Planning for Reopening Schools

Information Updates | Selection Process | Hybrid Model | Full-Time Distance Model
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Planning for Reopening Schools

APS is planning for the return to school in August for the 2020-21 school year, based on guidance from the Virginia Department of Education (DOE).

Parents will choose between a hybrid in-person and distance learning model or a full-time distance learning model for their students. Learn more about the selection process for families

Information Updates

July 1 Reopening Update

Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán provided an update on the plan to reopen schools this fall.

Superintendent Provides Reopening Update to the School Board
Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán provided an update on the plan to reopen schools this fall. The presentation included new details on health and safety, instruction, and the process for families to select the instructional model that works best for their student(s). Additionally, Dr. Durán highlighted the process for teachers and staff to provide input on their preferences for hybrid or full-time virtual instruction. Video of the presentation and the presentation are linked below. An FAQ will be posted later this week. Families and staff can continue to submit questions to engage@apsva.us. These emails will be forwarded to the appropriate staff and added to the FAQ.

Superintendent’s July 1 School Board Presentation (pdf)

Video of Dr. Durán’s presentation on July 1
(For closed captions, once the video starts, click on the lower toolbar and then click on “cc”)

June 30 Reopening Update

Last week, I announced that APS will offer two learning options to our students this fall: 1) a hybrid in-school learning model, blending two days of in-school instruction each week with three days of distance learning; and 2) a full-time virtual learning model.

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Dear APS Families,

Last week, I announced that APS will offer two learning options to our students this fall: 1) a hybrid in-school learning model, blending two days of in-school instruction each week with three days of distance learning; and 2) a full-time virtual learning model. For both options, our priority is to provide every APS student with a quality education in learning environments that are safe and supportive for all.

I also outlined the process for families to select the preferred option for your student(s) between July 6 and July 20, to help our staff prepare. We understand the magnitude of the decision for every family, and our goal is to provide the information you need to make an informed choice about what works best for your family to meet your student’s learning needs.

Many families have reached out with specific questions and feedback, mostly focused on health and safety measures and how the learning experience varies between the two models. This week, the Return-to-School Task Force focused on the details of our health and safety plan. At tomorrow’s School Board meeting, July 1, I will present another status update highlighting health and safety, detailed instructional guidelines and the selection process for families. We will post updated information along with frequently asked questions (FAQ) on our website, under Engage with APS, following that meeting.

In the meantime, below are key points I want to highlight regarding our health and safety procedures:

Health and Safety Measures
APS continues to work closely with the Arlington County Public Health Division (ACPHD) to develop our health and safety plan and procedures for in-school operations, based on industry best practices from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Points of note:

  • Health and Safety Screening: All staff and students must complete a daily health screening process including temperature checks before participating in any in-person activities with APS. This includes riding the bus, entering the school, or participating in a conditioning workout for VHSL sports.
  • Face Coverings/Masks: All staff and students will be required to wear cloth face coverings/masks as medically appropriate while in school and at work. We have purchased cloth face coverings that meet CDC guidance – two for each student and four for each employee. These three-layer cloth face coverings include a filter pocket; families and employees may purchase an additional filter to increase their level of protection. Specialized face coverings will be provided for Deaf/Hard of Hearing students and staff, and staff supporting Deaf/Hard of Hearing students.
  • Bus Capacity: APS will maintain six-foot distances on buses to the extent possible. We are confirming our loading and unloading procedures for all our transportation vehicles.
  • Cleaning/Disinfecting: APS already complies with the current CDC and VDH guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting facilities, which includes daily sanitizing of frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, handles, fixtures, etc. and we will enhance the cleaning routine for school year 2020-21.
  • Personal Protective Equipment: APS will ensure all staff members have the necessary equipment based on their role. We use guidance provided by the Arlington County Public Health Division and OSHA in evaluating activities for increased risk of infection with COVID-19. APS will continuously evaluate activities accordingly and will purchase equipment where risk cannot be mitigated or eliminated.
  • Indoor Air Quality/Ventilation: APS is contracting with private consultants to analyze air exchange rates and air filters and implement a program of improvements related to COVID-19 where needed.
  • Return-to-Work Kit: In addition to four cloth face coverings, each employee will also receive a kit including hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to supplement initial return-to-work supplies. These supplies are to provide an additional level of commitment to safety and are not supplementing or supplanting our enhanced cleaning program for school year 2020-21.

