FCCPS - The Road to Reopening: The Homestretch

Dear FCCPS Parents/Guardians,

Another week of successful PreK-12 instruction is in the books! More students are on our buses, in our hallways, and in our classrooms for hybrid instruction. This week’s communication focuses on building upon this momentum and looks at the next steps needed to bring even more students back to school for in-person instruction. 

Through all the twists and turns, disappointments, and successes of the past year, our goal has never wavered. We want to welcome every student who desires to return to in-person learning back into the buildings safely, as soon as possible, and as often as possible. This means returning to 5 days a week of in-person education for students who selected the hybrid model. The new routines resulting from COVID have complicated every step along the way for our collective community and individual families. Whether your family has opted to remain all virtual or your students are attending in the hybrid model, there is encouraging information below.

Vaccines & Mitigation

Access to vaccines brings hope as we move forward. Each day there is more positive news. As a division, over 94% of staff have received both doses of the vaccine. Health data in Falls Church City continues to move in the right direction for cases per 100k and % positivity.  There are strong mitigation practices in place across all schools. Additionally, the CDC has given local school divisions its clearest guidance on when and how to progress to full-time in-person learning for all students. (CDC Operational Strategies for K-12 Schools ) We are using this information to guide our work as we move forward.

The Next Steps

We unite around the goal of bringing students back to school buildings in-person full time. But, there is much work to do to get there. School teams and central office support staff are working hard on that process. This is another step along a new path as we navigate through instruction, operations, and support services to make this happen. Each building has its unique strengths and challenges that will affect our ability to bring back all students in a more familiar environment. 

Our initial work focuses on our youngest learners. Our goal is to return our PreK-5 students five days a week of full-day in-person instruction after spring break. We are working at the PreK-5 level to develop comprehensive plans at JTP, TJ, and Mount Daniel for a five full days a week return beginning April 6th.  At the secondary level, our goal remains the same, to get our students back to 5 days of instruction after spring break. The secondary school teams are looking at creative ways to utilize space to maximize the number of in-person students who can be onsite daily for face-to-face learning. Students and staff health and safety will be the priority at all schools, with mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand-washing still being diligently practiced at every school as we plan for full day instruction for 5 days a week.

Virtual Option

If your family decides to remain in virtual school, that choice will be honored by all FCCPS schools as we go forward. The technology that brought us this far will continue to serve the needs of those who selected a virtual option for their students. While there may be some adjustments this option will continue to be available for any family who wishes.

Elementary

At the K- 5 level, each school has a multidisciplinary team working to bring more students into the building on more days. This is the first focus of our efforts because we recognize that our youngest students have struggled the most with virtual and hybrid learning. Please know we are working to make this happen as soon as we can at the elementary level. Our goal is for that to begin after spring break and starting on April 6th.

Secondary

The secondary campus teams at Henderson and the high school are engaging in thoughtful planning to bring back more students for more days after spring break. Please know that the process and pace will be unique to both the middle and the high school based on the secondary structures, space, schedules, and operations. Our secondary team is looking forward to this phase of our reopening. Look for further details in future communications.

Community Support

FCCPS is benefitting from abundant support from stakeholders in this community. I have established a Reopening Advisory Group of parents, teachers, staff members, and representatives from across the community. As the Superintendent, this group will provide me with ideas, feedback, and questions to help ensure we are on the right path to move forward and achieve our goals. Partnerships and collaboration have always yielded positive results for our schools, and I am excited about this group’s work.

Over the next few weeks, these plans will keep evolving. Keep an eye out for details about each school’s specific plans, coming from the school division and the principal’s weekly newsletters to families regarding their work. As always, we appreciate your support, patience, and thoughtful feedback as we navigate the next leg of our journey on the “road to reopening.” Have a wonderful weekend, and enjoy the sunshine that will hopefully stay around for a good while!

All my best,

Peter