A Special Message for Parents and Guardians:
Please read this entire letter as it contains critical information.
Dear FCCPS Parents and Guardians,
As we return to school on January 3rd, we do so still being impacted by COVID–particularly the highly contagious Omicron variant. We had all hoped for something different upon the new year, right now that is not our reality. Unfortunately, the omicron variant is driving high numbers of cases in our schools, our community, Virginia, and our nation.
We are going to keep our doors open on January 3rd. Part of the reason we are able to do that is because of your commitment to vaccinations, so thank you! Please be patient and flexible, as we are experiencing breakthrough cases with this highly contagious variant.
When we reopen our doors after winter break there are some pieces as a school community we want to make sure we have in place. We will focus on mitigating the transmission of COVID; effective testing/contact tracing when we have cases, and supporting instructional continuity so teaching and learning continues.
During the first few weeks upon our return we will see high rates of COVID cases in both staff and students. We are prepared and no one does a better job than our FCCPS community when it comes to mitigation! So let’s be vigilant in our mitigation efforts when we return and support our ability to maintain a healthy environment for all.
Conduct the Daily Health Screening each morning before coming to school.
DO NOT SEND YOUR STUDENT TO SCHOOL IF THEY HAVE SYMPTOMS OF ANY KIND and contact your healthcare provider.
Make sure your student wears their mask all the time when around others outside of your home.
Wash/Sanitize hands frequently.
Don’t attend large gatherings.
Increased cleaning protocols will be continued by our custodial staff.
We will also continue to have students eat outside as often as possible.
Consider driving/walking/biking your child to school to reduce exposure on the bus. If our Transportation staff is impacted by Covid, we will implement double runs and will notify parents.
Follow the CDC guidelines for travel and consider getting tested prior to returning to school. US Citizens, US Nationals, US Lawful Permanent Residents, and Immigrants: Travel to and from the United States | CDC
TESTING & CONTACT TRACING:
BinaxNow tests from the Virginia Department of Health are deployed in schools to support diagnostic testing for symptomatic students. (These are reserved for symptomatic students and staff in order to support their return to school, and are not for asymptomatic testing or returning from travel.)
Prior to returning to school, testing is strongly recommended. The Fairfax Health Department website recommends:
Contacting your healthcare provider.
Call a clinic (urgent care center) or retail providers such as a pharmacy or grocery
Find more testing sites using this VDH tool to search for a testing site in Virginia near you.
Purchase a home test kit if available.
Reach out to the FCHD for support. Call the call center at 703-324-7404 to schedule a testing appointment.
ViSSTA PCR Screening tests will continue to be conducted beginning January 6th. Please register to access the testing at any time. Contact John Brett (firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or Angela Atwater (email@example.com) if you need support registering. FCCPS COVID Screening Test Permission Form (ViSSTA PCR tests are open to any student in FCCPS.) Your student must be registered in advance and verified to participate in this process.
An additional full-time RN will be in place in FCCPS for the rest of the school year to help support testing and contact tracing, in addition to supporting schools with other health services.
Please continue to report any COVID positive results. (All health information is treated with the utmost confidentiality and respect.)
Answer the call/email. It is critical that everyone answer the calls/emails from their school’s COVID Response Teams and the Health Department.
Any student who is fully vaccinated and does not have symptoms will not have to be paused/quarantined when exposed to a positive case as long as they are not symptomatic. Upload your student’s most recent vaccination record to our new system at the following link – FCCPS Vaccination Card Repository.
Review the chart below to remain informed about the COVID processes that were updated by the revised CDC on 12/27/2021.
Your Student is COVID Positive (Symptomatic & Asymptomatic)
Your Student is Exposed to a Positive Case and Has NO Symptoms
Your Student Is Exposed to a Positive Case and Has Symptoms
YOUR STUDENT IS FULLY VACCINATED (FULLY VACCINATED IS 14-DAYS AFTER SECOND DOSE. THIS DEFINITION NOW INCLUDES A “BOOSTER” DOSE IF AVAILABLE TO YOUR AGE GROUP, currently only approved for ages 16 and older)
YOUR STUDENT IS NOT FULLY VACCINATED (FULLY VACCINATED IS 14-DAYS AFTER SECOND DOSE. THIS DEFINITION NOW INCLUDES A “BOOSTER” DOSE IF AVAILABLE TO YOUR AGE GROUP)
This chart is updated with the latest CDC guidance as of 12/28/21. Please be aware these are guidelines and the specifics of each situation may change the guidance based upon the context of each individual’s situation.
CONTINUITY OF TEACHING & LEARNING:
All of the previous strategies are in place to protect the health and safety of our staff, students, and their families AND to help ensure instruction continues despite a rise in cases. Our schools are also preparing for the impact of higher cases on instruction.
Please help your student to prepare to stream and participate virtually in their classes should the need arise.
Students will be asked to take their technology home each day. Please have it charged and with your student as they attend school each day.
Due to COVID, your child could be at school learning while their teacher is providing instruction from home. All impacted classrooms and learning spaces will be monitored by FCCPS staff at all times.
It is our responsibility to ensure we have protective measures in place to help keep everyone as safe as possible. We can’t do this without your help and support. The decisions we make in our personal lives have an impact on those around us (and their families) in the school setting, especially during times of high transmission. Be responsible, keep your students home when they have symptoms, get them vaccinated/boosted when available, and register them for our ViSSTA testing program.
It is our collective commitment to remain open during these times because our students need us to be able to provide in-person learning. We need families to keep their children home when they are not well. Sending sick students to school jeopardizes our ability to remain open.
We have learned so much over the last 20 months and we will respond accordingly. There is no sugar coating or getting around it…case rates are high and the road ahead will be challenging at times. Thankfully, we have high vaccination rates in the City of Falls Church among employees and students. Our COVID Response Teams are highly trained and have navigated numerous COVID cases among students and staff, and we have our collective wisdom to lean on as we embark on 2022. While Omicron is proving to be a milder variant for the vaccinated and resolves quicker despite it being highly contagious, we will continue to be vigilant in our mitigation efforts and practices to combat the spread in FCCPS. We will continue to lean on our community and each other to get through this next hurdle as we welcome our students back on January 3rd. Until then, continue to remain safe and take good care!
– FCCPS Leadership Team