Family Guide for Return to School

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is partnering with families to ensure we keep students and staff safe and healthy as we return to school buildings for learning.

FCPS - Responsible Together

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is partnering with families to ensure we keep students and staff safe and healthy as we've returned to school buildings for learning. Working together, we will follow recommended health guidance that focuses on student health, safety, and emotional well-being.

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.

This document is updated frequently and contains the most recent information on health and safety topics.

Family Guide for Return to School

The information in this guide will help families know what to expect as students return to school. The guide includes steps families will need to take at home in preparation for the return to school. Please take time to review the information. We recommend talking to your children about how school will be different when they return. Ask them what questions they might have and share how we are all working together to prepare for a safe return. Have your children practice wearing a mask during the day. Discuss the importance of hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes.

Schools will notify families which student groups are returning to school if they selected in-person learning. An individual student’s schedule, including days of the week and times for in-person attendance, will be communicated directly from the school. Families who selected virtual learning for the school year will be able to remain in virtual learning. Both students participating in virtual learning and in-person learning will receive the highest quality instruction from FCPS teachers.

Our core focus remains the health and safety of students and staff. The Virginia Department of Education and Virginia Department of Health have published updated guidance for returning students to schools, including explicit health decision making guidance.

FCPS is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) layered prevention strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including:

  • Washing hands often
  • Wearing a mask to cover your mouth and nose when around others
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Cleaning and disinfecting
  • Monitoring health daily

Safety Teams will help monitor each schools’ adherence to five mitigation strategies for COVID-19. These teams will conduct random onsite spot checks, deliver education and resources, and report data back to administrators. FCPS will also monitor health data to contain transmission of the virus within our schools.

This web page is subject to updates. If and when the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic change, this guidance may also change.

Concurrent Instruction

As students return to school, we will employ concurrent instruction for in-person students, a model in which instruction is accessible by students in school and at home at the same time. Students who choose to return to in-person learning receive two days of teacher-led instruction in the school building and two days of teacher-led instruction at home. Students who will remain as full-time virtual students will access teacher-led instruction by logging into synchronous (teacher-led) instruction Tuesday through Friday from home.

Concurrent instruction maximizes teacher-led instruction (two days in person, two days virtual) by allowing in-person students to connect with their teacher via FCPS online platforms during at-home days.

Sample Elementary Concurrent Schedule: Two days of instruction in the school and two days of virtual instruction at home—both led by the teacher. Students who have selected to remain virtual will continue to receive virtual instruction all four days.

Sample Elementary Concurrent Instructional Schedule
  Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Group A In-School In-School Online Online
Group B Online Online In-School In-School
Group C
(full time online)
Online Online Online Online

Elementary school concurrent schedule (as shown above): Two days of instruction in the school and two days of virtual instruction at home – both led by the teacher. 

  • Group A: In-school Tuesday and Wednesday and online Thursday and Friday. 
  • Group B: Online Tuesday and Wednesday and in-school Thursday and Friday.  
  • Group C: Online Tuesday - Friday
  • Mondays: Teachers will use for planning. Students will have independent work day.
Sample Middle and High School Concurrent Schedule
  Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Group A Periods 1,3,5,7
In-School
Periods 2,4,6,8
In-School
Periods 1,3,5,7
Online
Periods 2,4,6,8
Online
Group B Periods 1,3,5,7
Online
Periods 2,4,6,8
Online
Periods 1,3,5,7
In-School
Periods 2,4,6,8
In-School
Group C
(full time online)
Periods 1,3,5,7
Online
Periods 2,4,6,8
Online
Periods 1,3,5,7
In-School
Periods 2,4,6,8
In-School

Middle and High school concurrent schedule (as shown above): Two days of instruction in the school and two days of virtual instruction at home – both led by the teacher. 

  • Group A: In-school on Tuesday for periods 1, 3, 5, 7 and Wednesday for periods 2, 4, 6, 8. They will be online  Thursday for periods 1, 3, 5, 7 and Friday for periods 2,4,6,8. 
  • Group B: Online Tuesday for periods 1,3,5,7 and online Wednesday for periods 2, 4, 6, 8. They will be in-school on Thursday for periods 1, 3, 5, 7 and in school on Friday for periods 2,4,6,8. 
  • Group C: Online for periods 1,3,5,7 on Tuesday and Thursday and online for periods 2,4,6,8 on Wednesday and Friday.  
  • Mondays: Teachers will use for planning. Students will have independent work day.

Full-Time Virtual

Students who prefer to continue full-time virtual learning will receive four days of teacher-led instruction while learning from home.

Classroom Monitors

Classroom monitors are used when a teacher is instructing virtually from home.