We will provide more details on the safety plan and our instructional models tomorrow and that information will be posted for you to review.

Our school and division leaders are here to assist you with any additional questions or needs. Additionally, it is worth noting that each of the above protocols will be revised as necessary, based on ongoing feedback from the health department and state and federal health agencies, and in collaboration with Northern Virginia superintendents. As updates are made, information will be sent to all families and staff.

Your feedback and collaboration are critically important in this process. I encourage you to continue to share feedback with us using engage@apsva.us. I will continue to share updates every Tuesday to address questions and provide details and I urge you to visit our website under Engage for the latest information.

I understand the anxiety and concerns many are experiencing, as we are all operating in the most challenging and uncertain times for educators and families everywhere. We have a dedicated and highly qualified extended team of health experts, County partners, administrators, teachers, staff, students and parents, all working together and bringing their insight and expertise to develop a plan that is flexible and best meets the needs of our community.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent Presents Update on APS Return-to-School Planning

Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán presented the recommended hybrid and distance learning instructional models for the 2020-21 school year, and announced that Arlington Public Schools (APS) will provide families the option to select the instructional delivery model that works best for their student(s) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Recommends Hybrid In-School and Distance Learning Instructional Model and Full-Time Distance Learning Option for the 2020-21 School Year

At last night’s School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán presented the recommended hybrid and distance learning instructional models for the 2020-21 school year, and announced that Arlington Public Schools (APS) will provide families the option to select the instructional delivery model that works best for their student(s) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The recommendations are based on Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) guidance for reopening of Virginia schools, and were developed in coordination with the APS Return-to-School Task Force, the Arlington County Public Health Division and neighboring Northern Virginia school divisions.

“Since the Governor’s guidance was released on June 9, our teams have been working hard to analyze the options and to develop the plan that best meets the needs of our staff, students and families, keeping health and safety at the forefront of our decision-making,” said Dr. Durán. “We have provided options for families to consider, knowing there are no easy choices for any of us and that we all need to be flexible and work together as a community.”

Assuming APS will be in Phase 3 when school resumes in August, staff and students will not be able to safely be full-time in school buildings due to CDC physical distancing guidelines. The Return-to-School Task Force reviewed many possible hybrid approaches (combining in-person and distance learning) and has selected two instructional delivery methods for families to choose from:

  • Hybrid In-School and Distance Learning Instructional Model – Two consecutive in-person instruction days per week combined with three days per week of distance learning.
    • Half of students attend school in-person on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and participate in distance learning on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
    • The other half of students attend school in-person on Thursdays and Fridays and participate in distance learning on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
    • Distance learning days are structured to build on new concepts introduced on in-school days, delivered asynchronously through self-directed instruction.
  • Full-Time Virtual Learning Instructional Delivery Method – Full-time online learning will be available for students in high-risk health categories or who are not comfortable returning to school in-person. Schedules by grade level are to be determined and include:
    • Elementary and Middle School: Daily online, interactive teacher-led (synchronous) instruction provided, in combination with self-directed instruction.
    • High School: Daily distance learning facilitated in partnership with online virtual course providers. While students enrolled in virtual courses may receive their instruction from a teacher outside of APS, they will be closely monitored by a faculty member from the school of attendance.

The Return-to-School Task Force, including 35 principals, teachers, support staff, parents and students, reached consensus on this approach based on health and safety considerations, and on the benefits of providing a consistent routine and regular opportunities for face-to-face interaction with students and teachers each week. 

ParentVUE Enrollment Process: July 6-20
APS will notify families of the two options through ParentVUE on July 6, providing additional information and requesting that families select one of the two available models by July 20.  If families do not select an option, their selection will automatically default to the hybrid instructional delivery model. It is important that families select one of the instructional delivery methods by the deadline so schools can begin planning for both virtual and in-person class schedules.

