Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

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Have a COVID-19 or closure question not answered here? Contact APS

Updated March 26, 2020

Closure Information

    • What is the status update on the search for a new superintendent?

      • The search for a new superintendent continues on the previously announced schedule. The School Board has received applications for the vacancy and will be conducting interviews over the next several weeks. Once a candidate is selected, the School Board will negotiate a contract, and hopes to make an appointment in May.
    • Are students able to be registered during the closure?

      • Students are not able to be registered for school until further notice because all APS buildings are closed due the COVID-19 pandemic. APS is currently developing a new registration process that will allow students to be registered during the school closure. Additional information will be shared with families soon.
    • Are families able to retrieve medicine left in the school health office?

      • The School Health Bureau is currently developing a process to allow families to retrieve medications left in schools and will share it with families soon, but families are currently unable to retrieve medications from schools. If there is an urgent need to pick up medicine from a school, please contact the school’s principal.
    • How should families practice social distancing?

      • Interim Superintendent Cintia Johnson released a message on social distancing this week with tips on how families should practice it. Additional information about social distancing is available on the CDC website.
    • Will families be refunded fees for pre-K programs?

      • Monthly fees for Pre-K programs (Primary Montessori and Community Peer PreK) will not be charged for the month of April. With current plans in place for students to return on April 14, this will offset the fees paid for services in March that were not provided due to the closure. Recognizing this is a fluid situation, we appreciate your patience as we continue to assess services and fees moving forward. If you have auto-payment set up for Pre-K fees, you may wish to cancel that service at this time to avoid overpayment.
    • Will families be refunded fees for Extended Day and other fee-based programs due to the closure?

      • Extended Day monthly fees will not be charged for the month of April. With current plans in place for students to return on April 14, this will offset the fees paid for services in March that were not provided due to the closure. Recognizing this is a fluid situation, we appreciate your patience as we continue to assess Extended Day services and fees moving forward. If you have auto-payments set up for Extended Day, you may wish to cancel that service at this time to avoid overpayments. Please know that our Extended Day staff will continue to be paid during the closure regardless of changes in billing and service delivery.
    • How will money deposited into MySchoolBucks be handled?

      • MySchoolBucks has suspended all automatic payments for meals until further notice. Recognizing this is a fluid situation, we appreciate your patience as we continue to assess services and fees moving forward. For additional information, please visit the MySchoolBucks website.
    • When will students and school-based staff return to school?

      • By order of the Governor of Virginia on March 23, APS schools are closed through the end of the academic year (Gov. Northam News Release). The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) will issue guidance for school divisions to execute plans to continue instruction, while ensuring students are served equitably, regardless of income level, access to technology, English learner status, or special needs. Once guidance is received from VDOE, APS will share additional information with families. Please regularly check the APS website, APS social media platforms, and email and/or text messages regarding our operations status. The APS COVID-19 webpage will be continuously updated.

Student and Staff Safety

    • If I have safety concerns or an emergency, who do I contact?

      • Concern Phone Number
        Emergency 911
        Police Non-Emergency 703-228-2222
        Arlington County Health Department 703-228-7400
        Arlington County Mental Health Emergency Hotline 703-228-5160
    • What is APS doing to protect schools from COVID-19?

      • By order of the Governor of Virginia on March 23, APS schools are closed through the end of the academic year (Gov. Northam News Release). APS is working closely with the Arlington County Health Department, and will continue to evaluate and monitor the situation, and provide updates to the community. APS is supporting student and staff safety by urging social distancing and other preventive measures. We are committed to providing our students and families with access to the educational resources, food and other mental health and wellness services families need during the closure.
    • What should families do during this period?

      • Per guidance from the CDC, families should practice social distancing and have limited contact with individuals who are not part of their immediate family to avoid community spread of COVID-19.
    • What advice does APS have for parents?

      • Stay connected with us. We will be providing updates as they happen on the APS COVID-19 webpage. Additionally, families will receive regular communication and updates through our normal APS channels.
    • What should I tell my child about COVID-19?

      • The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and National Association of School Nurses (NASN) offer the following general guidelines when talking with children:
        • Remain calm and reassuring.
        • Children will react to and follow your verbal and nonverbal reactions.
        • Make yourself available.
        • Monitor television viewing and social media.
        • Maintain a normal routine to the extent possible.
        • Be honest and accurate.
      • In addition, NASP has created a webpage with useful information for parents to use in communicating with their children about the COVID-19 virus. Please visit Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource for additional information. (Downloadable PDF). Additional information is also available on the APS COVID-19 Family Resource webpage.
    • Where can I find updates on the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Meal Services

    • Will APS provide meal services during the closure?

