Wow, summer went by really fast! More than 190,000 Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) students will be heading back to school on Tuesday, Aug. 28.
Here are seven things to know for the upcoming school year for all of our residents and especially for parents on topics from school security to longer recess.
Fairfax County is the largest jurisdiction in the commonwealth and FCPS is one of the largest school districts in the country. Take a look at these numbers:
- 10th largest school system in the U.S.
- Over 200 languages spoken at home.
- 198 schools and centers.
- 28,000 employees – largest employer in the county.
- 26,000,000 square feet of school buildings and office space.
- More than 142,000 meals served each day.
- 1,630 school buses.
- 26 million student bus rides each year.
The FCPS Office of Safety and Security issued a report in June that evaluated current security procedures with recommendations for improvements. In response, the School Board approved funding for eight positions to enhance security training in schools and 18 positions to strengthen mental health support for students. Classroom door locks will also be replaced. The recommendations also included improving lockdown drills, reinforcing proper electronic door access, required annual safety and security training and a review and evaluation of the school-based threat assessment.
In addition, the county’s Electoral Board is asking the General Assembly to move the date for future June primaries because of school security concerns. Currently, the June primary elections are held on the second Tuesday, when FCPS is still in session, and more than half of the county’s poll locations are in FCPS schools and facilities. (Note: schools are always closed for Election Day in November.)
Our Board of Supervisors and School Board have approved a revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between FCPS and our Police Department for the School Resource Officer (SRO) program. Fifty- one county police officers serve as SROs in the county’s middle schools, high schools and secondary schools.
Sixth grade students cannot begin school without documentation of the Tdap booster (tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis). Parents or guardians should ask their private healthcare provider or the Health Department to review their child’s immunization record if they are unsure if their child has received the Tdap booster.
Beginning this school year, Virginia school divisions are being given flexibility in the amount of recess that can be included in the school day.
It was determined that modifying FCPS policy from requiring a minimum of 15 minutes of recess a day (although many schools provided 20 minutes) to a minimum total of 30 minutes would provide a significant increased benefit to students while being a reasonable shift to school scheduling and instructional time. The change will support the mental health, physical fitness and academic achievement of students and will be monitored this year to determine if further changes to the regulation are needed.
The FCPS Office of Food and Nutrition Services is participating in the USDA Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) meal program for the first time this school year. CEP is a non-pricing meal service option for schools in low-income areas. The program allows schools to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all students without collecting household applications for free and reduced-price meals.
The Virginia Department of Education has approved FCPS’ participation in CEP for all students at these 19 elementary schools: Annandale Terrace, Bailey’s Lower and Upper, Braddock, Crestwood, Dogwood, Garfield, Glen Forest, Graham Road, Groveton, Hutchison, Hybla Valley, Lynbrook, Mount Vernon Woods, Parklawn, Riverside, Weyanoke, Woodburn and Woodley Hills.
Our school system has one of the largest fleets of school buses in the country and we need drivers for our 1,630 buses. Driver pay starts at $19.01 an hour and there are excellent benefits including a flexible schedule, paid training, six paid holidays, guaranteed minimum 30 hours/week, health insurance, life insurance, paid sick leave and a retirement plan.