“We recognize these are difficult decisions for some families to make,” said Dr. Durán. “Reopening in these circumstances requires a complete redesign of school schedules and staffing, teaching methods, transportation plans and many other logistics, so we do need decisions from families on a relatively tight timeline in order to prepare for a successful start to the school year.”

Students will remain in their selected instructional delivery method while schools are in Phase 3. Families will be unable to change the instructional delivery method, once selected, before school resumes on August 31, 2020. After that time, any requests for changes will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis determined by school capacity and staffing levels.

The details of the process will be shared in July along with additional information to help inform families’ decisions.

Health and Safety Planning
This week, APS and the Task Force are focused on the details of health and safety plans for submission to the state, including daily health screenings, provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and requirements for face coverings, disinfection of facilities, and other details.  A

PS is committed to completing health screenings of its employees and students every day to ensure school and workplace safety. Plans will also include enhanced cleaning of facilities and at least one cloth face covering per employee and student to be worn while at work and school.

Additional information about health screenings and procedures will be provided next week.   

Next Steps 
At the July 1 School Board Organizational Meeting, APS will provide a status update with additional details on health and safety and other plans.

APS Working Groups and Task Force members will be meeting throughout July to develop detailed plans and will provide regular updates.

To view the results of the APS stakeholder surveys, visit Engage.

To view the full presentation from last night, visit BoardDocs.

Families are encouraged to visit the following link for updates on the APS Return-to-School Plan: https://www.apsva.us/engage/planning-for-reopening-schools. To provide feedback on the plans, write to engage@apsva.us.

Reopening Update June 23

We continue to develop our plan for returning to school this fall based on the state’s guidance, working in collaboration with the Task Force, regional superintendents, and the Arlington County Public Health Division. This week, our team is reviewing hybrid instructional models that blend in-person and distance learning for students

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Dear APS Community,

We continue to develop our plan for returning to school this fall based on the state’s guidance, working in collaboration with the Task Force, regional superintendents, and the Arlington County Public Health Division. This week, our team is reviewing hybrid instructional models that blend in-person and distance learning for students, assuming Virginia enters Phase 3 by the start of school.

The Task Force has already reviewed many possible instructional models and is now focusing on three that best meet APS needs  and align with neighboring school divisions. We are also planning for a distance-learning-only option for students who are in high risk health categories or are not comfortable returning to school in person.

I will share more details on our work and present the recommended instructional model at the School Board meeting this Thursday. Deciding on the model will allow for us to begin to make decisions regarding staffing, budget, childcare, transportation, and other elements of our plan.

The results are in from the staff, student and family surveys on distance learning and reopening, and I would like to thank everyone who participated. Your input is invaluable as we work to plan for the upcoming year. We will post the complete results on our APS Engage webpage by this Friday. In the meantime, here are a few highlights which are informing our work moving forward:

  • 37% of families preferred reopening school with a hybrid combination of in-person and distance learning; 42% preferred in-person instruction only; and 10% preferred distance learning only.
  • 73% of families said they are comfortable sending students back to school with no concerns or some concerns; 9% were not at all comfortable.
  • 38% of staff said they are comfortable returning to school/workplace with no concerns or some concerns, while 39% said they were not at all comfortable returning.
  • The top factors influencing the level of comfort in returning for both groups were whether public health regulations will be followed, disinfection of facilities, and availability of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
  • 35% of families reported that their students will not continue to ride the school bus, and 28% are uncertain if their students would continue to ride the bus.

We are developing health and safety plans to address these concerns to make sure students and staff are learning and working in a safe environment.

In terms of distance learning feedback, a few highlights:

  • Families (52%), students (43%) and staff (62%) all preferred a combination of live, synchronous distance learning and self-directed, asynchronous distance learning.
  • Students indicated that they know how to contact their teachers and get technical help when necessary (68% for both).
  • Staff indicated that they mostly felt “somewhat prepared” to connect with students, provide social-emotional support, and provide instructional supports to students (Special Needs, English Learners, and Gifted); further questions allowed them to specify what professional development and supports they would need.