      • Yes, APS is providing free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to any child, ages 2 to 18. Meals will be set up outside the building at five locations for distribution from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday-Friday. APS will provide one lunch for that day and one breakfast to take home for the following day.
      • The five locations are:
      • Meals will be provided to all children without charge and are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service.
    • Will meals be provided during Spring Break and longer-term?

      • On Friday, April 3, APS will provide families who come to one of the sites with a week’s worth of meals to ensure they have food during Spring Break week, April 6-10. APS is currently evaluating plans for longer-term food distribution for the remainder of the school year.
      • Any additional changes to meal services will be communicated when decisions are made about how to best serve our students and families during this time. The Commonwealth of Virginia, in collaboration with many organizations, including No Kid Hungry, are exploring ways to ensure that access to free meals continues for children and may include deploying funds for maximum impact and to reach those who need it most.
    • Are there resources available for families experiencing food insecurity?

    • How can community members and volunteers support APS food services and other efforts at this time?

      • We greatly appreciate the generosity of our community and offers of support. At this time, due to USDA guidelines and other requirements for APS grab-and-go meal services, there are no in-person volunteer opportunities available. We continue to reassess and will communicate any future in-person opportunities if, and when available. PTAs and others interested in becoming involved can consider food supply drives. Additionally, Arlington County community providers and non-profit organizations supporting the community are in need of monetary donations, cleaning supplies and food. More information can be found on the Volunteer Arlington webpage as well as AFAC.

Instructional Programs and Services

    • Will students have to repeat their current grade level?

      • Students who were in good standing as of the (end of the third quarter) closure of schools on March 13 will proceed to the next grade level, while students in need of support or students with failing grades will receive the necessary help to make up work and grades in preparation for the next grade level.
    • How will assignments be graded and how will this impact a student’s GPA?

      • We are following VDOE guidance to develop a process for grading that is fair and equitable while schools are closed. While distance learning cannot replace the work that happens in the classroom, all students will have the opportunity to make progress and to learn and grow.
    • How will the closure affect graduation?

      • State Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane announced Tues, March 24, that high school seniors who were on track to earn a diploma later this spring will be able to graduate. (VDOE News Release) We are currently exploring creative alternatives to celebrate the Class of 2020. These students have worked hard and have been looking forward to this moment for years, so we want to make sure we honor and celebrate their monumental achievement. This will take more time and is a priority for us all. Once a final plan has been reached, we will share it with students and families.
    • Will students who have not fulfilled their graduation requirements be able to graduate?

      • The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has waived the graduation requirements for the 2019-20 school year. Students who meet the following criteria will still be able to graduate at the end of the school year:
        • Students currently enrolled in a course for which they need a standard or verified credit in order to graduate;
        • Students who have successfully completed a course required for graduation, but have not earned the associated verified credit;
        • Students who have not completed the student-selected test;
        • Students who are currently enrolled in or have previously completed a course leading to a CTE credential necessary for a Standard Diploma but have not yet earned the credential;
        • Students who have not completed a United States and Virginia history course*;
        • Students who have not completed a fine or performing arts or career and technical education course*;
        • Students in the second of sequential courses*;
        • Students who have not completed an economics and personal finance course*.
      • *Some credit-based graduation requirements are still provided for in the Code of Virginia. While these cannot be waived outright, these can be addressed by providing new instruction and pursuing alternate pathways to the 140-clock-hour requirement based on revised Board of Education guidelines (forthcoming).
      • Graduation requirements for students in the following situations will require action by the Virginia General Assembly in order to be waived:
        • Students who have not completed training in emergency first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and the use of automated external defibrillators, including hands-on practice of the skills necessary to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation; and
        • Students who have not completed a virtual course.
      • When the graduation requirements requiring action from the Virginia General Assembly have been waived, families will be updated.
    • Will students receive new instruction during the closure?

      • Teachers are teleworking asynchronously while schools are closed, and families should not expect that teachers will be available during typical school hours. Teachers should communicate to families when they are available to respond to questions or contact parents. Families should not expect direct instruction via virtual meetings. Expect that teachers and staff will telework until Friday, April 3. They will not be expected to work during Spring Break.
        • Elementary – Teachers will not introduce new content while schools are closed between March 16 and April 3. Please note that Spring Break occurs between April 6 and April 10, so teachers will not assign any work during this time beyond independent reading
        • Middle & High School – While secondary teachers may introduce new content as of March 23, they should plan for how to address the opportunity gap that this will likely create given that we cannot be sure that all students can consistently access the internet; are well enough and able to regularly attend to learning new skills or content; and do not have other responsibilities that distract them from learning such as caring for siblings while their parents are working. Please note that Spring Break occurs between April 6 and April 10, so teachers will not assign any work during this time beyond independent reading.
    • How will instruction be delivered during the closure?

