Returning to the Classroom - October 23, 2020

(Vea a continuación la traducción al español)

Dear FCCPS Families, 

It has been another busy week full of outstanding online learning opportunities provided by our exceptional teachers and staff. I am so proud of all the hard work our students have put in over this quarter, despite the circumstances. This week’s message will be centered around our work for the Secondary (6-12) Reopening Plan, as well as some updates regarding our Elementary (K-5) Reopening Plan and a few pieces of other information of support for our families. So here we go...

Secondary (6-12) Reopening Plan:

Our secondary school administrators and school teams have been working diligently to begin the initial planning process for a hybrid return for our middle and high school students.  The first step was to revisit the timeline for reopening in a way that is responsive to the needs of all stakeholders, in particular our Senior Class of 2021. 

All parents will be given the opportunity to select whether their student(s) will attend 100% virtually or attend in a hybrid model, which includes a combination of in person and online instruction with their teacher(s). A form will be coming out for Secondary parents/guardians in the next few weeks. Parents will be asked to: select Virtual or Hybrid Learning; indicate transportation needs; and whether their students will need breakfast and/or lunch. Please note that regardless of model (Virtual or Hybrid) your student will be accessing new instruction four days per week. 

Here are preliminary updates for our Seniors and the rest of our Secondary (6-12) student body:


  • Our Senior Class of 2021 will begin their year on Tuesday, January 5th in the new high school building. (More details will be shared regarding the days and times as our planning moves forward.)

  • They will continue their online learning during this “Senior Week” (Tuesday - Friday) and will access their curriculum in the new space utilizing appropriate health mitigation strategies.

  • The Seniors will be able to use this opportunity to navigate the new facilities and focus on their leadership as we prepare to usher in the rest of our secondary students.  

  • Their first week will involve fully online instruction but they will be able to engage in their new school building! 

  • Seniors will then transition to a hybrid model beginning Tuesday, January 12th attending school in person 2-days per week and receiving online instruction 2-days per week. 

  • Students in Grades 6-11 will begin their hybrid learning model (2-days in person and 2-days online with their teachers) on Tuesday, January 12th. Again please note that regardless of model (Virtual or Hybrid) your student will be accessing new instruction four days per week. 

  • Students will receive 2-days of in person instruction and 2-days of online simultaneous instruction with their teachers in the secondary hybrid model. (More details regarding which days students will attend will be shared as our planning moves forward.)

  • Approximately half of the students will attend in person learning at a time to ensure adequate social distancing is in place.

  • Mondays will be reserved for independent learning, intervention and other opportunities provided virtually, while also allowing for teacher planning time. 


  • Students will participate in a simultaneous teaching model, where some students will be online and some will be face-to-face, to address the learning needs of all students.

  • Classes will engage in delivery of instruction between two groups of students; those who are face-to-face in a physical classroom setting simultaneously with students who join the classroom online, live, through a classroom camera and/or the teacher’s computer camera/screen on days when they are not in school.

  • All students will continue to access Schoology and other technology resources throughout the school day. 

  • Teachers are working with their school’s instructional leadership teams as they develop instructional best practices that allow them to effectively engage students who are learning in a face-to-face model, simultaneously with students who are accessing the curriculum virtually, through their computer. 

  • Our Curriculum Instruction and Achievement team is also working to provide our schools with support, including access to the most up to date professional development and training.  

  • Additional details will be provided in the near future as school teams of teachers, staff and administrators develop the details regarding the instructional processes that will be in place for both the Hybrid and Virtual options for Secondary students.

  • Please review our FCCPS Prek-12 Learning Environments for Hybrid & Virtual Instruction for more information on our instructional models. 

Health & Operations:

  • All students and staff will conduct daily health self monitoring screenings prior to coming to school. (FCCPS Student Health Screening (English & Spanish) 

  • All students and staff will follow the social distancing guidelines of at least 6-feet, where possible.

  • All students and staff will be required to wear masks on school buses, in the building and on campus at all times. (We will work with those who are not able to wear a mask due to developmental needs, medical conditions or disabilities.)

  • All students will have their temperatures checked prior to boarding school buses or entering a building for instruction or any other purposes. 

  • Hand hygiene will be in place for all students to include frequent hand washing and/or sanitizing. Hand sanitizing supplies will be in place across buildings to support this effort.

  • All buildings will be deep cleaned and disinfected each evening.

  • High touch and high traffic areas will be cleaned periodically throughout the day.

  • Each school (middle and high) will have a fully functioning health clinic with a School Health Aide at all times, Public Health Nurse support and an isolation area for students who are ill with COVID-Like Illness should that be needed.

  • Additional health and safety information will be provided within the new few weeks as school teams work to develop the details during the planning process.

