2020 RTS - Frequently Asked Questions

Stakeholder submitted questions and responses

Longfellow Middle FAQs

To submit additional questions and comments you may have, please access the google form here.

This document has been created in response to FAQs from the Longfellow community. It will be updated regularly as we approach the July 10th deadline for families and teachers to submit their intentions for the 2020-21 school year. The intent of these FAQs is to be responsive to the LMS community and we will not duplicate questions and answers provided already by FCPS. Please continue to reference the FCPS Return to School FAQs which will be updated regularly.

Thank you for understanding that until data is collected following the family and teacher surveys due July 15th, most responses to questions are conditional and subject to approval from FCPS, not to mention subject to health guidelines issued by the CDC and the Fairfax County Health Department.

We appreciate your support and understanding that we will do our very best to keep our LMS family safe, while delivering an educational program that “Inspires Excellence” whether face-to-face or online. This is new territory for all of us and there will be compromises we will all need to make. Our goal is to “pair pains with gains,” and be realistic without over promising.

Bell Schedule

  1. What will Longfellow Middle School’s hours be when school starts for students? 

In order to allow time for social distancing measures at drop off and pick up as well as to provide adequate time for required school bus cleaning protocols, at its June 23rd meeting, the school board proposed that all Middle Schools run from 7:15am to 2:00pm.  

  1. If you choose the online format will the school hours be different?

We will be following the school bell schedule to the greatest extent possible in the online format.  However, it is hard for us to envision a situation where middle school students are sitting at their computers for nearly 7 consecutive hours each day/four days a week without a break.  We are not sure how this would work; and with so many moving parts, we will be waiting for more direction from FCPS before we make a final decision on that.   

  1. What will the daily schedule look like?

At this point we are waiting for further direction from FCPS concerning the daily schedule.  We do know all students will be assigned to eight classes – English, Math, Science, Social Studies, Health & PE, two electives, and a Lancer Time class (academic support and social-emotional learning).   In addition, with fewer students in the building each day and with students eating lunch in their classrooms we will probably not need four lunch shifts as we have had in the past.  

  1. How will Mondays work?

Regardless of the format you select, Monday mornings have been set aside as an “Intervention Block for Selected Students,” and Monday afternoons have been set aside for teacher planning time.  At this point we do not know what this Monday intervention block will look like or how it will be organized (bus transportation, schedule, student selection, etc.).


  1. (Added 7/9) Why does Longfellow distance learning need to start so early?  The very early time was because of bus schedules.  If fully online, there's no need to start that early.

The bell schedules will be remaining between the two formats This is primarily because it allows teachers (both online and face-to-face) common planning time during the school day to collaborate with their Longfellow curriculum teams to develop and analyze common lesson ideas, assessments, and pacing.  


  1. (Added 7/14) What would be the daily schedule and how long does each period last?

Each day they are attending school, students will attend 4 classes (of their 8 total classes) for roughly 80-85 minutes each whether they are attending face-to-face or virtually.  FCPS wants both the period alignment and length of classes to be consistent among all middle and high schools, but hasn’t provided us the specifics yet..  


  1. How do I decide whether to choose the face-to-face model or the online model?

This is ultimately a personal choice.  If you have a health concern for your child or within your family, choose the online model.  In addition, if there is an extenuating or personal circumstance where you feel it would be best that your child be at home, choose the online model.

  1. If I choose the face-to-face model can I switch to the online model or vice versa?

Per FCPS Policy, you will not be allowed to switch from face-to-face to online or vice versa for the 2020-21 school year once you have made your choice.  Due to the limited class sizes for social distancing and our necessity to construct a master schedule that supports the learning needs for each of our students (both face-to-face and online) prior to the start of the school year, movement back and forth will not be possible.  If health conditions improve that would allow FCPS to resume in-person instruction for all students, however, FCPS would reassess its operating status at that time. 

  1. I want to ensure all my children have face-to-face instruction on the same days.  How can I accomplish that?

The school’s population will be split based on the alphabet by last name to determine which students are assigned to the Tuesday/Thursday group and which students are assigned to the Wednesday/Friday group.  If both your children attend Longfellow, but have different last names contact our Director of Student Services Marissa Brooks at @email.  FCPS is considering adjusting the alphabet divisions for each school throughout the county in order to support childcare for families with students at different schools. If your children attend Longfellow and another school, please contact our Director of Student Services Marissa Brooks at @email as well as the Director of Student Services (MS or HS)/Principal (ES) at the other school so that we can coordinate schedules if the division by alphabet is not the same at each of your children's schools.

