New GMHS Construction

Dear FCCPS Families,

I hope you all are doing well and staying healthy. Last week I sent you a very long email updating where we are with respect to reopening plans for our school division. This week’s promises to be shorter :).

On Tuesday evening, I briefed the School Board about our updated measures and metrics and explained our students’ return Kindergarten - 5th grade. I shared that our time, financial, and human resources at this moment are best used to support a smooth transition for our elementary students from an online-only environment to a face-to-face solution. The timing of the start of the phased return would be on or around November 4th, with the completed phase-in (all K-5) by no later than the first week of December.

Given the timing of our elementary students’ return, we would then transition our efforts to our Middle and High School students’ return. Several factors influence the timing of the secondary students’ return. These include, but are not limited to, the proximity of a return to the winter break, the sharing of staff between the two schools, the current construction on the site as completion of the new High School is on the horizon, and the multiple planning factors to logistically moving into the high school for a few weeks only to move out of the high school and into the new a few weeks later.

Therefore, I am formally announcing that we will return our secondary students (Henderson and Mason) in the new year and the new building. A new beginning filled with hope for the future. I recognize that many of you had hoped for a sooner return, and I hope you understand our thinking regarding timing. As a parent of a 17-year-old senior, the idea of several more months at home is daunting at best and devastating at worst. I am committed to helping mitigate the issues associated with socialization that can lead to concerns regarding social and emotional wellness among our 6th-12th graders. 

I have been in contact with many of our School Affiliated Organizations (PTAs, Boosters, Ed. Foundation, Business in Education) and our Athletics and Activities teams at the high school via Matt Hills and Valerie Hardy. We plan to work on strategies to provide multiple options for voluntary socially distanced “meet-ups” throughout the remainder of the calendar year so that our students can connect with their peers. This may be done through existing structures such as current clubs, extra-curricular activities, athletics AND we will be developing alternative options as well to incorporate as many kids as we can safely. We will have the ability to accommodate small groups of students in safe spaces, utilizing screening tools, and implementing the guidelines we have established.

Again, we believe that your child's social and emotional health is as important as their physical health. If you are experiencing issues associated with emotional wellness, please let us know. Our school counselors, social workers, and school psychologists stand ready to support you through referrals and conversations.

So, stay tuned for more information regarding the opportunities for 6-12 grade. 

Lastly, we are finalizing plans for the hybrid return of our K-5 students, and when those are complete in the days to come, we will send out a form asking for your selection of the continuation of online or return to school.

Be well, keep practicing good viral hygiene, and know you are loved by all of us in the schools, and we can’t wait to see you again before we know it.