Coming soon...A full detailed Secondary Reopening Plan, a family intention form asking if you will return or continue all online,  and a web-page will be shared in the near future as we move closer to January 4th. We appreciate your support and patience as our teams of teachers, staff, and administrators work out the details for a unified approach to our Secondary reopening.

Elementary (K-5) Reopening Plan Updates:

  • Thank you to all of our parents who completed the Learning Intention Form. Our Elementary teams are working through the data and responses. Parents will receive notification from their student(s) school regarding whether they will be assigned to the AM or PM group on October 29th. Soon after that families will receive information regarding:

    • Transportation;

    • Breakfast/Lunch;

    • Daycare information if applicable;

    • Scheduling details; and

    • Other instructional information

  • As we move forward with our reopening, we appreciate your support and patience. Instruction will continue to be of high quality and use strong instructional practices for students in both the Virtual and Hybrid models. 

  • This does mean that some things may look a bit different upon our return. Please take some time to review our FCCPS Prek-12 Learning Environments for Hybrid & Virtual Instruction for additional information on our instructional models. 

Mental Health Supports:

The impact of this pandemic grows with each week.  As we move into the fall and winter, it is important that we all remember to support each other as an FCCPS family. There are a great deal of resources available on our FCCPS Mental Health Support webpage. Other community mental health resources include:

  • Fairfax County Mental Health Center non-emergency referral line: Call 703-383-8500 (This is a non-emergency line. They will provide families referrals to mental health services in the community.)

  • Children’s Regional Crisis Response (CR2): 1-844-627-4747

  • CrisisLink Regional Hotline: 703-527-4077

  • CrisisText: Text NEEDHELP to 85511

  • Dominion Hospital Emergency Line: First Step, 24/7 Information and Admissions Counselors 703-536-2000

  • INOVA Hospital Emergency Line: 703-289-7560

  • Mobile Crisis Unit: 1-844-627-4747

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) / 1-800-SUICIDE (7842433)

  • Merrifield Center Emergency Line: Fairfax/Falls Church Community Services Board 703-573-5679, TTY dial 711 (8221 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive, Fairfax, VA 22031)

  • Should you experience a life threatening situation and need immediate assistance please call 911

Additionally, each school has support teams made up of Counselors, School Psychologists and Social Workers who are available for students and families in need of assistance. Now more than ever we need to take care of ourselves and each other. 

Health Metrics:

Our commitment to the health and safety of our students, staff and families has been and continues to be a guiding pillar of all of our efforts. We monitor multiple pieces of data including % positivity rate, number of new cases per 100K and the infection rate for the Northern Region. Each of those have thresholds focused on reopening schools based on the WHO, CDC and/or the Harvard Global Health initiative.  School reopening thresholds are tighter than economic reopening measures. This is why there can be some variability in data. All of the measures are viewed collectively to help us get an overall picture of how things are for the region.  However, we meet weekly with the Fairfax County Health Department to review the data. 

Our reopening plans are currently on track and we expect them to remain so, unless there is significant change in multiple data points or we receive notice from the VDOE, VDH or FCHD to alter our course.  There is no single data point that we will use. This process is a “dial up/dial down”, rather than an “on/off” switch.  We have strong mitigation strategies in place and will be leveraging small group size as well to support our efforts.  There's not a playbook for this and we are navigating based on science. Our decisions will be condition bound, not time bound, with our continued commitment to protecting the health and safety of our FCCPS learning community. So please do your part as families to support our reopening efforts by: wearing a mask; social distancing everywhere; practicing good hand hygiene; not touching your face; and ALWAYS stay home when you are feeling ill.

In Closing:

As we move into finalizing our Elementary Execution Stage and developing the further details for our Secondary Reopening Plan, please remember this is a new experience for all of us. There will be shifts in a variety of areas for both Elementary and Secondary, as we reopen. While the same commitment to exemplary instruction still exists, instruction will look different. We must also remain flexible in our instruction to ensure we can be responsive as a school system to whatever lies in front of us given the situation we face together. 

Providing both hybrid and virtual instruction requires gracious space as we work to move forward. This type of instructional facilitation will require patience, flexibility, and support for both teachers and students. We are committed to meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students and are excited to begin the next phase in the teaching and learning process. 

All my best,


FCCPS Commitment To All FCCPS Students

  • Engaging students in both learning environments 

  • Providing opportunities for students to interact in both face-to-face and virtual settings

  • Providing authentic and timely feedback to students

  • Differentiating content materials and delivery of instruction to meet the needs of all learners 

  • Connecting to real world experiences through robust classroom discussions 

  • Maintaining and deepening relationships and classroom culture

  • Establishing expectations, to include communication, behavior, instruction and engagement 

  • Providing agency, choice, and flexibility throughout the day