Principal's Note - July 19, 2020

By Margaret Barnes
Principal's Note
July 19, 2020

Good afternoon, Holmes Families!

To our families of 2020-21 6th Graders and of 7th and 8th graders who are new to our school: Welcome to Holmes Middle School!  We have more to come for you and your students in August to officially welcome you and orient you to the school.  I typically send a Sunday newsletter each week throughout the school year through this News You Choose format.  I'm starting earlier this year given our unique school year that we are planning for.   For the first couple of months, I'll follow up with an eNotify version of the newsletter reminding people to subscribe to this, and it will always be posted to the school website, which can be translated into multiple languages. 

Every time I look at the calendar, I am shocked at how quickly the time is moving.  It has been over a month since the last day of school, and we have just 7 weeks to go until the start of the school year!  

Thank you for submitting and communicating your preferences for your  students for the 2020-21 school year, and a HUGE thank you to my team of staff members who made 700+ phone calls reaching out to parents to answer questions.  Here is how things will look for Holmes:

  • 468 students (48%) will be attending school online
  • 510 students (52%) will be attending school in-person
    • Last Names A-K (253 students): Will attend school on Tuesdays & Thursdays
    • Last Names L-Z (257 students): Will attend school on Wednesdays & Fridays

Of our 78 classroom teachers:

  • 28 (36%) have requested an in-person assignment
  • 50 (64%) have requested an online assignment

Master scheduling is always a complex task each year as we work to ensure that we are meeting students' needs and trying to provide as many students as possible with their top-choice electives.  This year, this complexity has increased tenfold with two different student learning options and teacher preferences as new factors, so we appreciate your patience as we work through the details.  Student schedules will not be available for quite awhile since the scheduling work we are doing now is typically done in May and June.   For this reason, we cannot grant any requests for a change in preference or courses at this time. 

The school board approved block schedules for the school year, which will allow us to have more meaningful blocks of instructional time in addition to reducing the number of hallway transitions and allowing for more time for cleaning between classes.  For both students in-person and online, Blue Days (periods 1, 3, 5, & 7) will be on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and White Days (periods 2, 4, 6, & 8) will be on Thursdays and Fridays.  We'll have more details about the schedules and what instruction will look like in the coming weeks.  

Our piece below about "7 Things to Know with 7 Weeks to Go" highlights some of what we are doing to prepare for the school year and what you and your student(s) can do as well.

2019-20 Yearbooks

Thank you SO much for your patience with the yearbook order!  We just learned that our yearbooks should be here by Wednesday, July 22nd.  Once they arrive, we will contact all families who ordered one for dates and times to stop by and pick up their copy.  When you pick up your yearbook, you can also turn in your Holmes laptop and charger!  

Laptop Return - July 27th & 28th


It's time to return your laptops and chargers!

As you know, we allowed students to keep their school-issued laptops in order to participate in the office hours for the Summer Continuity of Learning and English Language Development (June 29th-July 31st...see information below).  Now that we know that just a handful of students are participating in these learning opportunities, we need to begin collecting laptops as soon as possible to prepare them for the school year.  All of our Holmes laptops will be rolled down to our elementary schools, and all of our 2020-21 students will receive BRAND NEW laptops (which will be distributed after August 17th)!  

2020-21 6th Graders: If you borrowed a laptop from your elementary school, you MUST turn it in to your elementary school in order to receive a new laptop from Holmes for the 2020-21 school year.  

2019-20 8th Graders: You MUST turn in your Holmes laptop in order to receive your laptop from Annandale or Edison (or other FCPS high school).  

ALL 2019-20 Holmes Students: Your laptops and chargers MUST be turned in to receive your new laptop for the 2020-21 school year.  

Laptop Collection Details

  • Monday, July 27th, 8:30 am - 12:00 pm
  • Tuesday, July 28th, 8:30 am - 12:00 pm

Bring your laptops and charger to Door 4 (see map below).  

