The School Bell:  Teens Out of School

By:  Natalie Ingalls, Falls Church High School

Natalie Ingalls, FCHS

Teens are out of school, yet none seem to be happy about it. Normally, the errant snow day, teacher work day, or holiday is enough to excite students, but school closures resulting from the threat of COVID-19 are not having the same effect. Amidst this global pandemic, student lifestyles are being challenged, and coping with such sudden change is hitting students hard.

As the coronavirus has spread to the United States, dramatic steps have been taken to protect people. From Coachella being postponed, to the NBA, MLB and NHL suspending their seasons, and to Broadway shutting down, beloved cultural institutions have begun closing their doors. This is shocking to teens, who are too young to remember the aftermath of events like 9/11. Following that fateful day in 2001, Americans dealt with increased security for air travel, the beginning of the war on terror, and simply put, fear. Not since then has American society been transformed so suddenly. For teens, the coronavirus pandemic is the most major defining event of their lives. With nothing they can relate it to, adjusting to its effects has proved to not be easy.

Yet, while adapting to the new changes that come every day can be difficult, this pandemic can serve to teach a real lesson to teens. It is not uncommon to hear students bemoan the fact that they have to go to school every day; now with school systems shut down for a month (or more in some places), the loss of school seems more like a burden than a blessing. It easily becomes more evident how important education is when students are stuck at home with no school work to stimulate their minds or classmates to talk to. Once school commences again, hopefully students realize it is not something to take for granted.

Additionally, while difficult for all to give up their habits and stay at home, teens are perhaps the most equipped to deal with these changes. Our generation is rooted in technology use, and today’s teens communicate digitally with their friends all the time. Social distancing has been proven to slow the spread of the virus, so an entire generation committing to stay at home has the potential to save a lot of people.

While there is a supposed end date to school and other institutional closures, it is not certain if these will hold true or if other developments will prolong them. Because the coronavirus crisis is unprecedented, it remains unclear what the next few weeks or months will entail. However, like adults, teens should follow the recommendations and decisions enacted by the government. Once we commit to making temporary changes that will slow down the pandemic, life can resume as normal and teens can go back to school, excited.


SCHOOL NEWS:  Grading, Graduation, and Promotion

FCPS schools are closed through the end
of the academic year in June.  

  • All FCPS school buildings and administrative offices are closed until further notice.  
  • The May 2020 International Baccalaureate (IB) exams are canceled .
  • Traditional face-to-face Advanced Placement (AP) exams will not take place. On April 3,  the full exam schedule including the specific free-response question types that will comprise each AP exam will be published by the College Board.
  • FCPS offers grab and go food distribution sites at schools, pop-up sites in the community, curbside pickup, and meal delivery along some bus routes. Details on locations and times is available

The School Board was briefed that no student work assigned after March 13 will be graded, at the recommendation of VDOE; however, work assigned prior to March 13 will still be accepted up until April 24 in order to be applied in the calculation of students’ third quarter grades. Additionally, it is the intention of FCPS to use maximum flexibility in assessing and evaluating student learning for the remainder of the school year. To that end, middle school and high school students will be assigned a “no mark” for the fourth quarter, with assignments submitted being allowed to positively influence the student’s overall grade for the year based on mastery of learning concepts, in accordance with FCPS grading policy. Only final grades will be shown on transcripts; a “no mark” will not show on a student’s final transcript.  

No fourth quarter grades will be assigned to elementary students due to equity issues of access to technology and limited student ability to submit work during distance learning. Elementary students will engage in teacher-led and independent learning.  Learning packets will be distributed by mail to all PK-6 students beginning the week of March 30.   Literacy and math content will also be made available on FCPS Cable Channel 21 beginning the week of March 30.    Teachers at all grade levels will offer virtual office hours for individualized instruction and support.

The Board was assured that any senior on track to graduate will graduate in June.  In addition, students on track to advance to the next grade level will be promoted.  

VDOE will require divisions to identify the essential content standards which had not been taught as of Friday, March 13, 2020 and develop an equitable plan to incorporate the missing content into curriculum to ensure success in subsequent courses.  School staff will share additional information in the future.

Falls Church High School
7521 Jaguar Trail
Falls Church, VA  22044


(Students who reside on the north side of Annandale attend Falls Church High School)


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