FCPS Plans Five Days of In-Person Learning for Fall 2021

News Release
MARCH 16, 2021

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.

The school division used its “safe, steady, ready” approach to successfully transition eight cohorts of students and staff across all grade levels to in-person instruction. By March 19, 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 optimistic that it can return all students who wish to return five days a week in-person in the fall.

“We have shown that we can return our students and staff to our buildings in a way that is safe and steady. We are confident that we can deliver on a five-day return for all students in the fall, knowing that, while we can adapt to any situation, in-person learning really is the best option for our students and staff,” said FCPS Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand.

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FCPS will continue to work with the Fairfax County Health Department and abide by the CDC’s social distancing guidelines to prepare for its five-day return. The school division will continue to monitor updated health guidance, will investigate additional PPE resources and safety protocols, continue to analyze the potential for COVID-19 testing, and prepare schools for changing social distancing mandates as social distancing is reduced from 6 feet to 3 feet.

Many of the 25 high schools have already begun to conduct student activities in-person, including band, dance, and theater, and several schools are planning to phase in more activities as students return to our buildings throughout March. FCPS participated in the Virginia High School League (VHSL) winter sports season, which saw six high schools win team championships and 13 individual students be named champions, while athletes followed VHSL guidelines for mitigation protocols.

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FCPS mitigation efforts have been extremely effective in limiting COVID transmission in schools with just 19 cases of transmission in Fairfax County public schools and offices between January 26 and March 15, impacting .02% of students and staff in buildings at that time.

Given the tremendous impact that COVID has had on our families and students, FCPS has developed a comprehensive set of strategies to support students as they return to school. These strategies are focused on social and emotional wellness, attendance and engagement, and academics. FCPS will also continue its focus on community engagement to ensure families feel prepared, supported, and safe returning their children to in-person learning, while also providing support to those families whose students require access to virtual learning due to health needs.

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Second quarter data indicated that middle and high school grades have improved overall from the first quarter data. FCPS will adopt a series of secondary grading policy changes to alleviate stress reported among high school students, in particular, and offer robust summer programming in schools to support both the academic and transitional needs of students.

“We will continue to focus on three areas: student and staff social-emotional wellness; attendance and engagement with the addition of proactive family communications; and essential academic standards, increased interventions, and tutoring, as we begin to plan to return strong in the fall,” said Brabrand.