NOTE: Students who are participating in the Summer Continuity of Learning and English Language Development office hours may turn their laptops and chargers in the week of August 1st.  

To prepare your laptop for return to Holmes MS, please complete the following:

  • Remove any stickers the student has added to the laptop to include sticker residue.
    • Exceptions:  DO NOT REMOVE:  Fairfax County Public Schools barcodes, FCPSOn labels, Dell factory labels
  • Wipe down laptop surfaces (outside and inside) with a Lysol or Clorox wipe that has been squeezed of excess liquid.
  • Leave Laptop ID card attached.  If ID card is missing, please have student name/ID on piece of paper within the transparent place-card holder.
  • Wrap up charger as best as you can, some already have an attached velcro wrap.


Here are today's newsletter topics:

  • Summer Continuity of Learning & English Language Development Office Hours Schedules
  • Countdown to September 8th: 7 Things to Know with 7 Weeks to Go
  • Fairfax County Public Library's Summer Reading Adventure


Margaret Barnes

Proud Principal, Holmes MS


*Right now, I am reading The City We Became & White Fragility.*  What are you reading?

Summer Continuity of Learning - Office Hours Schedule


Summer English Language Development - Teacher Schedule


Countdown to September 8th: 7 Things to Know with 7 Weeks to Go

  1. What We're Doing to Prepare
    • Our custodial team is deep cleaning and disinfecting all spaces in the building.
    • Our administrative staff is removing excess furniture from classrooms to increase space and allow 6-foot distancing between desks. 
    • Many teachers, even though off-contract, are participating in professional development around online teaching and learning.
    • Our administrative staff is working hard on the master schedule and a plan for lunches, hallway transitions, and classes like PE, band, and chorus.  
    • Our administrative staff will be increasing signage and other visual cues throughout the building to ensure social distancing. 
    • Our instructional support staff (coaches) are working on professional development to support online and in-person teachers who will be teaching the same content to ensure they stay on pace together and provide all students with high quality instruction.  
  2. Keep it simple with school supplies (see pictures below). 
    • This is not the year to fill up your cart with school least not for Holmes.  Lockers will NOT be permitted, but all students will be permitted to carry backpacks. 
    • Each student should have his/her laptop at all times (for in-person students as well), a sectioned notebook (3-ring binder or spiral is fine), and something to write with.  
    • Each student has their own organizational style and may want more supplies at home, but our Holmes school supply list will remain small.  
  3. Please reiterate public health hygiene with your students:
    • Practice the health questionnaire screening, which students and staff will be required to go through at home each day (pictured below).
    • Continue to wash hands regularly. 
    • Cover sneeze and cough.
    • Wear a face mask at all times in public settings.  Use the time leading up to school to build up your student's "mask stamina" as they will be required to wear it from the time they are at the bus stop to the time they get off the bus (except for exercising and eating).  
    • Maintain 6 feet of physical distance from others, which includes keeping "self-to-self" at all times.  
    • Do not, under any circumstances, come to school sick.
  4. Talk through your the school day routine with your child. Whether your student will be learning in-person or online, it will be important to "rehearse" and walk through their school day since it will be VERY different than what they have experienced in the past.  Get into a routine of waking up earlier.  School (online and in-person) will start at 7:15 am and end at 2:00 pm.  
  5. Need low-cost or free internet access?  Begin exploring options now.  More details to come in future updates.  
  6. While transportation will of course be available to families of in-person who need it, parents dropping their students off at Kiss n Ride will be preferred to allow for more social distancing on buses
  7. Unlike Distance Learning in the spring, attendance will be required and students will receive letter grades throughout each quarter.

Check out these books that Ms. Haywood, Ms. Barnes, and some staff members and students at Holmes will be reading this summer!


FCPL's Summer Reading Adventure



Please encourage your child to continue reading this summer!  Check out Fairfax County Public Library's Summer Reading Adventure and join in the fun!  

How to Stay In-Touch

Please stay in touch with us throughout the year by: