Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 (Coronavirus)–PREVIOUS VERSION

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Updated March 12, 2020

      • What is COVID-19?

        • COVID-19 is the new name for 2019 Novel Coronavirus. In December 2019, a new type of coronavirus known as COVID-19 was detected as the cause of respiratory illness in the Hubei Province of China (including Wuhan city). COVID-19 most often spreads during close contact with a person with the virus via respiratory droplets when that person coughs or sneezes. This virus has spread across China and other countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global public health emergency.
      • What are the symptoms?

        • Symptoms can include fever (>100.4 °F), cough, or difficulty breathing. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
      • What is APS doing to protect students and to prepare for a potential escalation of the situation?

        • APS is working closely with the Arlington County Public Health Division (ACPHD) to monitor COVID-19 developments and following the recommendations of the CDC and Virginia Department of Health (VDH). APS is in constant contact with health officials to assess any necessary changes to our procedures. Information is being disseminated regularly to inform staff and families about new developments and to stress the importance of effective prevention techniques, such as handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes. Custodial staff are cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and spaces throughout our schools and facilities with EPA/CDC-approved chemicals that target this virus. APS has a communicable disease plan in place and is preparing to deliver instruction and other essential services in the event of a school closure, should state and local health officials identify such a need.
          Aquatics Centers
          APS maintains Aquatics Centers and school-based custodial staff are cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and spaces throughout our schools and facilities including all Aquatics Center bathroom surfaces (toilet, urinals, floors, sinks, walls and wall partitions) daily with EPA/CDC-approved chemicals that target this virus. Staff is also disinfecting areas that are frequently touched by users such as door handles and hand plates, faucet handles and water fountains.The pool water is regularly maintained according to health regulation which include a chlorine residual of no less than 1.0 ppm and a pH of 7.4-7.6.
      • Will my child’s absence be counted as excused or unexcused if under quarantine?

        • If a current student becomes ill or is identified as being ill, with possible symptoms of Novel Coronavirus (e.g., fever, cough and/or difficulty breathing), they must seek medical evaluation as soon as possible and not return to school until they have been evaluated and cleared to return to school. If a school is notified of an absence due to a student under quarantine – either recommended by health officials with a written notice or due to travel to a level 2 or level 3 alert level country by the CDC, the student will be marked as medically excused.
      • What if a parent elects to keep a child home due to the COVID-19 situation and for no other medical reason?

        • In the event of a self-directed quarantine, students will be marked as excused and make up work will be available for them. Students will not be able to participate in any school activities including athletics or fine arts until they return, and families must notify the school daily of the absence. Per the Code of Virginia, a student may be withdrawn from school on the 15th day.
      • Will educational material be made available for students unable to attend school?

        • Current or newly enrolled students who are unable to attend school will be provided educational materials which will be mailed to the student’s home. However, these educational material situations and absences are being treated on a case-by-case basis and procedures will change if an entire school community or the school division closes.
        • What is the current local impact and level of risk in schools?

          • According to the CDC and the VDH, immediate risk to the general U.S. public is considered low at this time. However, we have seen the first confirmed cases in the National Capital area and two presumptive positive cases in Northern Virginia. This is a rapidly developing situation, and APS is working closely with the ACPHD to monitor new developments and adjust our procedures accordingly.
        • Are there any restrictions on local field trips and school-sponsored events?

          • Per new Arlington County guidance for events and public gatherings, Arlington Public Schools is canceling all non-essential APS-sponsored events effective immediately (March 12, 2020), until further notice. Essential school events will continue in adjusted formats and participation. Additionally, APS is canceling all overnight field trips until further notice. APS is continuing to work closely with public health officials and monitoring this developing situation. We are in constant contact with the Arlington County Public Health Division and following the guidance of CDC and Virginia Department of Health for these and other COVID-19 related matters. Student participation in instructional field trips is always optional at the discretion of the parent or guardian. If a student does not participate in an instructional program field trip during the school day, we will provide an alternative educational activity for the student during that time. APS encourages all members of our school community to practice vigilance, to take care of your health, wash hands frequently and to practice other preventive measures to help reduce the spread of illness.
        • What can parents do to keep children safe?

          • It is important to stay informed and follow the guidelines of school health and other public health officials in Arlington — and not to panic if your child or someone else in your family or community gets a cough and fever. It’s more likely to be a cold, or flu, than COVID-19. Parents or guardians should continue to remind students about healthy habits and reinforce precautions taken regularly to prevent the spread of germs, like washing hands and covering their cough.
        • What cleaning is taking place in schools and offices?

          • APS custodial staff are thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and objects in classrooms using EPA/CDC-approved chemicals for targeting COVID-19. Custodial staff are cleaning classrooms, offices, restrooms, cafeteria, kitchen, multi-purpose room, gymnasium and hallways before the start of school each day, per our cleaning standards. Custodial staff are placing emphasis on door handles, panic/grab bars, water faucets, light switches, soap/paper towel dispensers, student desk, tables, chairs and restroom fixtures.
        • How will APS decide if a closure is necessary?

          • Any future decision to change operations or close one or more schools due to COVID-19 or other health risks, would be made in close collaboration with the ACPHD based on CDC guidance. Per new Arlington County guidance for events and public gatherings, Arlington Public Schools is canceling all non-essential APS-sponsored events effective immediately (March 12, 2020), until further notice. Essential school events will continue in adjusted formats and participation. Additionally, APS is canceling all overnight field trips until further notice.
        • How will APS educate students in the event of a closure?

        • What are the expectations for handwashing?

          • Per guidance from health officials, students are expected to consistently wash hands when they arrive to school and before they go home, as well as at other key points in the day, including after using the restroom and before consuming food. Students should also wash their hands after touching their eyes, mouth or nose. This is an important preventive step to reduce the possible spreads of COVID-19 and other illnesses and is being reinforced in all APS schools.
        • Will staff and students be able to continue to international travel for educational purposes?

          • APS will not approve any international field trips and short-term visitations to and from countries that are highlighted on the CDC’s list as destinations with an alert level of 2 or greater for travelers. APS will continue to monitor recommendations and information from the CDC and make any necessary changes based on updated information.
        • Can I still register my child in schools?

          • All new and re-enrolling students can still register. However, until further notice, staff will be required to ask the following question:
            Have you or your family traveled internationally to/from/through a CDC level 2 or greater country for COVID-19 and entered the United States within the last 14 days?
            If yes, then the student may register but may not physically attend school until 14 days until after their entry. The family should contact the school principal (elementary) or school counseling office (secondary) for educational activities that can be completed during this time.If the answer is no, staff will proceed with the normal registration process.
      • Traveling to the U.S. from Another Country

        • APS continues to monitor and follow travel guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control. For more information, visit the CDC website.
      • Will APS share information about other students in light of the heightened concerns?

        • APS cannot share personal and confidential health information about any child with other parents or guardians.