FCPS has announced 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 will start at 8:10 am (except for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology which will start at 8:40 am).
- Students attending secondary schools —including middle school students at secondary schools—will begin their day at 8 a.m.
- Students attending middle schools will begin their school day at 7:30 am. FCPS will continue to offer a middle school after-school program five days a week that is free of charge.
- The elementary school timeframe remains unchanged with elementary school students beginning their day between 8 and 9:20 a.m. Forty elementary schools will retain their current start time and others will shift 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 is the elimination of extra-early school arrival times, what is known as the "false tier." High school students and many middle school students are currently delivered to school 20-35 minutes prior to the bell. The new plan narrows that delivery window to 10 or 15 minutes, and gives the extra time in the morning to families rather than having students cool their heels in school buildings. This means that high school buses will arrive at school 65-75 minutes later than many do now. The net effect also helps offset the change for middle schools that shift earlier.
Dr. Garza reports FCPS’ primary goal is to ensure that this important change is positive for all affected – students, families and FCPS employees. They are preparing for a smooth and successful start to the 2015-2016 school year!