Health and Safety Guidance Document for 2020-21

FCPS Guidance on School Health Practices

Latest Updates

Health and Safety Guidance Document

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is providing the following guidance to staff regarding school health practices for students. The guidance is consistent with Governor Northam’s phased reopening plan for Virginia schools and guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Schools should follow all CDC, Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), and the local health department guidance for reopening schools during all phases.

CDC Indicators for Dynamic School Decision Making

The CDC issued new guidance with core and secondary indicators for the decision-making process regarding reopening for in-person learning.

Layered prevention strategies strategies were identified for implementation. These include, but are not limited to:

Wear a mask to cover your mouth and nose when around others

  • COVID-19 can be spread to others even if you do not feel sick.
  • A face mask is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Everyone should wear a face mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household. Masks, along with social distancing, should be practiced in combination with other everyday preventive actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Face masks  should not be placed on young children under age two (2), anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • Do NOT use a mask meant for a healthcare worker. Currently, surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders.
  • Continue to keep six (6) feet between yourself and others. A face mask  is not a substitute for social distancing

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.

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 surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.

Monitor Your Health Daily

Wash your hands often

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Instructions for Staff Prior to Reopening of Schools

Prior to the reopening of the school, school administrators must identify, complete, and /or share the following with their staff:

Physical Distancing at School

  • Maintaining physical distancing will be implemented to the most extent possible.
  • Maintain six (6) feet of distance in the following settings:
    • Between adults in the school building (teachers and staff), and between adults and students.
    • When masks can’t be worn, such as when eating
    • During activities when increased exhalation occurs, such as singing, shouting, band, or sports and exercise.
    • In hallways
    • On buses when possible
  • A distance of at least three (3) feet between students in classrooms could provide a feasible definition of physical distancing, as long as hand washing and wearing masks are maximized.
  • Modified Layouts:
    • In elementary schools, students should be at least three (3) feet apart.
    • In middle schools and high schools:
      • Areas of low, moderate, or substantial community transmission, students should be at least three (3) feet apart                                               
      • Areas of high community transmission, students should be at least six (6) feet apart, if cohorting is not possible.

Face Masks (Cloth or Disposable)

  • All students who are two years of age and older are required to wear face coverings/masks (cloth or disposable) while on school property (including inside FCPS facilities, during FCPS- provided transportation and school sponsored activities).
  • Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has established procedures for the use of face coverings/masks (cloth or disposable) for students, staff, and visitors designed to mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and other identified infectious diseases during a health crisis. These requirements are outlined in Regulation 2109 (R2109), Face Coverings to Mitigate the Spread of Infectious Disease.   
  • The provisions of this regulation are aligned with guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  and by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). FCPS has adopted the position that all students, staff and visitors wear face coverings/masks while on school property (to include the grounds, the buildings, school buses and other school- provided vehicles) during the school day or during any school-sponsored activity.
  • An appropriate disposable mask will be provided for any student not in possession of an acceptable face covering/mask while at school. 
  • Face Coverings/Masks recommendations are available in the following languages: EnglishAmharicArabicChineseFarsiKoreanSpanishUrdu and Vietnamese
  • Approved types of masks:
    • Disposable masks, cloth mask coverings, gaiters, clear masks and cloth masks with clear plastic panel
  • All face coverings/masks must meet the following requirements:
    • Face coverings/masks that fit properly (snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face)
    • Face covering/mask with two (2) or more layers of non-woven material
  • Consider the following for better protection:
    • Face covering/masks with nose wire
    • Wearing two masks (as long as one mask is double layers)
    • Cloth face coverings/masks with inner filter pockets.
    • A cloth mask can be combined with a fitter or brace
  • Specific guidance regarding what types of PPE are required during in- school instruction can be found at: PPE Strategies: Prevention of Infectious Diseases such as COVID-19
  • Face coverings/Masks that are not recommended:
    • Face coverings/masks that do not fit properly (large gaps, too loose or too tight).
    • Masks that are wet or dirty
    • Face coverings/masks made from materials that are hard to breathe through (such as plastic or leather).
    • Face coverings/masks made from loosely woven fabric or that are knitted, i.e., fabrics that let light pass through.
    • Face coverings/masks with one layer.
    • Face coverings/masks with exhalation valves or vents.
    • Wearing a scarf or using ski masks as a mask.
    • Single layer gaiters                                                                                  
  • Per CDC guidelines, a face shield is not a substitute for wearing a mask. The CDC states there is a lack of evidence of the effectiveness to control the spread of the virus when face shields are used alone. FCPS staff are required to wear an approved face covering/mask under the face shield.        
  • Any temporary exception to the requirement of wearing a face covering/mask during the school day will be under the direction and supervision of a school official(s) when it is safe to do so.
  • FCPS recognizes that it may be difficult for many students to wear face coverings/masks all day during in-school instruction. School staff may consider building in supervised breaks during the instructional day where students may go outdoors and maintain social distance in order to take a break from wearing face coverings/masks.
    • Schedule breaks, if possible (mask breaks are generally not required)
    • Students must sanitize hands immediately before and after mask breaks
      • Indoor mask breaks are prohibited at this time per Executive Order 72.
    • Short duration (5 minutes maximum) no more than two (2) breaks per day for group breaks
    • No singing, shouting or physical exertion during mask breaks.
  • Any student requesting an exemption to wearing a face covering/mask due to a medical condition, will provide a written statement from his or her physician confirming that not wearing a face covering/mask is medically necessary. School staff will maintain this documentation in the health section of the cumulative file and designate the exemption in the SIS on the Return to School tab.
  • Refer to the CDC for exceptions for the most recent information regarding exceptions.
  • Training for students in the appropriate use of face coverings is available at: https://www.fcps.edu/resources/student-safety-and-wellness/school-health-services
  • FCPS recognizes that it may be difficult for many students to wear face Refer to the CDC for more information on face coverings/masks:

