Special Education Newsletter

Updated information, tips and ideas to support families.

June 21, 2021

Dear Parents,

The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family.

Fostering Resilience in Your Child

Resiliency is the capacity to overcome adversity by responding in healthy and productive ways to successfully meet life’s challenges. When we foster resilience, children are able to bounce back from stress, trauma, and even daily challenges. Teaching these skills helps children to be braver, more curious, and better able to problem solve and cope. Learn more about building resilience in your child

Parent Resource Center - Summer Updates

  • Beginning the week of July 5th, the Parent Resource Center (PRC) will be open to the public on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8 am to 4 pm.
  • Appointments for in-person consultations are requested so that there is ample space for privacy.
  • The library will be open for walk-ins on Tuesdays and Wednesdays beginning July 6th.
  • PRC staff are available by phone at 703-204-3941, and by email at prc@fcps.edu.
  • Virtual consultations will continue as requested.
  • Webinars for families will resume in August.
  • Full in-person operations of the PRC will begin the week of August 16th.

Check Out the FCPS Wellness Newsletter- Summer Edition 2021

Warm summer weather gives everyone a chance to get moving and enjoy outdoor activities such as swimming, biking and walking!

The American Cancer Society’s newest catchphrase, “SLIP, SLOP, SLAP and WRAP!” is an easy way to teach kids about basic sun safety:

  • Slip on a shirt
  • Slop on sunscreen
  • Slap on a hat
  • Wrap on sunglasses

The latest installment of our quarterly Wellness Newsletter delivers useful information for parents to share with their children to make sure everyone safely enjoys summer fun. The June 2021 Edition of the FCPS Wellness Newsletter cover topics such as sun and water safety, basic first aid, nutrition tips and more. Please check out the June Newsletter and consider subscribing to it. Enjoy a happy and healthy summer!

Contact Information

If parent(s) or guardian(s) need further assistance, please reach out to the:

Archived Newsletters

September 10, 2020

September 10, 2020

Dear Parents,

The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during Distance Learning.

Technology Resources for Families

(Reprint from August 31, 2020 News You Choose

Technology Support for Families
Access videos and resources to help your student in the virtual learning environment on the Technology Support for Families webpage.

New Virtual Learning Tech Tips Videos
New videos have been posted on the virtual learning playlist. They include tips on signing in, locating assignments, and submitting assignments in Google Classroom, as well as how to use Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (BBCU). Go to the Virtual Learning - Tech Tips playlist.

Information Regarding Community Work Experience (CWE) during the Covid 19 Pandemic

Many of our secondary students with individualized education programs (IEPs) are enrolled in career development instruction, which includes classes such as Work Awareness and Transition (WAT) and Education for Employment for the Office (EFEO) as well as Davis and Pulley Career Centers and the Secondary Transition to Employment Programs (STEP).  The 100% virtual start to the school year will also extend to our students’ community-based work experiences until reassessments of work availability and conditions are made prior to the end of the first quarter.  This decision is based primarily on the health and safety of our students, their families, and FCPS staff, as well as the ability of our employer partners to provide student access to work sites throughout Fairfax County.  

Last school year, 1,105 students enrolled in these programs and classes, completed work experiences at 398 employer work sites.  Even in cases where a few employers are willing to receive students this fall, continuity and student equity across programs is extremely important. We will continue to work toward the eventual return to work sites.  In the meantime, the teachers in these programs have been given work-readiness and transition curricula and work-based learning resources to support virtual instruction, and staff training is on-going. 

Considerations for Setting up a Functional Workspace at Home

Establishing a designated workspace when learning from home may help support participation in school-based activities.  When selecting a location and set-up, you may want to consider the following:

How is your child sitting?
Seating plays an important role in supporting students’ body position during a desk or tabletop task. Consider the following:

  • If the chair being used is too big, consider using a footrest or a heavy box under feet or placing a pillow behind his/her back to provide adequate support
  • If the chair is too low, consider having your child sit on a booster seat or chair cushion so they can comfortably rest their arms on the table when engaging in a task such as writing
  • Consider placing the laptop/monitor on a stack of books at eye level when not typing or using the touch pad
  • Consider flexible seating options for other learning activities, such as prone (lying on his/her belly), standing, or lying on his/her back with a pillow under knees
  • Consider integrating movement and stretching breaks between seated activities

What can they see and hear?
Visual and auditory distractions may make it more difficult for a student to pay attention and concentrate on learning activities. Consider the following:

  • Turning off electronic devices that are not being used for learning (i.e. tv)
  • Try positioning a desk or table to reduce visual distractions; if working at a kitchen table, consider choosing a seat at the table that reduces distractions
  • Consider using a tri-fold cardboard divider to create a “cubby”; this can also be created from an empty cardboard box
  • If possible, remove distracting items from the workspace during worktime (i.e. toys)
  • Consider using the 20/20/20 rule to help reduce eye strain:  Every twenty minutes, look 20 ft away, for 20 seconds
  • Consider lighting sources such as natural light and task lighting (i.e. gooseneck lamp); blinds or curtains may help reduce glare when using a computer
  • Consider using headphones at times to reduce distraction from voices or noise in the home or focus on a teacher’s voice during synchronous learning

Can he/she easily find the materials needed for learning?
Organizing materials and supplies and choosing a location that is easy for your child to access can help support his/her participation in learning activities. Consider the following:

  • Place materials/supplies on a small bookshelf or in plastic drawers next to or nearby the work area; consider labeling locations/bins with words or pictures so your child can find and return materials to a consistent place
  • If using a kitchen table for learning activities, consider placing materials in a box or basket that can be brought to the table each day and put away when learning activities are finished
  • If using containers to organize supplies, consider if your child is able to open and close containers easily (i.e. plastic bags, zipper pouches, pencil boxes)

Additional resources on setting up a functional workspace at home:

Behavior Support and Resources

Encouraging Positive Behaviors At Home Series presented by Behavior Intervention Services and hosted by Parent Resource Center provides parent training opportunities monthly across a variety of topics in behavior strategies for home. Visit the Parent Resource Center Page for more information or register for the Encouraging Positive Behaviors At Home Series.

September is Suicide Prevention Month

We can all help to prevent suicide. Youth who are contemplating suicide frequently give warning signs. Do not be afraid to ask about suicidal thoughts. Never take warning signs lightly. Warning signs may include; suicidal threats, giving away prized possessions, increased risk taking, increased drug and/or alcohol use and a preoccupation with death or dying. When talking to your child about suicide, remain calm, ask directly about suicide, provide constant supervision, remove any means of self-harm from the home, and provide reassurance that there is help. If you are concerned about your child, seek help from school or community mental health resources and provide constant supervision to your child. School counselors, psychologists and social workers are available to provide support at every Fairfax County Public School.

