No word how many FCPS teachers called out sick after association calls for ‘mental health day’

A teachers’ association urged teachers in Fairfax County Public Schools to call in sick Wednesday.

The Fairfax Education Association wanted teachers to take a “mental health day” as they decide how they will respond to a gradual return to in-person learning.

Teachers face an Oct. 30 deadline to say whether they will return to the classroom, seek a leave of absence or resign.

Virginia’s largest school system did not have an official update on how many may have done so. Just before 11 a.m., Fairfax County Public Schools spokeswoman Lucy H. Caldwell didn’t give any numbers on how many teachers were out; she said the impact on instruction was “minimal” through the morning.

Earlier Caldwell said “there are approximately 3.5 percent of FCPS students receiving in-person instruction supported by approximately 600 teachers,” FCPS spokeswoman Lucy H. Caldwell said.

The statement from the school system went on to say:

Many of our teachers have told us they want to return to the classroom, and believe that the steps FCPS has taken make it safe for them to do so. For others, we have offered a variety of alternatives in a good faith effort to accommodate their preferences.

We are doing our best to balance the needs of students, some of whom are struggling with distance learning, and the needs of our instructional staff. Our return-to-school plan, in which gradually certain cohorts of students and their teachers return to in-person instruction, prioritizes the safety of students and staff. We have protocols in place, robust health and safety metrics, a transparent dashboard, and a phased-in approach that will allow us to closely monitor conditions and to make necessary adjustments.

We call upon the FEA to work with us constructively in bringing about a safe return to the classroom.”

The Fairfax Education Association, which represents about 4,000 teachers and staff in the Fairfax County school system wants school to remain fully virtual for the year because of concerns about coronavirus.

“We are drawing a line by protecting our members,” said Kimberly Adams, president of the association.

FCPS is the the nation’s 10th largest school district and employs almost 25,000.

The vast majority of Fairfax County Public Schools’ 187,000 students are currently attending fully virtual classes. Superintendent Scott Brabrand has outlined a plan that would have students return in stages through late January to two days a week of in-school learning.

He has accelerated the timeline slightly on request from the school board, which has asked him to come up with an even earlier timetable.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Colleen Kelleher

Colleen Kelleher is an award-winning journalist who has been with WTOP since 1996. Kelleher joined WTOP as the afternoon radio writer and night and weekend editor and made the move to in 2001. Now she works early mornings as the site's Senior Digital Editor.

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