Return to School

Returning Strong

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has successfully completed the month-long return of students and staff to in-person learning and is announcing that it will be returning to five days a week of in-person learning in the fall.

More than 109,000 students will have returned for in-person learning, while keeping in-school COVID-19 transmission rates low.

With the success of the spring return to school effort, FCPS is planning to return all students to five days a week in-person in the fall.

Transition to Four Days of In-person Learning

FCPS will be expanding opportunities for four days of in-person learning for identified students during the month of April based on updated Centers for Disease Control guidance, which allows schools the opportunity to transition from six (6) feet to three (3) feet physical distancing in some circumstances. This transition will depend on space and staffing at each school as well as community transmission rates. 

April 6 - students who are experiencing the greatest learning challenges, as identified by school personnel.  This includes transportation. 

April 13 -  students who are currently attending two-days in-person (PreK-12) and are eligible to return will be contacted during the week of April 13. This expanded capacity is dependent on space and staffing at each school.

April 20 - Eligible students identified above begin four days of in-person learning including bus transportation.

Physical Distancing Changes

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 - When six (6) feet applies

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

COVID-19 Case Reporting

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. Daily reminders for familes include:

Daily In-Person Checklist

Make sure your child brings to school on days of in-person learning:

  • Mask(s) (Label with your child’s full name)
  • Water bottle (Label with your child’s full name)
  • School supplies (Label with your child’s full name)
  • Laptop, charger and headphones
  • Hand sanitizer (optional)
  • Disinfectant wipes (optional)
  • Tissues for personal use (optional)

FCPS implemented a new bell schedule on February 16 due to physical distancing requirements which limit capacity on school buses. The bell schedule change will apply to both in-person instruction as well as students who are participating in full-time virtual instruction. 

News for Parents

April 21 - Take a look at this week's issue of FCPS This Week to learn more about planning for five days of in-person instruction in the fall, the 2021 graduation calendar, vaccination appointments for county residents, and summer enrichment programs. . 


Resources for Families


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