Updated at 1:50 p.m.Winter Weather Advisory for Fairfax County, with the National Weather Service predicting up to 2 inches of snow from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow.

Earlier: All Fairfax County Public Schools students will participate in classes online tomorrow (Thursday) for the first time since February 2021.

The district announced the move shortly after noon today, citing weather forecasts that indicate some snowfall early in the morning.

Middle and high schools will have a two-hour delayed start, and elementary schools will begin the day at 10:30 a.m. FCPS advises all students to bring their laptops home and ensure their devices are charged.

Students were already scheduled to go home two hours early to mark the end of the second quarter. The early dismissal will remain in effect, and there will be no classes on Friday and Monday, which have been designated as a teacher work day and a professional development day, respectively.

FCPS is implementing virtual learning tomorrow after using up its five “traditional” snow days in response to winter weather that hit the D.C. area during the week of Jan. 3-7.

As of 10 a.m., the National Weather Service is projecting that Fairfax County could see 1 to 3 inches of snow between 1 p.m. today and 7 p.m. tomorrow. The D.C. area has a 64% chance of getting at least an inch of snow.

More details from the FCPS announcement are below:

Division operations are open on time and school and central office building work spaces are open. Employees are expected to report to work on time.

All employees (exempt and non-exempt) who are able to telework, meaning their job duties can be completed remotely and have access to the appropriate technology, may do so. Individuals who are unable to telework and those employees designated as essential are expected to report to their work site. Unscheduled leave is in effect. If you have questions, please contact your direct supervisor.

School age child care (SACC) centers are closed.

ACE students should check their email for communications from ACE staff and instructors.

We will reassess the weather conditions tomorrow to determine any potential impact on activities that are scheduled on school grounds.

Grab & Go breakfast and lunch will be available from 10 a.m.- 12 p.m. Please pick them up at our weekly meal kit distribution locations, listed on our website.

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Fairfax County students have already gotten a couple extra days of winter break, thanks to yesterday’s snowstorm, but some community members are calling on Fairfax County Public Schools to extend its closure further, citing concerns about rising COVID-19 cases.

A Change.org petition started over the weekend urges FCPS to utilize some of its built-in snow days to either delay an in-person return in the hopes of mitigating a post-holiday surge or establish an online option for students who would prefer to remain at home.

As of 9 p.m. today (Monday), the petition was nearing 5,000 signatures. Supporters cited fear of the omicron variant’s transmissibility and the challenges with getting tested among their reasons.

FCPS’s designated testing sites have been closed to students the past two days, though the system tentatively expects to open them for staff today (Tuesday). Testing is only required for employees who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, a union that represents faculty and non-administrative staff, also argued yesterday that FCPS should extend winter break another week, stating that staff absences and a rush to roll out Virginia’s planned test-to-stay pilot program would create “stress, chaos and inequity.”

“Our biggest concern has always been the health and safety of our students and teachers, we know that there are ways to better communicate and ensure that safety is prioritized,” the FCFT said in a series of tweets.

As acknowledged by the petition writer, FCPS is required by Virginia law to provide in-person instruction, but it could provide a virtual option or go fully remote if it’s deemed necessary to address high COVID-19 transmission levels in a school.

So far, FCPS has maintained that in-person learning is best for students, though a message sent to families on Sunday (Jan. 2) noted that “it is possible that short-term closures of classrooms will be necessary.”

The Fairfax County Parents Association, an organization that grew out of the Open FCPS movement in the summer of 2020, released a statement yesterday urging the school system to keep its commitment to providing in-person learning.

“We cannot let this hysteria lead us to more disruptions, where students in Fairfax County are on their third school year of educational disruption,” the group said. “Exacerbating that disruption only adds to the damage already done to students.”

FCPS reported 759 COVID-19 cases among students, staff, and visitors for the month of December — fewer than the 850 cases seen in September — but with schools closed for winter break, its data hasn’t been updated since Dec. 17.

How do you think FCPS should handle the current COVID-19 surge? Should students have the option to learn remotely, or should they all return in person? Would your comfort level change if testing was required?

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