Additional resources on suicide prevention:

Frequently Asked Question:

Q: My child has a 504 Plan.  With schools opening virtually, how will the Plan be followed and monitored?

A:  If you have questions about your child’s 504 Plan, please reach out to the school counselor to discuss Plan implementation during virtual learning.  In many cases, 504 Plans as currently written may be effectively put into place and adapted to online learning.  School staff will be reviewing your child’s Plan and should be in touch with you during the first days and weeks of school to ensure that your child’s needs are being met.

September 25, 2020

September 25, 2020

Dear Parents,

The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during Distance Learning.

Supporting Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tips and Tricks to Support Your Child’s Learning at Home 
Topics include a wide range of topics including getting students ready to learn at home and tips for supporting students with reading and math.  These resources are from the IRIS Center at Vanderbilt University.

Behavior Support for Virtual Learning

Quick Tip on Routines
Virtual Learning is well under way! We know that staying on top of foundational structures is key to success for students and families during virtual learning. To learn more about strategies for virtual learning at home, check out this quick tip video on routines.

Social and Emotional Support

Many parents are concerned about their child’s social and emotional well-being during the pandemic.  Children and young adults may be facing a variety of challenges at this time, including changes in routine, adjusting to virtual learning, and possibly experiencing trauma or feelings of insecurity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a clearinghouse of resources for parents to help them address their children’s mental wellness during the pandemic:  COVID-19 Parental Resource Kit: Ensuring Children and Young People’s Social, Emotional, and Mental Well-being.

Who to Go to with Questions

As we embark on distance learning, students and caregivers will have questions and issues that arise that they have not experienced before. The table below provides some of the most common types of issues or questions that may be anticipated and indicates who to contact for help. Email is the best way to reach staff during distance learning. https://www.fcps.edu/return-school/supports-students-disabilities

For questions about

Contact

Specific course, assignment, or learning resource

Teacher

Supports or accommodations

Special education case manager or 504 School Based Coordinator

Supports or accommodations for English learners

ESOL teacher

Problem with an FCPS-issued laptop

Teacher will submit support ticket for student

Personal or social emotional concern

School Psychologist or School Social Worker

Other issue related to distance learning

Principal or assistant principal

Help to resolve concerns, problems, complaints, and other student-related issues

Office of the Family and Student Ombudsman (ombudsman@fcps.edu)

Special education procedural questions, assistance with IEPs, due process or other dispute resolution processes, assistance with complaints for students with disabilities or students with 504 plans

Office of Special Education Procedural Support (includes Multi-Agency Services, Due Process & Eligibility (DPE)

Special education instructional supports, behavior intervention, related services, assistive technology, and career and transition services

Office of Special Education Instruction

Healthy Minds Podcast

If you’re looking for tips and strategies to support your child’s mental health and wellness from home, check out the new Healthy Minds Podcast. Guests include school psychologists, school social workers and others from our community who support the well-being of students across the county. Each week you will hear from guests, and hopefully, take away information that will help you support your children, friends, and even yourself in maintaining wellness. You can listen to the Healthy Minds Podcast using your favorite podcast app on your phone or by visiting https://www.fcps.edu/blog/healthy-minds-podcast.

October 14, 2020

October 14, 2020

Dear Parents,

The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during Distance Learning.

Updated Webpage for DHH (Deaf/Hard of Hearing)

Virtual Learning Tool Supports
Technology support videos are available in American Sign Language (ASL), Cued Speech, and Spanish from FCPS Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH) Services.

Audiology Services
Audiology Services offers distance learning tips and device support for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence Awareness Month has been observed nationally in October, bringing light to the issue of domestic violence and its impact on victims, survivors and families. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women and one in four men have been victims of physical violence by a partner within their lifetime. If you or someone you know is in an unhealthy relationship, there is help. You can support a friend or family member who is being abused in many ways. Learn how to support friends or family members who are being abused by calling the Fairfax County Domestic and Sexual Violence Services 24-Hour Hotline at 703-360-7273. If you are in danger, call 911. Individuals who are concerned that a child is being abused, should call Fairfax County Child Protective Services at 703-324-7400. For additional support for your child, you can also contact the counselor, social worker or psychologist at your school.

Return-To-Learn Tips for Special Education Parents

Discuss and plan the changes in your child's daily routine that will happen once in person school starts. You can even begin practicing your new schedule, focusing on morning and evening routines, and begin implementing them now well in advance of the first day. Consider having your child practice wearing a face mask for extended periods of time to become more comfortable and familiar with long term usage.

Parent FAQs

FCPS is so grateful to parents and caregivers who have been providing tremendous support to their children during this challenging time.  While the school year has been in full swing for several weeks now, you may continue to have questions about distance learning, assessment, technology, or a host of other school-related topics.  Find answers to FCPS parents’ frequently asked questions.

October 22, 2020

October 22, 2020

Dear Parents,

The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during Distance Learning.

Virginia Alternate Assessment Program (VAAP) Update

For students in grades 3-11 who are being instructed in the Aligned Standards of Learning (ASOL), the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program (VAAP) will occur for the 2020-2021 school year.  The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) recognizes the current educational situation and is aware some students may be accessing instruction through an online format.  Therefore, VDOE will be providing flexibility in collecting evidence for VAAP for the 2020-2021 school year.

Preparing for School Routines: Priming

Priming is a strategy to help students preview situations before they occur and helps events become more predictable. Priming can occur at home or in the classroom. Some students, who need routine and predictability, are more successful when they are prepared for what’s coming. It is most effective when it is built in as a part of the student’s routine. Priming supports the behavioral and academic success of students. Positive reinforcement can be incorporated into school and home routines when the student is successful with priming.

Priming helps to:

  1. Promote student success.
  2. Become familiar with the materials/expectations.
  3. Provide predictability about the information or activity to help reduce frustration.

Elementary Priming Tools

  • Visual Routines
  • Checklists
  • Social Scripts

Secondary Priming Tools

  • Checklists
  • Agendas
  • Student Schedule
  • Written routines

“COVID Fatigue”

Given the level of uncertainty and the many changes we have had to adjust to over the past several months, you may be feeling symptoms of “COVID Fatigue.”  COVID fatigue can include feelings of low mood, exhaustion, and increasing tendencies to engage in risky or unhealthy behaviors.  You may feel burned out or depleted.  If you or your loved ones are experiencing these sorts of feelings, there are ways to cope:

  • Recharge using mindfulness practices
  • Prioritize movement and physical activity
  • Accept that life will continue to be challenging for some time
  • Engage in activities that are satisfying and meaningful to you

View additional tips on coping during the pandemic

FCPS Wellness Conference

The FCPS 7th Annual Mental Health and Wellness Conference was virtual this year. The conference featured multiple keynote speakers from across the country who addressed social emotional learning and resiliency. FCPS continued the partnerships with Kaiser Permanente, INOVA, and Our Minds Matter. INOVA hosted the Act on Addiction Summit. Our Minds Matter hosted two sessions for students. They provided great strategies for self-care and mindfulness. All virtual sessions were recorded and are available on the YouTube Playlist for the 2020 FCPS Mental Health and Wellness Conference

November 5, 2020

November 5, 2020

Dear Parents,

The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during Distance Learning.