      • While we can never replace the work our teachers do with students in our classrooms, we have prepared to deliver instruction to our students during this period as follows:
        • For Early Childhood and Elementary Students (PreK-Grade 5): Instructional materials have been distributed by each school either in hard copy or electronically. Students in Grades 3-12 have access to lessons and learning activities via their APS-assigned iPads, using either Canvas or Seesaw. Students in Grades K-2 have been given learning activities via PDF. Please contact your student’s teacher with any questions about how to access the instructional materials for your child.
        • Secondary Students (Grades 6-12): Canvas will allow students to access their assignments; for students in Grades 6-8, this is via their APS-assigned iPads and for students in Grades 9-12 via their MacBook Air devices. During the week of March 16-20, teachers will be fulfilling their normal duties and working to transition course content, assignments and activities online.
      • During our school closure, teachers will provide instructional activities that both review previously taught information and introduce new topics and concepts. While teachers have been instructed not to grade assignments or quizzes of newly introduced topics or concepts, they may offer assessments to inform their teaching. These formative assessments will be used to monitor student progress and evaluate the effectiveness of instructional activities. These activities are meant to help our students maintain their existing skills and knowledge, extend their learning, and prepare a foundation for topics and concepts to come in the fourth quarter. Please know that no one expects learning to be as effective as what teachers accomplish directly with students.
      • For help on setting up digital learning devices and accessing Canvas, please visit the APS Digital Learning Device Help webpage. For general questions about instruction during the closure, write to The APS Learning at Home webpage has resources for families, too.
    • Do you have any guidance or updates for students enrolled in online courses?

      • Students enrolled in online classes will continue to progress through the course based on guidance from the specific provider being utilized. School counselors will be available to students throughout the closure and available to offer support and guidance, as well as provide passwords for assessments.
    • Do you have any guidance or updates for students enrolled in Dual-Enrollment or Advanced Placement Courses?

        • Dual-Enrollment: Dual-enrolled students are enrolled concurrently with Arlington Public Schools and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). NOVA has directed its instructors to adhere to the expectations articulated by the public school division (APS). Therefore, similar to students in other classes, dual-enrolled students will not be assigned grades on newly introduced concepts or topics.
        • Advanced Placement: For students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses, teachers will continue to offer new concepts and topics throughout the school closure; however, they will not grade assignments or assessments.
    • Are there updates or guidance for the International Baccalaureate Program?

      • Washington-Liberty High School has worked closely with their International Baccalaureate (IB) counterparts, and together, they have agreed to be flexible during any school closures. Fortunately, students have already submitted their Extended Essays and the IB Program allowed staff to amend the internal assessment calendar as needed.
    • How will APS deliver Special Education Services during this time?

      • For students who receive special education services, Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams will use student performance data to determine make-up services. Special education teachers are making modifications and providing accommodations to the assignments general education teachers are creating for students. MIPA, FLS, and Shriver teachers have provided resources to parents and are creating activities based on those resources.
      • Special Education teachers are connecting with students, whose cases they are managing, and their parents via virtual video check-ins to ask about their students’ social-emotional well-being, assure them their teachers are thinking of them, and provide some consultative support. Related service providers are collaborating with special education teachers to design accessible instructional activities or adapt existing activities for home learning. Additionally, if individual students or parents are experiencing difficulties accessing instruction, related service providers will set up a consultation with the parents.
      • For additional information or questions, please visit the Office of Special Education webpage.
    • Will families be refunded fees for fee-based programs due to the closure?

      • Extended Day monthly fees will not be charged for the month of April.  With current plans in place for students to return on April 14, this will offset the fees paid for services in March that were not provided due to the closure. Recognizing this is a fluid situation, we appreciate your patience as we continue to assess Extended Day services and fees moving forward. If you have auto-payments set up for Extended Day, you may wish to cancel that service at this time to avoid overpayments. Please know that our Extended Day staff will continue to be paid during the closure regardless of changes in billing and service delivery.

Academic Testing

    • Will the Standards of Learning (SOL) testing be cancelled due to the closure?

      • On March 20, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced students impacted by school closures due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can bypass standardized testing for the 2019-20 school year. (Department of Education News Release) The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is currently in the process of applying for a waiver following today’s announcement, so once the waiver has been officially granted by the federal government, additional information will be shared with families at that time. (VDOE News Release)
    • How will school closures affect the scheduled IB tests?

