Health & Safety Information

Health & Safety Measures for 2022-23

APS is committed to providing learning environments that are healthy and safe for all students. We continue to adapt our COVID-19 mitigation measures based on current conditions in Arlington, in accordance with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and will continue offering free, optional weekly COVID testing for students and staff.

2022–23 School Year

 Helpful Links for Families:


COVID-19 Protocols  |  COVID-Like Symptoms  |  Positive Cases  |  Close Contacts  |  Vaccination  |
Prevention Strategies  |  Students at High Risk

COVID-19 Protocols 2022 – 2023

Most COVID-19 protocols have not changed since last school year; however, there are a few adjustments based on the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) guidance:

Masks Optional in Low & Medium Community Transmission Levels: Masks will remain optional in all buildings and on buses when conditions allow, per CDC guidance on community transmission levels.

If Arlington County COVID levels increase to the “high” category, APS will require masks in schools, with the ability for families to opt students out.

  • Masks in school clinics: Per CDC guidance for healthcare settings, all school health staff will be required to mask within school clinics and nurses’ offices. Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be worn by school health staff if a student at the clinic presents with COVID-like illness. To align with CDC guidance for healthcare settings, students will be requested to mask upon entering the clinic. School clinics will provide masks for students to wear. In compliance with Virginia code, students may decline the mask provided to them and will still be permitted in the clinic. If Arlington County reaches a High Community Transmission Level, universal indoor masking will apply to all school spaces, including clinics, with the ability for families to opt students out.
  • Masks for close contacts: The CDC recommends that individuals with a known or suspected exposure to COVID-19 wear a well-fitting mask or respirator around others for 10 days from their last exposure, regardless of vaccination status or history of prior infection.
    • APS is no longer contact tracing, unless an ongoing in-school outbreak is identified. As a result, close contacts will predominately be self-reported. APS encourages, but does not require, the use of masks among close contacts for 10 days following exposure, in accordance with CDC and VDH recommendations and Virginia state law. Families should consider their risk factors and encourage students to mask APS accordingly.

In-School Testing: APS will continue to offer optional in-school COVID testing for all students and staff through our testing partner, Aegis Sciences Corporation.

How to OPT IN to Testing:
If this is your first time participating:

    • You can OPT IN here (students)
    • OPT IN for APS employees here

If your student participated last year:

    • You should renew your consent directly through the PrimaryHealth portal. Instructions were sent to the email you previously registered with. If you need assistance renewing consent, please reach out to covid@apsva.us.

Covid-Like Symptoms

Students with COVID-like symptoms who are sent home or who call out sick must provide a negative test or alternative diagnosis from a healthcare provider prior to returning to school. All test types are permitted for clearance to return (including lab report, physician’s note, or image of an at-home rapid test result, confirmed by parent). The test must be taken after the student developed symptoms, and documentation of the negative result should be provided. Submit documentation for clearance here.

Possible symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Positive Cases

Positive Cases Students and staff with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis are required to isolate for five days, and can return on Day 6 if symptoms have improved. After testing positive, students and staff must mask while in school buildings on days 6-10. Students who are unable or unwilling to mask and who are symptom-free must follow the CDC’s test-based strategy, which includes two negative tests taken after 5 days of isolation. For more information, please see “When can my student return to school?” in the FAQ.  Students should not return to school if they are still experiencing symptoms, even if 5 days have passed. Report positive results here.

Close Contacts

Per the latest guidance from the CDC and VDH, students and staff who have had a direct exposure to an individual testing positive for COVID-19 are exempt from quarantine, regardless of vaccination status, provided they remain symptom-free and do not test positive for COVID-19. Close contacts who develop symptoms should get tested and isolate until they know the result of the test.

