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SCHOOL UPDATES AND COMMUNICATIONS

This page contains an archive of letters to the community relating to the school's response to the impacts of COVID-19.

VIDEO MESSAGES FROM THE HEAD OF SCHOOL

Congressional School's Head of School, Dr. Edwin P. Gordon, sends regular video messages to the community called "Edwin's Short Takes." View the videos below. Click the drop down menu to choose a video and date.

July 15, 2020
 

Dear Congressional School Families,

Mid-summer is upon us and plans for the 2020-2021 school year are well underway. Our Infant & Toddler classes returned to campus on June 1, Congressional Camp is enjoying its second week of fun, and we look forward to welcoming our Preschool - 8th Grade students back to campus when we open on September 2. 

This letter is the third in a series of communications to update you on our planning for the fall. Today I have the following updates to share:

PHYSICAL SPACE MODIFICATIONS 

After evaluating current floor plans and future needs we are re-purposing some areas to create additional classrooms and teacher work areas. 

  • The Advancement Office in the William Ross Building will be renovated and turned into classrooms. 
  • Non-classroom spaces in both school buildings may be re-purposed to create additional space for students and teachers.
  • Some staff members will telework in the fall to help free up rooms and reduce the number of people in the buildings.  
  • Classes will be spaced throughout the buildings to avoid commingling and prevent the spread of the virus.

CLASSROOM CONFIGURATION

  • Grade level cohorts will be established as protective bubbles for students. These cohorts will not mingle with other cohorts but will stay as individual groups throughout the school day and before and after school if they are enrolled in the Extended Hours Program. 
  • Classrooms will be arranged to achieve recommended physical distancing requirements to prevent the spread of the virus. 
  • Specialty teachers (world language, art, music, etc.) will move between classrooms with students staying in place. 
  • Physical Education will be held outside as much as possible or in the gym (with masks for K-8) during inclement weather. 
  • Tents have been purchased for outdoor academics. 
  • Lunch will be delivered to the classrooms and may be eaten in class or outdoors under designated tents. 
  • Sharing of school supplies, devices, toys, books, games and other learning aids will be avoided or limited.
  • Outdoor recess areas will be scheduled and assigned with one grade level in one area at a time.

NEW DROP OFF & PICK UP PROCEDURES 

  • Morning drop off time will begin at 7:45am. Families will be encouraged to arrive in plenty of time to allow for new health monitoring procedures that will include a student temperature check and health screening questions before the student exits the car.
  • Specific drop off and pick up locations will be announced before the start of the school year. 
  • Students and faculty/staff who have a fever, report coronavirus like symptoms, or have potentially been exposed must stay at home.
  • Bus students will complete their health screening before getting on the bus. Read more about our bus procedures.

EXTENDED HOURS UPDATE

Morning Extended Hours (EHP) will be offered in the fall for students in Preschool - 8th Grade. This service will be available only to families who are enrolled, with no drop-in service available due to staff availability and physical space requirements. Afternoon EHP will also run this fall, with drop-in service available.
 

CALENDAR UPDATE

During our planning meetings with teachers, we have become increasingly cognizant of the impact this unusual school year will have on them, and we are committed to supporting them in every way we can. During recent faculty meetings, our teachers voiced a need for additional planning time as they navigate the exceptional circumstances in which they will be teaching this year. Both the Division Directors and I fully support this request.

The following Faculty Professional Development Days have been added to our calendar for fall 2020.

Preschool - Grade 8 Closed
Friday, September 25, 2020
Monday, October 26, 2020 (Monday after Parent-Teacher Conferences)

Infants - Grade 8 Closed
Monday, November 30, 2020 (Monday after Thanksgiving Break)
Note: This date was on the calendar as a day off for Preschool - 8th grade. The date has been revised to include the Infant & Toddler classes.

A complete calendar of major school dates is available HERE. These dates are also available online. 

I hope you have found the information in this letter helpful. I would like to commend our faculty and staff who are working tirelessly all summer to plan a safe reopening of school and I look forward to sharing with you - on August 1 - our complete plan to reopen for the 2020-2021 school year. Individual student class placements will be announced in mid-August. 

We also plan to send a short survey to parents after the August 1 plan is published and all parents will be invited to a Town Hall meeting in which we will address any remaining questions or concerns you may have.

Enjoy your summer and stay safe!
 
 
Sincerely,

Edwin P. Gordon, PhD

Head of School

View a PDF of the slide deck from the Thursday, July 9 virtual presentation about the Bi-Modal Learning option. 

Slide Deck

July 9, 2020

Dear Preschool - Grade 8 Families,

With Virginia now in Phase III of reopening, Congressional School is planning for all students (infants - 8th grade) to be on campus for full days of school (Monday-Friday) when the school year begins on September 2. Our extensive campus, multiple buildings, and our small class sizes will allow us to arrange students and grades with ample social distancing and the four pillars in place for a safe return to school. A document with details of our plans will be shared in August.

We have received a number of inquiries about whether we will offer our auxiliary programs and services (lunch, transportation, extended hours) this fall. These programs will be offered and restructured to ensure they meet new health and safety requirements. Following is an update on our auxiliary program plans.  At the end of this letter you will also find an update regarding new school dress code and mask requirements for students in Kindergarten - Grade 8.

TRANSPORTATION

Morning and afternoon bus transportation will be provided through our partner, Virginia Rides. This service will have a number of new protocols in place to protect the health and safety of our students. Among these protocols is assigned seats with physical distancing, stringent cleaning, and use of masks. For more details on our transportation plan, click HERE. If you have questions about the transportation program, please contact Julio Lopez, Auxiliary Program Coordinator. 

SCHOOL LUNCH

We are working closely with our partner, Fairfax Food Service, on the school lunch program for this year. Individually boxed hot and cold lunch options will be delivered to the classrooms, and students may eat in the classroom or outside in designated tented areas. Students who do not wish to participate in the school lunch program may bring lunch from home. Questions about enrolling in the lunch program should be directed to Deborah Everson, Senior Accountant.

SCHOOL UNIFORMS

This year, students are not required to purchase Dress Uniform items due to the postponement or cancelation of larger community events and field trips when Dress Uniform would typically be worn. Due to this change, school pictures will be taken in Standard “Dress Uniform”, which consists of a black polo with Congressional logo and khaki pants or shorts.

Students in grades 4-8 will not change for PE. Instead, they may wear their PE clothes (PE t-shirt and red or black Lands’ End athletic shorts) to school on PE days. On non-PE days, students must wear Regular Uniform.

