Principal's Note - Jan. 7, 2022
Good afternoon, Holmes Families!
What a crazy start to 2022! I don't think anyone expected that we would essentially have a 3rd week of break to start this year, but I hope that you and your students have had a chance to enjoy it a bit. We are also really looking forward to returning next week. Since we are in the midst of another COVID surge, I want to share some important safety reminders for you to discuss with your students before Monday:
- STAY HOME WHEN SICK: Please keep your students home if they are symptomatic or if they have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID.
- REPORT POSITIVE RESULTS: If your student or someone in your household has tested positive for COVID on January 1st or later, please contact me directly at @email so that we can plan for their absence. If your student has symptoms and you are having trouble getting a test, please let me know that as well.
- MASKS: Please ensure that your students have a regular supply of appropriate masks to wear every day at school, and please review your expectation with them to wear it appropriately (over the mouth and nose) and consistently (all the time except when eating and drinking) every day. We continue to maintain a large inventory of masks at school for students who need to replace theirs.
- HANDS: Students need to wash and sanitize hands regularly, and they need to keep their hands to themselves at all times.
- DISTANCING: While we cannot guarantee physical distancing throughout the school day since all students and staff are back at school, we ask that students are mindful about their proximity to others. Middle schoolers like to be close to each other, but they need to continue to distance as much as they can.
- RESPIRATORY ETIQUETTE: Remind students to cover coughs and sneezes, and to wash hands afterwards.
- WATER BOTTLES: While the Health Department has cleared schools to use water fountains, we would prefer for students to use the fountains as filling stations. Ensure that your student has a reusable water bottle with them at school every day.
COVID Impact on Staffing
In the same way that this COVID surge has impacted your family and friends, the airline industry and other areas of the workforce, school district staff have been impacted as well. In many ways I am hoping that this additional week has given staff and students who were positive or exposed to a positive case the time they need to quarantine/isolate and recover.
While we have had to be creative with class coverage all year due to the low number of substitutes, we will have to work even harder to cover classes during this COVID surge. Our goal each day is to ensure that 100% of classrooms are covered and supervised by an adult. Teachers who are absent are expected to post asynchronous work to Schoology for students to complete. If our number of staff absences increases significantly, our absolute last resort will be to combine classes in large spaces like the cafeteria, lecture hall, or library. I will communicate with you all directly if the issue becomes that significant, but I hope that is never a choice I will have to make.
6th Snow Day (and Beyond): Shift to Virtual Instruction
In the event of a 6th day (or more) of inclement weather, FCPS will require all students and staff to switch to temporary, virtual instruction over Zoom. Below is a checklist students and families can use to prepare for this scenario:
Before Possible Closure:
- Charge: Students should charge laptops. The school is unable to provide extra chargers – if students have misplaced their charger, we recommend going to each class they are enrolled in and asking if a charger has been turned in. If the charger is lost, new chargers can be purchased.
- Label: Make sure student computers contain either the school provided labels given with each computer or if lost, the student creates own label that clearly indicates who the computer belongs to.
- Restart: Students should restart their computers to allow any updates to be processed.
- Log In: Students should log into their laptops. If students need to recover their usernames and passwords, they can visit: https://itweb.fcps.edu/AccountManager/.Teachers and/or the Tech team can also reset student passwords.
- Connect: Students should connect to their home internet, or Wi-Fi. Students may request a Mifi home device if they do not have any Wi-Fi service at home.
- Schoology: Students should make sure they can log into Schoology and access their courses.
- Zoom: Students should familiarize themselves with how to join their classes using Zoom. There are video tutorials on the Holmes Students Schoology page and Holmes Families Schoology page.
If you have any technology issues from home, go to the Tech Support for Families page, to submit a ticket for support.
After Possible Closure
- Learning Space- Students should work with their parents to find a place in their home where they will complete school.
- Zoom Into Class- Following the bell schedule, students will join their classes live using Zoom on Schoology. Recordings of each class will be available after class has ended, if the student can not join live. If students are not able to join live, they will be marked absent and will be responsible for completing any work they miss upon their return to school.
Tech Support- If students have any technology issues from home, go to the Tech Support for Families page, to submit a ticket for support.
New Morning Routine Next Week
When we return to school next week, students will begin a new morning routine. Based on the tardiness and some other hallway behaviors that we were seeing before the break, we believe it is time for a reset of expectations. In order to ensure that we start the day with calm, focused energy, we will be asking students to sit and wait in one of 3 locations when they enter the building between 7:10-7:25:
- Cafeteria - Only for students who eat breakfast
- Library - For students entering door 1 (walkers, bike riders, kiss-n-riders)
- Main Hall - For bus riders
This is a routine that we have used in the past and believe that it will be helpful for all students to set the appropriate tone for each school day.
