All school to remain virtual until 2021

Sam Mostow and Megan Clinton

covid19 metrics
The past few weeks’ “Reopening Checklist” have been full of red Xs, clearly marking the end of a short period of more hopeful data for the region. Because of this, Superintendent Dr. Noonan has closed in-person learning until, at the earliest, January. (Photo via FCCPS)

Due to the significant rise in COVID-19 cases in the Fairfax Health District, FCCPS Superintendent Dr. Peter Noonan announced on Wednesday all academic activities will remain virtual through Winter Break.

In the latest regional COVID metrics also released on Wednesday, the percent of positive tests rose to 8.1%, up 0.1% from the previous week. In Falls Church City, the number of positive cases per 100,000 people has jumped to 162.5 people this last week from 27.08 the previous week. All metrics are in the “high/substantial transmission” range.

In the two weeks FCCPS held in-person school for elementary school students, there were ten positive cases of COVID-19 in the school district. Seven contact tracing investigations were opened. More than 50 students have been exposed in their homes or in other situations. Across the district, more than 45 families and more than 30 staff members have been impacted, according to Dr. Noonan.

As of publication, there is no evidence of transmission in schools. However, one person who was potentially exposed is currently in quarantine. If they test positive, it will be the first case of in-school transmission in FCCPS. 

Without Thanksgiving Break, approximately three classrooms would have had to “pause” and move to entirely distance learning and one bus would have been unavailable due to contact tracing, according to Dr. Noonan.

VHSL sports are still slated to begin this week, despite some Virginia superintendents requesting a two week delay in the season. The VHSL has not responded to their request. While some schools canceled their winter sports seasons, FCCPS still plans to continue allowing sports.

Boys and girls basketball and winter cheer will begin their tryouts on Monday, December 7. Wrestling and swim/dive will begin their tryouts on Monday, December 14. This begins the VHSL’s condensed schedule where winter sports will take place from December through February, fall sports will take place from February through May, and spring sports will take place from April through June. 

School-approved in-person clubs are allowed to begin again this week.