Students in Kindergarten - 3rd grade may also wear a PE t-shirt and athletic shorts on PE days if they choose. Please use the link for full details about school uniform requirements for 2020-2021, click HERE. Contact Sam Mom, Registrar if you have any questions about school uniforms.

MASKS

Masks are required for students in Kindergarten through 8th grade. Masks should be a solid color or with minimal design. No words, sayings, or printed letters except a student name are permitted on masks. Faculty and Administration will determine the appropriateness of any mask. Our preferred provider of school uniforms is Lands' End and a mask has been added to the available options for purchase on their website.

All students in Kindergarten through grade 8 must wear masks at all times with the following exceptions:

  • During recess while physical distancing
  • During lunch and snack while eating
  • During Physical Education if instructed to remove the mask by the teacher.

Students are required to have two masks, one will be worn and one should be in the student’s locker as a back-up in case one is lost or misplaced. Students are responsible for the care and cleanliness of their masks. It is recommended that parents wash student masks each evening. The school will provide a mask to any student that has lost or misplaced any mask. 

BI-MODAL LEARNING REMINDER

As a reminder, if you are interested in the bi-modal option for your student due to concerns about COVID-19 (available to K-8) the deadline to request this option is Wednesday, July 15. Please submit your request HERE. More information about bi-modal learning is available on our website. 

I hope you have found this update helpful as you plan for the new school year. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.

 

Sincerely,

Edwin P. Gordon, PhD
Head of School

July 1, 2020
 
 
Dear Congressional School Families,
 
I hope you are enjoying a restful summer and that this email finds you well and safe. As we continue to develop plans to bring Congressional School Together on September 2, I will share regular updates with the community. This communication is the first of a series of updates that will be delivered on the 1st and 15th of each month through the summer. 
 
In this letter I will share information about:
  • Congressional School’s Health & Safety Guidelines for a Safe Return to School
  • Bimodal learning, participation request form, bimodal town hall invitation
  • Four short videos outlining our flexible teaching and learning plans
 
HEALTH & SAFETY GUIDELINES FOR A SAFE RETURN TO SCHOOL
 
The goal of our Health & Safety Guidelines is to establish a framework for a safe reopening of campus. These guidelines are based on the most recent information and guidance from a number of different authorities and groups, including Virginia Department of Health, the Center for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Virginia Department of Social Services among others.
 
As we develop our plans to reopen our preschool - 8th grade classes on campus this fall, we have published a Health & Safety Guidelines webpage with policies and practices designed to keep our community healthy and safe. As our plans are finalized, updates will be posted to the page, so check back often. We will also notify you of any updates to this site in subsequent communications.   
 
 
BI-MODAL LEARNING
 
In our recent survey to parents, many of you expressed interest in learning more about bi-modal learning. This learning scenario will be available to students in kindergarten - 8th grade who must remain out of school temporarily due to COVID-19 related concerns. Bi-modal includes two separate modes of education with students learning in the classroom with simultaneous virtual learning for those students who must remain at home. Learn more about bi-modal learning .
 
Bi-modal learning will be offered on a trimester basis and families are asked to indicate their interest by completing a request form. After completion of the form, a virtual meeting will be scheduled with you to discuss your request. If you are interested in registering your student for bi-modal learning, please use the button below. NOTE: Requests must be received no later than July 15 .  
 
We are also planning a town hall meeting on Thursday, July 9 in which we will discuss bi-modal learning and answer questions you may have. There are two opportunities to participate, 1:00 pm or 7:00 pm, and as with previous town halls, you can pre-submit questions. You will also have an opportunity to ask questions during the town hall.
 
 
FLEXIBLE TEACHING AND LEARNING PLANS
 
In my previous communications, I mentioned our flexible approach to delivering a robust Congressional School education during the uncertainty of COVID-19. This approach involves four possible learning scenarios.
 
I am pleased to share with you our new animated videos that offer a brief overview of each of the scenarios. In addition, we have launched a Congressional School Together webpage with information, links, and answers to questions relating to our plans for this fall. 
 
Click any image below to watch the videos.
 
 
 
The summer months are proving to be very busy and productive for the Leadership Team and myself. We are celebrating our one month anniversary since welcoming our Infant and Toddler students and teachers back to campus, and we are looking forward to opening Congressional Camp on Monday, July 6.  
 
Plans are coming together quickly for modifications to campus to help us bring preschool - 8th grade students safely back to campus on September 2. I plan to communicate with you often over the summer and you can expect to receive another update on Wednesday, July 15. In the meantime, thank you for your continued support, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions.  
 
Sincerely,
 
Edwin P. Gordon, PhD
Head of School
June 12, 2020
 

 
Dear Congressional School Families,

I am writing to update you on our planning for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. We are all eager to return to campus this fall and committed to making this decision with a great deal of care and planning. While we still have many details to work out, we are planning for an in-person fall semester for students beginning on September 2, 2020. 
 
Our reopening plan continues to prioritize the health and safety of our community and is supported by four pillars: 
  1. Enhanced hygiene, sanitizing and disinfecting
  2. Personal protective equipment
  3. Physical distancing
  4. Monitoring of health conditions
Important Updates Below—

Biomodal Learning Option Offered

(student learning at home while others are in the classroom-see below)
 
In mid-May, I shared with you a plan with three flexible teaching and learning scenarios to ensure the continuity of a robust Congressional School education as we manage the uncertainty of the pandemic. These include: 
  • On Campus Learning - all students return to school for on-campus classes 
  • Hybrid Learning - a combination of on-campus and online learning designed with smaller numbers of students on campus at one time to allow for enhanced physical distancing
  • Congressional School Online - our virtual learning program
I am pleased to share the addition of a fourth learning scenario for students in Kindergarten - Grade 8 as follows: 

Bimodal Instruction (Kindergarten-Grade 8)
A bimodal option will be offered to support Kindergarten - 8th Grade students and families who must remain out of school temporarily due to COVID related concerns. Bimodal learning is designed to maintain connection and community between classmates on campus and those who need to stay at home. This option includes two separate modes of education that are offered simultaneously with some students learning at home while others are in the classroom. 

Bimodal learning will align as much as possible with in-class learning but is not designed to completely replicate the on-campus experience. However, this learning scenario is designed to ensure that students receive a well-balanced and robust academic experience. I am working with the faculty to fully develop this option and look forward to sharing more details in the coming weeks. 

