FCPS closed Monday so teachers can prep for potential closures caused by coronavirus

Fairfax County Public Schools will be closed for students on Monday to allow instructional personnel to get training for distance learning should any schools close because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

FCPS made the announcement Tuesday, one day after releasing updated information about the system’s preparations for coronavirus-related disruptions. FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand has been giving updates about school system’s monitoring and preparation since late January, and said Tuesday that planning for coronavirus presents “multi-faceted challenges.”

“This student holiday will provide an opportunity for our staff to prepare for the possibility of distance learning in the event of a school(s) closure,” Brabrand said. “We will use this day as a staff training day and all staff will report to work.”

After school activities will still be held on Monday, and SACC centers will remain open, as will adult and community education classes.

Brabrand also said Tuesday that all field trips in state and out of state have been cancelled through April 12. All trips to New York state, including day trips, area also cancelled. FCPS had already suspended all international field trips.

Brabrand announced on Monday that FCPS has stood up a COVID response team, which is being led by Chief Operating Officer Marty Smith. The team is meeting regularly to put together a response strategy for FCPS, review updates from health officials and implement the FCPS Pandemic Influenza Response Plan.

That plan envisions two scenarios for potential school closures, per FCPS’s website:

Planning Scenario 1: Under this scenario, a large percentage of the division’s schools are in session but a single school or a small group of schools may have dismissed students from classes to limit/restrict social contact and slow the transmission of the influenza virus. The superintendent may authorize the dismissal of students from class based on recommendations from the local health department director. Instructional program support and division-wide support services may be limited due to high absenteeism rate or the redeployment of staff.

Planning Scenario 2: Schools are closed. Under this scenario, students have been dismissed from school either by order of the state health commissioner to limit/restrict social contact and slow the transmission of the influenza virus or by order of the Division Superintendent or the School Board due to falling class attendance and/or rising staff absenteeism. FCPS facilities may remain open to faculty and staff to support continuity of learning.

Brabrand said that any school closing decisions will be made in coordination with health officials.

“Our overall goal would be to do all we can to maintain continuity of operations while minimizing student and staff exposure,” Mount Vernon District school board representative and board chair Karen Corbett Sanders said in a statement.

FCPS also said it is also working on plans for distributing lunches to students who rely on the system for meals.

As of Tuesday night, there were three presumptive coronavirus cases in Fairfax County. One is a Marine who is currently being treated at Fort Belvoir, while the other two are a Fairfax City couple in their 60s who went on a Nile River cruise.