This input will help inform our work in developing professional supports for staff, providing training as needed, and making sure that the 2020-21 school year is a success for all.

I hope that you will continue to follow updates on APS Engage and that you can join me at 7 p.m. tonight for the final Community Town Hall in this initial series of virtual events I have held this month. I also encourage you to view the School Board meeting on Thursday, June 25, as I present the recommended instructional model along with other important details and next steps.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Reopening Update for June 16

Providing an update on the work underway to prepare for returning to school in the fall.

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Dear APS Community,

I am writing to provide an update on the work underway to prepare for returning to school in the fall. As you may know, on June 9, Governor Northam announced a phased reopening plan and detailed guidance for Virginia schools, entitled Recover, Redesign, Restart 2020.

The guidance includes a phased approach to reopening to allow a gradual return to in-person instruction that aligns with the broader “Forward Virginia” blueprint for easing public health restrictions. Each phase specifies allowable in-person instructional options and includes health and safety measures, such as physical distancing and enhanced cleaning, to decrease the spread of COVID-19.

The APS stakeholder Task Force, in coordination with cross-departmental Work Groups focused on Instruction, Operations, Extracurricular Activities and Communication, is reviewing state guidance to develop the APS Return-to-School Plan. I continue to work closely with the Arlington County Public Health Division and regional superintendents to align our plans.

As our work progresses, I want to share a few high-level takeaways:

  • For summer, in response to state guidance, we have enhanced our summer distance learning for English Learners, students in grades PreK-3, and students with special needs, as follows:
    • Middle and high school English Learners with a current English Proficiency Level of 1 or 2, are eligible for a free summer English language development course. The model will include both live online instruction (synchronous) and self-paced (asynchronous) components.
    • Eligible elementary students in grades K-3 will receive enhanced teacher interaction and support, including check-ins with teachers every other day related to literacy, mathematics, and social-emotional learning.
    • APS will offer free virtual Extended School Year (ESY) services and targeted instruction to approximately 800 students based on Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals.
  • For the fall, all Virginia schools will deliver new instruction to all students, whether through distance learning or in-person. New instruction will be both synchronous—in real time with teachers—and in a self-paced, asynchronous format.
  • Assuming the state enters Phase 3 by the start of next school year, August 31, APS will provide in-person instruction in the classroom; however, the school day will look very different. We are exploring a variety of hybrid models (e.g., staggering schedules and rotating morning and afternoon classes) to provide in-person instruction while ensuring physical distancing and protecting the health and safety of our staff and students. This is where our teams and the Task Force are focusing this week.

We will continue to share weekly updates through the summer, and I encourage you to visit the Engage with APS webpage for the latest news and information.

Thank you to all staff, students and families who took time to participate in the reopening survey; the survey results will be available on the Engage page next Tuesday. Your input is important to us as we plan for the future.I also encourage you to participate in my next Town Hall on June 23 at 7 p.m., and to watch the School Board meeting next Thursday, June 25. A status update on the Return-to-School plan will be a standing item at every board meeting through the summer and into the fall, and I expect to present a final plan in late June or early July.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Family Surveys–Thank You For Participating

APS recently conducted surveys (now closed) to gather input from students, staff, teachers and families regarding their experiences during the school closure, and opinions about various scenarios for reopening. Results will be used to inform planning. Thank you for your participation and input!

View the Survey Results Report

Virginia’s Return to School Plan

Virginia’s Return to School Plan

The Virginia Department of Education website includes the state’s guiding document for school divisions planning a return to school. It addresses all facets of school operations and recommendations for school leaders within the parameters set for by Governor Northam.

APS Announces Return-To-School Task Force Members

 

APS has formed the Return-to-School Task Force, including teachers, staff, students and parents from designated APS advisory groups, to provide input as APS develops plans for return to school. The Task Force is chaired by Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán.

More information about the Task Force

 

More information