Tuition Discount for Infants & Toddlers, Preschool, and Junior Kindergarten for Online Learning

For the 2020-2021 school year, I am pleased to share that the Board of Trustees has approved a per-diem tuition reduction for any days in which the Infant and Toddler, Preschool, or Junior Kindergarten affected classrooms or Little School building are closed by the governor due to COVID-19 or a confirmed case on campus of COVID-19 for more than 48 hours. This modification includes: 
  • 50% tuition discount for Infants & Toddlers and
  • 20% tuition discount for Preschool and Junior Kindergarten
These discounts will be calculated on a daily basis after 48 hours or more of closure due to COVID-19. Any discounts incurred in the fall will be applied to your January 1st, 2021 balance and any incurred in the winter/spring will be applied to your May 1, 2021 balance.

In the event of a closure due to COVID-19, classes will pivot to remote teaching and learning through Congressional School Online. In addition, students in Preschool and Junior Kindergarten will be provided with Gala funded Chromebooks to enhance their online learning experience. Students in Kindergarten and Grade 1 will also be provided with Gala funded Chromebooks to enhance their online learning experience.

On Campus Learning Updates

Physical Facilities 
  • After a successful reopening of the Infant and Toddler Classes on June 1, we are looking forward to celebrating an equally successful opening of the Preschool - Grade 8 on September 2. As we prepare to come together on campus again, classrooms and other campus spaces are being reconfigured in some cases to accommodate physical distancing requirements. How we learn and interact will be altered, but in ways that allow our students and teachers to continue their learning and teaching. 
  • Traffic flow and pedestrian walkways will be marked to limit congestion. Cleaning and sanitation of buildings, classrooms and public spaces will be done frequently and according to strict protocols, and health and safety guidelines. 
Face Coverings/Masks
Another practice that is already in place is the requirement of face masks inside the buildings. It is expected that this requirement will continue in the fall and we will share more with you on the implementation of this requirement, the grades that will be affected, and other health and safety practices and protocols in the coming weeks. 

Other Updates and Next Steps

One of the many benefits of an independent school like Congressional is the ability to adapt nimbly to changing situations. Our capacity to continue the delivery of our strong educational program over the past few months has been impressive and has gained the attention of many in our local area, and I’m pleased to share that our Admission Office is busier than usual this spring as a result. 

I look forward to sharing more details with you in the coming days and weeks, including an update on new developments that will be shared on July 1. This will be a busy summer for our faculty and staff as we prepare to bring Congressional School Together this fall, and we look forward to celebrating this milestone with you.  
 

Sincerely,

Edwin P. Gordon, PhD

Head of School

May 7, 2020

Dear Congressional School Families,

We are writing today to express our deepest gratitude for your unwavering support during these difficult weeks. Suspending on-campus classes and pivoting to Congressional School Online has been challenging in many ways, and we are both grateful and impressed with the tenacity and fortitude of our teachers, students, and our parents who have gone above and beyond to ensure that our program of educational excellence continues. 

As fiduciaries of the School, the Board of Trustees and Head of School have a duty to make decisions that are in the best interest of the institution and advance the School's mission. With the unprecedented circumstances facing us now, the Board and Head of School are laser focused on upholding our collective responsibility to do everything we can to support our families and retain the full employment of our loyal and deeply respected teachers and staff. Today, we have important information to share with you regarding the School’s finances. 

As you may be aware, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), part of the federal relief response that was passed by Congress, includes funding for for-profit and nonprofit organizations including private schools with fewer than 500 employees. In light of our School’s change in forecasted financial results due to the effects of this pandemic and the recent need to reduce the hours of many teachers and staff, the Executive Committee decided to apply for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan, funded through the federal CARES Act. We are pleased to share that Congressional School has received and the Board of Trustees agreed to accept a $1.3M loan that can only be applied to payroll, health insurance, benefits, and other eligible expenses incurred during the current fiscal year. A number of federal compliance requirements are associated with the PPP loan and a letter with details of these compliance requirements is available through this LINK.

After careful evaluation and consultation, the Board determined that accepting the PPP loan was aligned with its fiduciary responsibilities and the mission of our School. Congressional School’s teachers and staff are the backbone of our institution, and supporting them and their important work is critical to our success. Upon receiving the loan this week, the School immediately reinstated all faculty and staff who were furloughed or had their hours reduced.

As we navigate the immediate future, Dr. Gordon and the School’s Leadership Team will continue to carefully manage the School’s resources. In that regard, prudent and responsible steps have been taken to implement a temporary hold on discretionary spending. 

Our School has been an integral part of the local community for over 80 years, and currently provides employment to over 120 people during the school year and many more over the summer. As we’ve watched the Coronavirus pandemic unfold along with its associated economic and social challenges, the importance of creative problem solving, critical thinking, and strong leadership have become abundantly clear. As you know, Congressional School is dedicated to developing these competencies in our students and we are as committed as ever to equipping young learners with the skills they need for success - they are our future!  

Not only does Congressional School provide community employment and an exceptional education for tomorrow’s leaders, the School also prioritizes giving back to our community. Partnerships with organizations such as the Culmore Family Resource Center and Food for Others, fundraisers for disaster relief, and visits to the elderly in nursing homes are just a few examples. In short, our work is vital and it will continue. 

This year, Congressional School is celebrating its 80th anniversary. The School was founded in 1939 on the heels of the Great Depression and endured through World War II. Over the decades Congressional School has continued to thrive and grow through many economic upturns and downturns - including the more recent 2008 Financial Crisis. Through careful planning and financial stewardship we will emerge from this crisis as a strong and enduring educational institution and this too will be just another chapter in the school’s long and vibrant history. 

It is an honor to work with such a talented group of teachers, staff, and administrators and to be a member of this caring and close-knit community. We look forward to celebrating our amazing students and teachers during the upcoming Red Carpet Virtual Gala on May 16 and the Online Auction that begins this Friday. In addition, we look with great enthusiasm toward the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. Thank you for your continued trust, support, and understanding. As always, we invite you to contact us with any questions you may have. 

With deep gratitude,

April 20, 2020
 
 
Dear Congressional Parents,
 
The School Leadership Team and I hope you can join us as we host a second round of Virtual Parent Town Hall meetings this week. The agenda will include remarks by me, updates from Division Directors, and a parent Q&A. We will also hear from Dr. Silvia Moore, Director of Learning Center, and Stefanie Hjalmervik, Learning Specialist, on what is developmentally appropriate in terms of distance learning education. In addition, Congressional School Counselor, Rebecca Ginnetti, will share tips with parents on managing stress and anxiety in themselves and their children and balancing family life in these uncertain times.  

To participate in the Town Hall, please RSVP by 11 am on the morning of the event. A link to join via GoogleMeet will be sent to everyone who registers. The Town Hall meetings will last one hour. 