Behavior Intervention Services

We know how valuable predictability can be for our students, especially as families start to prepare for students to return to in-person learning. Check out this quick tip video that highlights a few strategies to help students get comfortable with wearing a mask and social distancing: Preparing for Returning to In-Person Tips for Parents/Guardians

Having Conversations About Current Events

Discussing current events provides opportunities for learning as well as challenges to the well-being of students, staff, and our community. Having conversations with your child about the things that they may see on the news or hear their friends discuss is important and valuable. Start by asking what your child already knows about a specific topic and follow their lead. It is also beneficial to share with your child that you are available to answer questions. If you don’t have all of the answers that is okay. Discussion topics are a personal decision and their age and development should be taken into account. Tell the truth about a topic, but share only as much as they need to know. There are also times that it is important to limit what they read and watch. As a parent you can set limits so that they are not constantly exposed to information that may be inaccurate or bothersome. Be sure to watch for stress related to things going on in their environment, especially looking for changes in their behavior, excessive worrying, or fear of being around others. If you are concerned about your child, remember that you can reach out to your child’s school counselor, psychologist or social worker. These resources can be located on the school website.

Emotional Literacy:  Using Feeling Faces

The Feeling Faces Visual Cards can be used to assist children in learning emotional literacy.  Understanding their feelings and the feelings of others is an important skill that young children must learn.  These visuals can be used in a variety of ways to support children’s emotional literacy and vocabulary.

Balancing Your Child’s Needs

As a parent with a special-needs child, you may be feeling additional pressures to ensure that you are providing appropriate support for learning in the home.

As you strive to assist your child, the following tips may come in handy:

  • If there is another adult in the home who can assist with supporting your child during distance learning, set a schedule for each of you so that you are able to shift gears at certain times, to allow you time to address other responsibilities, as well.
  • It is likely that you or another adult will not always be immediately available to observe your child throughout the synchronous online instruction.  Instead, plan on checking in when you can, and let your child know when you see that they are paying attention and engaged in their work.
  • Partner with your child’s teacher.  Ask for feedback on their day-to-day learning, and make sure that you follow up by praising your child for their efforts.

For more ideas about how to take care of yourself and also support your child’s learning while at home, take a look at the article "How Parents Can Support Children With Special Needs During Distance Learning". This article was written by a parent who is also a school psychologist. 

November 9, 2020

November 9, 2020

Dear Parents,

The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during Distance Learning.

On November 16, the following students are scheduled to return to in-person, cohort learning as part of Group 5:

  • Early Head Start (infants and toddlers), PreK (three and four year old students), Kindergarten
  • Students with Intensive Support Needs who meet the following criteria
    • 50% or more of the student’s core content courses (i.e. core math, core English/language arts, core history/social science and core science classes) provided in special education settings;
    • Instructionally, student functions multiple grades below current grade level and 50% or more of instruction is modified;
    • AND the student meets one or more of the following:
      • Comprehensive needs across academic areas
      • Student has a primary disability of intellectual disabilities, learning disability, Autism, or multiple disabilities
      • Reading and writing scores below the 10th percentile on standardized assessments compared to same-aged peers
      • Deficits in adaptive skills, social communication, and restrictive and repetitive behaviors
      • Difficulty with working memory
      • Difficulty with receptive and/or expressive language
      • Has additional adult supervision throughout the school day in all areas of the building
  • Vision Program at Robinson Secondary School and Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing (DHH) Programs at Canterbury Woods Elementary School, Frost Middle School, and Woodson High School (students with 50 percent or more of core content areas in special education settings)

On November 30, the following students are scheduled to return to in-person, cohort learning as part of Group 6:

  • Grades 1-2
  • Davis & Pulley Career Centers – Students who are part of the class of 2021 and students who have experienced significant challenges accessing virtual instruction

November 19, 2020

November 19, 2020

Dear Parents,

The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during Distance Learning.

Holiday Planning During a Pandemic

As Thanksgiving approaches, you may be worried about how to safely celebrate with family and friends. Holiday preparations and celebrations will likely look and feel different this year, especially for our children. Talk with your child ahead of time about their expectations. Reassure your child that it is okay to feel sad, disappointed, or even angry about changes in plans or traditions. Take this opportunity to develop new ways to celebrate by brainstorming ideas together, asking your child for their opinions, and researching online for additional inspiration.  With a little extra planning, communication and collaboration, you can help make this year’s holiday celebrations fun and special for you and your loved ones.

Feeling That Fall Fatigue?

Behavior Intervention Services has a quick tip video to help overcome fall fatigue and increase student engagement and stamina. Incorporate these strategies into virtual learning at home to help students stay focused on their tasks and goals. 

Assistive Technology Training Opportunities

During the 2020-2021 school year, Assistive Technology Services (ATS) will be offering training sessions focused on the use of high-end Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices.  Participants will learn program basics and maintenance of the devices.  These sessions are open to both staff and parents of students using the specific devices. To register, contact the ATS Resource Teacher who supports your school. November sessions will include the following topics:

  • November 16, 2:30-3:30 Words for Life App - Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session
  • November 23, 2:30-3:30 Proloquo2Go App - Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session

Building Coping Skills as a Family

A coping skill is something that helps a person deal with unpleasant feelings such as stress. Learning to cope is a very important skill that takes a lot of practice. Parents and guardians can help children build coping skills. Brainstorm as a family a toolbox of coping skills, so when someone in the family needs to access a “tool” to cope, a list is readily available. What works for one person, may not work for everyone, so it is important to try different coping skills to find what works for each member of the family. Take time to talk about which strategies were helpful or which strategy everyone might try next time a strategy is needed. Some examples of coping skills include exercise, keeping a gratitude journal, talking with positive people in your life such as friends, family and teachers, deep breathing, listening to or playing music, or engaging in a hobby that you enjoy. View more coping strategy ideas.  

2019-2020 Parent Involvement Survey (Reminder)

Each school year the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is required to report to the U.S. Department of Education the "Percent of parents with a child receiving special education services who report that schools facilitated parent involvement as a means of improving services and results for children with disabilities." 

