Fairfax County Public Schools work to create safe learning environments ahead of new school year

The COVID-19 outbreak forced schools nationwide to end their school years early last spring. Since then, educators have worked to create safe learning environments for students to return to in the fall.

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FOX 5's Bob Barnard visited Thoreau Middle School in Vienna where classrooms are undergoing major changes.

Justin Moss, director of facilities management at Fairfax County Public Schools, said his team has worked hard over the summer to realign classrooms to accommodate social distancing guidelines. "In a normal classroom setting, you might see 24 to 26 students," Moss said. "In today's classroom, you're going to find about 13 students. Still enough to accommodate a healthy learning environment while maintaining social distancing requirements."


Moss said extra attention is being paid to ventilation systems inside of the county's school complexes. Thermometers and self-screening health surveys will be provided for all schools.

Hand sanitizer and cloth face masks will be provided for all employees.

Fairfax County Public Schools has extended the deadline for parents to choose how they want their children to return to school this fall for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. Responses are due no later than Wednesday, July 15.

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The plan offers families two choices:

-Full-time online instruction. Virtual, face to face instruction will be provided four days a week.

-At least two full days of instruction in school each week with students engaged in independent study and work on the days they are not in school.

One day each week will be set aside for teacher planning and intervention support for some students in either scenario.