  • Masks for close contacts: The CDC recommends that individuals with a known or suspected exposure to COVID-19 wear a well-fitting mask or respirator around others for 10 days from their last exposure, regardless of vaccination status or history of prior infection.
    • APS is no longer contact tracing, unless an ongoing in-school outbreak is identified. As a result, close contacts will predominately be self-reported. APS encourages, but does not require, the use of masks among close contacts for 10 days following exposure, in accordance with CDC and VDH recommendations and Virginia state law. Families should consider their risk factors and encourage students to mask accordingly.
  • APS school clinics will provide free home test kits upon request to encourage close contacts to follow CDC guidance for testing following exposure.

Vaccination

Stay informed and up to date! : COVID-19 vaccination remains the best protection against severe illness. Receiving a booster shot when eligible increases an individual’s protection, and students aged 5 and older are now eligible for a booster. APS encourages everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated and boosted.

  • Students under age 5 are now eligible to receive a primary vaccine series
  • Students ages 5 and up are eligible to receive a booster

Find out more about staying up to date with COVID vaccines

Find out where to get vaccinated

Additional Layered Prevention Strategies

APS continues to use additional layered prevention strategies that were in place over the 2021-2022 school year, to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission and contribute to a safe and healthy environment for all staff and students.

  • Community Notifications & APS COVID-19 Dashboard: APS continues to maintain a public dashboard where families and community members may view the number of positive cases reported to the district over time. We are working to continuously improve this dashboard so that families can stay informed about cases reported in their student’s school and take precautions accordingly.
    Beginning this school year, schools will no longer send a School Talk community notification for every positive case reported to the school.  Given the availability of the public dashboard, this decision aims to reduce administrative burden while still balancing safety and transparency. However, community notification will still be sent via School Talk in the event that Arlington County Public Health declares a school-based outbreak.
  • Precautions for Meal Times
    • Schools will continue to provide outdoor lunch as an option to the extent the weather and staffing allows.
    • The most recent CDC guidance has de-emphasized physical distancing; however, when masking is not possible, schools will work to ensure students returning after testing positive for COVID maintain a minimum of 3-foot distancing distance during mealtime.
  • Improved Ventilation – APS has invested in upgrades to HVAC systems, filters, and other ventilation equipment which are still in use and are effective in maintaining healthy environments. Over 2,000 Certified Air Cleaning Devices with HEPA filters were installed in 2021 and remain in use. As of March 2021, 100% of APS instructional classrooms meet the recommended 4-6 air changes per hour.  APS Facilities has conducted a check of all the filters that were put in place last year and continues to follow the ventilation guidelines we have in place, including:
    • Targeting 4-6 ACH (air changes per hour) for classroom spaces
    • Continuing operations of CACDs (Certified Air Cleaning Devices) in classroom spaces
    • Maximizing outside air ventilation to the greatest extent possible
    • Operating ventilation systems pre and post occupancy for 2 hours
    • Allowing windows to be open when outside conditions allow
    • Increasing air filtration to the highest level possible (MERV-13)
  • School Buses: Consistent with last year, bus windows will remain open at least halfway to increase circulation during transportation to and from school.
  • Visitors Visitors to APS should not enter school buildings if they are showing signs of illness or symptoms of COVID-19.  Signage will remain posted at schools to remind the community of basic COVID protocols. Any visitor who meets the CDC requirements for isolation (I.e. a positive test result, pending test results, or COVID-like symptoms), should not attend events or activities on APS grounds. Visitors will be offered masks in the front office and will be asked to verify that they have not tested positive for COVID in the past five days as they sign in.
  • At-home instruction: All APS students who must isolate due to a positive COVID test or COVID-like symptoms will receive asynchronous instructional materials to make up for missed instructional time.

Information for students at high risk for COVID-19

Accommodations

If a student has an existing healthcare, IEP, or 504 Plan, and would like to request an accommodation because of high-risk COVID complications based on a medical diagnosis, their parent or guardian should request to meet with the school’s IEP or 504 team.

Families requesting an accommodation because of high-risk COVID complications will be required to provide the IEP or 504 team with authorization/consent to contact the medical professional making the accommodation recommendation.