FCPS implemented new bell schedules for the 2015-16 school year that reflect the Fairfax County School Board’s adoption of later start times for high school students to benefit health, well-being, and performance. Implementation of this Blueprint for Change means that all Fairfax students will have a start time after 8 am for at least ten or eleven of their thirteen years in Fairfax County.
- All high schools start at 8:10 am (except for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology which starts at 8:40 a.m.)
- Students attending secondary schools —including middle school students at secondary schools—begin their school day at 8 a.m.
- Students attending middle schools begin their school day at 7:30 am. FCPS offers a middle school after-school program five days a week that is free of charge.
- The elementary school timeframe remained unchanged with elementary school students beginning their day between 8 and 9:20 a.m. Forty elementary schools retained their start time and others shifted by 5 or 10 minutes. There are 8 elementary schools with a start time change of more than 10 minutes and these schools all start at 8:30 a.m. or 8:35 a.m. (a time considered “ideal” by many parents).
- The School Board and Superintendent Garza have indicated this is just a start. They want to continue to make adjustments to middle and elementary school schedules in the years ahead.
A major accomplishment of the FCPS Transportation staff this year is the elimination of extra-early school arrival times, what is known as the "false tier." High school students and many middle school students used to get delivered to school 20-35 minutes prior to the bell. The new plan narrowed that delivery window to 10 or 15 minutes, and gave the extra time in the morning to families rather than having students cool their heels in school buildings. This means that high school buses arrive at school 65-75 minutes later than they did last year. The net effect also helped offset the change for middle schools that shift earlier.
Dr. Garza reported FCPS’ primary goal is to ensure that this important change is positive for all affected – students, families and FCPS employees. They implemented a smooth and successful start to the 2015-2016 school year!