  • Infants & Toddlers, Preschool & Junior Kindergarten: 8:00 pm, Thursday, 4/23 
  • Kindergarten - Grade 4: 1:00 pm, Friday, 4/24 
  • Grades 5-8:  3:00 pm, Friday, 4/24 
Last week, we sent all parents a Virtual Learning Suvey which many of you have taken - thank you! If you have not yet taken the survey please use the link to share your thoughts and impressions. The survey will remain open until 10 am tomorrow (4/21).
 
Thank you for your support and I look forward to seeing you at a Town Hall meeting this week. 
 
Sincerely,

Edwin P. Gordon, PhD

Head of School
March 30, 2020
 
 
Dear Congressional Families,
 
As you may already be aware, Governor Northam has just issued a Stay at Home order for VA, effective today. I’ve included a copy of the Order found below. I will reach out with further guidance on what the Order means for our School as soon as possible. 
 
 
 
Best,
 

Edwin P. Gordon, PhD

Head of School
March 30, 2020
 
Dear Early Childhood Families,

 

I am writing to thank you for your ongoing support during this challenging time. Many of you have reached out to me and others on our staff with details of your daily struggles or your special moments with your little ones during your virtual learning experiences. I know it is requiring an enormous amount of strength and effort to get through each day, but please know we are all in this together and that we are here to provide you with as many resources and as much support as we can.

 

As we look ahead, I wanted to provide you with an update on our efforts to reopen the Early Childhood Program on April 14. We continue to work with a number of state and local government agencies to monitor the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are also helping us determine the best set of practices to put in place in the event we do reopen soon. If reopening is deemed possible, we would implement a strict set of guidelines to best ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty, staff, and parents. This will require major changes to our daily routines and buildings and there are many details to be considered.

 

Among the considerations are how to arrange the classes into small groups and how to staff them. We are looking at where to place the classes so that co-mingling of groups cannot occur. We’re looking at how to plan lessons and care in ways that encourage social distancing and how to monitor anyone coming into school to help prevent the spread of illness. We are also looking at ways to keep the number of interactions to the absolute minimum while still providing services such as lunch, clinic, and cleaning.  

 

This is a brand new situation we are working through and we thank you for your patience and understanding as we make health and safety our top priority. We are committed to our current plan of closure for the Infant and Toddler classes through April 13. In the interim, we are monitoring the rapid changes in the COVID-19 pandemic and will communicate with you no later than Friday, April 10 about whether we are able to reopen on Tuesday, April 14. In the event that we do reopen on that date we will share with you specific details of the guidelines we plan to put into effect and will request your partnership to ensure they are closely adhered to.

 

I look forward to speaking with many of you at the Virtual Town Hall meeting this afternoon at 1 pm. If you haven’t already registered to participate and would like to join, use this link to register. A link to participate in the meeting via Google Meet will be sent to those who sign up. Registration closes at 11:30 a.m.

 

Thank you again for your support and understanding. Stay safe and healthy.

 

Sincerely,
 
 
Kim O'Neil
Assistant Head of School
Director of Early Childhood & Primary School
March 30, 2020
 
 
Dear Middle School Parents,
 
I hope you and your family are well. Dr. Gordon has been communicating regularly with the Congressional community, and we are looking forward to the Town Hall Meeting coming up. I also wanted to reach out so that I could share some perspective on where we are and what we are doing to continue Congressional’s mission of providing “an inspirational and challenging educational experience”. 
 
As the Middle School Director, I have been overwhelmingly impressed by the transition that your children, and our Faculty, have made by moving from the physical environment of Sleepy Hollow Road to the virtual world where students and teachers are communicating and working together on multiple digital platforms. With a new schedule, students in Middle School have been logging into classes each morning by 8:30am to begin their academic day. Teachers have been ready each and every day to engage the students and keep them active and learning as we would if students were attending class in our brick and mortar building. 
 
The interactions between the students and teachers have been impressive to watch; my own two Middle School children gather their school materials each morning, and with intention, engage with their teachers and classmates throughout the day; they log in and out of classes, taking short breaks, making lunch, ensuring to complete Reading Zone as well, and then complete homework through the afternoon with the eventuality of getting outside for walks, basketball, lacrosse, and other activities that help keep them healthy and active. 
 
The learning continues, the routine is good, and they are happy and productive. They love seeing their teachers and friends online, and really wish they were in school, but they are doing well. The classes that our teachers have prepared is the next best thing to being in the real classroom. Across the grades, students are being challenged, they are required to solve math problems; translate French, Spanish, or Latin; learn about world explorers  or Virginia History, understand and reenact Newton’s Laws of Physics; and more. Congressional’s curriculum continues, albeit remotely. 
 
Your student receives an email from Mr. Bowley or Mrs. Yassine every Sunday morning. This email includes a slide deck that all the grade level teachers have added to and offers an outline as well as details about the student experience for the week. Every student should review that slide deck before Monday morning in order to be best prepared for the week. 
 
In addition to the information provided on the slide deck, I want Middle School parents to be aware that there are a few components to the new daily schedule that are different from their regular schedule. This new schedule for virtual learning is different from the regular schedule we all followed through March 13. Some of the qualities that we incorporated into the virtual learning schedule include:
  • All of your student’s core academic classes and arts classes meet regularly. It is our goal and expectation that rigorous and challenging academics continue. Our talented, dedicated, and professional Faculty are using multiple platforms and tools to deliver a highly effective curriculum. By now, you may have heard of Flipgrid, Sreencastify, Pear Deck and more. Teachers are being creative and innovative in their delivery of curriculum while also using the simple platform of a Google Hangout to interface and work with students. You won’t see Choice Electives due to the complicated task of teaching such a variety of classes virtually; however, you will see some cooking demonstrations from Mr. Bowley!
  • Class periods are a little shorter – We have found that planning for 40 minutes online nears the equivalent of planning for 50-55 minutes when in person, and Faculty have found the 40 minute classes to be effective and efficient, especially when the teacher is interfacing with the students for the entire 40 minutes. Students have homework as they normally would so some time outside of class will be required to complete all assignments and expectations. 
  • Ample transition time – When students are home, they need to log off of one class, take a quick break, gather new materials, and then log back on to the next class. Transition periods are generally 10 minutes long. 
  • Workshops are new on the schedule- Workshops allow for the extension of learning. While having classes with teachers is the most important component of the schedule, we also know that students need accessibility to their teachers, as would happen in a class when students engage in individual work- hence, the Workshop. Workshops are offered for every core academic class, and are usually offered on a drop day of the same subject. This provides students the opportunity to work on a subject on a drop day, but the teacher is present and ready to assist online, even though the class isn’t being offered on that day.  
  • Reading Zone – Reading is one of the most, if not the most important activity any child can engage in. We have lengthened Reading Zone so that students continue this extremely important cognitive task that deepens our children’s understanding of the world and enhances many skills such as critical thinking, vocabulary, writing, and more. If your student ever mentions being bored, which happens, tell him/her to read a book. 
  • Study Hall – We added Study Halls so that students understood that there is an expectation that they work beyond the classes scheduled. Class periods have been shortened, but it is still important for students to do additional work beyond those classes. It is likely that homework will periodically take students beyond Study Hall time as well. 
  • You will note that in addition to regular classes, several student activities continue. This week, Student Council, Leaders in Equity And Diversity, and Lunch Bunches with Mrs. Ginnetti continue.

