Sept. 25 – Message from the Superintendent

September 25, 2020 

Dear Colleagues, 

Fairfax County families count upon their schools to deliver the best possible education to their children. Our schools, in turn, depend upon you—our teachers, in-school staff, and central office staff. You always come through. You have done so again as we have successfully opened schools virtually at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. I want to thank you for your tireless efforts in support of our students and families. 

Return to School Plan Update 

On Tuesday, I presented to the School Board that we have met health and operational metrics that support our very gradual, phased approach to begin in-person instruction. Our top priority is your health and safety.  We have been working hard to develop safety procedures and protocols to minimize the health risks for any students or employees as we proceed with this plan.  You can read more about our Return to School plan here and here.

In-Person Instruction Is Our Goal

The ideal setting for education is delivered in the classroom through in-person instruction. FCPS has started to bring students in for individual assessments, senior photos, athletic conditioning and laptop distribution. The SAT test was successfully administered to thousands of seniors at our high schools this week and in August.  All of these activities are being conducted while following strict safety protocols. We are ready to take the next small step in this process and I wanted to share with you the plan going forward. 

FCPS Begins In-Person Cohort Learning in October

Initially, we will use a cohort approach emphasizing small groups of students that are most in need of in-person instruction in various specialized programs. The first group would return in early October and other small cohorts would be phased in during the month of October as indicated in the chart below:

Student Cohort

Programs Included

Tentative Return Dates

Group 1

Select high school Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses.

October 5, 2020

Group 2

Preschool Autism Classrooms (PAC), Early Childhood Class-based (ECCB), Select high school CTE courses

October 12, 2020

Group 3

Elementary Comprehensive Services Sites (CSS), Key Center, Kilmer Center, Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE), Newcomer English Learners (ELs) in Grades 3-12 and additional ELs identified at the school level, and select high school CTE courses.

Adapted Curriculum:

  • Enhanced Autism Classrooms (EAC), including students accessing the general education curriculum
  • Intellectual Disabilities (ID) K-12 Classrooms
  • Intellectual Disabilities Severe (IDS) K-12 Classrooms
  • Students receiving Noncategorical Elementary (NCE) services who are instructed with the adapted curriculum in a special education classroom     

October 19, 2020

Group 4

Burke School (Elementary Program only), Select high school academy and CTE courses

October 26, 2020

Staff for Initial Cohorts Will Receive Additional Communication

As presented to the Board, the initial cohorts would include 3.5 percent of our total student population and 653 teachers. These initial groups will also require additional instructional and operational staff to support the cohorts.   If you are a teacher, IA, PHA, or PHTA identified to support in-person instruction next month, you will be contacted by Human Resources (HR). All other staff needed to support these initial cohorts will be contacted by your principal/program manager.   

ADA Accommodations

If you submitted an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) request to the Office of Equity and Employee Relations (EER) to telework based upon your individual health condition, and your ADA request has been approved by EER, know that your accommodation governs any request to return to your worksite. Please note that all ADA requests are pending until approved by EER. If through the ADA process, it is determined you cannot fulfill the essential functions of your position via telework, you may be offered an unpaid Leave of Absence (LOA) through the end of the school year, as an alternate accommodation. 

Leave Options

If you expressed a preference for telework due to a family member’s health risk, child care concerns or personal preference, our ability to honor these requests will be limited based on the number of students returning for in-person instruction. If our numbers indicate that we need you for in-person instruction, you will be expected to return to your work location under our Return to School Plan as it is slowly phased in over the course of the school year. The status of your leave option request will be communicated to you by HR. 

What If I am Asked to Return to Work? 

If you are designated to return to work but choose not to, we will strive to offer an unpaid Leave of Absence option, subject to School Board approval.  There are a limited number of paid leave options available through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and eligibility is based on the specifics of your individual situation. Please visit the FFCRA  or FCPS Benefits  web pages for more information. 

In all other circumstances, you will be expected to return to teach or work in person. Advance notice about your return to work start date will be provided to you by your principal or program manager. 

We deeply appreciate your understanding as we work to deliver the education our students deserve despite these challenging times. 


Scott Brabrand, Superintendent

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