Considerations for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) refers to protective clothing, gloves, face shields, goggles, face masks or other equipment designed to protect the wearer from injury or the spread of infection or illness. When used properly, PPE acts as a barrier between infectious materials such as viral and bacterial contaminants and your skin, mouth, nose or eyes (mucous membranes). When used properly and with other infection control practices such as handwashing, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and covering coughs and sneezes, it minimizes the spread of infection from one person to another.
  • Cloth face masks are not considered PPE and should not be used interchangeably either in terminology or practice.
  • To minimize the spread of communicable disease, such as COVID-19, PPE should be used correctly. FCPS students and staff are required to complete training on the use of PPE in MyPDE.
  • Face shields may not be worn as a substitute for a face covering/mask, but only as an additional layer of protection.  The CDC states there is a lack of evidence of the effectiveness to control the spread of the virus when face shields are used alone.
  • School staff will need to make considerations for the necessary PPE on a case-by-case basis, depending on the activity, physical proximity and level of potential exposure throughout the day.
    • Moderate Risk: Tasks include those that require close contact with (i.e., within six (6) feet of) people who are not known or suspected to have COVID-19. These precautions are recommended since some students with the disease may not be showing any symptoms at the time of interaction. Although there is risk with these tasks, not all PPE listed may be needed for all situations. These tasks include, but are not limited to first aid, oral medication administration, vision screening, hearing screening, consultation, blood glucose checks (diabetes care), and inhalers for students with asthma.
    • High Risk: Tasks that require close contact (i.e. within six (6) feet of) with students’ bodily fluids or aerosol generating procedures such as suctioning of airways, toileting, feeding, transferring or direct contact with bodily fluids or secretions.
  • Specific guidance regarding what types of PPE are required during in- school instruction can be found at: PPE Strategies: Prevention of Infectious Diseases such as COVID-19
  • The Office of Procurement Services (OPS), the Office of Facilities Management (OFM) and the Office of Safety and Security (OSS) are working together to provide the necessary supplies and infrastructure to schools. Supply allocations will be based on the number of employees, student enrollment and program need. OFM is installing physical distancing signage (on walls and floors) and counter shields in schools and administrative offices. OSS is working closely with the FCHD and CDC to monitor COVID-19 and provide health and safety information as we return to work and school.
  • Below is a list of all supplies and materials that FCPS sites will receive when returning to work. Additional supplies and materials will be available for purchase from the OPS warehouse. 
  • Supplies and Materials for Schools:
    1. Hand sanitizer – automatic dispensing stands for entrances and individual use bottles (500ML) will be provided to all schools and administrative centers. Additionally, 1-gallon pump bottles will be provided for every classroom.
    2. Face coverings/masks – cloth face masks or disposable masks will also be available for students, staff and essential building visitors who do not bring their own. disposable masks will be provided for any student who does not have an exemption that prohibits them from wearing a mask
    3. Gloves – to be used in custodial cleaning and by staff working in special capacities (For example, 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.
    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 have been reviewed and approved by School Health and are acceptable.

Parental Guardian Health Screening Commitment Form:

  • Parents/guardians who chose an in-school instructional option for their child will be required to complete a Parent/Guardian Health Screening Commitment form as students are phased back into in-person learning. This document indicates the parental/guardian’s agreement and commitment to completing a daily health screening prior to sending the student to school and also to keep ill students at home. The commitment form(s) is available in the following languages: English, Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, Urdu, and Vietnamese.
  • Parents/guardians who have indicated that their child will attend in-school instruction will receive the commitment form electronically, or via hard copy, in their preferred correspondence language.
  • The form will be sent home to families prior to their student resuming in-school instruction.
  • Parents/guardians may choose to provide their response electronically or parents/guardians may choose to return a hard copy form with their signature. When the form is returned in hard copy, staff will be required to manually update the receipt of this information in SIS on the Return to School tab and to file the original commitment form in the student’s health portion of the cumulative file.
  • Designated school staff will identify and run a daily report via SIS to identify and monitor those students whose parent/guardian have not submitted the commitment form.
  • School staff will contact the parents/guardians of all students who have not returned the Parent/Guardian Health Screening Commitment Form (either electronically or via hard copy) to communicate this requirement until all forms have been received.

