Fairfax County Public Schools

School-based COVID-19 vaccination clinics for elementary school-aged children could be set up as soon as mid-November, Fairfax County Public Schools officials say.

As reported to the Fairfax County School Board at a work session yesterday (Tuesday), these targeted vaccination clinics will be available in evenings or weekends and have a parent or guardian present.

FCPS is also working with the Fairfax County Health Department to provide vaccination clinics during the school day that would require advance parental consent for students to participate. Those clinics are expected to be available after winter break, officials said.

With COVID-19 vaccine eligibility potentially expanding to children aged 5-11 in early November, FCPS is currently developing plans for providing testing and vaccinations to students.

Most families who responded to an FCPS survey of their vaccination plans intend to get the vaccine for their young children, according to results that school officials shared with the school board.

Of the 85,302 surveys sent to parents and guardians of children who will be in the 5-11 age range on Nov. 1, 35,801 (36%) were returned with responses. The survey was designed to determine what supports, if any, families need to access vaccinations for their children.

Survey results indicated that 76% of parents or guardians plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine for their child, with 80% of that group planning to do so as soon as it’s available. 12% of those surveyed are undecided, and 10% do not plan to get their child vaccinated.

According to Superintendent Scott Brabrand, “common reasons” cited for not getting vaccinated include “personal beliefs” regarding vaccinations, followed by the vaccines’ emergency-use authorization status. So far, federal health officials have only officially approved the Pfizer vaccine for individuals 16 and older.

The survey also revealed an even split on the challenges of obtaining a vaccination appointment, with 45% indicating that wait times have been a challenge and 44% indicating there were no challenges.

49% of those surveyed would not let their child get vaccinated during the school day without a parent or guardian present, while 35% would consider that possibility.

FCPS Department of Special Services Assistant Superintendent Michelle Boyd emphasized that, on top of the information provided by the surveys, officials will look at data on community transmission, vaccination rates, and other factors to guide their plans.

“We’re also using that health data to inform what might be the best locations and also taking into consideration what local vaccination opportunities are available in close proximity so that we can make sure that we’re building those bridges for folks who don’t have readily available resources that are within accessible distance,” Boyd said.

While FCPS has not mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for students, except those involved in athletics and some other extracurricular activities, school officials have strongly encouraged them for those who are eligible and are developing a plan for providing testing and vaccinations. Read More

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Fairfax County Public Schools has asked a federal appeals court to postpone an ordered retrial of a former Oakton High School student’s sexual assault lawsuit, setting up a possible escalation of the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The school system plans to file a petition for a writ of certiorari requesting that the Supreme Court take up the case, according to Public Justice, the nonprofit legal organization that represents the student, who has only been identified as Jane Doe.

Public Justice told FFXnow that it learned about those intentions Monday morning (Sept. 20), though it’s still holding out hope that the Fairfax County School Board will opt not to file the petition.

The law firm warns that, if FCPS files a petition and the appeal is accepted, it could set the stage for a reevaluation of Title IX protections against gender discrimination, which have traditionally been used to address school-based sexual violence, by the same court that allowed Texas to essentially ban abortions earlier this month.

“Fairfax would be asking them to severely undermine students’ civil rights,” Public Justice staff attorney Alexandra Brodsky, the plaintiff’s counsel, said. “I think there’s a real question for Fairfax families whether they want the legacy of Fairfax schools to be undermining equality and safety for students.”

Filed in May 2018, the lawsuit argues that FCPS violated Doe’s Title IX rights by failing to ensure her safety and provide support after she reported that an older, male student sexually assaulted her when they were on a bus during the five-day school band trip.

The school board’s Sept. 9 regular meeting agenda includes a closed session to consult with legal counsel about the case, known as “Jane Doe v. Fairfax County School Board et al.”

FCPS confirmed that it has requested the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to stay its June 16 ruling ordering a new trial in Doe’s lawsuit over school officials’ response to her report of being sexually assaulted by a fellow student during a band trip in 2017.

With one judge dissenting, the three-person panel reversed a U.S. District Court jury’s verdict in favor of FCPS, arguing that the lower court had failed to accurately define for the jury the legal standard to determine if the school system had “actual knowledge” of the reported assault.

“As the divergent opinions of the Fourth Circuit show, the issues in this case could have nationwide and potentially far-reaching implications,” FCPS spokesperson Julie Moult said in a statement. “For that reason, we have asked the court to stay or suspend the effective date of its ruling, pending further review.”

FCPS said it had no further comment at this time, including on whether it plans to petition the Supreme Court. Read More

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