Fairfax Co. Public Schools creates new system to return vaccinated students from in-person learning pause

Virginia

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — A new process is being implemented at Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) to get vaccinated, asymptomatic students back into the classroom sooner.

The new protocol comes after concerns from parents about the pause time of in-person instruction of fully vaccinated students, as a potential close contact to a positive COVID-19 case.

“We’re still following the VDH and the CDC recommendations for allowing persons who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic to not quarantine, so we’re still being able to put those same safety measures in place, but we are able to do it quicker,” said Michelle Boyd, assistant superintendent of the special services department at FCPS.

The streamlined protocol will reduce the time needed to process potential close contacts. The initiative will also help unvaccinated and symptomatic students.

“The time needed to complete investigations is decreased when the focus can be on individuals who are more likely to require quarantine as a result of the exposure,” read a press release.

FCPS and the Fairfax County Health Department developed the system, which requires uploading a vaccine card and filling out a survey.

“Adult students or their parents or guardians will access this survey. Once a student has been identified as a potential close contact to a reported positive case, and the health department is working on receiving those throughout the day and are able to turn those around,” said Boyd.

The Fairfax County Health Department will then send a personalized student clearance letter to return to school.

While the school has detailed instructions on their website regarding the process, FCPS parents like Sue Zoldak say there is a lack of communication.

“Just myself in reviewing it, it’s hard to understand,” said Zoldak, who is also a member of Do Better FCPS. “It makes it seem like there’s two steps, but then it goes on to say there’s another step, you wait for a letter…then there’s another step.”

Zoldak says she wants more transparency from the school.

“For parents, they struggle to understand the communication, they struggle to understand the changes of policy that are enacted and put into place within hours or days later,” said Zoldak.

FCPS says they are following up with parents to provide further clarification on the new process.

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