Daily Health Screening Questionnaire:

  • The CDC recommends that parents, caregivers or guardians, should be strongly encouraged to monitor their children for symptoms of infectious illness every day through home-based symptom screening and students who are sick should not attend in-person instruction
  • A daily health screening questionnaire will be required for all students attending in-person   instruction and is available in the following languages: EnglishAmharicArabicChinese, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, Urdu, and Vietnamese.
  • As indicated in the Parent/Guardian Health Screening Commitment Form, parents/guardians will complete the daily health screening questionnaire each morning, prior to sending the student to school. In order to reduce the spread of communicable disease to student and staff, it is critical that parents/guardians accurately complete this screening daily and keep their student home from school when exhibiting any symptoms. The daily health screening questionnaire will be completed on an honor basis and will not be required to be submitted to the school. School staff will not be required to complete this screening for students who have not returned the Parent/Guardian Health Screening Commitment form.
  • Parents/guardians will be required to make this commitment for all school-aged children in their household.
  • Parents/guardians will receive frequent reminders from FCPS via multiple modes of communication, reminding them to complete their daily health screening questionnaire and to keep sick students at home. These communications will be developed in collaboration with the Office of Communications and Community Relations (OCCR), Office of Professional Learning and Family Engagement (OPLFE) and Language Services.
  • All staff and visitors must complete the daily health screening questionnaire prior to arriving on campus.
  • Any student, staff or visitor demonstrating symptoms of illness should stay home to help “Stop the Spread” of COVID-19. Visit FCPS Stop the Spread Blog

Temperature Checks:

FCPS will no longer be requiring daily temperature checks at bus stops and upon arrival at FCPS facilities based on the following reasons:

  • Universal in-person symptom screening (screening all K-12 students) will identify only that a person might be sick, not that the person necessarily has COVID-19.
  • Accuracy of thermometers is limited in extreme temperatures.
  • Temperature checks are included in the daily health screening questionnaire, which students, staff, and visitors are required to complete before entering the building.

Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Schools After COVID-19:

Measures will be implemented to ensure that common areas and equipment, and personal workspaces, are regularly cleaned and sanitized. OFM has worked closely with FCPS custodians to adjust their cleaning processes to better address current considerations. FCPS custodians are using effective disinfectant and sanitizing products to clean our facilities every day. Along with these measures, they are taking the following steps to maximize our sanitizing efforts:

  • Refreshed Cleaning Methods/Processes- FCPS cleaning personnel will be sanitizing and disinfecting restrooms more frequently. Their cleaning protocol will include thoroughly disinfecting and sanitizing all surfaces, doors, toilets, handles, etc. and ensuring that all supplies are always fully stocked.
  • Increased Cleaning to High-Touch Surfaces/Points- FCPS cleaning crews will be sanitizing touch surfaces/points thoroughly (i.e., door handles, glass, elevators buttons, doors, tables, chairs, light switches). Daytime custodians have been instructed to continuously disinfect and sanitize all touch points throughout the day. In addition, we will be increasing daytime custodian coverage where appropriate, depending on building occupancy.
  • 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.
  • Students and staff members are allowed to bring disinfecting wipes for personal use, so long as they are an EPA-approved disinfectant.  Virex II 256 will be used for all custodial cleaning and disinfecting and pre-mixed spray bottles of Virex II 256 will be available to teachers or staff members who choose to disinfect their work areas and do not bring their own disinfectant.  Teachers and staff members who do choose to clean with Virex must first complete a short safety video.  Facilities has also developed a Virex application video to help schools and offices when using the cleaning chemical.

Cohort students as much as possible:

What is cohorting? Cohorting (sometimes called podding) is a new term for a strategy that schools may use to limit contact between students and staff as part of their efforts to limit transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). These strategies work by keeping groups of students – and sometimes staff – together over the course of a pre-determined period of time. Ideally, the students and staff within a cohort will only

have physical proximity with others in the same cohort. This practice may help prevent

the spread of COVID- 19 by limiting cross-over of students and teachers to the extent possible, thus:

  • Decreasing opportunities for exposure or transmission of SARS-CoV-2
  • Reducing contact with shared surfaces
  • Facilitating more efficient contact tracing in the event of a positive case
  • Allowing for targeted testing, quarantine, and/or isolation of a single cohort instead of school-wide measures in the event of a positive case or cluster of cases

Cohorting strategies are common practice in many schools across the United States. Many elementary school students have the same teacher and classmates during the entire school year. Implementation of this strategy varies, depending on setting and resources (e.g.specialists).

  • Schools may keep cohorts together in one classroom, and have teachers rotate between rooms.
  • Schools may alternate cohorts by days or weeks, with cohorts assigned to specific days or weeks.
  • Schools may adopt a hybrid approach, with some cohorts assigned to in-person learning and others assigned to online learning.
  • Staff may consider using additional PPE for extra protection when rotating to multiple classrooms and working with multiple cohorts.
  • Staff may consider using a labeled sealed container (e.g. bag or tote) for each classroom in order to preserve supply.

