Returning strong and staying strong all year
We all have a part to play in how we return strong and stay strong all year. Our layered prevention strategies help keep our schools safe places to learn and work. Read more about how these strategies work together.
Updated: January 2022
FCPS will continue to follow recommendations from local and national experts and require all students and staff to wear masks, except at times and on occasions already designated in previous communications.
SB1303 says: school divisions need to "provide such in-person instruction in a manner in which it adheres, to the maximum extent practicable, to any currently applicable mitigation strategies for early childhood care and education programs and elementary and secondary schools to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 that have been provided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
Our layered prevention strategies have proven highly effective in keeping transmission rates low in our schools and we will continue to use data and science to guide our decision-making. Review current mask guidelines on our website.
In addition, the federal requirement from February 2, 2021, is still in place on all forms of public transportation. Anyone riding a school bus is therefore required to wear a mask when embarking, disembarking and for the duration of the journey to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal indoor masking for everyone regardless of vaccine status.
The Virginia Department of Health advises that elementary schools should implement a requirement that students, teachers, and staff wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a continued focus on layered prevention strategies, including universal mask wearing for all staff and students over the age of two.
The Fairfax County Health Department, in alignment with other regional health departments, recommends universal masking when there is no monitoring system in place for vaccine status and/or monitoring or enforcing mask policies that are not universal.
Buses and Transportation
The CDC federal order requiring masks be worn on public transportation remains in effect and applies to buses operated by Virginia public schools.
Social Distancing in Schools
By now, we all know that social distancing is a key safety measure in preventing the spread of COVID-19. But, adequate social distancing may not always be possible in schools. Wearing a mask means we can safely be a little closer when necessary.
When Do You Wear Your Mask?
Wearing a Mask Correctly
The Health and Safety Guidance Document for 2021-22 is continually updated and provides detailed information on school policies and protocols related to COVID-19 such as adherence to layered mitigation strategies. These guidance documents will continue to be updated to align with public health guidance.
The most important thing we can all do to keep our schools safe and open all year is to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as we are eligible. Vaccines are safe, effective, available, and free. Find out more.
All FCPS employees are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to routine negative COVID-19 tests, a move that reinforces existing layered prevention strategies and the division’s commitment to safety.
Beginning with the winter sports season, FCPS will require proof of full COVID-19 vaccination for any student participating in Virginia High School League (VHSL) winter and spring sports for the remainder of the 2021-22 school year. Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination will also be required for participation in any other activity that requires a physical. This includes dance team and step team, as well as out-of-season practices and workouts.
Daily Vaccination Rates
The Fairfax County Health Department updates vaccination rates daily on the COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard.
How Can You Get Vaccinated?
You can schedule an appointment for COVID-19 vaccination or find out about pop-up clinics near you through the Fairfax County Health Department’s website.
COVID-19 vaccines are also available at doctor’s offices, health departments, and retail pharmacies. Vaccines.gov is a helpful resource to find a location near you.
A screening testing program provides division-wide COVID-19 testing of students and staff
Screen for Illness Every Day, Stay Home When Sick
One of the most important prevention strategies guidelines is screening students daily for any signs of illness prior to leaving home for school. Any student who is ill or presents with COVID-like symptoms is to remain at home.
Student and Staff COVID-19 Testing
We continue to partner with the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) to provide diagnostic testing for symptomatic, in-person students or staff who are unable to access testing independently.
Plans in Place If Temporary COVID-19 Closure Needed
Virginia public schools are required under SB 1303 to provide five days a week of in-person instruction.
FCPS is committed to continuity of learning during the 2021-22 school year and the school division is using layered prevention strategies to do everything possible to ensure our schools remain safe, healthy and open.
FCPS has plans in place to ensure continuity of learning in the event health authorities require a temporary closure to protect the health of students, staff, and the community.