  1. If we choose the online model, will my child have Longfellow teachers?

The goal is to assign students to teachers from their school to the greatest extent possible.  However, if many of our students opt for online classes, but not enough of our teachers opt to teach online or a student enrolls in a course where there is no online Longfellow teacher available, Longfellow students may receive instruction from other FCPS teachers or through the use of other allowed “virtual formats."  We cannot guarantee which teachers will teach what courses; please do not base your decision on specific teachers.

  1. (Added 7/9) Would students have an option on which session they can attend? For example earlier section vs later section in person?

All students will be enrolled with an 8-period schedule that lasts from 7:15am until 2:00pm regardless of the format (face-to-face or online) chosen.  Families choosing the in-person format will be assigned to either the Tuesday/Thursday group or the Wednesday/Friday group based on their last name.  At this point, however, we do not know which group will be assigned to which days.

  1. (Added 7/9) Will the all distance learning group be provided with supplemental social opportunities?

With students coming to Longfellow from elementary schools in different neighborhoods throughout the area we believe it is vitally important that all Longfellow students become one cohesive group of Lancers.  As a result, teachers will be working together with their students during 

  1. (Added 7/13) Does Longfellow have the flexibility to live-stream its classes so that the "in person" option might involve 4 days of teaching with 1 day of at-home work? Are some teachers considering this?

We have been told by IT that we do not have sufficient bandwidth in the building that would be required to livestream all classes.


  1. How will online courses in 2020-21 be different than online learning last spring?

Last spring our teachers were expected to change their curriculum and their method of delivery rather quickly, and they did wonderfully given the circumstances.  However, there were some struggles along the way.  This year our online teachers will be dedicated online teachers who will be able to plan their courses from beginning to end with the intent that they are designed to be taken online four days a week. Professional Development will also be provided to support staff. 


  1. Will LMS have the same courses available both online and face-to-face?

All courses and programs required by the Virginia Standards of Learning will be available in either format.  These courses include core courses (English, Math, Science, and Social Studies) and Health & PE.  In addition, differentiated instructional delivery for students identified for advanced academic programming, intervention for students with identified academic needs, English language development, and services to address individualized education program (IEP) goals will be provided in both formats.  Counseling and library services will also be available in both formats. 


  1. Will all elective courses be available in both formats?

Maybe.  We will do our best to honor student course requests, however, there may be some cases where a specific elective course is not available in either the face-to-face or online format due to teacher availability.  We will not know this information until after families and teachers have made their format choices on July 15th.  It is extremely important that you DO NOT make the choice to go online or face-to-face simply because you think a particular teacher will elect one or the other.  Make the choice based on your family’s circumstances.


  1. Will there be a difference in standards between online learning and face-to-face delivery?

No.  The standards, benchmarks, and skills remain the same regardless of format.  The “What” is the same; the “How” is the difference.


  1. What will asynchronous instruction look like?  

Asynchronous instruction is independent work that will help students better understand a concept.  It will generally be a combination of review activities and activities meant to develop understanding of new content and/or skills.  In addition, there may be assessments required of your students on those days.  


  1. If we choose the face-to-face format, would LMS students have any access to their teachers on the days they are not in the school building?

This is one of the unintended consequences of the in-person format.  Because teachers would be teaching their other group of students during the day, they may not be available to assist their “out-of-building” students doing independent work.  We are working on creative ways to handle this situation.  For example, the time allocated to the “intervention block for selected students” on Monday mornings may give “face-to-face” teachers the opportunity to schedule virtual office hours in case students have questions about their asynchronous work.  We will have more information once we have a better sense of how many students and teachers choose each option and we get further guidance from FCPS.


  1. Will my child be graded for their work?  Will grading be the same between online and face-to-face?

All students will receive graded assignments and assessments during the 2020-2021 school year regardless of the format each family chooses.  However, due to the nature of the different formats, the specific assignments and assessments will differ between the two in many cases.  Regardless of the format you choose, all students will be expected to demonstrate their mastery of the same standards and benchmarks for each course in which they are enrolled.


  1. (Added 7/7) If kids going totally online are getting 4 days' worth of instruction, does the other plan also include 4 days' worth of INSTRUCTION? Which option is getting more actual instruction time? Many of us feel the in-person option is going to have less instruction time since the 2 "asynchronous learning" days have never been described as having any INSTRUCTION. Or, for example, do the two plans have the same instruction plan and pacing...so twins selecting different options would learn the same thing as each other each day of the week...just one of them would be doing her learning at the school on two days? My guess is this is not the case, so please explain their differences.