Care Room Establishment, Requirements, and Staffing:

  • The predetermined care room is a designated location and must be separate from the health room. It will be necessary for schools to identify a second care room due to the requirement for physical distancing and room capacity.
  • A designated staff member must be assigned to supervise students while in the predetermined care room should the need arise. The staff member will be provided with a gown or lab coat, gloves, and a face shield as appropriate. The staff member assigned should complete the trainings on COVID-19 and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • The Personal Protective Equipment - FCPS Staff Training video is now available in MyPDE. Users can access the video via the direct link below or by searching for any of the key words in the title (examples: “personal”, “protective”, “PPE”).
  • Direct Link to Video: Personal Protective Equipment - FCPS Staff Training
  • Staff will need to be available at various times throughout the day to supervise any student exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 while awaiting pick up by the parent or guardian.

School Health Room

Support to students in the health room will continue to be provided by the School Health Aide. FCPS personnel will staff the care room.

Students with Individualized Health or Action Plans who require specialized care, medication administration and emergency care will be seen in the health room. Parents will be required to bring in medications needed to support their student during the school day prior to or on the first day of school.

Becoming Ill While at School

Students demonstrating any of the following symptoms will be sent home from school:   Fever (100.4 or greater) - Chills – Cough – Shortness of breath – Loss of taste/smell – Sore throat – Fatigue – Muscle aches – Runny Nose/Congestion – Stomachache – Diarrhea – Nausea/Vomiting – Headaches.  The parent/guardian will be notified and a SICK STUDENT NOTIFICATION and RETURN to SCHOOL FORM  will be sent home. 

The Sick Student Notification and Return to School Form is available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, Urdu and Vietnamese.  The top portion of the form will be completed by the School Public Health Nurse or School Health Aide.  Parents are expected to pick up their child within one hour of notification. Parents are to check into the front office.

Returning to School After Illness

In order to return to school, the parent/guardian must provide to the school, a completed SICK STUDENT NOTIFICATION and RETURN to SCHOOL FORM.  The Sick Student Notification and Return to School Form is available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, Urdu and Vietnamese. The “Return to School” portion of the form must be completed by a healthcare provider, noting the student’s assessment and the date the student may return to school.  

Students who are called in absent with COVID Like Illness:

FCPS will no longer require the SICK STUDENT NOTIFICATION and RETURN to SCHOOL FORM for students who are called in absent with COVID-like symptoms/illness.

Students who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, may not return until:

  • It has been at least ten (10) days since my child first had symptoms AND
  • My child has had no fever off anti-fever medicines (ex: Tylenol, Ibuprofen) for 24 hours AND
  • My child’s symptoms are getting better

Students who have been exposed to COVID-19:

If someone in the household has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or the student is exposed, the student must remain home for 14 days after their last exposure to the household member.

Response to a COVID Positive Case at School

  • The school will send general notification to the entire school community when a student, staff member, or visitor tests positive for COVID-19. This will let families and staff know that the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) will follow-up with case investigation and contact tracing. 
  • Based on guidance from the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD), FCPS may temporarily pause in-person instruction, athletics or school activities for anyone identified as a potential exposure during the case investigation and contact tracing. For more information on our COVID response process, view the video.
  • The FCHD will determine any close contacts and will contact those individuals directly to provide the appropriate guidance, which may include quarantine. A close contact is defined as someone who has spent more than 15 minutes during a 24-hour period within 6 feet of someone who has tested positive. More information on contact investigations is available from the Fairfax County Health Department and the Virginia Department of Health
  • When the FCHD has completed all contact-tracing, FCPS will send out a final notification letting the school community know that the process has been completed.
  • FCPS has a dashboard that documents all positive cases at schools.  

A family may decide to return a student to virtual learning at any point if they deem it in the best interest of the child. Students have the ability to return to virtual learning at any time, for any length of time. 

Food and Nutrition Services (FNS):

Under waivers granted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) is offering no-cost breakfast and lunch to all FCPS students  has been extended through the end of the school year, ensuring access to nutritious food during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Office of Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) is working with schools to provide 'Grab & Go' breakfast and lunch meals to students attending in-person learning, while continuing food distribution. FNS Operations Specialists and Managers assigned to individual schools are coordinating meal service directly with administrators to best meet the needs of students.  https://www.fcps.edu/return-school/food

Indoor Dining:

  • It is recommended that students remain in the classroom whenever possible to eat lunch.  If this is not possible, and it is necessary for students to eat in the cafeteria, the following is recommended:
  • If there are several classes to be accommodated, groups should be placed in opposite corners of the cafeteria.
  • Students at the table, in their own cohort, will be at least six (6) feet apart from one another.  Ten (10) feet apart would be optimal, when possible.
  • If it is necessary to mix cohorts in the cafeteria, they must be at least ten (10) feet from one another.
  • Students must be facing the same direction.
  • Plexiglass and other barriers should not be used as an alternative to facing the same direction or social distancing.
  • Rectangle or square tables or individual desks are the recommended table type for student seating in the cafeteria as it enables students to face the same direction while sitting at least 6ft. apart to minimize the exchange of respiratory droplets while students are not wearing masks. 
  • If the only available seating option is a round table, schools shall ensure the following:
    • Plexiglass dividers separate students
    • Students are seated at least 6ft. apart, to the greatest extent possible
  • Consider assigned seats (same person/ same seat/each day).  This will help with contract tracing, if needed (in the case of children moving about and possibly coming closer than 6-feet of each other). 
  • Consider adding queue lines along the path (preferably a side wall) to maximize dining space and to have better assurance of maintaining a six (6) foot distance between students seated and those in the queue lines.  This would also be recommended as a consideration for exit lines. 

