Board Members Focus on Return to School, Community Use of Buildings, Capital Improvements for Facilities

The City of Fairfax School Board focused on the return to school for students and community use of the school facilities at their work session on Monday, October 19, 2020. With presentations from Fairfax High School Community Use Specialist Gisele Gray and Fairfax County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Transportation Services Jeff Platenberg, the City School board received updates on opening school buildings, welcoming a limited amount of students back into our buildings, and future projections for school capacity in our elementary schools. In addition to the outside presentations, Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Pajardo updated the FY 22-226 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).

Ms. Gray, the community use specialist at Fairfax High School, began the meeting with her update on facility use at the high school. Ms. Gray discussed the welcoming of limited students in Groups 2, 3 and 4 as outlined by Fairfax County Public Schools in the upcoming days including English language learners, special education students and limited Fairfax Academy courses. Ms. Gray outlined protocols for cleaning, social distancing with students and teachers and maximizing the classroom usage to adhere to guidelines.

In addition, Ms. Gray updated the Board that FHS will be one of the 13 pilot programs in the county for students returning to school. The pilot schools will ask a limited number of students to take their classes in the building for three weeks in November. The results and lessons will be used for the larger expansion of students returning to school planned for February 1st.

Mr. Platenberg discussed a variety of issues relating to the City school facilities. The Board asked Platenberg on building ventilation, cleaning protocols, Wi-Fi speed at FHS and details on the proposed hybrid return to school protocols for students in early 2021. With Providence ES currently over capacity, School Board members expressed disappointment with the lack of progress in building a new elementary school in the Fairfax/Oakton area which would alleviate capacity issues at surrounding schools such as Providence ES. They questioned Mr. Platenberg about other possibilities or options to relieve capacity at PES.

The meeting ended with Dr. Pajardo presenting an updated Capital Improvement Plan and discussions about facilities updates within all four schools. To see the proposed FY 22-26 CIP please see our website.