Your participation in this survey will help VDOE collect additional information to identify training needs related to the special education processes.  The VDOE will use the results of this survey to improve parental involvement in the special education process and improve outcomes for all students within the Commonwealth.  It is important to note that your responses are recorded anonymously and cannot be personally linked to your child.  Parents who have more than one child receiving special education services should submit one survey for each child receiving services.

When completing this survey you will answer questions designed to cause you to reflect upon your experiences during the 2019-2020 school year.

English Version ---- English Version of 2019-2020 Indicator 8 Parent Survey 

Spanish Version --- Spanish Version of 2019-2020 Indicator 8 Parent Survey

To gather the 2019-2020 School Year data, the Indicator 8 Parent Survey will be collected through December 18, 2020.

Students with Intensive Support Needs

Additional information has been included in the second bullet below to help clarify the criteria for Students with Intensive Support Needs to return to in-person, cohort learning as part of Group 5:

  • 50% or more of the student’s core content courses (i.e. core math, core English/language arts, core history/social science and core science classes) provided in special education settings;
  • Instructionally, student functions multiple grades below current grade level and 50% or more of instruction is modified to bridge the gap between the student’s baseline knowledge and course standard with the expectation that the student will subsequently meet the standard;
  • AND the student meets one or more of the following:
    • Comprehensive needs across academic areas
    • Student has a primary disability of intellectual disabilities, learning disability, Autism, or multiple disabilities
    • Reading and writing scores below the 10th percentile on standardized assessments compared to same-aged peers
    • Deficits in adaptive skills, social communication, and restrictive and repetitive behaviors
    • Difficulty with working memory
    • Difficulty with receptive and/or expressive language
    • Has additional adult supervision throughout the school day in all areas of the building

Principals have been directed to invite students who meet the criteria to return to in-person instruction as part of Group 5.  Please reach out to your school principal if you have questions regarding the criteria described above and whether your child meets this criterion.

Additional information is available on the FCPS public website links below.

December 10, 2020

December 10, 2020

Dear Parents,

The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during Distance Learning.

Assistive Technology Training Opportunities

During the 2020-2021 school year, Assistive Technology Services (ATS) will be offering training sessions focused on the use of high-end Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices.  Participants will learn program basics and maintenance of the devices.  These sessions are open to both staff and parents of students using the specific devices. To register, contact the ATS Resource Teacher who supports your school. The next session will be offered on December 14.

  • December 14, 2:30 - 3:30 p.m. Words for Life App - Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session

Supporting Your Child’s Engagement When Learning Online

Helping your child navigate their learning, and supporting their “ownership” of that learning, has never been more challenging than it is at this time.

Whether or not your child has diagnosed attention issues, it is likely that you are observing your child or teen have difficulty at times staying attentive and motivated when their instruction is all virtual.

The following podcast features an interview with a psychologist who shares how parents can best focus on their children’s needs to set them up for success.  While the interview addresses the typical needs of children with ADHD, the guidance shared is applicable to many children with learning challenges.

Guidance for Uncertain Times: Tips for Creating an ADHD-Friendly Home, Maggie Sibley, PhD

The Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

Practicing gratitude can have a positive impact on our emotions and personal wellness. It can also improve our relationships with friends and family, especially during times of stress. Try to make time for daily gratitude practices as a family. Start a gratitude jar; encourage everyone to write down things that they are thankful for and place it in the jar. Read the entries as a family, allowing for reflection. Practice giving to others. This can include donations, but it can also include serving or appreciating others. Consider making cards for the elderly or first responders. Your child can also help someone in the family. During dinner or before bed, take turns sharing something that each person is thankful for. Check out more ideas for practicing gratitude as a family

December 17, 2020

December 17, 2020

Dear Parents,

The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during Distance Learning.

Schedules and Calendars

The holiday season brings a big break in routine taking a child with special needs out of their comfort zone. Try and compensate by:

  1. Relying heavily on visuals. This will help your child understand what is going to be happening.
  2. Count down the number of days when school is about to start back up again.  This gives your child an awareness that there will be a change in schedules.
  3. A daily calendar can be very helpful during the winter break, especially to help your child anticipate any parties or family gatherings that you may be going to.

It is understandable that the family routine changes during the holidays. Bedtimes are later, naps may not be on schedule and there is no set schedule. Make sure you start getting back into your daily routine a few days before school starts so that the adjustment in January is a little easier.

Wellness During the Holidays

The holidays can be a time of joy and happiness for some. Others may experience feelings that are less pleasant. It is important to maintain personal wellness during this time.

  • Start by taking the time to unplug. Develop a list of activities for the family that don’t involve the computer, phone or television.
  • Make it a priority to move. Although it is cold, find time to get outside and enjoy some fresh air.
  • Try to keep routines and structures in place, with some flexibility. By maintaining a routine, the transition back to learning won’t be as difficult.
  • Stay connected to loved ones. Holiday gatherings may look different this year, but we can still connect through cards, phone calls and virtual platforms.
  • Finally, seek professional help for you or your child if needed. While schools are not in session, contact your doctor for referrals or contact the Fairfax County Community Services Board (CSB). Learn more about mental health services offered through the CSB

If you or someone you care about is experiencing a mental health crisis take action:

Behavior Intervention Services

When moments get stressful and our frustration kicks in, one of the best things we can do is take a deep breath. This is something we can model for and practice with our children at home both proactively and during situations where stress gets the best of us.

Try the following breathing strategies over the next few weeks during break to see which one becomes a family fave:

  • Hot Chocolate Breathing (Smell the Hot Chocolate, Blow on it to cool off)
  • Breathe In for a Count of 4, Breathe Out for a Count of 4
  • Flower/Candle (Smell the Flower, Blow Out the Candle)
  • 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 (Look around you and notice
    • 5 things you can see
    • 4 things you can touch or feel
    • 3 things you can hear
    • 2 things you can smell
    • 1 think you can taste

Restraint & Seclusion

Fairfax County Public Schools has proposed a new policy governing the use of physical restraint and seclusion in public schools to begin January 1, 2020.  The proposed policy will phase out the use of seclusion in our schools by August 2022. The proposal includes training for staff to include use of positive behavior interventions and supports and timely notification of parents of incidents.

The FCPS School Board will be voting on the proposed division policy regarding the use of Physical Restraint and Seclusion on December 17, 2020. You may access the draft by going to Board Docs and the School Board meetings are live streamed on the website and Channel 99 at https://www.fcps.edu/tv/ch99.

January 19, 2021

January 19, 2021

Dear Parents,

The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during Distance Learning.