Outdoor Dining:

  • Students must wash or sanitize their hands immediately before and after lunch Physical distance of at least six (6) feet between persons
  • Face the same direction
  • Eat within 15 minutes, if possible, and put their face mask back on after eating
  • FCPS will continue to monitor data and make adjustments as necessary.

Schedule Considerations/Recommendations:

  • Schools are to develop schedules based on phase-in needs.  The schedules for playground areas will change as more groups return to school.
  • Schedules are to limit the numbers of staff and students on the playground areas and maintain physical distancing guidelines.    
  • While schools may not be able to provide daily access to playground areas, they should work to provide equitable access for grade levels.
  • Cohorts/Classes should be scheduled together.
  • Divide playground areas into “play zones”.  Assign classes/cohorts to zones on a weekly/daily basis (example: field, blacktop etc.).  Identify additional playground areas where students can play safely under teacher supervision. 
  • Consider where to locate hand sanitizer for ease of access in playground areas.
  • As you plan, please see *Shape America document below.

CDC Requirements for Playground Areas:

  • Face Masks
    • Staff are required to wear face masks at all times.
    • Students must wear masks at all times because occasional close contact is expected during play. 
  • Handwashing and Hand Sanitizing
    • Students are to wash hands before going to playground areas and immediately following with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is to be made easily accessible in playground areas for students and staff. 
  • Physical Distancing
    • Physical distancing (10 feet of separation) should be maintained in all areas of the playground due to increased respiration during activity.
    • Limit the numbers of students and staff on the playground at one time to avoid overcrowding and in order to maintain social distancing.
    • Schools should have designated entrance and exit doors for the playground.  (Handicapped access doors are helpful for entering the building to eliminate the need to touch doors and handles.)

Playground Apparatus (swings, jungle gym, etc.)

Playground apparatus (large structural equipment, swings, jungle gym, etc.) is approved for use.  The following procedures should be followed when students use this equipment:

  • Students are to be properly supervised while using apparatus/equipment to ensure safety and adherence to layered prevention strategies. 
  • Students must sanitize their hands immediately before and after using the apparatus/equipment.
  • Students should wear masks while using apparatus/equipment.
  • Students should physically distance to the greatest extent possible.  It is recommended that a rotation schedule be used to limit the number of students using apparatus and to support physical distancing. 

FCPS will continue to monitor data and make adjustments as necessary.

Playground Equipment (balls, hula hoops, jump ropes):

  • Each cohorts/class should have their own set of recess equipment.  It is helpful for equipment to be easily identifiable by class.
  • Prior to using any piece of equipment, schools should determine if it can be effectively disinfected.  (Nonporous items such as those made of plastic or rubber are recommended.)   
  • Schools are to use items, which can be used individually (hula hoops, jump ropes, basketballs, etc.) or in pairs with “foot use” only (soccer balls, playground balls). Equipment must be sanitized between and after use.
  • Schools (cohorts/classes) should have designated clean (green) & dirty (red) containers for playground equipment. Staff should use Virex II 256 to clean dirty equipment and use in accordance with manufacturer recommendations and guidance. 

Online Resources for Outside Play (Open in Chrome):

Athletic Protocols:

This document will be updated with additional information regarding in-season and out-of-season athletic activities as it becomes available and will be consistent with

the Virginia High School League (VHSL). The following information references

FCPS’ current athletic protocols.