Behind the scenes, we are having regular Faculty meetings where we are monitoring student progress, offering news and announcements, and sharing curriculum expertise with one another. With remote learning, we spend even more time on this last item given the shift to virtual learning. Teachers have found effective and exciting ways to engage with students- we are benefitting from one another’s experience and expertise. 
 
After Spring Break, Middle School will begin hosting Morning Advisory on Mondays and Fridays with Advisors. While students are creating time both in classes and on their own for socialization, we want to offer more opportunities for that. Additionally, Advisors are missing their advisees- it is time to continue those relationships. 
 
I am hopeful that this letter offers some insight to where we are and how we are moving forward with this new normal. Thank you for your patience and understanding in this transition to virtual learning. I look forward to keeping in touch with you, the parents, through regular communications. Please do not hesitate to reach out at any time.
 
If you are experiencing a major difficulty during this time and need help finding a solution, please contact Dr. Gordon’s Executive Assistant, Sara King, who will work with our School Counselor, Rebecca Ginnetti, to identify resource(s) either from within our community or a referral to a non-profit, government agency or other resource. You can reach Sara via email at sking@congressionalschool.org or by calling 703-533-9711 Ext. 313. 
 
 
Sincerely,
 
 
Brent Hinrichs
Associate Head of School
Director of Lower & Middle School
March 30, 2020
 
 

Dear Lower School Parents,
 
I hope you and your family are well. Dr. Gordon has been communicating regularly with the Congressional community, and we are looking forward to the Town Hall Meeting coming up. I also wanted to  reach out so that I could share some perspective on where we are and what we are doing to continue Congressional’s mission of providing “an inspirational and challenging educational experience”. 
 
As the Lower School Director, I have been overwhelmingly impressed by the transition that your children, and our Faculty, have made by moving from the physical environment of Sleepy Hollow Road to the virtual world where students and teachers are communicating and working together on multiple digital platforms. With a new schedule, students in Lower School have been logging into classes each morning by 8:30am to begin their academic day. Teachers have been ready each and every day to engage the students and keep them active and learning as we would if students were attending class in our brick and mortar building. 
 
The interactions between the students and teachers have been impressive to watch; my two children, albeit in Middle School, gather their school materials each morning, and with intention, engage with their teachers and classmates throughout the day; they log in and out of classes, taking short breaks, making lunch, ensuring to complete Reading Zone as well, and then complete homework through the afternoon with the eventuality of getting outside for walks, basketball, lacrosse, and other activities that help keep them healthy and active. The learning continues, the routine is good, and they are happy and productive. We have these same expectations and hopes for Lower School students. 
 
The classes that our teachers have prepared is the next best thing to being in the real classroom; across the grades, students are being challenged, they are required to solve math problems; translate French, Spanish, or Latin; learn about Virginia History or regions of the United States, and more. Congressional’s curriculum continues, albeit remotely. 
 
You and/or your student receive a regular email from Mr. Friedman, Mr. Smith, or Ms. Manes. This email includes a schedule for the next day or the current day. Thank you for reviewing the schedule with your student; this will help her/him be best prepared for the day and through the week. 
 
In addition to the information provided by teachers, I want Lower School parents to be aware that this new schedule for virtual learning is different from the regular schedule we all followed through March 13. Some of the qualities that we incorporated into the virtual learning schedule include:
  • All of your student’s core academic classes and arts classes meet regularly. It is our goal and expectation that enriching and challenging academics continue. Our talented, dedicated, and professional Faculty are using multiple platforms and tools to deliver a highly effective curriculum. By now, you may have  heard of Flipgrid, Sreencastify, or other online tools. Teachers are being creative and innovative in their delivery of curriculum while also using the simple platform of a Google Hangout to interface and work with students. Google Classroom has also been extremely helpful. 
  • Students are coming together each morning for socialization. While academics continue, we also understand that time to talk, see one another, and further relationships is extremely important. As a school that prioritizes social-emotional learning as well as academics, we are pleased to offer this regular time for students to “catch-up”. We know it’s critical for health and happiness. 
  • Class periods are a little shorter – We have found that planning for 40 minutes is working, and Faculty have found this length class to be effective and efficient, especially when the teacher is interfacing with the students for a length of time. Students have homework as they normally would so some time outside of class will be required to complete all assignments and expectations. 
  • Ample transition time – When students are home, they need to log off of one class, take a quick break, gather new materials, and then log back on to the next class. Transition periods are generally 10 minutes long. 
  • Workshops, Extensions, and/or Catch-Up times are new on the schedules- These times  allow for the extension of learning. While having classes with teachers is the most important component of the schedule, we also know that students need accessibility to their teachers, as would happen in a class when students engage in individual work- hence, the Workshop time. Workshops provide students the opportunity to work on a subject, but the teacher is present and ready to assist online, even though the class isn’t formally being held at that time.  
  • Reading Zone – Reading is one of the most, if not the most important activity any child can engage in. We have lengthened Reading Zone so that students continue this extremely important cognitive task that deepens our children’s understanding of the world and enhances many skills such as critical thinking, vocabulary, writing, and more. If your student ever mentions being bored, which happens, tell him/her to read a book. 
  • Dismissal at 2:30pm - Although Dismissal is earlier than the regular schedule, students may very likely work beyond the last class. The school day has been shortened slightly, but it is still important for students to do additional work beyond those classes as assigned.