If a teacher will be teaching virtually, a classroom monitor will be present to support in-person students in the classroom. The teacher and the students at home will still log into Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (BBCU). In-person students will be in the classroom and BBCU or Google Meet will be streamed in to interact with the teacher and engage in learning. The classroom monitor will set up the live session for the class and support in-person students as needed.

The teacher will still be doing all of the planning and the majority of the interacting with students; the classroom monitor will be following the teacher’s directions to make sure students have what they need and will be available to help with additional face-to-face supports.

Aside from BBCU or Google Meet, the teacher and class can still use other digital tools that students are familiar with, such as G Suite tools or Blackboard.

Fairfax County Supporting Return to School (SRS) Program

Updated 2/19/21

In preparation for the Fairfax County Public School transition to a hybrid model of in-person and virtual instruction, the SRS program moved into ten additional sites at the end of December and is now located in 47 FCPS locations. With the School Board's recent decision to begin the hybrid model, SRS has adapted program services in order to best serve children and families.

SRS Registration has been enrolling families at SRS Centers where space is available to accommodate the participation of additional children. Enrollment of families with the greatest need for services continues to be the SRS program's priority. Once all cohorts have returned to in-person instruction, the SRS program will evaluate service options based on family and staff feedback and adapt program offerings as needed.

SRS Health and Safety Protocols
SRS staff continue to work closely with the Fairfax County Health Department for ongoing guidance and feedback on SRS health and safety protocols. In December, SRS staff participated in focus groups on health and safety strategies to support children's transition to in-person instruction. The successful transition to the hybrid model for in-person instruction requires consistent implementation and compliance with all health and safety protocols and rigorous adherence to required mitigating strategies both in and out of the SRS program and in partnership with families, FCPS, and the community.

School Buildings / Safety Protocols

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.

The COVID-19 Health Screening Questionnaire is available in English, Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, Urdu and Vietnamese.

Anyone demonstrating symptoms of illness should stay home. Daily health screenings are completed on an honor basis and are not required to be submitted to the school.

Cleaning Protocols

FCPS cleaning personnel clean and sanitize the school building regularly. Custodians use EPA-approved, hospital grade disinfectant and sanitizing products every day. The following steps are performed to maximize our sanitizing efforts:

  • Sanitizing and disinfecting restrooms more frequently, including thoroughly disinfecting and sanitizing all surfaces, doors, toilets, and handles, and ensuring that all supplies are fully stocked.
  • Increased cleaning to high-touch surfaces/points such as door handles, glass, elevator buttons, doors, tables, chairs, and light switches. Daytime custodians have been instructed to continuously disinfect and sanitize all touch points throughout the day.

FCPS has updated health and safety guidance for air ventilation in schools. A comprehensive review of school ventilation systems was performed to ensure facilities are operating in accordance with CDC and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers guidance and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Assessments and improvements include:

  • Ensured all schools and offices have sufficient air ventilation
  • Upgrading school HVAC systems to MERV 13 air filters
  • Using HEPA filters and air purifiers in select areas
  • Reviewing the use of UV-C lighting in classrooms and ventilation systems and its best application
  • Third-party health and safety verification for all buildings

Lunch

FCPS offers grab and go meals for all students. For students participating in virtual learning, grab and go meals are available at school sites and on bus routes.

Students from the same household do not have to adhere to the physical distancing requirements.

Classroom dining:

  • Students must remain six (6) feet apart while eating.
  • Students may not eat in shifts in the same classroom with half eating and half masked.

It is recommended that students attending in-person 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. 

For 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.

infographic of cafeteria tables with seating 6 feet apart

Restrooms

FCPS cleaning personnel will be sanitizing and disinfecting restrooms more frequently. Their cleaning protocol will include thoroughly disinfecting and sanitizing all surfaces, doors, toilets, and handles, and ensuring that all supplies are fully stocked.

Library

School librarians will provide library services and instruction for students virtually, in their classrooms, or in the library following physical distancing and safety guidelines. Library staff will assist students in PreK through grade 2 with book checkout. Students in grades 3 through 12 may use self-checkout stations that limit contact. Schools have the option to provide curbside checkout to students not attending school in person.

Books that are returned to the library will have a 24-hour isolation period before they are available again to students. School staff will communicate how virtual students can check out books. 

graphic of library book

School Health Room and Care 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. The care room is a designated location for students who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 while at school. It is separate from the Health Room and is necessary due to the requirement for social distancing and room capacity. A designated staff member will be assigned to supervise students in the care room while waiting for the parent to pick up the student. 

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.

illustration of sick child sitting on clinic table with a staff member.

Recess

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 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 mitigation strategies.  
  • Students must sanitize their hands immediately before and after using the apparatus/equipment.
  • Students should wear masks while using apparatus/equipment.
  • Students should socially 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 social distancing.  

