Noonan Announces 2 Elementary Openings May Be for All Students

Falls Church City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Peter Noonan has announced that the scheduled Aug. 24 opening of all the City’s public schools may include a revised plan to accommodate all students in the two elementary schools, Thomas Jefferson and Mt. Daniel.

“We have done an analysis of all of the available space in each of the buildings and, with creativity and flexibility, we can bring back all of our students and maintain six-feet of social distance,” Noonan said in a weekly update Friday.

“Therefore, we plan to do a phased reopening of the two elementary schools in an effort to bring back 100 percent of our students. By doing a phased process we will have the ability to work with students in smaller groups to develop procedural routines, teach appropriate social distancing and hygiene protections, engage students in the ‘new normal’ of sitting further from others. We will evaluate how it is going in the latter part of September and if all is going smoothly, and we are still in Phase III of the Governor’s plan, we will begin to bring back all of our students. We will not do it until we believe it is safe for our students, staff, and faculty.

Noonan added in his message to the entire school community, “We beg of you to understand our collective concerns…our teachers, staff, administration, and I have significant fear and anxiety about making this move to bring in more students. We recognize we are small and have more flexibility than others and we are all excited to see our students again and welcome them back. We know they need instruction from our tremendous staff but we are nervous. So, please be kind, gentle in spirit, and be ready for things to look different than the way you may know them from the past. Instructional programming, lunch, recess, encore, collaboration in classrooms, etc…will look and feel different.

“Our teachers are being asked to re-vision what they have done and this will take time, energy, and creativity. Give gracious space and know they have your child’s best interest in mind but they hold their own families in their heads and hearts too. You play an important role in helping mitigate our anxiety. We ask that you be prepared to honor and respect our rules about face mask wearing, continue educating your students about social distancing, be ready to participate in a daily health screening, know that we will be doing temperature checks each day when students come to school, Don’t send a student who is sick.”