How Fairfax County schools are preparing for students who choose to return to classrooms

Thoreau Middle School
Preparations are underway at Thoreau Middle School in Fairfax County, Virginia, to welcome students back to school this fall.

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Staff welcoming visitors or conducting business with students in office areas will be positioned behind Plexiglas.

Signs remind students to practice good health hygiene when they return to classrooms this fall.

At Fairfax County schools, students who return to school will need to practice safe distancing.

Signs will be posted in Fairfax County schools to remind students about the health guidelines.

Justin Moss
Justin Moss, director of facilities management for Fairfax County schools, is very proud of the work staff have done to get ready for students this fall.

Thoreau Middle School
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Justin Moss

Some kids will stay home for virtual learning when schools in Fairfax County, Virginia, resume instruction Sept. 9. For those whose parents opt for some in-person learning, work is underway to get schools ready for returning students.

Specifics for handling some adjustments, such as for gym class, are still being decided. But preparations are taking place to promote social distancing, and sanitizing protocols are already in place.

“We use a medical-grade cleaning solution for sanitizing that is proven to kill the COVID virus,” said Justin Moss, director of facilities management for Fairfax County Public Schools.

High-touch areas, such as door handles and bathrooms, will be sanitized several times throughout the day. Teachers will have hand sanitizer and cleaning products in classrooms.

“And then, additional deeper cleaning will be provided in the evenings,” Moss said.

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Students and teachers will be required to wear masks. Staff welcoming visitors or conducting business with students in office areas will be positioned behind Plexiglas.

Social distancing signs will be in place, and decals and one-directional signs will be on floors.

“You may see a change in the pattern flows of our hallways,” Moss said.

Lunches will be served from cafeterias and eaten in classrooms or outside; individual schools can decide how they want to handle that.

Classrooms, operating at 50% capacity, will have half the desks removed.

“Where you’d normally find 24-26 desks, this fall you’re going to see 12 to 13 desks,” Moss said.

He said that getting everything ready in coming weeks will be a daunting task. Collectively, county schools cover 27 million square feet, equivalent to four Pentagon buildings.

“We’re doing everything we can to be prepared,” Moss said. “I really want to commend all of our staff members who’ve been working very hard to prepare these buildings for the past four months. I’m very, very proud of our staff.”

Parents can find answers to frequently asked questions on the Fairfax County schools website.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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