In order for virtual learning to be most successful, I would like to offer the following advice to help your child be successful with this new learning environment:
  • Establish a Regular Schedule for Your Child - It will be important for your child that you help establish and maintain a routine and structure for their day, beginning with regular daily bedtime and wake up time. Be sure to help your child build in breaks during the virtual school day. Begin and close each day with a brief check-in. Reach out to your child’s teacher if you observe your child struggling. Setting clear expectations will help your child maintain a schedule and stay on top of their schoolwork.
  • Create a Study Space for your Child - We recommend that you create a separate, quiet space in your home for your child to study. We recommend that you choose an open area in the family living space (kitchen table, dining room, etc.) to avoid isolating your child and to allow parents/guardians to monitor your child’s learning and screen activity. A room with strong wireless connection will also be important.
  • Help Your Student Remove Distractions - Ensure that your child is not distracted by other digital devices or the functions of the Chromebook. If your student should be doing homework, be mindful of what your student is doing. Having Chromebooks at home is new for our 3rd and 4th grade students and Google Hangouts are very interesting and fun….Students can be distracted easily- help them develop and maintain healthy study habits which includes sustained attention to one task at a time without other distractions. 
  • Stay in Communication with Your Child’s Teachers - Your child’s teachers and School Leadership will maintain regular communication with you. Reach out to them as needed as well keeping in mind that teachers will need to be in regular email communication with all of their families. Do your best to keep communication succinct and to the point. 
  • Encourage and Allow for Productive Struggle - Stay engaged in your child’s learning by asking them questions and having them share their thoughts while encouraging their independence so they can take ownership of their own learning. It’s okay for your child to not have answers to everything immediately, Some productive struggle is essential to learning, so we ask that parents allow their children to grapple with problems and come up with ideas for tackling them. Stepping in too quickly to help solve problems will deprive your child of the opportunity to learn, try new approaches, and gain greater independence and confidence. If your child becomes discouraged and/or overwhelmed by schoolwork, please reach out to your child’s teachers. 
  • Encourage Your Child To Maintain Social Contact With Peers - It will be very important for your child to stay in social contact (through virtual means) with their friends and peers during school closure. Encourage your child to interact with friends through phone conversations or Facetime. They can form study groups created by their teachers or informal groups that they develop on their own, but please monitor the frequency and length of these interactions. Social interactions, even through virtual means, will help your child stay connected and feel a part of the School community.
  • Encourage Physical Movement - Our physical education teachers have developed online instructions for students. Physical movement and exercise are vital to maintaining physical and mental health, reducing stress and anxiety, and improving concentration and focus for more effective learning and retention. Students can also choose to do their own physical activities-  as spring arrives, there are many opportunities to be outside. 

Behind the scenes, we are having regular Faculty meetings where we are monitoring student progress, offering news and announcements, and sharing curriculum expertise with one another. With remote learning, we spend even more time on this last item given the shift to virtual learning. Teachers have found effective and exciting ways to engage with students- we are benefitting from one another’s experience and expertise.
 
I am hopeful that this letter offers some insight to where we are and how we are moving forward with this new normal. Thank you for your patience and understanding in this transition to virtual learning. I look forward to keeping in touch with you, the parents, through regular communications. Please do not hesitate to reach out at any time.
 
If you are experiencing a major difficulty during this time and need help finding a solution, please contact Dr. Gordon’s Executive Assistant, Sara King, who will work with our School Counselor, Rebecca Ginnetti, to identify resource(s) either from within our community or a referral to a non-profit, government agency or other resource. You can reach Sara via email at sking@congressionalschool.org or by calling 703-533-9711 Ext. 313. 
 
Sincerely,
 
 
Brent Hinrichs
Associate Head of School
Director of Lower & Middle School
March 30, 2020
 
 
Dear Primary School Families,

I appreciate your continued feedback during our current school closure for COVID-19.  This is certainly a new situation for all of us and we are working hard to keep things moving forward.  With that said, I understand the challenges you are currently facing trying to navigate caring for your child(ren) while also trying to meet the growing demands of your jobs.  It is certainly not easy and we are all struggling a little bit as we adjust to our new “normal”.  

The teachers have continued working to provide newsletters for the parents so that the students can go on learning and developing while we are not together in school. We are trying to maintain some sense of “normalcy” for the children and allow them the opportunity to continue seeing their teachers on a daily basis.  We understand however that the demands of some of your jobs may make completing these activities impossible or feeling like an added stress. This is certainly not the expectation or intent. Do what is right for you and your family.  Feel free to adapt activities to make them work for you and your child.
 
Now that campus is closed for the remainder of the year, the Primary School team and I have made adjustments to our Virtual Learning Plan.  You should have received that plan in an email sent earlier today.  You can use this link to view the plan which outlines expectations and I have also included highlights below. Updated Virtual Learning schedules will be shared with you no later than Friday, April 10, 2020.
  • Every day, students in PS - 2nd grade will have daily Zoom Meetings at 8:30am with their teachers and other classmates.  This will provide students the opportunity to see their friends, interact live with their teachers and have a morning meeting so that they can remain connected.  Morning meetings may include songs, games, personal shares and mini lessons.  
  • PS - 2nd grade students will have the opportunity to participate in Zoom classes with their specials teachers 1x per rotation per special class.
  • Students in PS - 2nd grade will have personal weekly “check-ins” from their teachers.  This will be arranged between each family and the teacher. Check-in’s can be in the form of FaceTime calls, Zoom sessions or phone calls.   
  • Chromebooks have been ordered for all 2nd grade students.  When they arrive, our technology department will work on setting them up and once they are ready members of our staff will deliver them to your homes. We will share more information with a timeline when available. More information on this will be shared directly with 2nd grade families.
  • New daily schedules for each grade level with Zoom meet-ups will be shared with you prior to our return on Tuesday, April 14, 2020.

I thank you for your patience as we switch gears from being classroom teachers to now online instructors.  This is new to all of us and your partnership during this time is vital to your child’s success. Continue to communicate regularly with your child’s home room teacher with any thoughts or questions.  Please stay healthy and safe. 

Sincerely,
 
 
Kim O'Neil
Assistant Head of School
Director of Early Childhood & Primary School
Dear Congressional School Families,
 
Juggling work priorities and taking care of family can be challenging at the best of times, and our current set of circumstances has served to elevate this challenge. Please know that you are not alone. I am grateful for the many ways you have made adjustments to your lives during this school closure. As we work our way through this unusual situation, we want you to know that we are here for you. Despite the distance between us, our sense of community and camaraderie is still shining through.
 
As you know, Congressional School is required to follow the state mandated directive by Virginia Governor Northam requiring public and private schools to stay closed for the remainder of the academic year. As such, kindergarten - 8th grade will no longer have in-person classes on campus for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. Since March 18, we have been delivering a successful program of remote teaching and learning and we plan to continue with this program after Spring Break. A detailed calendar of instruction will be shared with you in the coming days. 
 
