FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA — Fairfax County Public Schools has released data on families' choices for returning to school in the new academic year. The school district also surveyed teachers and support staff, but the teachers union is urging FCPS to consider in-person instruction at a later time.
July 15 was the deadline for families of 189,000 students to select their enrollment option. Students could either choose hybrid learning option with in-person and remote learning on alternating days, or full-time virtual instruction. When the response form closed at 11:59 p.m. on July 15, 111,712, or 60 percent, chose hybrid learning. This includes 31,289 who did not respond and were automatically given the in-person option. The other 40 percent chose online-only learning.
There was a larger preference for online-only learning among teachers and school-based technology specialists. at 11:59 p.m. on July 15, 7,456, or 52 percent, chose online-only learning. The other 6,946, or 48 percent, chose in-person learning. This included 1,093 who did not respond and were given the in-person option.
Two days after the deadline for families to choose the enrollment option, the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers urged FCPS to start the school year with virtual-only education. The teachers union's executive board said there are safety concerns that remain answered in the FCPS reopening plan.
The executive board acknowledged the work that went into the FCPS hybrid learning plan and believes it will be useful for a future date. However, they don't believe that date should be Sept. 8, the first day of school.
The Fairfax County Federation of Teachers outlined 11 safe reopening pillars that its leadership believes provide "a clear plan for what should be in place before returning to in-person instruction." The list includes: communication, a virtual work option for all staff, physical distancing, cleaning and disinfecting protocols, adequate school ventilation and building systems, personal protective equipment and face coverings, rigorous tracking and tracing, controlled community transmission, comprehensive staff and student supports, compliance, and proactive school closures.
Tamara Derenak Kaufax, the Lee District representative of the school board, submitted a proposal for a virtual start to the school year. It will be discussed at a virtual work session on Tuesday starting at 2 p.m.
My virtual start proposal gets a work session tomorrow-my colleagues & I will discuss with @FCPSSupt and Dr’s from the health dept @fairfaxcounty Still too many unanswered questions. Health and safety of all remain my top priority @FCPSR3 @fcpsnews @afpe_fairfax @FEA_Fairfax pic.twitter.com/S5uKlo5WWy
— Tamara DerenakKaufax (@Kaufax4Schools) July 21, 2020
Some Northern school districts have changed direction after eyeing a hybrid plan to start the academic year. The Manassas City Public Schools will start with 100-percent virtual learning, and most students in Prince William County Public Schools will receive virtual education at the start of the school year. Arlington County Public Schools also opted to start with full-time distance learning.
Under the FCPS reopening plan, students enrolled in the hybrid education would receive at least two days of in-person instruction and independent learning on other days. The virtual option includes four days of instruction and one day of independent learning. The FCPS website states it would be prepared to provide all students with distance learning should a coronavirus resurgence occur.
Here are the FCPS student enrollment choices by school pyramid:
Annandale: 1,525 in person, 474 in person by default, 1,608 online
Centreville: 1,488 in person, 351 in person by default, 2,133 online
Chantilly: 1,646 in person, 286 in person by default, 2,385 online
Edison: 1,440 in person, 326 in person by default, 1,386 online
Fairfax: 1,241 in person, 363 in person by default, 1,483 online
Falls Church: 1,431 in person, 338 in person by default, 1,527 online
Hayfield: 1,405 in person, 322 in person by default, 1,667 online
Herndon: 1,873 in person, 447 in person by default, 1,635 online
Justice: 1,914 in person, 513 in person by default, 1,834 online
Lake Braddock: 1,810 in person, 324 in person by default, 1,575 online
Langley: 1,613 in person, 285 in person by default, 1,557 online
Lee: 1,232 in person, 373 in person by default, 1,522 online
Madison: 1,748 in person, 268 in person by default, 1,330 online
Marshall: 1,666 in person, 297 in person by default, 783 online
McLean: 1,867 in person, 375 in person by default, 1,221 online
Mount Vernon: 869 in person, 758 in person by default, 1,314 online
Oakton: 1,708 in person, 357 in person by default, 2,066 online
Robinson: 1,811 in person 354 in person by default, 1,549 online
South County: 1,075 in person, 382 in person by default, 1,167 online
South Lakes: 1,857 in person, 447 in person by default, 1,819 online
West Potomac: 1,969 in person, 889 in person by default, 1,898 online
West Springfield: 1,969 in person, 378 in person by default, 1,753 online
Westfield: 1,783 in person, 536 in person by default, 2,915 online
Woodson: 1,712 in person, 278 in person by default, 1,608 online