\(~\)

Fairfax County is part of Northern Virginia and is the most populated county in the state by far, with over 1.1 million people. This analysis focuses on the data related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the metrics used by Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) to make decisions in light of the pandemic.

Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommends schools use the CDC Indicators of Community Transmission to inform decisions about school operations with regard to COVID-19.

The metrics are outlined on the Virginia Department of Health School Metrics website.

CDC recommends the use of two measures of community burden to determine the level of risk of transmission: total number of new cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7 days; and percentage of nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs), including RT-PCR tests that are positive during the last 7 days.

In determining the level of community transmission, if the two indicators suggest different transmission levels, the higher level is selected, per the CDC Covid Data Tracker.

\(~\)

Established Thresholds

(as of February 2021)

\(~\)

Roll Back Strategy

On February 10, 2022, FCPS announced that the district will use these metrics to determine when to roll back layered prevention strategies such as masking.

The message read: “FCPS will implement our roll back strategy when the Fairfax County community reaches moderate transmission and remains there for 7 consecutive days.”

This implementation policy was over-ruled by a new law, effective March 1, 2022, that ended school mask mandates. However, we are interested in seeing what would have happened had the law not been passed.

\(~\)

Metrics for Fairfax County Public Schools

\(~\)

Cases Metric

The chart below shows the first of the metrics, total new cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7 days, for Fairfax County over the past 4 weeks, as of the date of September 29, 2022.

\(~\)

\(~\)

\(~\)

Testing Metric

The following chart shows second metric, the percentage of nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) including RT-PCR tests that are positive during the last 7 days in Fairfax County, over the past 4 weeks.

\(~\)

Roll Back Strategy Analysis

\(~\)

The chart below show the overall rating for community transmission in Fairfax County, over the course of the pandemic, based on the cases and testing metrics combined. Per the CDC, if the two metrics suggest different transmission levels for a given time, the higher level is selected. This higher level is reflected in the chart below.

In the 2021-2022 school year, Fairfax County was at the moderate or better level of transmission for 3 days.

In the 2022-2023 school year, so far Fairfax County has been at the moderate or better level of transmission for 0 days.

\(~\)

\(~\)

This is the same chart but focuses on the 2021-2022 school year.