For our Little School families (Infants - Junior Kindergarten) we are exploring options around re-opening these grades after Spring Break, keeping in mind the need for social distancing and following the advice and guidelines of the local and state health departments. The health and well-being of our community remain a top priority. We are consulting with health professionals and others to determine the best course of action. While we cannot say at this time whether we can re-open these grades, we do want to evaluate all of our options and will communicate further with families as we know more. 
 
Working from home has been a big adjustment for our whole community as we try to manage the demands of family and work-life. The current situation has required all of us to shift priorities, and as a school, we are committed to focusing our energy and attention where it is needed the most - offering support to our families and delivering a high caliber education to our students. 
 
As we continue to prioritize our time and efforts, we have decided to put our Red Carpet Gala on hold until further notice. We are very grateful to so many in our community who voiced support for moving our Gala online, but as events have unfolded we believe our only priority right now is to support our community.

If you are experiencing a major difficulty during this time and need help finding a solution, please contact my Executive Assistant, Sara King, who will work with our School Counselor, Rebecca Ginnetti, to identify resource(s) either from within our community or a referral to a non-profit, government agency or other resource. You can reach Sara via email at sking@congressionalschool.org or by calling 703-533-9711 Ext. 313.  
 
We have recently been asked by a number of parents in preschool - 8th grade about Lunch, Transportation, and Extended Hours Program fees charged during this extended period of closure and whether reimbursement would be available. After reviewing our contracts with these long-term vendors and evaluating our staffing costs we are able to do the following:
 
LUNCH
 
After review of our contract with this long-term vendor and confirming that the School will not incur significant costs during this closure, we will be reimbursing K to 8th grade families from Monday, March 16th to the end of the school year for these costs.  PS and JK will receive reimbursement for three weeks from Monday, March 16th to Friday, April 3rd until a determination is made about re-opening (discussed above).
 
TRANSPORTATION
 
After review of our contract with this long-term vendor and considering costs involved, we will be reimbursing riders effective Tuesday, April 14th until the end of the school year. Please note, if we were to reopen IT-JK, no transportation will be provided.
 
EXTENDED HOURS PROGRAM
 
We had made a decision to keep paying our Extended Hours Program counselors until Friday, April 3rd.  Like most, these staff are dependent on the school for their livelihood and thus, needed time to prepare for the time they would not be paid. Therefore, we will start to provide reimbursement to K to 8th grade families as of Tuesday, April 14th.  PS and JK may receive reimbursement from April 14th once a determination is made about re-opening (discussed above).
 
When will you receive this credit(s)?
The credit(s) will be applied to your May 1, 2020 invoice. If your 2019-2020 Smart Tuition account is paid in full and you have re-enrolled for the 2020-2021 school year, the credit will be applied to your August 1, 2020 invoice. If you are graduating/not returning and your accounts with Congressional School are paid in full, a check will be mailed to your address on file in early June. These may take time to adjust in Smart tuition, so we ask for your patience. 
 
Thank you for your continued support and understanding as we work through these challenging times. We will continue to keep you informed of any new developments or decisions that are made. In the meantime, stay well and safe and I look forward to communicating with you again soon.
 
 
With gratitude,
 

Edwin P. Gordon, PhD

Head of School
Dear Congressional Parents,
 
On Wednesday, I shared with you our plans for remote teaching and learning in the event of a school closure due to COVID-19. In addition to formulating remote learning plans, I have been meeting with members of the Leadership Team to evaluate our plans going forward as we face a potential school closure. 
 
At this time, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported in our school community, however, health experts are escalating their warnings about the highly contagious nature of the Coronavirus and the importance of social distancing to slow the spread. It is expected that cases of Coronavirus will increase in our local area in the coming weeks. After careful consideration, research, and consultation with our Board, and with the safety and wellbeing of our community as a top priority, we are taking a proactive stance and will suspend in-person classes and school activities for all grades (infants - grade 8) after Friday, March 13 at 6:00pm. Remote teaching and learning will commence on Wednesday, March 18. 
 
Following is an outline of our schedule for the remainder of March through the end of Spring Break. 
 
  • Friday, March 13 - Last Day of In-Person Classes. Campus is closed as of 6 p.m.
  • Monday,  March 16 - 9:00am - 12:00pm - Buildings open for Students & Families to retrieve personal and learning materials. No access to buildings after 12:00pm. 
  • Monday & Tuesday, March 16 & 17 - Planning and Preparation Days for Faculty and Staff  (No Classes)
  • Wednesday, March 18 - Friday, March 20 - Remote Teaching & Learning
  • Monday, March 23 - Friday, March 27 - Remote Teaching & Learning
  • Monday, March 30 - Wednesday, April 1 - Remote Teaching & Learning
  • Thursday, April 2 - Friday, April 3 - Spring Break Bonus Days
  • Friday, April 3 - Monday, April 13 - Spring Break 
  • Tuesday, April 14 - School Reopens (unless otherwise notified)

We will, of course, notify you immediately should this plan change. All on-campus events and activities are cancelled between March 16 and April 13. In addition, we are making modifications to major events that are scheduled for this month as follows:

Spring Musical - Disney’s Frozen, Jr.
The performance of the spring musical scheduled for Friday, March 20 is postponed. A new date for the performance is being determined. 

Science Symposium
The Science Symposium scheduled for Friday, March 27 is postponed. A new date and schedule for this important event will be determined. 


The Red Carpet Gala
The Red Carpet Gala, which is scheduled for Saturday, March 28 at the Arlington Gateway Hotel, is now cancelled and the live auction will be moved online. The Advancement Office and the Gala Committee are working to transition the event and separate communications will be sent with details, including information for those who have purchased tickets or supported the event in other ways.
 
Spring Break Camp
Congressional’s Spring Break Camp is cancelled and families who have registered will receive a separate communication from the Auxiliary Team regarding next steps.  
 
We are sharing our plans with students this afternoon. Our school counselor, Rebecca Ginnetti, is supporting students and providing resources to teachers as we navigate the many emotions that students may feel during this time. Mrs. Ginnetti has also published a blog post with links to resources that parents may find useful when talking to their children about the Coronavirus situation. Read the post here.
 
Our teachers and staff are committed to supporting students and families and look forward to communicating with you regularly over the next few weeks. Your child’s teacher/advisor will contact you by Tuesday afternoon with information to help you get started with the remote learning plans.

The decision to close our campus was not made lightly and we fully understand the difficulty it may cause. I would like to express my appreciation to all of our school families as well as our dedicated faculty and staff; this has not been an easy time for any of us. I truly value your support, understanding, and partnership as we navigate this highly unusual pandemic facing our community and communities around the world. 
 