Both the online and face-to-face formats of a particular class will be paced the same on a weekly basis and students in each format will be expected to master the same standards throughout the year.  Since the bell schedules will be the same in both formats, teachers will have the opportunity to have common planning time within their curriculum teams regardless of format where they will discuss activities, assessments, and pacing.  That being said, the nature of the two formats dictates that some activities and assessments will differ between face-to-face and online.   


  1. (Added 7/7) Can you provide more detailed information about the virtual curriculum for distance learning and will teachers receive additional training to utilize the distance learning this fall? Will the curriculum be developed in house and if not, where is it being developed? 

There will be additional training provided to all teachers regarding online learning once teachers report back to school in August.  This additional training is part of the reason why Dr. Brabrand has asked the school board to delay the start of the school year until after Labor Day.  The curriculum teachers use at Longfellow is based on the Virginia Standards of Learning and the FCPS Program of Studies.  Our teachers then work with their curriculum teams to identify ways to implement that curriculum within their classrooms.  This summer, the FCPS Department of Instructional Services has been working with teachers throughout the county to identify skills and content students may not have mastered last spring. Our Longfellow curriculum teams will be taking this information into account as they plan their pacing guides for this school year.  


  1. (Added 7/7) Will there be AAP differentiation for the courses online?

There will be differentiation provided for AAP courses regardless of whether students are enrolled in the online format or the face-to-face format.


  1. (Added 7/7) What is the in-school plan to offer band safely given the large number of students in close proximity, with many forcefully exhaling into instruments?

The Fine and Performing Arts Team within the FCPS Instructional Services Department is in the process of creating a guidance document for schools covering this important issue.  We expect to receive it by July 10th and will update you once we have that document.  


  1. (Added 7/9) For face-to-face students, if there is exposure and students have to quarantine for 14 days can they default to the remote curriculum?

No.  Students whose families choose the face-to-face format will not be able to switch to the online format during a quarantine situation.  It will be treated no different than an absence for illness during a “normal” year.  If that situation occurs, the student will be encouraged to check in with their teachers via email to ensure they do not fall behind.


Transportation/Drop-Off and Pick-Up

  1. If my child rides the school bus, what should they expect?

Children riding the school bus will be required to wear masks (if a child forgets, one will be provided).  In addition, each student will be assigned a seat on the bus, and there will be no more than one student per seat on the bus.  These assigned seats will be labeled so that there is no confusion as to who sits where.  Bus drivers and attendants will be supplied with a face mask, face shield, gloves and gowns (for students requiring more hands-on support).  The bus will be cleaned daily with frequently touched surfaces wiped after each school served.


That being said, we would strongly prefer that you provide your own transportation for your child if you are able.  In this way, we can provide more social distancing on the buses for those who need to use them.


  1. How will social distancing be maintained given how Longfellow’s Kiss-n-Ride procedures have worked in the past?

We will do our best to maintain social distancing among students in the Kiss-n-Ride line.  This will require the cooperation of both you and your children.  Students will only be permitted to leave their vehicles at specific locations. They will also be required to wear face coverings (as developmentally appropriate) once they leave their vehicle.  In addition, there will be a health screening required of all students and staff before they enter the school building.  


  1. Will the students have their temperatures checked before they enter the building?  What happens if they have a fever when they arrive at school?

There will be a health screening required of all students and staff before they enter the school building.  At this point we are still awaiting direction from FCPS and the Health Department about the specific protocol for this health screening.  


  1. My child usually walks to school.  How can we be assured that children walking to school will be safe?

Students walking to school will be strongly encouraged to use social distancing on the way to/from school or wear a mask when that is not possible.  When they arrive at Longfellow, each student will be required to enter through a specific door in order to alleviate crowding.  In addition, there will be a health screening required of all students and staff before they enter the school building.  If a student feels unsafe walking to/from school, they or their parents should alert an administrator as soon as possible so that we can help to resolve the situation.

School Operations

  1. What measures are being put in place to ensure student health and safety?

FCPS is working closely with Fairfax County Health officials to address student and staff health and safety. FCPS will use a daily health screening process that requires parents to self-report their child is asymptomatic and has not been exposed to anyone with COVID-19 symptoms. All staff will be required to self-report being asymptomatic and without exposure to anyone with COVID-19 symptoms when reporting to worksites. 


Cloth face coverings will be worn by staff and students (where developmentally appropriate). Cloth face coverings will be provided to students as needed and FCPS will ensure all staff has the necessary equipment based on their role (ex: masks, gowns, gloves, face shields, etc). 


Schools will ensure student and staff groupings are as static as possible. Desks will be separated by up to a six feet distance and will face the same direction and students will eat meals in classrooms whenever possible.