      • The International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme will be taking the following actions for the 2020 May Examination session:
        • The May 2020 examinations as scheduled between 30 April and 22 May for Diploma Programme and Career-related Programme candidates will no longer be held.
        • Depending on what they registered for, the student will be awarded a Diploma or a Course Certificate which reflects their standard of work. This is based on student’s coursework and the established assessment expertise, rigor and quality control already built into the programmes.
      • Full details and FAQs from the IB Programme will be available on March 27. For additional information, please visit the IB Programme website.
    • How will school closures affect the scheduled AP tests?

      • The Advanced Placement (AP) Program is developing resources to help schools support student learning during extended closures, as well as a solution that would allow students to test at home, depending on the situation in May. Here are some of the resources they have made available to support students:
      • The AP Program is currently developing solutions that are meant to be as simple as possible for both students and teachers — without creating additional burdens for school leaders during this time. For the 2019-21 school year testing window, the following solutions have been decided:
        • Traditional face-to-face exam administrations will not take place.
        • Some students may want to take the exam sooner rather than later, while the content is still fresh. Other students may want more time to practice. Every AP subject will be assigned two different testing dates.
      • The full exam schedule, specific free-response question types that will be on each AP Exam, and additional testing details will be available by April 3. The AP Program will also unlock any relevant free-response questions in AP Classroom for digital use so students can access all practice questions of the type that will appear on the exam. For additional information and course-specific exam information, please visit the AP Program website.
    • What should I do if I am registered to take the SAT?

      • In response to the rapidly evolving situation around the coronavirus (COVID-19), the College Board is canceling the May 2, 2020 SAT and SAT Subject Test administration. Makeup exams for the March 14 administration (scheduled for March 28) are also canceled. Students who already registered for May, whose March test centers were closed, or who do not receive March scores because of any irregularities will receive refunds. For additional information, please visit the College Board website.
    • What should I do if I am registered to take the ACT?

      • ACT has rescheduled the April 4, 2020 national ACT test date to June 13, 2020 in response to concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19. ACT will communicate directly with all students currently registered for the April 4, 2020 ACT test. All students registered for the April 4 test date will receive an email from ACT in the next few days informing them of the postponement and instructions for next steps. For additional information, please visit the ACT website.

Third-Quarter Grading

    • What is happening with end of 3rd quarter grading?

      • The last day of the third-quarter grading period has been altered due to the school closure. All teachers will complete their grading of third-quarter content by March 20, and it will only include student work submitted by that date. Report cards will still be sent home to families at the end of April as previously scheduled. Teachers will be able to grade assignments assigned prior to Friday, March 13, for use when calculating third-quarter grades. It is important to note that the last day for students to submit third-quarter assignments is Friday, March 20, unless otherwise arranged with the teacher.
    • Why did APS change the end of the third quarter to March 20, 2020?

      • With the third quarter now closing March 20, 2020, instead of April 3, teachers were asked to use the week of March 16 to collect and grade missing assignments and complete their third-quarter grade books. The instructional direction was that teachers would not post new learning activities or new work until March 23 so students could finish any outstanding assignments for the third quarter.
      • We recognize that changing the end date of the third quarter will affect our students, and this decision was made after careful consideration of several factors. Students will have a full week to complete missing assignments and tie-up any loose ends with their classes. Ending the quarter on March 20 also allows for the possibility that student access to Canvas in the long term may be inconsistent due to potential student illness, lack of WiFi, or other factors. Also, while APS plans to reopen on April 14, it is possible that the schedule may change as new information becomes available, making it even more challenging to reconcile gradebooks that would then have been open for three weeks without direct communication between teachers and students.

Technology and Internet Access for Digital Learning Devices

    • What if parents have technology issues during the closure – how can families get more information?

      • Student devices are able to connect to a home network and to other open wireless networks. Also, the devices are designed to function without access to the internet.
      • The Federal Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires all K-12 schools to block and filter student internet connections. Students, staff and families told us that this filtering should be responsive to the age of the student. GlobalProtect is the software application that APS selected to provide the required internet content filtering for the elementary, middle and high school levels. Additional information can be found in the FAQs on the digital learning page.
    • How can families receive support for technology issues?

      • For the duration of APS school closings due to COVID-19, school staff will be monitoring email addresses where families can seek technical help with the student’s school-issued device. If your child is experiencing technical difficulties with their device, please contact the school using the email address listed by visiting the Digital Learning Device Help page.
      • The ITC for your school should be able to help fix the issues once they get to know the details of the problem from the student.
    • How can my child access distance learning if I do not have internet access at home?

      • For direct internet access while at home, internet service provider Comcast is offering free internet access for two months to families who qualify through its Internet Essentials Program. In addition, Comcast is making its Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots free for anyone to use. Millions of the hotspots are scattered throughout the county, so you can find hotspot locations by visiting the Xfinity Wifi hotspot locator page.


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