Five return-to-school facts

What has changed, and what will be changed for the Highlanders


The McLean Instagram page posts teachers and other faculty holding numbers counting down the days until the start of in-person learning. Images obtained via @mclean_high on Instagram.

As of February 18th, only 12 days are left for McLean students to return to the school building. It has already been a year since in-person learning stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many new changes were made in order for students and faculty to be in the building safely. Here are five things that students need to know, and should be aware of, before returning to school.

1. Revised Start/End Times COVID Bell Schedule

Bell schedule for Feb. 16 to Feb. 26.

There will be a new bell schedule, starting on Tuesday, Feb. 16 and ending on Friday, Feb. 26. For the two weeks prior to returning school, first classes for both Red and Silver day start 10 minutes later than usual. 3rd period and Highlander Time as well as the last classes for both days have five fewer minutes. “The bell schedule adjustment is necessary due to social distancing requirements which limit capacity on school buses,” said Scott Braband, the superintendent for Fairfax County Public Schools, in his Return to School Plan message. Even though all McLean students are doing virtual learning at this time, they will need to follow the new bell schedule.

2. Course Selection for 2021-22

Course Selection for the 2021-22 school year is taking place, and students won’t want to miss it. For all 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students, course registration instructions and resources were uploaded to the Academic Advising section of McLean High School’s website, in order to provide information when selecting courses. Current sophomores already had the chance to meet their counselors in the first week of February, and meetings for freshmen are currently taking in place. Juniors don’t have a specific meeting week, so they would need to check their emails regularly to set up individual meetings whenever they don’t have class.
More information can be found on Academic Advising | McLean High School (

3. Parent Health Commitment Form necessary for in-person students

Students who decided to come back to the school building must have their commitment forms filled out before doing in-person learning. Parents could fill out and send the form to school through mail or use the ParentVue app to submit the form online. The form ensures that students must not be sent to school and receive home-care when they are diagnosed, confirmed, or exposed to COVID-19. Students are also recommended to read the FCPS Health and Safety Document and be aware of health procedures when back in school.

More information can be found on Parent/Guardian Health Screening Commitment Form ( and Health and Safety Guidance Document for 2020-21 | Fairfax County Public Schools (

4. Asynchronous Days for students on February 25th and 26th

The last two days before in-person learning starts will be asynchronous for students. Teachers will go back to the school building and set up classrooms for concurrent learning on Feb. 22, and teach virtual-classes while they are in the building the next two days. For teachers to have time practicing concurrent learning in class, Feb. 25 and 26 are teacher-choice asynchronous days, so students need to check if their classes are synchronous or asynchronous.

5. McLean High School Schedule – Spring 2021

Bell schedule for Mar. 2 to the end of the school year.

As in-person learning starts, there will be a new bell schedule which will be used for the rest of the year. The starting time is 8:20 and the ending time is 2:50, just as the Revised Start/End Times COVID Bell Schedule, but all class times vary. 5th and 6th period classes now have lunch time during their class and all break times are 10 minutes. The lunch schedule for each class is still in discussion, so students will be notified in the upcoming days. Both in-person and full time virtual learning students will follow the new bell schedule until June 11, the last day of school.