Roots, Resilience, & Renewal - Week 24


As we move into Week 24 of the school year and approach Valentine’s Day, let’s remember the importance of caring for each other. These last two years have taken a toll on everyone in differing ways. We have supported each other through this journey; let’s continue to do that. This week’s message contains 

  • community mental health resources

  • links for parents

  • information about the mask opt-out process that begins Monday

  • new data charts

This is an “off-cycle” Roots, Reliance, and Renewal because we are in the final stretch of the masking mandate in FCCPS. Some of what is in this week's RRR is similar to what I sent about a month ago, but I am sending it again as parents are starting to exercise the “opt-out” option. I simply ask that you read this and consider it as decisions about opting out are being made.

Several weeks ago, the School Board passed policy JA, allowing parents to “opt-out” of masking beginning on Monday. Since adopting the policy, we have been working to “operationalize” their decision. Opting-out requires completing the opt-out form and a hard copy delivered to the school. We ask this so that FCCPS can continue to enforce the ongoing mask requirement for those students whose parents wish that their children to stay masked.

There is good news insofar as Falls Church City’s spike of Omicron peaked on January 10th, and since then, our rates have been dropping precipitously. Further, we are seeing very small numbers of positive cases in our ViSSTA surveillance testing (less than 1% positivity), which indicates that there is not a lot of infection in our schools. However, it is important to note that Falls Church City remains in a “high transmission” phase, with numbers per 100K remaining the biggest challenge.

Our schools are not just filled with children (some of whom have serious health conditions, are immunocompromised, and are considered high risk). We also have 500 staff members in FCCPS dedicated daily to their work. We have immunocompromised staff, who are transplant recipients, and who have underlying health conditions. I ask you to remember that we are part of a bigger community of people and must look out for each other.

If you decide to opt-out of masking, there are a few things parents need to know:

  • The 3 to 6-foot school exemption for students as “close contacts” ONLY applies when BOTH students are fully-masked. In the 3 to 6-foot contact situation, when one student is unmasked BOTH students are considered close contacts and need to quarantine per the CDC. This means the masked student and unmasked students are both subject to the appropriate quarantining guidelines based on their vaccination status. Vaccinated close contacts are not required to quarantine if they have no symptoms of illness. (Steps for Determining Close Contact and Quarantine in K–12 Schools | CDC)

  • If your child tests positive for COVID, the quarantine rules for 0-5 days are the same, and the masking requirement remains the same for days 6-10. All students in school for days 6-10 will be required to wear a mask to return to school. If you elect that your student not wear a mask, the alternate option for days 6-10 is to keep your student in quarantine for the entire ten days, with streaming instruction for days 6-10.

  • NEW - - All UNVACCINATED students whose parents have opted them out of masking are highly recommended to register and participate in weekly PCR screening testing via the ViSSTA program. If your student is currently enrolled in our ViSSTA testing program, you do not need to complete this step again. Please visit this link to register: ViSSTA Screening Registration. Upon completion of the registration, your student(s) will be assigned either Tuesday or Thursday for testing. 

Parents can find the opt-out form on the FCCPS website under the COVID tab on the front page. Your child will not be exempt from wearing a mask until the opt-out form is completed online, printed, and received by the school from a parent or guardian. 

We've come this far together; while it has been challenging at times, we are together, and that is what matters most.

Thank you for your consideration as you contemplate opting out of masking, and thank you for your continued support of our schools.


Dr. Peter J. Noonan, Superintendent

#BetterTogether  #HandleWithCare

Community Mental Health Resources:

  • CrisisLink Regional Hotline: 703-527-4077 CrisisLink is a hotline for individuals in crisis or family/friends seeking guidance on how to help a loved one

  • CrisisText:  Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime. Crisis Text Line is here for any crisis. A live, trained Crisis Counselor receives the text and responds, all from our secure online platform. The volunteer Crisis Counselor will help you move from a hot moment to a cool moment.

  • Mobile Crisis Unit: 703-573-5679 The Mobile Crisis Unit (MCU) is an emergency mental health program of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board that provides on-scene evaluation, treatment, and crisis intervention in the community. 

  • Merrifield Center Emergency Services: 703-573-5679  The Merrifield Center of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board offers a range of clinical programming. Emergency Services, staffed 24 hours per day, seven days per week, works with people in psychiatric crisis who need immediate attention. 

  • Call 911 should you need immediate support in a life-threatening situation.

Important Links for Parents:


FCCPS Student Vaccination Card Upload Portal 

ViSSTA Testing Registration/Permission Link

Student Self-Monitoring Health Screening 

Staff Self-Monitoring Health Screening 


FCCPS Student Mask/Face Covering Opt Out Form 

FCCPS COVID By The Numbers

From this week forward we will be providing the data below to ensure everyone remains informed regarding positive cases, testing, and masking. 


Number Positive of Cases for Week 24

Cumulative Since August 1

# of Student Cases:



# of Staff Cases



# of Students in Quarantine Due to Being a Close Contact



FCCPS Rate of Transmission

HIGH for Falls Church City

HIGH for Fairfax Health District

Please note that this data is just a snapshot of FCCPS in total and is adjusted based on the outcomes of each contact tracing investigation. 

All FCCPS positive cases are included regardless of source. These data include parent/staff reports, ViSSTA results, HD notifications, and healthcare providers.

ViSSTA Testing Data Week of:

Number Tested

# Positive

January 24-28, 2022



January 31-February 4, 2022







February 7-11, 2022








# of Students Opted Out of Mask Wearing

%< of Population

Jessie Thackrey Preschool



Mount Daniel Elementary



Oak Street Elementary



Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School



Meridian High School



School Division