  • Out-of-season athletic workouts are focused on expanding opportunities for students to be physically active in a familiar environment supervised by trusted adults. The overall health and safety of our students and coaches is paramount.
  • Out-of-season workouts may be held in accordance with the established VHSL athletic calendar under the following parameters:
  • All workouts MUST be focused on individualized work in a small group setting
      • The maximum number of participants per athletic program is 50 students
      • Students should be organized into smaller groups (maximum of 10, including the coach) that are consistent from workout to workout
  • Workouts CONTINUE to focus on individual skill development, strength, agility and conditioning activities
  • All students participating in out-of-season workouts MUST have a complete, valid VHSL physical on file with the school
  • A limited array of athletic equipment MAY be utilized. Any equipment used MUST be disinfected according to established procedures before, during and after the workout.
  • All workouts MUST be conducted outdoors- no use of indoor facilities (locker room, meeting/team room, weight room, gyms, etc.) is permitted
  • Each coach supervising an out-of-season workout MUST complete the FCPS training program offered by their local school
  • Coaches MUST submit a workout plan to the supervising administrator for review prior to conducting a workout. This plan must address, at minimum:
      • Staggered drop-off/pick-up times so that no more than 10 students are arriving/departing at any given time
      • Location(s) to be utilized and how physical distancing (minimum of six (6) feet from another person) will be maintained throughout the activity
      • Dedicated periods for disinfecting equipment used during the workout
  • Any individual with symptoms associated with COVID-19 should not participate in a workout. Please stay home.
  • Vulnerable individuals (students and coaches) may participate in these workouts but should limit participation in situations in which appropriate physical distancing may not be practical
  • Workout participants will complete a screening process upon arrival, to include a symptom questionnaire, before participating in a workout
      • Students displaying any symptoms will be directed to return home
      • At the conclusion of the workout, students will be directed to return home immediately to shower and change clothes
  • In-season athletic activities, including tryouts and regular season and post-season practices and competitions may occur during the appropriate in-season period as defined in the current VHSL athletic calendar.  While certain sports have unique considerations, all in-season athletic activities will be held in accordance with the following parameters:
  • Each coach supervising an in-season practice or competition MUST complete the FCPS training program offered by their local school.
  • Any individual with symptoms associated with COVID-19 should not participate in a workout. Please stay home.
  • All participants (students and coaches) will complete a screening process upon arrival, to include a symptom questionnaire, before participating in a workout.
      • Students displaying any symptoms will be directed to return home
      • At the conclusion of the workout, students will be directed to return home immediately to shower and change clothes
    • Any equipment used MUST be disinfected according to established procedures before, during and after the practice or competition.
    • Physical distancing is to be maintained when not actively participating in sport-related activities.
    • All participants (students and coaches) are required to wear a mask at all times, including while participating in practice drills and competitions.
      • Wrestling, gymnastics, swim and dive and competitive cheer are exempt.
      • Students and coaches may temporarily remove their mask as needed if they distance themselves from other participants.
    • All participants must bring at least 32 ounces of water in a personal water bottle to all practices and competitions.
    • Spectators will be admitted to athletic competitions in limited quantities.

Information on sport-specific mitigation protocols is available from the school’s Director of Student Activities (DSA).

School Supplies and Communal Classroom Items:

  • Students will be required to label and maintain their own personal set of required classroom supplies, keep them in their backpack and take them to and from school each day.
  • Electronic devices, toys, games or learning aids are not to be shared unless they can be cleaned or disinfected.
  • Using Paper Books in the Classroom:
    • Classroom libraries may be used if, after reading the book, a student does not return the book to the shelf but puts it in a designated place to be quarantined for 24 hours before it is returned to the shelf.
    • Other classroom books, such as guided reading texts, may be used if each student has an individual copy and the book can be quarantined for 24 hours before being used by another student. 
  • Discontinue sharing items between persons, unless items are cleaned and disinfected between each person (with an EPA-approved disinfectant). Avoid using shared items that are difficult to clean.
  • Students should bring their own water bottle for use during the day. School staff should develop a plan for refilling water bottles, as necessary. Water fountains should not be used as usual. Water fountains can be used to refill water bottles if practical, but students and staff should not drink directly from any water fountains or faucets, which could contribute to illness transmission; individual water bottles should be used instead.  Water fountains are not required to be covered.  School staff should develop a plan to flush water fountains that are not in use.  FCPS has developed signage for water bottle filling stations as part of the “Stop The Spread” campaign.    
  • Whenever possible, and when developmentally appropriate, supplies/school materials should be placed directly into backpacks by students.
  • Keep each student’s belongings separated from others’ and in individually labeled containers, cubbies, or areas.
  • Some learning materials may need to remain at school.  Those materials will be assigned to students and sharing will not be permitted. Each student’s set of materials should be individually bagged and labeled with student names and stored separately to avoid cross contamination.  If contamination occurs, materials should be cleaned. Any materials sensitive to cleaning, such as circuit boards and robotics should be quarantined for seven days.
  • Students should plan to bring what they need in backpacks and take backpacks home at the end of the day. 
    • Middle and High Schools - No use of lockers 

Classroom Work and Assignments:

  • The guidance from the CDC recommends limiting the use of paper if possible. When this is unavoidable, washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or using 60% alcohol hand sanitizer both before and after touching the paper is acceptable. 
  •  

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.

Health and Safety Science (K-12)

