Selected groups of students start in-person instruction this week

Students begin gradual transition back to in-person learning


Marina Qu

A school bus sits in the Longfellow parking lot. FCPS students remained in online school this year.

Starting this week, FCPS will allow in-person instruction for special education students, English language learners and newcomers, and certain career and technical education classes. McLean will start in-person instruction on Monday, Oct. 19. 

“[There will be] about 30 kids who should come back, and we will have about 20 staff members coming back, so we’ll be able to separate the kids out, everybody is required to wear a mask,” Principal Ellen Reilly said. “Inside the classrooms our desk will be six feet apart. We will have hand sanitizer and their students will be able to wash off their own desks.”

FCPS has worked with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Fairfax County Department of Health. 

“We are a little bit worried that with moving into Phase three [of Virginia’s recovery plan] that we would see a big uptick in cover cases, we did not see that fortunately,” Dranesville District Representative Elaine Tholen said. 

Because of the relative steady cases in Fairfax County, the superintendent decided to bring students back with precaution. 

“All phase-in decisions will be made with student and staff safety as the highest priority,” Brabrand said. 

During the meeting on Sept. 22, the school board approved FCPS superintendent Scott Brabrand’s Return to School proposal, or Operational Level 2.

This learning plan is referred to as “cohort learning” and according to the FCPS statement, it will minimize exposure as small groups of students, teachers and staff will remain together throughout the day. 

In this plan, FCPS will introduce a group of new students to schools every two weeks starting in early October. Currently, belong to group 8, which is the last group of students to be brought back. 

“In-person [learning] would help people who have difficulties with online school, like myself,” junior Vaneeza Pasha said.”There is such a huge communication barrier. 

FCPS anticipates that by the end of October, around 3.5% of students will take part in this learning initiative. 

Group 1 are high school students enrolled in firefighting, auto-construction and student auto-sales Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses.

Group 2 includes preschool autism and preschool class-based students, SLIFE students (English learners with limited or interrupted formal education), and students enrolled in select high school CTE courses. 

Group 3 consists of students in Key Center and Kilmer Center, secondary and elementary students who access the adapted curriculum, elementary Comprehensive Services Sites, SLIFE students in grades 3-12, English learner newcomers who entered FCPS after July 2019, and students enrolled in certain high school CTE courses.  

Group 4 includes elementary age students attending Burke School and high school students enrolled in select CTE courses.

“It is a goal we have for all students this year,” Brabrand said. “The School Board shares our commitment and is actively engaged and providing oversight of this process.”