to school when the student is fever-free without fever reducing medication for at least 24 hours and symptoms have improved.

Students who tested positive or have been diagnosed with COVID-19

  • FCPS does not require return to school documentation for students who are called in absent with COVID-like symptoms/illness. Refer to FCPS Attendance Guidance for more information.
  • FCPS will align with the isolation timeline recommended by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).
  • Recommendations for your child to return to in-person instruction and activities, including athletics, are as follows:
    • Student has completed at least five days of isolation; AND 
    • Student is fever-free for 24 hours without fever reducing medication; AND
    • Student’s symptoms have improved or resolved
    • Student wears a well-fitting mask for 5 additional days (day 6 through day 10) after the end of the 5-day isolation period, in accordance with VDH guidance OR
    • For students who are unable/unwilling to mask for days 6-10,  CDC recommends two negative rapid antigen tests (includes home test) on or after day 6 performed 48 hours apart. The first test can be administered on or after day 6. If you do not have access to a rapid antigen test kit for this purpose, you may contact your school site. FCPS does not require a negative test to return.
  • If you have questions about COVID-19, contact your medical provider or refer to the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) or Virginia Department of Health websites for more information.

Outbreak Reporting

  • FCPS, in collaboration with the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD), will monitor COVID-19 cases in the school community and report suspected outbreaks as appropriate.

FCPS Notifications for Outbreaks

  • FCPS will notify families of outbreaks as recommended by the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD).
  • Based on public health guidance from the FCHD, families will be provided at-home COVID test kits.
  • NOTE: As the FCHD will review all COVID-19 outbreaks, exclusion may be recommended on an individual student basis if COVID respiratory symptoms are present even in the absence of a fever.

Students who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19

  • Do not need to stay home from school, childcare, or day camp and may continue to attend programming as long as symptoms do not develop.
  • May consider wearing a mask around others indoors until day 10.
  • Are recommended to follow VDH guidance as appropriate.
  • Should monitor for symptoms in the next 10 days, and if symptoms develop, follow the guidance  on the VDH webpage: If You Are Sick.
  • Are not required to submit documentation to their school to resume in-person activities.

COVID-19 Testing  

  • CDC No-Cost COVID-19 Testing Locator can be used to locate free of charge testing sites.
  • COVID-19 Testing is available at various sites throughout Fairfax County and the state.
  • At-Home Test Kits:
    • The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is contracting with Quidel™ to provide schools with the Quidel™ QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test. 
    • The Quidel™ QuickVue test is an antigen test that uses a nasal swab for sample collection and can return test results in about 10 minutes.
    • The instructions for the Quidel™ QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test are available in the following languages: English, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Urdu,and Vietnamese
    • Students sent home from the health room with a fever of 100.4 or greater and/or COVID-like respiratory symptoms are provided a Quidel™ QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test.  
    • Students who test positive for COVID-19 who are unwilling or unable to mask through day 10, and recommended to test on day 6 or later, are provided a Quidel™ QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test.
    • When an outbreak is identified at a school, all students in the affected classroom/group will be provided a Quidel™ QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test.  

FCPS Athletic Protocols

  • FCPS highly encourages all student athletes to be vaccinated for COVID-19.   
  • FCPS athletic teams (in-season and out-of-season) will follow current Division-wide mitigation measures and isolation requirements as outlined elsewhere in this document.
  • Students who test positive for COVID-19 will be temporarily paused from participating in sporting activities and valuable learning time in the classroom as they are required to follow the FCPS protocols for isolation.

Health and Physical Education (HPE)

  • Students must wash/sanitize hands immediately before and after class.
  • It is recommended that teachers engage students choosing to wear a mask in low intensity activity indoors in well-ventilated spaces and engage in higher intensity activity outside. 
  • Locker rooms will be available for students who choose to change clothes for physical education.  In accordance with Regulation 3210, it is recommended but not required that students change clothes for physical education. Students should wear clothing/footwear that is comfortable and safe for activity and appropriate for the weather.
  • Equipment should be sprayed or wiped down with approved cleaning products periodically during the day if possible and at least once per day.

Library Program

  • Hand sanitizer station is required at the entrance of the library.  Hand sanitizer and wipes or disinfectant should be made available to library staff for their use as needed. 
  • Book Checkout 
    • Students and staff are permitted to browse shelves and select books
    • Self-checkout stations qualify as high-touch surfaces and should be cleaned according to current guidance

Science (K-12)

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as safety goggles, gloves, aprons, face masks, face shields should not be shared.  If equipment is shared, it should be cleaned between each use by the student using a 10% bleach solution.  Ethanol wipes are not permitted for this use.  It is strongly recommended that individual goggles be issued to each student. If each student has been issued their own goggles they do not need to be cleaned between each use.
  • Students and parents must sign the FCPS safety agreement and complete the safety quiz.
  • Eating and drinking are prohibited in science classrooms.
  • For additional K- 12 Health and Safety Science Guidance teachers should refer to their mandatory compliance trainings.

Specific Instructional Program Considerations

  • Generally, all instructional programs will adhere to the guidelines communicated above. Specific guidelines are listed below. The Instructional Services Department staff will continue to develop guidelines that are relevant to various instructional programs.

World Languages

  • For staff who choose to wear a mask, a clear mask is recommended rather than cloth face covering to support instruction.

Assessment Procedures

  • Staff employ the most current school-based health and safety procedures when delivering classroom assessments and standardized assessments. 

Health and Safety Guidance (Print Version)