Dr Noonan's Friday Reopening Update - February 19, 2021

Dear FCCPS Community,

Today represents a significant turning point towards a brighter future for our school community. It is the last day of 100% online learning for most of our FCCPS students. Since March 12, 2020, we have been working through something none of us ever thought possible.

Over time, however, everyone has grown weary, suffered loss, and felt the pain of what a global pandemic can do. In some ways, we have “wished” and tried to “will away” the terrible effects of COVID. That wasn’t possible. It has only been through our collective efforts in strong mitigation and the new vaccines that we could begin to explore the fuller return to school. Today’s percentage positivity in Falls Church is below 4% for the first time in months; cases per 100,000 are below 200 and falling precipitously. Thank you all for doing your part!

On Tuesday, we will begin our return to school in a hybrid model. We are so grateful to our teachers, principals, school leadership teams, and other staff members for their impressive work to prepare each building for reopening. Our Operations team, which includes bus drivers, custodians, maintenance, food service, and day care staff, is working hard and ready to go!

Reopening Plans

Please make sure to read each school's newsletters for details and updates regarding next week’s reopening. You can also find details on our Elementary Reopening Plan and the Secondary School Reopening Plan on our webpage.  We also recognize that many of our families have opted to remain online. Again, thank you to our teachers for their creativity and thoughtfulness while teaching both live and online students.

What Happens Next

FCCPS intends to return to as close to “normal” as possible throughout the remainder of the year. We have learned a lot this year and know that “normal” may look different going forward. We plan to be back to five days a week with all students on the first day of the 21-22 school year. 

In the coming weeks, we will be exploring a more full-time model of in-person learning. However, everyone needs to remember that we must walk before we can run. As our buildings fill with people, we will continually review day-to-day logistical challenges that arise.  Safety, stability, and consistency are critical elements to be able to move forward. With the uncertainty of a pandemic, this has been a challenge. We are optimistic that through our united efforts, improved health data, and vaccinated staff we are in a very different place than we were just 2 months ago.

We have asked for patience and gracious space...and I ask that again. We are all anxious to be back to “normal” and next week represents a great first step...but it is just that...a first step. There is a path to a fuller return that we can see...it will take time and adjusting. 

Finally, let me express my deepest thanks to you, our parent community. Please know that we have fully seen the challenges that so many of you have faced. You have navigated your own professional and personal responsibilities while simultaneously supporting your students’ education. You’ve had to confront the painful sacrifices the pandemic has forced on all of us, and yet many of you have still found ways to publicly and privately support our teachers. This is something I will remember for the entirety of my career. Thank you for that.

I hope you have a great weekend and we can’t wait to see you next week! I will post a ton of pictures on Twitter @peternoonan and on our website. Tuesday will be a celebration of emergence from the “fog of Covid!”

We have a special treat on Sunday: the Virtual Ribbon Cutting for our new high school. This is a celebration of a decades-long community effort! Gather the family for a video that will air on Youtube.com/fccpsorg  and FCC-TV at 1:00 pm.

With deep appreciation and gratitude,

Peter