Cleaning and disinfecting procedures will be intensified. There will be daily sanitizing of high touch areas (doorknobs, handles, fixtures, etc.) with medical grade sanitizing solution. In addition, there will be more frequent monitoring and cleaning of restrooms throughout the day and contracted cleaning services will be available as needed. Additional breaks will be provided for hand washing to ensure students wash their hands for at least 20 seconds after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; before eating; and upon entering classrooms. If soap and water are not readily available, sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol will be provided.


FCPS will limit building access, including the restriction of building access for visitors.


FCPS continues to partner with Fairfax County Health Department to further develop and refine daily health screening protocols for students and staff including the use of temperature checks


  1. From everything I've seen and heard, it seems like a lot of parents are planning to send their child into school. What is the plan if there are too many students signed up for in-school learning vs. the available space considering the social distancing requirements?

By having a maximum of 50% of the students in the building at any one time, it will be much easier to maintain social distancing while also educating our students.  That being said, we may need to be creative with some of our spaces (i.e. Cafeteria, Gymnasiums, Lecture Hall, and Outdoor Spaces) in order to convert them into makeshift classrooms.  We currently have a layout of the school that includes square footage of each space and we will use that to adjust classes once we have a final number of teachers and students.


  1. Will the use of masks be required?  How will you empower your staff to enforce mask wearing? Can you reassure parents and students who wear masks religiously that any student who removes their mask in school will be immediately ordered to put it back on?

Students (where developmentally appropriate) and staff will be required to wear cloth face coverings including on bus transportation to and from school. The expectation to maintain social distancing has been and will continue to be communicated to parents, students and staff.  Staff will set the expectation, model, instruct on the importance of this measure, positively reinforce and know that there will be some challenges due to the various developmental levels of students.  The compliance to this policy would consider factors of student understanding and needs based on developmental levels, similar to other expectations set by schools. Teams often consider individual factors when addressing behavioral concerns and this will be the same for the practice of social distancing.


  1. (Added 7/7) How will students be able to change into their PE Uniforms while maintaining social distancing and/or wearing facemasks?

                        Locker rooms will not be open and students will not change into PE Uniforms.  However, students will need to be dress appropriately to participate in PE activities.  FCPS Regulation 3210 states that PE clothing “should be appropriate to the instructional activity. Shoes must be appropriate to the instructional activity and designed to provide support, fit securely, and prevent injury.”  In addition, “Jewelry that impedes safe participation by students should not be worn.”


  1. (Added 7/7) What social opportunities will there be under both plans?  What plans, if any, does Longfellow have to support extracurricular activities like debate, model UN, math and science clubs, quiz bowl, music, etc? Are there activities (which ones) that Longfellow already knows it will not be able to support next year? 

At this point we know there will be some version of our popular Longfellow After School Program in the fall, however, we are not sure if it will need to be completely virtual or not. Regardless, students who attend school using the online format will be able to participate in all after school activities.  


At this point, FCPS is prohibiting all student travel for the 2020-21 school year (including field trips).  As a result, while we will continue to have Debate, Model UN, Quiz Bowl, Music, MathCounts, etc., any interscholastic competitions will need to be conducted virtually until further notice.


  1. (Added 7/7) Will students change between classes?   

Students will transition from classroom to classroom and will be required to have facemasks while they are doing that.  Due to our students’ varying math levels and elective choices, it would be logistically impossible for each of our students to stay with a single cohort throughout the day.  In addition, we will not be issuing lockers while we are at half capacity to help discourage students from lingering in the hallway.  As a result, during this time students will be allowed to carry their backpacks with them from class to class.  


  1. (Added 7/7) Where will they eat lunch?

The current plan is that students will eat lunch in one of their classrooms.  Two years ago when FCPS implemented three-hour early release days, we had students eat in their classrooms and established a successful, orderly procedure for students who needed to get their lunch from the cafeteria to do so.  We expect to easily implement a slightly modified version of this plan for the opening of school this year.


  1. (Added 7/7) How many students do you envision having in a classroom?

The average classroom at Longfellow can accommodate 12-15 students.


  1. (Added 7/7) If for some health reasons a child cannot attend in-person for some days, will that child be able to join the virtual learning during those days?  Will there be a special access code to only those who choose virtual option that the in-person students cannot have access to? will that child be marked absent even if she attends virtual class during those days when she cannot attend in-person?