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as Safety Goggles, glasses, gloves, aprons, face masks, face shields should not be shared and should be cleaned between each use by the student using a 10% bleach solution.  
  • Teachers are not required to clean materials and are recommended to avoid or minimize the use of shared materials within class periods. 
  • Should teachers or other school-based staff wish to clean items in their classrooms (e.g. desks, lab tables, etc.), approved cleaning supplies will be provided and staff will be required to complete the associated training.
  • Glassware such as beakers, flasks, graduated cylinders, and test tubes can be cleaned with soap and water as long as the soap solution is in contact with the glassware for at least 20 seconds. Rinse the glassware with water after the 20 seconds and allow to evaporate.
  • Microscopes, Balances and other scientific equipment should be cleaned between use with ethanol wipes found on List N: Disinfectants for Coronovirus (COVID-19). Wipe the surface until visibly wet, then allow to evaporate.
  • Students and parents must sign the FCPS safety agreement and complete the safety quiz. Digital versions are acceptable. 
  • Classrooms with Classroom Monitors are not permitted to perform hands-on investigations that require science specific PPE or science equipment/materials.
  • Classroom Monitors cannot complete monthly safety checks in secondary schools. Chemical Safety Administrators should designate an individual to complete the monthly safety inspection in those classrooms.
  • Students may work in pairs but must maintain current 6-foot physical distancing guidelines within the classroom and be facing the same direction.
  • Remove unnecessary items that could need sterilizing, such as excess glassware and reagent bottles.
  • Consider using disposable materials and small-scale practices (e.g., micro-scale chemistry) to reduce cleaning, disinfecting and sanitation needs. Follow safe and sanitary disposal methods for chemicals, supplies, materials, and personal items.

Extra effort should be made to minimize the consumption of food and drink in science classrooms.

Early Headstart, Preschool, Kindergarten

  • Face shields or clear masks so children can see the teachers/ instructional assistants (IA) face for relationship development, language development and social emotional development.
  • Individual materials (e.g, crayons, markers, scissors etc.) including a calming box
  • Gowns must be worn and changed after toileting, feeding or consoling a child.

Instrumental Music (4-12)

Information from the NFHS/NAfME/VDH Guidelines: 

  • Students should wash their hands/use hand sanitizer upon entering and exiting the room.
  • Students in elementary schools can utilize the cafeteria, band/strings room, or other dedicated space to store student instruments and to prepare rooms for physical distancing instruction.
  • Students in secondary schools can utilize their designated instructional rooms and instrument lockers.  Lockers should not be shared and a routine of entering and exiting should be established.
  • Storage areas should be managed to limit the number of students at a time in the room
  • Musical instruments will not be shared, with the exception of percussion equipment, pianos, keyboards, string basses that can be safely cleaned.
  • Percussion equipment should be wiped down after use.
  • Physical distancing should occur as suggested by the CDC. Currently that distance is a 6x6 foot space around each student with the student sitting in the center for all music classes.
  • Trombones should have an additional three feet of distancing, making their space 9x6 feet. The player should be seated three feet in front of the back line, leaving an additional six feet in front of them due to the extended nature of the instrument
  • Students must stand/sit all facing the same direction, back to front to minimize potential exposure.
  • Spit valves should not be emptied on the floor but into an absorbent disposable material that can be discarded.
  • Bell covers should be attached to woodwind and brass instruments. Fine Arts will purchase these for schools. 
  • Students must wear masks unless they have a medical exemption.  
  • Masks can be removed for the playing of woodwind and brass instruments. Students can also utilize specialized instrument face masks with a slit for the mouthpiece.

Choral Music (7-12)

  • Students should wash their hands/use hand sanitizer upon entering and exiting the room.
  • Students will stand/sit all facing the same direction, back to front to minimize the potential exposure.
  • Students will maintain current 6-foot physical distancing guidelines within the classroom.
  • A Choral Mask should be worn by the students and teachers.  The Fine Arts Office will provide for the schools.
  • Consider limiting other shared items, such as sheet music or classroom supplies.

General Music (K-6)

  • Students will wash their hands/use hand sanitizer upon entering and exiting the room.
  • Students must wear masks unless they have a medical exemption. 
  • Students should maintain current 6-foot physical distancing guidelines within the classroom.
  • Students will stand/sit all facing the same direction, back to front to minimize potential exposure. (No circles or semi-circles)
  • No activities that require students to touch and/or violate physical distancing guidelines are permitted. (i.e.: play parties, group dances, interactive body percussion, etc.). These activities could continue to be a part of instruction if movements can be adjusted to avoid violating physical distancing guidelines.
  • Large group singing/chanting should be avoided.  (Humming, whispering or inner voice can be used instead.)
  • Classroom size, ventilation, and the cumulative impact of aerosols are factors to consider when determining the duration of any individual or small group singing activities.
  • Students should not share instruments with others. 
  • Teachers must sanitize any individually used instruments after each use.
  • The use of recorders is not recommended as PPE is not available for that instrument.

Library Program

  • Hand sanitizer and wipes or disinfectant made available at checkout station and used immediately after checking out books
  • Self-checkout only for grades 3 – 12 and adults
    • Librarians should print library cards for students with their barcodes to avoid multiple students using the computer keyboard or number pad. Students may keep their library card and bring it with them to the library.
  • Checkout at the circulation desk for PreK-2
    • Adults shall use masks and sanitize or wash hands between classes.
  • Books that are returned require 24 hours of isolation out of sight or without access by students and staff. Books do not need to be disinfected.
  • The circulation desk requires plexiglass installation where face-to-face checkout takes place.
  • Additional guidance to support in person library use and browsing can be found in  Library Facility Safety Recommendations

Health and Physical Education (HPE)

