Update from Dr. Sovine on School Schedule and Field Trips

March 12, 2020

Thank you for your patience as we continue to work collaboratively with public health agencies in an effort to maintain the health and safety of our students and staff and address concerns related to coronavirus (COVID-19). We are continuing to closely monitor the situation and adhere to guidance from the Virginia Department of Health. It remains important for you to pay special attention to your personal health practices such as washing your hands frequently, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and keeping your student home if they are sick or have a fever.

After consulting with local health officials this morning, we have determined there is presently no need to alter our regular school schedule or after school extracurricular activities, including athletic events. We currently plan to open schools as scheduled tomorrow and next week, but are designating Friday, March 20, as a day off for students. Teachers and other staff will report to work that day in order to receive training and plan to provide students with online learning opportunities should it become necessary to close schools for an extended period of time. We recognize that some of our families do not have access to high-speed Internet service and that is being taken into consideration as we refine our plans.

In addition, we have decided to cancel all overnight and out-of-state field trips through April 30 effective immediately. We will continue to evaluate the situation and make further adjustments as needed. Although we have decided not to cancel all trips at this time, school principals have the authority to cancel any scheduled trips for students and staff in their respective buildings with the expectation that any cancellations be communicated by the school to those individuals impacted by the decision. The health and safety of students and staff will be the primary consideration as principals and the school division’s leadership team work together to make these decisions.

While I recognize the decision to cancel certain trips may be disappointing, these decisions are being made out of an abundance of caution and desire to help keep all of our students and staff healthy. I also understand that some of the trips that have been scheduled required prior payment and in some cases, those payments may be non-refundable. I sympathize with our students and their families who have invested in these trips and may not receive a refund. Our principals will work with the staff members leading trips that are cancelled to determine if refunds are available and will communicate such information to students and their families. Questions regarding refunds should be directed to your child’s school.

As you know, this is a fluid situation which is receiving our full attention each day. We are continually evaluating the latest information and adjusting our plans as needed. I strongly recommend that all parents develop a plan for their families should schools have to close for an extended period of time. Developing childcare and other plans now will be helpful in the event school closures become necessary.

The situation with COVID-19 is continuing to evolve and we will keep you updated on any additional changes or new information through a variety of communication channels including the FCPS Rapid Communication System, the school division’s Facebook page () and our website (). We have a page on our website dedicated to this matter () and invite you to visit it frequently for the latest information, tips on keeping your family healthy and links to information from public health agencies on COVID-19.

Sincerely,

Dr. David T. Sovine
Superintendent of Schools