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Fairfax finalizes snow day makeup plans

While this year’s unusually harsh winter seems, finally, to be at an end, it still lingers on for Fairfax County schools. A final snow makeup day is slated to push the last day of school back to Wednesday, June 25.

This year’s FCPS academic calendar included contingency plans for up to 10 school cancellations. But snowstorms and bitter cold combined for 11 weather-related cancellations, the last one coming on Monday, March 17.

School staff has recommended that the district dip once again into summer vacation to make up the 11th snow day, according to School Board documents. The last day of school originally was scheduled for Friday, June 19, but makeup days for other snow days already had school in session through Tuesday, June 24.

The School Board was scheduled to finalize the plans at its meeting Thursday night, after the deadline for this issue.

McAuliffe signs testing reform legislation

Fairfax County elementary school students, and their peers across the state, will take fewer standardized tests next year thanks to new legislation signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) last Friday.

The law cuts the number of state standardized tests required for students in grades 3 through 8 by five, from 22 to 17. In place of the exams, school systems will be required to develop alternative assessments, such as reports and projects, to show student mastery of the subjects.

The move comes as the result of a groundswell of support for testing reform from both sides of the aisle. Before this law, the state required each student to take a total of 34 Standards of Learning exams throughout their academic career.

The new law also paves the way for further change to standardized testing by creating a Standards of Learning Innovation Committee to review and recommend improvements on the assessment system.

County schools present substance abuse program

The Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County is scheduled to present a program on substance abuse on at 7 p.m. Monday, April 21, at Annandale High School.

The event, aimed at students in grades 6 through 12 and their parents and guardians, is called “Protecting Against the Realities of Substance Abuse.”

The panel presentation will feature young adults in recovery from substance abuse, parents of children in recovery and parents whose children died of a drug overdose. It also will include representatives from the county’s police department, juvenile court system and other county services.

The presentation will be preceded by a resource fair at Annandale from 6:30 to 7 p.m. to provide resources for prevention, identification and treatment of substance abuse.

The Unified Prevention Coalition is a nonprofit organization made up of more than 60 community partners, including the Fairfax County school system. This event is organized by a task force of the coalition called “Parents Reaching Out to Educate Communities Together” (PROTECT).

— Kate Yanchulis