All Student Groups Paused for In-Person Instruction

Current community transmission of COVID-19 in Fairfax County remains high. After discussing the plan with the School Board and hearing from many parents and staff, FCPS will continue to pause the plan to bring students and staff back into school buildings.  Dr. Brabrand will provide an interim update to the School Board on January 21 and a comprehensive update on the Return to School plan to the School Board on Tuesday, February 2.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) have provided guidance for vaccine distribution. FCPS will be partnering with FCHD and the Inova Health System to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to ALL FCPS employees as a part of the 1b group of other essential workers. View more information on vaccine distribution.

Managing Your Emotions and Adjusting Expectations of your Child (and Yourself)

As a parent of a child with special learning or emotional/behavioral needs, are you wondering how you will continue to cope during this phase of distance learning?  Are you running out of steam?  Do you find yourself short on patience and easily frustrated with your child or with school-related demands?

You’re not alone – and your feelings are normal.  Despite the many pressures on parents these days, there are proven ways to lower your family’s stress levels.  Check out this reassuring article that provides timely tips and guidance.  

Supporting Children During Times of Uncertainty

Feelings of uncertainty may be particularly heightened given shifting timelines for the return to school and other current events. When children don’t have control over things occurring in their environment, it is important to provide positive support in other ways. Our children are watching our response to stressors and often mimic our actions. View more information on supporting your child during stressful times.

Assistive Technology Training Opportunities

During the 2020-2021 school year, Assistive Technology Services (ATS) will be offering training sessions focused on the use of high-end Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices.  Participants will learn program basics and maintenance of the devices.  These sessions are open to both staff and parents of students using the specific devices. To register, contact the ATS Resource Teacher who supports your school. December sessions will include the following topics:

  • January 25, 2:30-3:30 - Eye Gaze Tips and Tricks
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session- this session is for those who are working with students currently using eye gaze as their access method to communicate.
  • January 25, 2:30-3:30 - PRC Accent Devices
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session
  • February 1, 1:00-2:00 - Touch Chat
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session
  • February 1, 2:30-3:30 - Proloquo2Go App
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session

January 28, 2021

January 28, 2021

Dear Parents,

The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during Distance Learning.

Routines Help Children Get Ready for School

Brushing teeth before bed; a nightly story to unwind. Routines are often a touchstone in a child’s day. Recently researchers found that regular family routines, started as early as 14 months, predicted a child’s readiness for kindergarten. Read more or watch a video in English or Spanish at: https://positiveparentingnews.org/news-reports/routines-school-readiness.

Behavior Intervention Services

As we wrap up January, we want to collectively check-in on our goal progress. One of the most essential ways to keep moving forward on goals is to check-in and celebrate any small victories or steps towards the finish line! Consider creating a list of steps towards the next goal for your child and make sure to identify how you can celebrate together. Some examples of goals might be:

  • Homework Completion
  • Using Words to Express Themselves
  • Completing a Chore
  • Following Directions
  • Asking for Help
  • Attending All School Sessions
  • Staying Calm
  • Offering to Help

For a list of ideas on ways to celebrate accomplishing steps towards a goal, check out this list:

  • Play Music
  • Chant an Affirmation of Success
  • Dance Party
  • Go for a Walk and Spot Something Beautiful
  • Play a Game Together
  • Make a Fun Recipe
  • Create a New Game

Assistive Technology Training Opportunities

During the 2020-2021 school year, Assistive Technology Services (ATS) will be offering training sessions focused on the use of high-end Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices.  Participants will learn program basics and maintenance of the devices.  These sessions are open to both staff and parents of students using the specific devices. To register, contact the ATS Resource Teacher who supports your school. Sessions will include the following topics:

  • February 1, 1:00-2:00 p.m. - Touch Chat
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session
  • February 1, 2:30-3:30 p.m. - Proloquo2Go App
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session
  • February 8, 2:30-3:30 p.m. - Words for Life
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session

And additional sessions especially for staff members:

  • February 1,1:00 - 2:00 p.m. - I Didn't Know Microsoft Could Do That! Microsoft Writing Tools
    Join us to explore FREE strategies and resources to support students with writing difficulties in the virtual environment. Learn how to implement accessibility tools within Microsoft 365. Explore how to use the Speak Tool, Dictate, Immersive Reader, Outline View, Tables-to-Text and the Send-to-PowerPoint to complete research and the steps of the writing process. Discover how easy it is to transfer documents between Microsoft 365, Google G-Suite and Google Classroom. These tools are available to help support all students of all ages who struggle with writing. Register through MyPDE.
  • February 8, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. - Google Keep: The Secret of Making Executive Function Easy at any age! Come discover how to use Google Keep to easily support your students’ executive function. Using this inclusive technology tool, we will learn how to create checklists, graphic organizers, reminders and more using Google Keep! With Google Keep notes, you can share information with just one person or many and the creative opportunities are endless! Register through MyPDE.

February 25, 2021

February 25, 2021

Dear Parents, The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during Distance Learning.

Important Survey Coming Soon

On March 1, FCPS instructional staff and parents of students with disabilities will receive an invitation via email from the FCPS Office of the Auditor General to complete an independent, third-party survey on FCPS’s special education services provided to students with disabilities. All responses are confidential and will be used to generate recommendations for the School Board. Your voice counts, so please share your thoughts once you receive the survey.

Did you know FCPS has an Ombudsman?

The Office of the Ombudsman provides an independent, confidential resource for students, families, employees, and community members, offering informal help to resolve concerns, problems, complaints, and other student-related issues.

The staff of the Office of the Ombudsman will listen, review, and provide resources for information and referral; serve as a neutral advocate for fairness, equity, inclusion, and consistency; and foster positive working relationships.

The Assistant Ombudsman for Special Education serves as a resource, providing information and support to parents and students regarding special education services. It is the hope that through providing transparency and understanding to families, children with special needs will receive all the services and supports required to equitably access public education.

For more information visit: https://www.fcps.edu/department/ombudsman or contact us at: 571 423 4014 or ombudsman@fcps.edu.

Especially For Families

During the 2020-2021 school year, Assistive Technology Services (ATS) will be offering training sessions focused on the use of high-end Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices.  Participants will learn program basics and maintenance of the devices.  These sessions are open to both staff and parents of students using the specific devices. To register, contact the ATS Resource Teacher who supports your school. December sessions will include the following topics:

  • March 1, 2:30-3:30 - Proloquo2Go App
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session
  • March 8, 2:30-3:30 - Words for Life
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session
  • March 15, 2:30-3:30 - PRC Training
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session

Behavior Intervention Services

Looking for some inspiration to get refocused on routines and out of negative cycles? Check out our quick tip videos for Parents and Guardians on supporting Executive Functioning (EF) and Avoiding Power Struggles.

