Fairfax County Public Schools will begin formal distance learning on April 14, Superintendent Scott Brabrand announced Thursday.
FCPS schools have been closed since March 12 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and earlier this week Gov. Ralph Northam ordered that all schools in the state be closed for the rest of the academic year. That left schools systems scrambling to come up with distance learning plans, something that Brabrand said was a particularly challenging given FCPS’s size.
“Launching a distance learning plan to reach 189,000 students that engages nearly 16,000 classroom teachers is a complex challenge,” Brabrand said. “We acknowledge that distance learning cannot reasonably replace daily in-person instructional programs, and we will not be trying to replicate the regular school day.”
Teachers will begin distance learning training starting Monday, Brabrand said.
Distribution of MiFi equipment for students who do not have home internet access has already started, and next week teachers will begin reconnecting with high school students. FCPS will begin mailing learning packets for middle and elementary school students next week, and laptop distribution to middle schools students who need the devices is already in progress, according to Brabrand.
Grab-and-go meal change
Curbside pickup is now available for parents and students getting meals through the FCPS’s grab-and-go program. Visitors can look for the Food and Nutrition Services canopy tent either in the bus lanes or in the kiss and ride areas of most schools. Walk-ups are still welcome.
There are many locations in the Richmond Highway area where families can pick up the meals:
Audubon Apartments, 7955 Audubon Avenue (see map) (10-10:30 a.m.)
Bucknell Elementary School, 6925 University Drive (see map)
Cameron Elementary School, 3434 Campbell Drive (see map)
Fairfax County has 79 known cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) as of Thursday, and deaths related to the disease in Virginia have increased to 13.
Fairfax reported only two more cases on Thursday, one day after 31 new positive cases were disclosed. The county, which is the largest jurisdiction in Virginia, has the most positive coronvirus cases in the state. However it has far fewer cases than nearby Washington D.C. (267), which has a smaller population.
Hospitalizations from coronavirus also continued to steadily rise in Virginia, with 65 patients reported by the Virginia Department of Health on Thursday. On Wednesday, Gov. Ralph Northam mandated that hospitals cease performing elective surgeries in order to free up protective gear and beds.
State Sen. Scott Surovell said Thursday on his blog that hospitals in the state are not near capacity at this time.
“Currently, hospitals have the capacity to treat patients with COVID-19 as well as patients with other conditions,” Surovell said. “Additionally, our hospitals have plans to address emergencies that result in a surge of patients, and those plans have been updated to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.”
Testing in Virginia continues to lag behind many other states. As of Thursday, Virginia had performed 6,189 tests, placing it behind 21 other states, according to the COVID-19 Tracking Project. The total is some 4,000 fewer than North Carolina, and trails much smaller states such as New Mexico and Utah.
It is unclear how many tests have been performed in Fairfax County; the Virginia Department of Health does not break down testing by jurisdiction.