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.  

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

Student and Family Safety Protocols

Health Screening Commitment Form

All parents/guardians who selected in-person instruction for their child will be required to complete and return to school a Parent/Guardian Health Screening Commitment form as students are phased back into in-person learning. The 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 form may be returned electronically or via hardcopy.

Daily Health Screenings

A daily COVID-19 Health Screening Questionnaire will be required for all students attending in-person instruction. The health screening tool is available in English, Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, Urdu and Vietnamese. Daily health screenings are completed on an honor basis and are not required to be submitted to the school each day.

Face Coverings/Masks

  • 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 will provide a written statement from the physician that an exemption from this requirement is necessary due to a  health condition, communication impairment or disability or it has been determined that the student meets Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) criteria for exemption from the face covering requirement (under the age of two (2) years or unable to remove their mask without assistance. 
    • 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:

Bus Transportation

FCPS will continue to provide bus transportation for students identified by school personnel through MTSS for expanded opportunities for in-person learning.  

Expanded bus transportation is available for those students already attending in-person two days a week who will be attending four days a week will start the week of April 20. 

Schools will be sending bus transportation information to parents before the start of in-person learning. Seating capacity will be reduced to allow for physical distancing.

  • Schools will be sending bus transportation information to parents before the start of in-person learning. Seating capacity will be reduced to allow for physical distancing. Students are reminded to wear a face covering/mask when riding the school bus.
  • Students will be required to sit in seats as marked on the school bus.
  • Students should load the bus from back-to-front and unload from front-to-back.
  • Students are to be seated one per seat and closest to the window unless they are siblings coming from the same household.
  • The first seat located behind the driver must remain empty except for the driver’s own children/grandchildren.
  • Bus stop information will be available at the school and in ParentVUE.
  • Here Comes the Bus app is available and provides school bus arrival information.
  • As we continue to increase student in-person learning, some bus routes will increase capacity to 2 students per seat.

School Arrival and Dismissal

Each school has an updated arrival and dismissal process. Bus transportation students will not arrive and depart from the same areas as walking students, carpool, kiss and ride, and before/after school private providers. Some schools have two arrival and departure areas. Please check with your school to be aware of their process for arrival and dismissal.

Physical Distancing at School

As long as students are wearing masks and adhering to all CDC layered prevention strategies, evidence suggests that three (3) feet is a sufficient physical distance for students to stay healthy and lessen risk of virus transmission in most circumstances. 

FCPS has a physical distancing plan that creates stability for FCPS students and families. Under the plan, changes in the rate of COVID-19 transmission in our community has less of an impact on the amount of physical distancing required in schools. The plan includes the following guidelines:  

  • Elementary Schools - Changes in community transmission rates do not impact the required three (3) feet of physical distancing in elementary school classrooms where mask use is universal.
  • Middle and High Schools - If community transmission becomes “high,” a middle or high school would change from three (3) feet of physical distancing to six (6) feet physical distancing if the school has:
    • More than two school outbreaks within 14 days; OR
    • A school outbreak in the school does NOT remain small (size of outbreaks are determined by the Health Department)

Definition of Outbreak - School outbreak is defined as two or more laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases among students or staff with onsets within a 14-day period, who are epidemiologically linked, do not share a household, and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing. The size of outbreaks is determined by the Health Department.

Decision Making Process – 3 feet or 6 feet - Decisions regarding the minimum level of physical distancing (3 feet or 6 feet) for each middle and high school during "high" community transmission will be made by the Superintendent/designee and will be based on each individual school’s data unless many FCPS middle and high schools experience school outbreaks within a 14-day period and the FCHD recommends adjustments to mitigation, including physical distancing.

Classroom Instruction Guidelines - 

  • It remains preferred that students face the same direction.
  • If it is not feasible, then students may face one another as long as they are masked and are physically distanced.

 Additional Guidance - Any changes in guidance from three (3) feet to six (6) feet applies to the space between students. Spacing remains at six (6) feet for the following: 

  • 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

Note: Students from the same household do not have to adhere to the physical distancing requirements.

Parent/Child Discussions - Please discuss the importance of maintaining physical distance with your child. It is important for children to understand that common interactions (holding hands, hugs, high-fives, sitting close to other students) are not allowed when physical distancing. School officials also will do their best to remind students of the need to maintain physical distancing. That said, parents should recognize that maintaining physical distancing will be challenging for many students  and that mishaps are likely to occur among students when school officials are not present.

View the COVID-19 Health Metrics for the latest data on community transmission

Handwashing

Students will wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; before eating, and upon entering classrooms. There will be breaks provided during the day for handwashing. Automatic hand sanitizer dispensing stands have been placed at school entrances and 1-gallon pump containers of hand sanitizer are available in all classrooms.