If you missed our training in collaboration with the Parent Resource Center on Following Directions, held 2/18, you can get the recording here: BIS Series #6 Teaching Your Child to Follow Directions.

Our next training is: Effectively Communicate with Your Student - at Home Edition offered 10-11:30am & 6:30-8pm on 3/18/21. Register for this training.

Save the Date: FCPS Special Education Conference Set for April 17, 2021

FCPS will hold its 16th Annual Special Education Conference on Saturday, April 17, 2021, VIRTUALLY. Registration will begin in March. A student strand will be held for youth ages 14-22. FCPS educators, administrators, and pre-service teachers can earn recertification points for attending the conference. Exhibit Hall and Inclusive Schools resources will be shared.

Visit the Special Education Conference webpage for more information.

Special Education Parent Handbook

The newly updated Special Education Parent Handbook is available online!  This manual provides a wealth of information regarding many topics of interest to parents and caregivers of students with disabilities, including Child Find, local screening, evaluations and eligibility for special education and Section 504 services, procedural safeguards/rights, key contacts and resources, and much more.

In addition, a limited number of printed handbooks will be available soon.  If you would like to be placed on a waiting list for a hard copy, please email the Parent Resource Center at prc@fcps.edu or call the PRC at 703-204-3941.  When printed copies are ready, PRC staff will work with families to provide a touchless pick-up at the Dunn Loring Center, or alternatively, can forward a copy to the child’s school for parent pick-up.

Restraint and Seclusion Policy

The Fairfax County School Board has approved a new policy on Restraint and Seclusion.

The policy includes strategies that incorporate positive behavioral interventions and support consistent with the student's rights to be treated with dignity and to be free from abuse, including alternatives to physical restraint and seclusion. Continued use of positive behavioral interventions and support strategies will be used to reduce and prevent the need for the use of physical restraint and seclusion. If behaviors need intervention to keep students and staff safe, the policy dictates that the least restrictive intervention will be used.  

Seclusion is prohibited in all FCPS schools with the exception of Burke School, Key Center, and Kilmer Center effective January 1, 2021. Only personnel who have completed advanced training will be permitted to engage in seclusion.

March 11, 2021

March 11, 2021

Dear Parents, The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during Distance Learning.

Career and Transition Services (CTS) Super Transition Week 2021

It’s never too early or too late to start planning for a successful transition from school to life as a young adult. Ensuring postsecondary success of our students with disabilities is dependent on effective transition planning.  During the week of February 21 – 25, CTS hosted a week of transition-focused workshops covering a wide range of transition topics including: CTS programming and services for students with disabilities, short- and long-term postsecondary supports, employment and postsecondary education considerations, Supported Decision Making, and student self-determination as an evidence-based predictor of post-school success.

The event also included two evenings of student/parent panels where members described their firsthand experiences as they navigated Fairfax County Public Schools and the transition process.

Below are the links to the recordings for the Career and Transition Services (CTS) Super Transition Week 2021:

Night 1

  • Middle School Transition Support
  • CTS Programs and Services Overview and Q & A

Night 2

  • I’m Determined: K-12
  • Supporting a Student’s Transition to Adult Services

Night 3

  • College and Postsecondary Education Options
  • My Journey - Part I: An FCPS Graduate Student and Parent Panel (competitive employment and higher education)

Night 4

  • The Arc of Northern Virginia: Transition Planning and Supported Decision-Making
  • My Journey - Part II: An FCPS Graduate Student and Parent Panel (supported group employment and day support)

For the school community:
If you have an FCPS 24-7 Learning account, log in and you will be able to access the 2021 CTS Super Transition Week Bb Site. Student FCPS 24-7 Learning accounts can also access this Blackboard site.

Save the Date: FCPS Special Education Conference Set for April 17, 2021

FCPS will hold its 16th Annual Special Education Conference on Saturday, April 17, 2021, VIRTUALLY. Registration will begin in mid-March. Highlights include First Class awards, presentations from guest speakers and FCPS staff, a virtual exhibit hall and inclusive schools, Sibshops for students in grades 7-12, and a student strand for youth ages 14-22. FCPS educators, administrators, and pre-service teachers can earn recertification points for attending the conference. Visit the Special Education Conference webpage for more information.

Supporting On-Line Learning

“Supporting Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic” These modules by the IRIS Center offers tips for family members to support children learning at home during the COVID-19 pandemic and answers questions such as: “what is my role, how can I support my child socially and emotionally, and how can I found out what my child should be learning?”

Especially for Families

During the 2020-2021 school year, Assistive Technology Services (ATS) will be offering training sessions focused on the use of high-end Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices.  Participants will learn program basics and maintenance of the devices.  These sessions are open to both staff and parents of students using the specific devices. To register, contact the ATS Resource Teacher who supports your school. March sessions will include the following topics:

  • March 15, 2:30-3:30 - PRC Training
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session
  • March 22, 2:30-3:30 - Words for Life
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session

Wellness Resources for Students

Your child can access a variety of resources for wellness tips and strategies. They can learn more about Our Minds Matter, a wellness club in most FCPS High Schools, and hear from other students sharing their voice. There are also a variety of posts related to topics such as handling peer pressure, helping a friend in crisis, managing anxiety and coping with grief. Check out these resources at https://www.fcps.edu/student-wellness-tips

March 29, 2021

March 29, 2021

Dear Parents, The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during Distance Learning.

Especially for Families

During the 2020-2021 school year, Assistive Technology Services (ATS) will be offering training sessions focused on the use of high-end Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices.  Participants will learn program basics and maintenance of the devices.  These sessions are open to both staff and parents of students using the specific devices. To register, contact the ATS Resource Teacher who supports your school. April sessions will include the following topics:

  • April 12, 2:30-3:30 Words for Life
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session
  • April 19, 2:30-3:30 PRC Training
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session
  • April 26, 2:30-3:30 Proloquo2Go Training
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session

FCPS Special Education Conference to Be Held April 17, Registration Now Open!

FCPS will hold its 16th Annual Special Education Conference on Saturday, April 17, 2021, VIRTUALLY. Registration is now available online. The conference will include a combination of synchronous (live) and asynchronous (recorded) sessions supporting the conference's theme: The Time for Inclusion is Now. A student strand will be held for youth ages 14-22. FCPS educators, administrators, and pre-service teachers will earn five recertification points for attending the entire conference.