Holmes students will begin the academic advising and course selection process starting next week. Please see the flyer below for more information. Counselors will begin meeting with students for one-on-one academic advising sessions through science classes following their advising lesson. Our website will be updated with the most up to date information.
Please do not hesitate to contact your child’s counselor with any questions about the advising process. We look forward to working with you!
Here are today's newsletter topics:
- Student Services - Important Information
- 2021-22 Blue-White Calendar
- 2021-22 Bell Schedule
- Next Week's Schedule
- After School Program Shut Down through Friday, 1/14
- From Ms. Oncho, Our Family Liaison
- Rising 9th Grade Open House at Annandale High School Changed to Virtual Course Registration Night - January 18, 6-8 pm
- Rising 9th Grade Virtual Course Selection Night at Edison High School - January 25, 7 pm
- Job Opportunities at Holmes & in FCPS
- Important Upcoming Dates
- How to Stay Connected to Holmes MS
FCPS & Community Updates
- Be Part of the Superintendent Search
- Get Your Child's Online Activity Report
- Free and Reduced-Price Meal Applications
- Free COVID Testing
- 2022 FCPS Summer Learning Information
- Stay Connected with FCPS
Please feel free to reach out and let us know what questions you have. Thank you, and have a wonderful winter break!!
Proud Principal, Holmes MS
Next Week's Schedule: 1/10-1/14
The Blue-White Calendar can also be found on the inside cover of student agendas and can be found HERE on our school website.
- Monday, 01/10 - BLUE DAY (SOAR)
- Tuesday, 01/11 - WHITE DAY
- Wednesday, 01/12 - BLUE DAY (SOAR & ER 4)
- Thursday, 01/13 - WHITE DAY
- Friday, 01/14 - BLUE DAY (SOAR & ER 5)
After School Program Shut Down Through Friday, 1/14
Due to the COVID surge, we are temporarily shutting down the After School Program across the county. It will be shut down at least through Friday, 1/14, and we will reassess after that date.
From Ms. Oncho, Our Family Liaison
Neighborhood and Community Services offers a variety of out-of-school time programs to keep Fairfax County kids and teens engaged outside of school hours. Whether it's on a school day or during summer, spring or winter break, our Out-of-School Time Programs are designed to support the ongoing and well-rounded learning, development of Fairfax County kids and teens.
Virtual resource for youth, teens, parents, and guardians.
Let's keep the learning going from home for students in grades 1-6 and 7-12!
The Fairfax County Park Foundation
Please take a few minutes to explore the Park Foundation website:
Family Needs Survey
Please take a moment to complete this short survey. We would like to know your needs and your interest area for workshops and training.
Sign Up for TalkingPoints App to Receive Information in Your Language
TalkingPoints is an application that allows you to receive information in your home language from the Holmes Family Liaison.
You can sign up for TalkingPoints by using a web app or a mobile app. All you need is an email address.
To sign up on the web, go to www.talkingpts.org and click on ‘Sign Up For Free’ button. To sign up on your cell phone, go to the app store and search for "TalkingPoints for Parents" and install the app.
The join code for the Holmes families is KXJPTH.
Rising 9th Grade Open House Changed to Virtual Course Registration Night - January 18, 6-8pm
Given the current circumstances, Annandale HS will be postponing Open House. Instead we will be offering Virtual Course Registration Night on the same date and time, January 18 at 6:00pm (link coming soon). This event will provide guidance as students prepare to complete their course request form when they meet with their middle school counselor in the coming weeks.
In preparation for this event, students and families are encouraged to access all the information needed for course selection on our Academic Advising website. This site has grade level information that will be presented by counselors, videos made by teachers describing elective and IB options, the 9th grade course catalog, and the course selection Google form that will need to be completed by each student. If you have any questions, please contact Erik Healey at @email.
Rising 9th Grade Virtual Course Selection Night at Edison High School - January 25, 7pm
On Tuesday, January 25, 2022, at 7:00pm, Edison High School be hosting their Virtual Orientation to the course selection process for our rising 9th grade students and parents. They will begin the evening with a general presentation on Zoom. Following the presentation, they will have three question and answer periods where representatives from each department will be available online to discuss their offerings and answer any questions you may have about their content area. Links to the general presentation and the question and answer sessions will be sent closer to the event.
Job Opportunities at Holmes & in FCPS
To help us meet these critical needs, here is a reminder of some job opportunities that we have a available at Holmes and throughout FCPS:
- Student monitors (Holmes needs 1 or 2 more)
- Substitutes (short- and long-term) - School Board just approved an increase in pay for short- and long-term substitutes!
If you or someone you know is looking for work and may be a good fit for one or more of these positions, I encourage you or them to apply!