Unfortunately no since each format will be treated as a distinct school for record keeping purposes even though all students will be Longfellow students.  Also it is important to keep in mind that if a student enrolled in the face-to-face format were to “drop-in” to an online class the situation would be no different than if a student in a “normal” school situation missed one Civics teacher’s 1st period class and instead went to another Civics teachers 4th period class.  While our teachers plan collaboratively, they are not in lockstep with each other.  As a result, the “drop-in” student may be walking into a quiz they haven’t prepared for or a small group activity that is already in its third day.


  1. What will be the maximum number of students in an online class?

It will depend upon how many families choose the online format and how many teachers choose and are staffed for the online format.  The size of each class should be similar to the regular size of a class in a brick and mortar school.  However, because there are no physical limitations to class size in this format, there is the possibility that the class size could be larger.


  1. (Added 7/9) How will safety measures be implemented for in-person Band and Music classes?

FCPS has not fully completed its guidelines for social distancing in music classes, however, we do know a few things.  Students will be asked to stand during classes (if possible) to maximize space, safety, and time.  Students will also wear facemasks (if possible).  These facemasks can include instrument facemasks while playing wind instruments if the student chooses.  In addition, music stands will be placed 6-10 feet apart in order to maintain physical distancing.


  1. (Added 7/9) Are the trailers going to be used for the in-person classes?

Longfellow currently only has one portable classroom.  It will be used for classes during the 2020-21 school year.


  1. (Added 7/14) Provide clarity on whether students who show up without a mask will be provided a mask, or only have their temperature taken.

The Draft Policy on masks presented yesterday (7/13) to the school board is as follows:

All students (over the age of two years), staff and essential visitors must wear face coverings (cloth or disposable) while inside FCPS facilities and during FCPS-provided transport.

Exceptions for wearing a face covering:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Exercising
  • Under supervision of school official who directs such
  • Health condition
  • Communication impairment or disability prevents an individual from wearing face covering
  • Children under age 2 years


  1. (Added 7/14) If we select face-to face learning and the school shuts down, will our children have full-time online learning on only two days a week?

Students attending school via the in-school format are only attending classes two days a week in order to allow appropriate physical distancing in their classes.  If the school switches to an all virtual format, students would attend school 4 days a week since there would no longer be a need for physical distancing.  The block bell schedule would continue regardless of the format in which students attend school.


  1. (Added 7/14) Wouldn’t the risk of transmission be lower if a small group of students were kept in a single classroom, and teachers moved from room to room?

While the risk of transmission would be lower if students were kept in a single classroom all day, this isn’t practical in a middle school setting.  In addition, to nine different levels of math available to students at Longfellow, the number and variety of electives are such that it would not be possible to arrange a schedule that ensures each student in a particular cohort of 24-30 would have the same seven courses, let alone in the same order.


  1. I have multiple children and only one computer, but I really want my children to do the online format.  Is there a way to get access to additional computers?

As part of the FCPSOn initiative, all middle school students in FCPS (regardless of whether they select the face-to-face or online formats) will receive a laptop to use for school related work during the 2020-21 school year.  Laptop distribution will take place before school starts.  An email explaining the distribution procedures will be sent out in early August.


  1. My family does not have high speed internet access at home.  How can my child participate in the online format?

To ensure all students have internet access in the fall, FCPS has established partnerships to provide free and low-cost internet to all families who need it.  If your family needs further information about these programs, please email Director of Student Services Marissa Brooks at @email.


  1. Which learning platform will Longfellow teachers use to post their daily classroom activities?

FCPS currently has two Learning Management Systems (FCPS 24/7 Learning and Google Classroom).  Each of them has its pros and cons and as a result some teachers prefer one over the other.  FCPS 24/7 Learning is a secure system that allows parents access to student information as well as class information for their students.  Google Classroom offers a secure, more user-friendly experience along with the ability to collaborate easily in real time through G-Suite; however, it is not as secure (due to the collaborative nature of the program), does not allow independent access for parents, and does not have as powerful a productivity suite as FCPS 24/7.  Long-story short, at a minimum all teachers will be posting a calendar of assignments/activities for each week in FCPS 24/7 so that parents can independently access that information.   Beyond that however, some teachers may be posting assignments & activities in FCPS 24/7, while other teachers may be posting assignments & activities in Google Classroom for students to complete and submit.  The platform chosen for each class will depend on the needs of the teacher and the coursework involved.


  1. If my family is selecting the online format, will I need to purchase additional software for my children?

No.  Each of the FCPS computers that will be distributed to middle school students will have all the software they need preloaded.  Further, the security settings on these computers are such that no one other than an FCPS Technology Specialist can load programs onto these computers.  In addition, the internet filtering software will be identical to the internet filtering software on computers at school.