Fairfax Co. schools aim for ‘pre-pandemic normal’ in upcoming year

When the upcoming school year begins this fall in Virginia, Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand says the goal is for a return to pre-pandemic normal.

“That means we will have students attending in-person learning, five days a week, period,” Brabrand told the county school board on Wednesday.

While extolling the benefits of in-person learning, Brabrand said FCPS will offer limited virtual enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year so that students who meet specific criteria can remain online.

“FCPS and I pledge today that we are going to work with every family by name and by need, to ensure that they are confident in returning their children into our school buildings this fall,” Brabrand said.

Now that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has signed a law requiring school divisions to offer full-time, in-person learning, FCPS will apply COVID-19 mitigation guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “to the maximum extent possible,” Brabrand said.

In-school transmission of the coronavirus has been exceedingly rare when proper mask usage and social distancing guidelines are followed.

“We’re hearing already from the CDC director and Moderna that the vaccine will available in just a few more weeks to kids as young as 12-years-old,” said Brabrand. “That’s all of our middle and high school kids in the next few weeks, all being able to be vaccinated.”

Northam has said he would not seek to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for college students.

School bell and bus schedules will more closely resemble what they were prior to the pandemic’s arrival in March 2020. The School Age Child Care program will return to its before- and after-school model.

Brabrand said the school is looking for creative ways to increase the physical distance between students in typically crowded cafeterias, and some school classrooms.

“We will be increasing capacity for learning and lunches through the purchase of additional tents for outdoor classrooms, to support adherence to CDC social distancing guidance to the maximum extent practical,” he said.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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