Important Upcoming Dates
- Monday, 1/17 - NO SCHOOL, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- Tuesday, 1/18, Virtual & Asynchronous - Holmes Middle School Curriculum Night (more details to come)
- Tuesday, 1/18, 6-8 pm - Annandale High School's Rising 9th Grade Virtual Course Registration Night
- Wednesday, 1/19, 8-9 am - Virtual Parent Coffee for Holmes Course Selection (for current 5th, 6th, and 7th graders) - Zoom link
- Thursday, 1/20 - Last Day of 2nd Quarter, 2-hour Early Release
- Friday, 1/21 - NO SCHOOL, TEACHER WORKDAY
- Monday, 1/24 - NO SCHOOL, STAFF DEVELOPMENT DAY
- Tuesday, 1/25 - Edison High School's Rising 9th Grade Virtual Course Selection Night
- Thursday, 1/27, 1-2 pm - Virtual Parent Coffee for Holmes Course Selection (for current 5th, 6th, and 7th graders) - Zoom link
- Thursday, 2/3, 5-6 pm - Virtual Parent Coffee for Holmes Course Selection (for current 5th, 6th, and 7th graders) - Zoom link
- Monday, 2/21 - NO SCHOOL, President's Day
How to Stay Connected to Holmes MS
Please stay in touch with us throughout the year by:
- keeping your contact information up-to-date throughout the year
- visiting the Holmes MS website
- signing up for News You Choose
- following us on Twitter
- monitoring your student's progress with SIS Parent Account
- join the Holmes MS PTA and attend meetings
FCPS & COMMUNITY UPDATES
Be Part of the Superintendent Search
On December 13, the School Board held a work session to discuss the Superintendent search process, timeline, and engagement opportunities. Watch the work session on the FCPS YouTube Channel.
There are many ways you can share your voice during this process. Below is a snapshot of upcoming activities:
- Survey: GR Consulting, the search firm handling the superintendent search, will be administering a survey. The survey will be available in multiple languages and will be a great opportunity for the FCPS community to weigh in on the most important qualities our next superintendent should possess. Look for the survey in your email inbox next week.
- Parent, Student, Community Focus Groups: The search firm will hold in-person focus groups with previously identified parents, students, and community members. These focus groups are planned for January 10-12
Please visit our Superintendent Search webpage for additional information.
The Importance of Submitting Free and Reduced-Price Meal Applications
School meals provide nourishment that allows students to excel in the classroom and to grow and thrive. This year, FCPS continues to offer no-cost meals to all students, thanks to a waiver granted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
While the meals are no cost for all, it is still important for families to submit the Free and Reduced-Price Meals (FRM) application because it impacts much more than meals.
FRM applications help link families to other benefits, such as waiving fees for SAT, ACT, and AP exams as well as other school fee-based programs. Qualifying students may also have access to scholarships, classes, or services provided by agencies and organizations outside FCPS. FRM applications also help determine additional education funding for your child’s school.
Winter break is a great time to complete the FRM application. Find out more on our website.
Get Your Child’s Online Activity Report
FCPS has new tools to help parents and guardians know more about their child’s activity on any FCPS device. These tools are provided by Lightspeed, our internet content filtering service, at no cost to families.
You may sign up for a weekly Parent Report, which will provide a list of the top sites your child visited. If you want more detailed information, sign up for the Internet Use Parent portal and log-in anytime to see more detail about your child’s browsing and “pause” access to the internet during non-school hours.
2022 FCPS Summer Learning Information
Winter Break is a great time to plan your child’s summer learning. Many students participate in summer learning opportunities to advance academically, to sharpen their skills, to learn something new, or to participate in fun fine arts and Career and Technical Education camps, institutes, and academies.
Fairfax County Public Schools summer learning opportunities include a Credit Recovery Academy that offers credit recovery courses, intervention classes, and test remediation classes; programs and institutes at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology that provide credit accrual and enrichment opportunities; and Online Campus courses and classes. Career and Technical Education will offer Self-Directed Economics and Personal Finance. Elementary and secondary Fine Arts and Career and Technical Education enrichment camps, institutes and academies will also be offered.
Details about 2022 enrichment camps and institutes, Online Campus, and Self-Directed Economics and Personal Finance are now available on the FCPS Summer Learning webpage. Information about other programs will be posted as it becomes available.
Free COVID Testing
Take a look at the flyer below for information about free COVID testing. For more information about testing and vaccination sites in Fairfax County, check out this link.
Stay Connected with FCPS
Being connected to your school and division is important every year, and even more so now as we navigate our return to school. The best way to stay informed is to sign up for newsletters through News You Chose.
Your school and FCPS have a variety of topics you can choose from, including:
- School Newsletters- featuring everything you need to know about your child’s school
- FCPS This Week- a weekly newsletter featuring news and happenings from across the division, published Wednesday mornings
- School Board Meeting Update- a recap of important news coming out of school board meetings, published the Friday morning after the meeting
- FCPS Employee News- weekly updates just for staff, published Tuesday mornings