School Supplies and Communal Classroom Items

Students will be required to label and maintain their own personal set of required classroom supplies, keep supplies in their backpack and take them to and from school each day. Middle and high school students will not be using lockers. 

Electronic devices, toys, books, games or learning aids are not to be shared unless they can be cleaned or disinfected.

Students should bring their own water bottle for use during the day. Water fountains can be used to refill water bottles if practical, but students and staff should not be drinking directly from any water fixtures; individual water bottles should be used instead.

Whenever possible, and when developmentally appropriate, supplies/school materials should be placed directly into backpacks by students. 

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. 
     

graphic of labeled school supplies inside a backpack

Student Laptop

Students returning for in-person school should plan to bring their FCPS-assigned laptop and charger with them to school and take that laptop and charger back home each day. Students will need their laptops to support digital learning activities in school, as assigned by their teacher, and extra laptops may not be available in all classrooms. The laptop should be fully charged before coming to school each morning to ensure it is ready to use when the student gets into the classroom. This practice will allow your student to continue to use the same assigned laptop at home and at school in order to limit the number of shared surfaces among students. 

Parents may gently clean the laptop when necessary by using an alcohol wipe or disinfectant wipe to wipe down the keyboard and external surfaces. Do not spray disinfectant spray on the device or apply hand sanitizer directly on the device as it may damage the electronics. 

Students who are learning from home should continue to use their FCPS laptop as they have throughout the year, and students or parents may submit a support request ticket (https://itweb.fcps.edu/itsupport/) if technical assistance is needed. To maintain overall laptop health, all students should shutdown their FCPS laptop completely at the end of each day. Note that due to the unknown and unpredictable security and support risks of exposing FCPS student laptops to foreign networks, out-of-country travel with an FCPS student laptop is not permitted.

Visitors to FCPS Facilities

When possible (unless an emergency) visitors must schedule appointments prior to visiting a school by contacting the main office. All visitors will be required to complete a health screening questionnaire prior to entering the building. All visitors are required to wear a face covering/mask (cloth or disposable) while on school property and inside FCPS facilities. Visitors who do not have face covering/mask will be provided a disposable mask upon entering a school. Visitor access should be limited to essential activities.  

If Sick at School or Home

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 Sick Student Notification and Return to School Forms will be sent home. 

If a student becomes ill during the school day, FCPS follows protocols provided by the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD). Each case will be handled individually in accordance with the FCHD established communicable disease and contact tracing protocols. FCPS will follow established guidelines for communicating information to parents/guardians. For more information visit www.vdh.virginia.gov.

Student Illness at Home

If a student becomes ill at home, the student should stay home from school. Parents need to contact the school and report the reason for their child’s absence. Parents will need to follow established procedures when contacting the school regarding student illness. 

Returning to School After Illness

Families will receive guidance from the FCHD Public Health Nurses (PHNs) and School Health Aides (SHAs), identified as the school health team, as to when their student can return to in-person learning.

Students who are showing signs of COVID-like illness may not return to school until:

  • Student has tested negative for COVID-19 OR
  • A healthcare provider has seen the student and documented a reason for the symptoms other than COVID-19 OR
  • All of these are true:
    1. at least 10 days since the start of symptoms AND
    2. fever free off anti-fever medicines for 24 hours AND
    3. symptoms are getting better

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

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms started AND
  • The student has had no fever or anti-fever medicines (ex: Tylenol, Ibuprofen) for 24 hours AND
  • The student’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, please view FCPS COVID Notification Process 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. 

Transitioning to Virtual Learning May Be Impacted by Staff Capacity

Staff capacity is the ability for a school to maintain adequate staff for teaching, facility operations, transportation, and administrative functions. When there are higher numbers of staff unable to report to work due to COVID-19 symptoms or they have been directed to quarantine as a result of contact tracing, schools may be temporarily unable to offer in-person instruction for a period of time. When this occurs, FCPS will communicate with families as soon as possible regarding the need to transition to distance learning.

Resources

Mental Health and Wellness

All children and youth face challenges from time to time managing emotions such as feeling depressed, anxious, or worried. As students prepare to return to in-person learning, these emotions may be heightened. School counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers are available to support all students as they transition back to their school buildings. Every school in FCPS has at least one counselor, psychologist, and social worker. These professionals can provide guidance for families and support for students who may be struggling with anxiety, mood, behavior, or peer or family interactions. They can also connect students and families with available community resources. 

Contact information for your child’s school counselor, school social worker, and school psychologist can be found by visiting your school’s website.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing a mental health crisis, or if you believe there may be a mental health emergency, call 911. Additional resources are available.

Helpful Links