The letter sent by the PTA through Fairfax County Council PTA to Superintendent Brabrand:
Dear Superintendent Brabrand,
We write today to express our concern regarding the sharply limited communication that teachers have been instructed to have with students and parents during at least the first two weeks of the current four-week break that was scheduled as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. We respectfully request that you recommend that teachers reach out to students and parents with more specific suggestions for topics to review during this break, before distance learning is further implemented.
We recognize that the current state of affairs is unprecedented for all of us, and we truly appreciate and applaud your leadership and the efforts of so many dedicated FCPS staff to ensure that meals have been made available to those children in the county who depend on those meals for sustenance.
In addition, we understand the complexities behind the decision for teachers to not provide any educational instruction at present. However, we do not understand what appears to be a message from FCPS leaders to schools and teachers to significantly limit their communications with students and families. We have heard that teachers can email their classes, but not mention anything related to learning except to refer them to the FCPS 24/7 Blackboard site as a suggestion. While some teachers took initiative to reconnect with their students and provide ideas/suggestions for activities (like craft ideas) or things to write about (like describe a book you have read), our understanding is these simple connections are not being allowed.
For those of us with experience in managing sudden onset crises, we know that communication and maintenance of a sense of community is critical. We believe that greater teacher communication and allowing teachers to offer suggestions, if they wish, can only help the continuity of learning that is critical for our children's education. Further, establishing routine and familiarity during times of uncertainty can help assuage the anxiety and fear that the community – students, parents and teachers -- is feeling. We do not ask that teachers provide specific lesson plans or distance learning – at least not at this juncture. However, we believe that recommendations regarding topics and themes on which to focus and review should not be discouraged or prohibited. Simple ideas or topics would be extremely helpful to keep our children academically engaged during this break. Increased teacher communication will strengthen our sense of community and continuity, and therefore is in the best interest of our children.
We would be grateful for your consideration of our request. Wishing you and the leadership team at FCPS continued strength as you deal with this crisis.