Visit the Special Education Conference Webpage for More Information and to Register

Family Peer Support Partners

PRS Inc. has launched a new program to help Fairfax families with youth with behavioral health challenges. Family Peer Support Partners (FPSPs) are trained parents and caregivers who use their personal experience to offer support for parents and caregivers of youth diagnosed with mental health or substance use disorders. Family Peer Support Partners can help families: identify and use their strengths; encourage and support family to achieve desired outcomes; advocate for child’s needs in a proactive manner; connect with effective family supports, services, and treatment options; provide support; empower families; and understand resources and recommendations. To learn more about this service, families should visit https://prsinc.org/family-peer-supports. Thanks to a partnership with PRS and Healthy Minds Fairfax, there is no fee to families who reside in Fairfax County for these services.

Maintaining School Stamina

As we continue to phase into in-person learning, we know this change in routine can get chaotic and tiring even for students who are remaining virtual. During this time, we have some tips for parents and guardians in keeping up that spring school stamina.

  • Take Frequent Breaks: Build into your daily schedule some time to move as a family or to reset and shift focus.
  • Build a Buffer: Add extra time to routines, like getting out the door in the morning, taking off masks or putting away items at the end of the day, and getting ready for the next activity.
  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: Provide warnings of any changes, prime students on what new routines might look like, and check-in to gauge how everyone is feeling.
  • Balance and Ease into Things: Give each other some extra time to move to the next task or thought and allow for moments of flexibility. We are all trying our best and this is a new process to learn and navigate!

If you missed our most recent offering with the Parent Resource Center-don’t worry! View a recording of this training on Encouraging Positive Behaviors at Home Series: Effectively Communicating with Your Child (scroll to “Previous Workshops & Webinars on YouTube”).

April 27, 2021

April 27, 2021

Dear Parents,
The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during Distance Learning.

Especially for Families

During the 2020-2021 school year, Assistive Technology Services (ATS) will be offering training sessions focused on the use of high-end Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices.  Participants will learn program basics and maintenance of the devices.  These sessions are open to both staff and parents of students using the specific devices. To register, contact the ATS Resource Teacher who supports your school. May sessions will include the following topics:

  • May 3, 2:30-3:30 Words for Life
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session
  • May 10, 2:30-3:30 PRC Training
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session
  • May 17, 2:30-3:30 Proloquo2Go Training
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session
  • May 24, 2:30-3:30 Words for Life
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session

COVID-19 Recovery Services

Special education COVID recovery services may be considered for any student with a disability whose Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team or Section 504 Committee determines there remains a significant educational impact due to the COVID-19 school closure and the virtual learning this school year. Recovery services are designed to address learning gaps and are determined by IEP Teams or 504 Committees. Not all students with disabilities will require COVID recovery services.

COVID recovery services are based on whether or not the student continued making progress in the general education curriculum, or alternative course of study, specified in their IEP/504 Plan or toward meeting their IEP goals, and/or if any significant regression occurred during the period of school closure. IEP Teams and 504 Committees will use a variety of data sources including individual student progress data, teacher assessments, and parent input when considering COVID recovery services. If the IEP Team or 504 Committee decides a student requires recovery services, the team will determine the amount and type of recovery service that is required to address the individual student’s needs.

Additional information regarding FCPS’ Summer Recovery Academy is available via the following link: https://www.fcps.edu/academics/academic-overview/special-education-instruction/procedural-support/summer-recovery

If you think that your child may require COVID recovery services, please contact your child’s IEP/504 case manager to further discuss and schedule a meeting for the IEP team or 504 committee to consider the need for recovery services.

April is the Month of the Military Child

In April we celebrate the important role that military children play in the armed forces community. Throughout the month of April, schools are engaging in a variety of activities to recognize military-connected youth and their families. FCPS thanks and recognizes children from military families for the sacrifices they make living the military lifestyle.  This year, April 21st has been designated “Purple Up! For Military Kids.” On this day, everyone is encouraged to wear purple in recognition of the strength and sacrifices of military-connected youth. Purple symbolizes all branches of the military, as it is the combination of Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red, and Navy blue. Learn more about the Month of the Military Child here: https://www.dodea.edu/dodeaCelebrates/Military-Child-Month.cfm

May 6, 2021

May 6, 2021

Dear Parents,
The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during Distance Learning.

Especially for Families

During the 2020-2021 school year, Assistive Technology Services (ATS) will be offering training sessions focused on the use of high-end Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices.  Participants will learn program basics and maintenance of the devices.  These sessions are open to both staff and parents of students using the specific devices. To register, contact the ATS Resource Teacher who supports your school. May sessions will include the following topics:

  • May 17, 2:30-3:30 Proloquo2Go Training
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session
  • May 24, 2:30-3:30 Words for Life
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session

Self-Care for Caregivers

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”  This saying is a good summary of what parents face as they raise their children; and it is an especially good reminder for parents of children with special needs.

This has been a year like no other and you should pat yourself on the back for everything you have done to support your child.  Now, it’s time to take a step back and take care of YOU.

Check out the following article: 20 Things Every Parent of Kids with Special Needs Should Hear.  Please take these ideas and reminders to heart – you are your child’s champion, and to “stay strong”, you need to treat yourself well!  Finding ways to do that, and to find joy in your relationship with your child, will give you the fuel you need to handle the challenges that come your way.

SIBSHOPS: An Exciting, Virtual Workshop for Brothers and Sisters of Children with Special Needs

The Sibshop workshops are for children in grades 2-6 enrolled in Fairfax County Public Schools who have siblings with special needs to:

  • Meet other siblings in a relaxed, virtual setting.
  • Celebrate the many contributions made by brothers and sisters of children with special needs.
  • Share sibling experiences and receive peer support.
  • Play games and have fun!

Presented by FCPS School Social Work Services
Saturday, May 15, 2021
Two timeslots are available: 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. Sessions run 1-1.5 hours
Register your child for a Sibshop

COVID-19 Recovery Services

Special education COVID recovery services may be considered for any student with a disability whose Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team or Section 504 Committee determines there remains a significant educational impact due to the COVID-19 school closure and the virtual learning this school year. Recovery services are designed to address learning gaps and are determined by IEP Teams or 504 Committees. Not all students with disabilities will require COVID recovery services. 

COVID recovery services are based on whether or not the student continued making progress in the general education curriculum, or alternative course of study, specified in their IEP/504 plan or toward meeting their IEP goals, and/or if any significant regression occurred during the period of school closure. IEP Teams and 504 Committees will use a variety of data sources including individual student progress data, teacher assessments, and parent input when considering COVID recovery services. If the IEP Team or 504 Committee decides a student requires recovery services, the team will determine the amount and type of recovery service that is required to address the individual student’s needs.

View additional information regarding FCPS’ Summer Recovery Academy 

If you think that your child may require COVID recovery services, please contact your child’s IEP/504 case manager to further discuss and schedule a meeting for the IEP team or 504 committee to consider the need for recovery services.