With gratitude,
 
Edwin P. Gordon, PhD
Head of School
Dear Congressional Parents,

In light of the current Coronavirus outbreak, faculty and staff met during Monday’s Professional Development day to create contingency teaching and learning plans in the event of a possible school closing. While we hope a closing will not be necessary, we have developed plans to continue supporting student learning via remote instruction and other resources. These plans have been divided into three levels as follows: 

Early Childhood Program
Lead teachers in the Infant and Toddler classes will touch base with parents twice each week via email with suggested activities and resources that parents can do with their children to reinforce learning and build skills. 

Preschool-Grade 2
Parents of students in preschool-grade 2 will receive an email every morning from their homeroom teacher with lessons and activities for each content area. Specialty teachers will coordinate with homeroom teachers and all content for all classes will be shared in one email from the homeroom teacher. Specials will continue to rotate through the A-F daily schedule. Supply kits will be sent home so that students have the materials on-hand to do their school work. 
Grades 3-8
Students in grades 3-8 have school-supplied Chromebooks and will use these to engage in online learning. Students will participate in classes through the GoogleMeet video-conferencing application following a schedule that will be shared with students and parents. Teachers are currently working with students to practice using GoogleMeet and to familiarize them with the online learning format. 

Students will follow a daily schedule and connect with their teachers on GoogleMeet to receive lessons and any instructions for classwork that may be required. For example, a math lesson may take 10 minutes to deliver, after which the students would work offline and use the remainder of the lesson time as instructed by the teacher. If students have questions during this time, they can message the teacher who will be available throughout the lesson. Student classwork and homework will be submitted online. Supply kits will be sent home so that students have the materials on-hand to do their school work. 

The health and safety of the Congressional School community remain our top priority. We are meeting daily to assess the developing situation and continue to seek guidance from the local health agencies and the Center for Disease Control. Our facilities team is implementing rigorous cleaning protocols, especially in high-touch areas of the school and on school buses, and we are reinforcing proper etiquette (covering coughs/sneezes, washing hands) to limit personal contact and possible spread of illness. We will continue to communicate with you often to keep you informed of any new developments. 

If you have questions about the contingency learning plans outlined in this letter, please reach out to your child’s teacher. Questions about Coronavirus can be directed to the school nurse, Leah Boemerman, or me. 

Thank you for your support.
 
 

Sincerely,
 

Edwin P. Gordon, PhD

Head of School
Dear Congressional School Parents,

I’m writing to let you know that we are aware of the confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Fairfax County and we continue to stay in close contact with the local health departments while monitoring the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website and others. All faculty and staff dedicated time during our professional development activities today for training and planning in the event that we are impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak. 

I will continue to keep you updated in the coming days as the situation develops and will share details of our contingency plans in case we are impacted. In the event that anything should develop suddenly, I will inform you immediately.  Our top priority will always be to support the health and wellbeing of our community.

In the meantime, please refer to the Coronavirus page on our website which has past letters from me, links to resources about the virus, and links to advice on how to talk to your children about the situation. www.congressionalschool.org/coronavirus/.

If you have questions, feel free to contact Congressional’s School Nurse, Leah Boemerman, or me. 
 
 

Sincerely,
 

Edwin P. Gordon, PhD

Head of School
Dear Congressional School Families,

With reports of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) prevalent in the news, I wanted to assure families that we are closely monitoring the health crisis and any impacts it may have on our local area and our school community. At this time, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported in our region.

As a community, it is important for us to work together to help prevent the spread of illness. Community members are asked to notify the school of possible exposure to communicable illness, especially the COVID-19 virus. To keep us all healthy, it is important for everyone to observe the prevention methods recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
  • Wash your hands
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • If you feel sick, STAY HOME and keep children at home
  • Stay away from people who seem sick
  • For a high fever or difficulty breathing, see the doctor immediately
  • Let the school nurse know if a child becomes ill
We continue to remind students, teachers, and staff to wash their hands and to cover sneezes and coughs. In addition, some months ago, we installed hand sanitizer stations around campus and will continue to encourage their use. We also remain vigilant about cleaning and sanitizing surfaces, door handles, and other high traffic areas. 

Our policy regarding communicable illnesses is outlined on page 54 of the Family Handbook online and our general health and medical guidelines can be found starting on page 51 of the same document. As with any communicable illness, we rely on our families to notify us immediately and this will be especially important in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in our area.

We work closely with the Fairfax County Health Department, the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC and will continue to follow their recommendations. We will also stay in close communication with our community to keep you informed of any developments. In the interim, we strongly encourage families to create a plan in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in our area. It is possible that schools may need to close during an outbreak, and while we hope this is not the case, having a plan in place will help. We are closely reviewing the school’s protocols and discussing potential adjustments and a plan of action we would implement that would best protect the community if the broader health situation were to change. We hope the review will ultimately prove unnecessary, but in any event, this is useful work for us to undertake. 

For the most up-to-date information about the virus, we recommend visiting the CDC website or the World Health Organization website. 
 
If you have questions, please contact the school nurse, Leah Boemerman. I would also be happy to answer your questions. 
 

Sincerely,
 

Edwin P. Gordon, PhD

Head of School
Dear Congressional Families,

As you may be aware, there is currently an emerging public health situation related to a novel strain of coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, that originated in Wuhan, China. As of January 26, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed five cases of the virus in four states (AZ, CA, IL, WA). 

While we do not believe there is any risk to our campus at this time, I am writing to inform you we are proactively working closely with our School Nurse, as well as local and state resources, to monitor the situation and to protect the health and wellbeing of the Congressional School community.  Because this is also the height of flu season, and in an effort to encourage Congressional students, faculty, and staff to be proactive in preventing the spread of germs, we are placing more hand sanitizers and sanitizer dispensers around campus to help people keep their hands as clean as possible.  We are also encouraging our community to wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Symptoms related to this coronavirus strain include fever (above 100.4 F), a cough or shortness of breath. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia and other complications. We encourage any parent with questions or concerns to contact their primary healthcare provider with questions about their child’s health.  In addition, please be mindful of school policy regarding student illnesses (Family Handbook Page 51) as we work in partnership to help keep the school’s entire population healthy. Please reach out to School Nurse Leah Boemerman, 703-533-9711 with any questions.

Additional information about public health guidelines related to the virus can be found at the following websites:
Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns.  
 

Sincerely,
 

Edwin P. Gordon, PhD

Head of School