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FCPS Students to Begin the School Year with Virtual Learning

August 11, 2020

Faced with insurmountable workforce issues, the Fauquier County School Board voted August 10 to move to a 100% virtual instructional model for all students through December.  The first day of school remains August 24. 

At the meeting, Superintendent Dr. David Jeck presented the School Board with a reopening plan update that revealed significant staffing challenges. “Although I felt that we had developed a good plan moving forward, COVID-19 related barriers have created some significant workforce barriers that have made implementing a blended model an impossible situation at this time,” Jeck said.

On July 20, FCPS reopened its online registration portal (OLR) to give families a choice to select a blended AA/BB learning model or a 100% virtual learning model.  As of August 10, 5956 students (67.6%) had selected the blended model, and 2860 students (32.4%) had chosen the 100% virtual option. Approximately 2,100 had not yet made a selection in OLR.  

In a School Board survey conducted in early July, 12.2% of students selected 100% virtual as their top choice for the instructional model.  The jump in virtual selection to the current 32.4% of students presented FCPS with several difficulties. Only 37 teachers were identified to teach the 100% virtual population of 2860 students.  Although 395 students with IEPs selected the virtual model, only five special education certified teachers were slated to serve the virtual students. Compounding the issue, 136 ESL students chose the virtual model, yet no ESL certified teachers would be teaching in the virtual platform. 

Dr. Jeck outlined additional workforce issues:

  • 130 substitute teachers available, compared to 354 last year
  • Four school nurse vacancies
  • 20 bus driver vacancies

“As a result of the insurmountable barriers that have been described here, it is my belief that we cannot provide high-quality face-to-face instruction for the vast majority of our students,” Jeck said. 

Chairman of the Board, Duke Bland, admitted the decisions he and the Board had to make over the past six months had been the most difficult he has ever had to make in his 15+ years of service on the Fauquier County School Board. “We all wanted face-to-face learning. But facts are facts...and this is the best of all the scenarios,” Bland said.

FCPS will provide face-to-face instruction to certain special education students based on the services required according to their IEPs. The school division will also be looking at ways to provide hands-on instruction for CTE students and face-to-face instruction for K-2 students if it can be provided safely and with fidelity.

FCPS will publish a virtual learning fact sheet and update its reopening website to reflect the updated reopening plan. Community members can view the entire August 10 School Board meeting at http://www.fcps1.org/live.