  • Additional guidance to support in-person health and physical education can be found in Guidelines for In-person Health & Physical Education
  • Students should wash/sanitize hands when entering and exiting gym/activity space.
  • At least 6’-8’ of distance should be maintained during low intensity physical activity.  As intensity increases distance must also increase.
  • Distance of 10’ or greater is recommended for high intensity activity.
  • Face coverings must be worn during physical education classes held indoors.  (Teachers should consider low intensity activity indoors and only engage in high intensity activity outside)
  • Students may remove face coverings during physical education classes held outdoors when 10’ of physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Locker rooms will remain closed.  Students should be encouraged to wear clothing/footwear that is comfortable and safe for activity and appropriate for the weather.
  • No shared equipment during class unless equipment can be properly cleaned and sanitized between students.
  • Only non-porous equipment that can be easily sanitized may be used.  If equitable access to equipment is not available, eliminate use of equipment during class.
  • Teachers should not use whistles.

Dance (K-12)

  • If possible and weather permitting, consider outside spaces for dance instruction, activities, and events.
  • Wash and sanitize hands when entering and exiting dance spaces. 
  • Create a procedure for locker or changing rooms to accommodate physical distancing guidelines.
  • Student’s belongings should be kept in a separate, safe, and clean space or designated area.
  • Maintain physical distance guidelines for instructional activities. Teachers may consider taping the floor into 6 x 6 feet (or 10 x 10 depending on activities) personal squares with a clear ‘path’ from the doorway to each square.
  • Storage areas should be managed to limit the number of students at a time in the room.
  • Students, teachers, and staff must wear masks during all activities unless they have a medical exemption. 
  • As face coverings may become sweaty during theatre activities, advise students to have a second mask to wear following class. Students should place the used mask in a plastic zip lock bag or a closed paper bag.
  • Only wear dance shoes in the classroom. No street shoes or outside shoes should be permitted on the dance floor.
  • Avoid partnering activities that involve direct physical contact.
  • Across the floor movement may occur, but dancers should remain in accordance with physical distance guidelines.
  • Mark spots at dance barres to adhere to physical distancing guidelines in all directions. 
  • Sanitize dance barres before and after each use with approved disinfectants. 
  • Shared props and materials should be cleaned after each use.
  • Sound equipment must be cleaned after each use and on a regular basis.
  • It is not recommended for the dance classroom to be utilized for other purposes to ensure protection and cleanliness of flooring. 

Theatre Arts (K-12)

  • If possible and weather permitting, consider outside spaces for theatre instruction, activities, and events.
  • Wash and sanitize hands when entering and exiting theatre spaces. 
  • Maintain physical distancing for instructional activities. Teachers may use spike tape on the floor to maintain physical distance guidelines during theatre activities and performances.
  • Students, teachers, and staff must wear masks during all activities unless they have a medical exemption.  
  • As face coverings may become sweaty during theatre activities, advise students to have a second mask to wear following class. Students should place the used mask in a plastic zip lock bag or a closed paper bag.
  • Provide individual scripts, librettos, and dramatic texts for students or digital copies (copyright permitting).
  • Storage areas should be managed to limit the number of students at a time in the room. 
  • Any shared props, materials, and equipment should be cleaned after each use.
  • All technical tools, materials, and equipment should be cleaned after each use and on a regular basis.
  • Students must use individual makeup kits and supplies.  Temporary makeup tools should be discarded after single use.
  • Costumes should be used by individual students, not shared, and washed and cleaned regularly.
  • Props and wigs should be used by individual students, not shared, and washed or cleaned regularly. 
  • If a microphone is used during a theatre event or performance, it must be properly wiped down after each use and stored in a clear location.  Consult your building supervisor to obtain proper cleaning materials approved by Facilities.
  • Instead of singing, consider other recommended activities with similar outcomes such as humming or speaking in rhythm

World Language

  • Recommend teacher use face shield or clear mask rather than cloth face covering to support instruction

Assessment Procedures

  • Where it is allowable and practical, assessments are being shifted to an online at-home format to reduce dependency on in-person safety protocols.  However, certain standardized tests continue to require in-person assessment at an FCPS site.  Specific guidance on testing expectations and delivery options for state and division-mandated assessments is communicated to school staff ahead of each assessment window.  Caregivers may access summary of general health and safety protocols for assessments.

Travel Restrictions

Currently, the CDC and VDH do not mandate quarantine after travel domestically or out of the country. FCPS is following this guidance.

  • VDH urges all Virginians to avoid non-essential travel, especially if you are at higher risk of serious COVID-19 or if you will be visiting someone at higher risk of serious COVID-19. This recommendation applies to everyone, even if you have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have fully recovered from COVID-19. OCCR will support public messaging for families in the coming weeks.
  • The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommends (but does not require) that all people get tested before and after travel and stay home or reduce non-essential activities for at least 7 days after travel.
  • Students and staff are not required to quarantine or provide COVID 19 test results.
  • Families may opt to keep their students at home for 14 days after they return from travel, however, it is not required.
  • The daily monitoring of symptoms is required. 
  • For further information, please refer to the requirements for domestic and international travel:

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