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Noonan: F.C. Schools Must Prepare for Student, Staff Reductions

In a preliminary presentation of alternative scenarios for the reopening of the Falls Church City Public Schools over the summer and in the fall, Superintendent Dr. Peter Noonan cautioned the F.C. School Board at its online meeting Tuesday night that the system must be prepared for up to a 20 to 30 percent dropoff in student enrollment and also significant drop offs in faculty and staff going into the fall.

He said fears of the Covid-19 virus will compel students, parents and staff to stay back from in-person classes, even as detailed measures are implemented to ensure safety.

The “stability of the workforce” is a major concern, he said, including given that half of the system’s school bus drivers are 65 years of age or older.

He said student enrollment is, among other things, driven by a lack of trust with school officials among families where students are told “Don’t tell anyone there’s someone sick at home” for a variety of reasons, and gaining trust is an important challenge.

He said the Falls Church schools are choosing to mandate temperature checks and masks for staff and students even though they are not state mandated.

He said he has no idea yet of what school sports may look like in the fall, but decisions will be governed by the Virginia High School League in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Health and Department of Education.

A “deep dive” into alternative scenarios for the opening of the schools, including of summer programs, will occupy the School Board’s attention at next Tuesday’s online work session.