Did you hear? COVID-19 testing is coming to FCCPS very soon!
If you don’t know...I am a huge golf fan and love to play. Recently, a new podcast was recommended to me called “Chasing Scratch.” This podcast is about two men who are trying, in a year, to get their handicap down to 0, or “scratch.” In each of the episodes, they have a section called “honesty hour” where they share hard feedback (in a kind and thoughtful way) with each other in an effort to improve. Today, the first section of this update could be called “honesty hour,” where I am going to share some hard news with you as the community in an effort for all of us to improve.
This was a hard week in FCCPS, with the greatest number of quarantine cases so far this year. We will remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure layers of protection for our students. I know you are too as a community and that provides comfort. Thank you for that and keep up the good work...Now is not the time to let our guard down.
This week we also had a couple of other issues I want to report to the community that we need to address and your help with. The “Devious Licks” TikToc still seems to have a grasp on some of our students. We had a student kick a hole in the wall in one of the bathrooms at the new high school, and there were other smaller, but still damaging, issues throughout the building. This seems to be high school-specific so please let your high school students know that if they see something they really need to say something to a trusted adult or to you. This vandalism must end and we are pulling video from inside the building to try and identify who the vandals are. Of course, there are no cameras in the bathrooms.
Lastly, and the most alarming of all, is this week we had to work through a significant issue around hate-filled and racially charged language on our secondary campus. The language used by some of our students towards several students of color was deplorable and absolutely not who we are as a school division or community. This is not an issue that we can address alone. We need your help as well. On our website, on our Equity, Diversity & Inclusion page, we have resources available about how to speak to your children about race, equity, and other content topics.
I want to be really clear here to say that we have zero tolerance in FCCPS for any language or actions that are harmful to others and especially those that are rooted in hate and/or racism. This includes students that are proximate to the action and support through laughter, coaxing, and other actions that extend the egregious behavior. We will continue with our work in schools to support educational equity and our work on being an antiracist. We are expecting all of our students to call out with great vigor those who use hate and/or racist speech or engage in actions that are inconsistent with our inclusive environment. It is only through actions against those that use this language, and engage in this terrible behavior, that it will end...if we are passive, we slide, and it becomes passive approval. Again, this is not who we are or who we aspire to be.
As a school division, we will take immediate action when we know of this behavior and there will be significant consequences coupled with education to those who engage in these behaviors.
I am linking a brief video here that is the message our Head of Secondary Schools, Valerie Hardy, sent out to all of our secondary students yesterday: https://youtu.be/licVuuFc5pk
Maintaining a copy of your student’s vaccination record is very important. However, in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, those cards can get lost. How do you get a new one? It is an easy process that requires four pieces of information: first name, last name, date of birth, and zip code. Go to Search for your Immunization Record and enter your information. The system will guide you through the process to get a copy of your COVID-19 Vaccination record. You will receive a QR code to download the document on your cell phone, or you can download it as a PDF for sharing. This service is also available in Spanish by selecting Cambiar a Espanol. Another bit of advice...please remind students not to post their cards on social media! Your health information and personal info are private. Keep it safe!
FCCPS COVID By The Numbers:
Cumulative from August 1:
# of Student Cases:
# of Staff Cases
# of Students in Quarantine
FCCPS Rate of Transmission
*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.
Vaccinations Required for Students in Sports/Activities:
All FCCPS students (age 12 & over) who wish to participate in FCCPS winter or spring athletic and/or academic activity, including sports teams, extracurricular clubs, and indoor activities, will be required to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. Fully vaccinated is defined as two weeks post-final dose of the vaccine administered. This requirement is not retroactive to the fall sports season. If your student has a verified medical exemption due to a health condition or seeking a religious exemption, please provide proof of the exemption to Brian Parke, Director of Student Athletics and Activities (email@example.com). You will be notified if your exemption is approved. Students will not be able to try out or join the respective club until this exemption is approved.
A few items to note regarding this requirement:
Students age 12+ are able to get vaccinated at the following locations:
Your private health care provider
FCCPS will not have a testing program for non-vaccinated students. Only those students (ages 12+) that provide proof of vaccination status will be able to participate in FCCPS extracurricular athletic and/or academic activities.
Students who turn 12 will have a grace period of 20 days to provide proof that they have started the vaccination process with documentation of the first vaccination. Students will be allowed to participate in the club or activity until vaccinated. However, the vaccination process must be started by the 20th day after their 12th birthday in order to continue participating.
Unvaccinated students that are 12+ years of age and wish to participate in athletics/activities must show proof that they have started the vaccination process.
Once vaccinations are available for students 11 and under, students will have a grace period to get vaccinated and will be allowed to participate in the club or activity until vaccinated.
If you are unable to locate your student’s proof of vaccination, follow the steps above to Search for your Immunization Record.
The response to our Voluntary Vaccination Card Upload has been excellent. You can get ahead of the “game” in one of these three ways:
Upload student’s vaccination card here: Voluntary Student Vaccine Verification Form
Email student’s vaccination card to firstname.lastname@example.org
Bring a copy of the card to the Meridian HS or the Mary Ellen Henderson MS main office.
Bus Driver Shortage
Beginning this afternoon, and likely next week, some school bus runs are delayed due to “Double Runs.” The Transportation Department will experience intermittent driver shortages that will require some drivers to do a double run for Mount Daniel, Oak Street, Mary Ellen Henderson, and Meridian in the coming weeks. This will not occur every day but may occur on some days where there are not enough drivers to operate all routes. Transportation will work diligently to communicate the affected bus routes at least one day in advance. However, there may be a few occasions where we will not know until that day. Transportation is continuing to recruit drivers, so if you know anyone who might be interested, please direct them to www.fccps.org/jobs. The Transportation Team is working diligently to minimize disruptions, and we thank you for your patience and understanding.
I feel like this week’s update was a “downer.” I do hope that the three day weekend will provide us all a little breathing space (with a mask on:)) and we can come back together on Tuesday with a renewed spirit and care for one another. Have a great weekend.
Superintendent of Schools
Falls Church City Public Schools