COVID-19 Vaccines Now Available to Students (16 years of age and older)

Many of our teachers and staff have had the added protection of COVID-19 vaccines this year. Now, students 16 years of age and older have access to COVID-19 vaccines, too. It’s one more layer of protection to help stop the spread and limit disruption of schools, activities, sports, and other memorable events like graduation. Studies show COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19 or from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19. Additional benefits of getting the vaccine include gathering indoors with small groups of other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask and vaccinated individuals do not need to stay away from others (quarantine) or get tested (unless they have symptoms) when exposed to someone with COVID-19. Learn more about getting your teen the COVID-19 vaccine.

Virtual Programming for SY 2021-2022

FCPS will be establishing a Virtual Program for SY 21-22 with limited student enrollment due to Health/Medical needs. You may access information regarding our Virtual Programs at https://www.fcps.edu/registration/virtual-program-school-year-2021-22.

Families will be required to submit a COVID-19 Health Eligibility Form that includes the healthcare provider’s documentation of the student’s health/medical diagnosis that requires accommodations for learning in a virtual environment and complete an application process. More information on our Virtual Program Enrollment process is available at https://www.fcps.edu/registration/virtual-program-school-year-2021-22/enrollment.

May 21, 2021

May 21, 2021

Dear Parents,
The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips and ideas to support you and your family during Distance Learning.

Especially for Families

During the 2020-2021 school year, Assistive Technology Services (ATS) will be offering training sessions focused on the use of high-end Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices.  Participants will learn program basics and maintenance of the devices.  These sessions are open to both staff and parents of students using the specific devices. To register, contact the ATS Resource Teacher who supports your school. May sessions will include the following topics:

  • May 24, 2:30-3:30 Words for Life
    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session

May 2021 FCPS/George Mason University - Special Education Cohorts: Information Session

There will be an FCPS/GMU special education information session held on Monday, May 24, from 4:00 pm-5:00 pm.  This session is designed to provide information and answer questions for those interested in becoming a special education teacher and provisionally licensed teachers considering GMU. The FCPS/George Mason University Special Education Cohorts begin in early August, and completing a cohort leads to a Virginia license within special education.    If you are interested in joining, please register now. You will receive the meeting link via email before the session. Also, please visit our website for additional information and common questions:  FCPS/GMU Cohort Website  (you must be logged into your FCPS Google account to access this site).

If you have any questions, please contact Lynn Beal at lbeal@fcps.edu

VDOE SEL Standards Public Comment Period

At the direction of the Virginia Assembly, VDOE has developed guidance standards for social emotional learning (SEL) for all public students in grades Kindergarten through 12 in the Commonwealth. SEL is “the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions” (CASEL, 2020). We encourage you to review and provide feedback on the standards using this link: https://townhall.virginia.gov/L/GDocForum.cfm?GDocForumID=545

FCPS remains abreast of updates on this topic from VDOE and looks forward to future opportunities to collaborate with families, students, and staff in considering how best to utilize related information.

Post-Secondary Advancement Plan (PSAP)

Any student with a disability who received special education and related services, that turned 22 during the current school year, and is expected to complete high school this spring of 2021 can be given the option to attend high school for the 2021-2022 school year as a temporary extension of special education. A Post-Secondary Advancement Plan (PSAP) is a transition focused document that outlines the student's vision for the future through training, services, and accommodations that may have been interrupted or unfinished as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative confers no rights in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 or the Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia. PSAP is not a proposal of a free appropriate public education because the student has reached the maximum age of eligibility. The PSAP is also not an extension of the student’s IEP (or a new IEP) or ISP.

The adult student and his/her family members (as appropriate) are vital participants in the PSAP, as well as teachers, specialists, outside service providers/agency partners, and the principal or designee. The valuable information shared by this team supports the development of a detailed student profile and effective plan.

The Department of Special Services (DSS) is further developing the procedures and finalizing the documents for PSAP. More information about the PSAP, who to contact, and where to direct questions is forthcoming.

School-Based Vaccination Clinics in Partnership with the Fairfax County Health Department

FCPS is excited to share that we will be partnering with the Fairfax County Health Department to offer COVID-19 vaccination opportunities for students (ages 12-and up) at several high school locations. Vaccine events will take place:

Transportation to be provided.

Transportation to and from the vaccination clinic will be provided to all students from their base school. 

Virtual students will need to be dropped off and picked up at their base school. 

In-person (face-to-face) students will participate in their normal daily schedule before and after the appointment and will still ride their normal bus to and from school for the day. 

  • Appointments will be scheduled between 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

More information

Let’s work together to stop the spread of COVID-19. View information on why some FCPS teens are getting vaccinated. For more information, including other opportunities for COVID vaccination in Fairfax County, visit the Fairfax County Health Department at https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/novel-coronavirus/vaccine.

June 3, 2021

June 3, 2021

Dear Parents,

The Department of Special Services (DSS) publishes a regular electronic newsletter to provide you with updated DSS information, tips, and ideas to support you and your family.

End of School Year

It can be especially hard for preschool and elementary aged students to understand and accept that school is over for the year. Due to virtual instruction for most of the year because of the pandemic, there was not a traditional transition for students into the school setting. With the end of the school season coming near, it may also make it very difficult for students to transition into summer.

Now that the end of the school year is rapidly approaching, it’s the perfect time to create that transition for your child or children. Transitioning to summer is a fun time for all school-age children. However, when they do not have the opportunity to mark the end of a school year with traditional activities, it can be quite challenging for them. A good transition is key to minimizing behavioral issues, teaching life skills, and helping children get a handle on their emotions.

Saying farewell to teachers, friends, and school staff is a common way to close out the school year. Ask your child to either write out goodbye letters, record a goodbye video to teachers and friends, or schedule a video conference with teachers and classmates that would allow this goodbye to take place.

Looking forward to next school year is not as easy as it once was. Share the fall school plans with your child. Try to stick with the knowns such as the morning routine, bus stop location, or the school location. Share the experience of the unknowns by “wondering” together. “I wonder which friends you’ll see in your class next year?” “I wonder who will be your teacher(s)?”

Brainstorm and create a summer bucket list. Create two lists that approach what summer might look like with or without social distancing. Ask children to draw or write down things they would like to do this summer and make a plan. Print out this bucket list, add your family’s summer bucket list, and put it up in your house so you can check off things from your list throughout the summer.

Please visit our webpage at https://www.fcps.edu/academics/summer-learning for more information about 2021 Summer Learning Opportunities in FCPS. For any questions about the FCPS Summer Programs, please email SummerLearning@fcps.edu.