Navigating the January 2022 COVID Surge

Providing safe in-person learning for students

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Read Dr. Brabrand's January 6 Letter to Families

Spanish - Read Dr. Brabrand's January 6 Letter to Families

FCPS remains committed to providing safe in-person learning for students while navigating the national omicron surge we are experiencing as we return to school after winter break. 

This is our plan for keeping schools safe and providing continuity of instruction as we navigate this surge.

Safe Learning Environments

Our layered prevention strategies have been effective at keeping in-school transmission rates low and are supported by the U.S. Department of Education and Northern Virginia Health Departments. We continually review our safety measures and local, state, and national guidance to ensure we are doing all we can to keep our schools safe places to learn. 

We encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated or boosted. Vaccination helps reduce the severity of illness and remains the best tool for ending the pandemic. Ages 5 and older are now eligible for vaccination. The FDA recently expanded booster eligibility to 12-15 year-olds and shortened the time needed before receiving a booster shot from at least six months after completion of the initial series to at least five months, for everyone 12 and older. If you need a vaccination or booster, the Fairfax County Health Department website is a great source of information about clinics and other vaccination opportunities. 

Continuity of Learning

Continuity of safe in-person learning is the core value in our decision-making process. SB1303 requires us to maintain in-person learning unless done so in consultation with the local health department. 

In addition, local, state, and national health authorities are recommending in-person instruction without a wholesale return to virtual instruction in 2022. US Secretary of Education Cardona has said that in-person instruction is plan A, B, and C for 2022.

We anticipate increased strains to staffing in the coming weeks with staff out for COVID-related illnesses as well as impacts to the sub pool. We have developed a response plan for the next 2-3 weeks, at which point we will reassess.

Priority: Providing Class Coverage

When a classroom teacher is out, we will consider the following in this order:

  • Dedicated class coverage by:
    • a substitute teacher from the sub pool
    • another teacher or staff member
    • Central Office volunteer subs who have instructional experience. 
  • Pairing two classes together with one teacher.
  • Grouping multiple classes to provide supervision during asynchronous instruction.

Our teachers will be reminded to upload classroom materials to Schoology, when students need to access lessons asynchronously. While we hope to continue to offer StreamIn/CheckIn for students who are home, this may not always be possible.

Transportation

Staffing shortages are impacting our operational staff as well. Expect that there will be delays in bus routes with more double-backs that may mean students will arrive after the bell. Schools will adjust instruction to ensure that no child is missing important classroom time. Access the Bus Delay App to receive current bus delay information. When possible, please consider driving your child to school, or walking or biking if you are nearby.

Food Services

Breakfast and lunch service has not been impacted at this time, but it is possible that with greater staff absences, we may need to change to providing bag lunches, instead of the regular menu. 
 

School Operating Status Based on Class Coverage

Operating Status

Individual School Classroom Coverage

Plan A- Normal Operations 

0% of classrooms without coverage and no doubling up of classes. 

Plan B- In-Person Asynchronous Learning for Targeted Classrooms without Dedicated Coverage

Students in impacted classes access asynchronous assignments from school. 

Students are grouped together for supervision as needed. 

1%-10% of classrooms without coverage.

Plan C- In-Person School-Wide Asynchronous Learning 

Full school shifts to asynchronous learning for a specified period of time. 

Teachers who are not out on sick leave report to buildings. 

Students are given the choice to access asynchronous learning at home or school. 

Students are grouped together for supervision during asynchronous days. 

Special education and ESOL classrooms are prioritized for continuity of synchronous learning. 

11-25% of classrooms without dedicated coverage

 

How You Can Help

Here are some ways that you can partner with us to keep our schools safe and open for learning.

Health and Safety

  • Keep your children home when sick.
  • Consider vaccination, which is the best protection against serious illness caused by COVID-19. 
  • Sign your child up for optional screening testing and make use of our diagnostic testing if your child has symptoms. 
  • Remind your child about our layered prevention strategies including proper mask wearing, hand washing and using hand sanitizer. 
  • Be sure your child brings home their laptop and charger every night.

 

Supporting Our Classrooms

Apply to be a substitute teacher. Watch for emails from your school leadership for other volunteer opportunities.