Dear APS Families,
I hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend and found some time to relax and celebrate. Our work continues throughout the summer to prepare for the 2020-21 school year, and I will continue to share an update every Tuesday to keep you informed.
Yesterday, July 6, we launched the selection process in ParentVUE for APS families to choose, by July 20, the instructional delivery model that works best for your student(s). The two choices are hybrid in-person/distance learning or full-time distance learning. You should have received School Talk email and text messages alerting you about that process, and additional detailed instructions are available on the APS website. Remember that when you log into ParentVUE and go to the Student Information tab, you must select “Edit Information,” and then scroll down to update information in red regarding instructional and transportation preference, for each student. If you have trouble logging in or cannot access ParentVUE, your school’s main office can assist you, or you can try the troubleshooting tips available on the website. If you call your school and leave a voicemail with your name and contact information, a staff member will get back to you. Your response is vital to planning for the fall, so please share your preferences with us by July 20. If we do not receive your response by July 20, your student(s) will be enrolled in the hybrid model.
We continue to receive a high volume of questions through the email@example.com email and are responding as quickly as possible. Please check the FAQ on the website before sending us a new question, as the FAQ and instructional model pages are being updated daily, based on the questions we are receiving. Some questions regarding specific course offerings and schedules cannot be answered at this time, as those decisions will be made based on student enrollment and staffing considerations.
I will be hosting a virtual Community Town Hall event next Tuesday, July 14, from 6:30-8 p.m. to address questions about the APS Return-to-School Plan. I will be joined by School Board Chair Monique O’Grady, and Bridget Loft, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning. The Town Hall event will be broadcast on Microsoft Teams and Facebook Live on the Arlington Public Schools Facebook page. I encourage you to save this date and we will share more details on the website and through School Talk later this week.
In the meantime, there are a few points I want to emphasize based on questions received over the weekend:
- Why APS is not offering a full-time in-school option: We understand there are difficult decisions to be made with both models. The full-time in-school scenario is not possible at this time, due to physical distancing requirements issued by the CDC, Virginia Department of Health and local health officials. Physical distancing limits the number of students and staff who can be inside a school at any one time, so the hybrid model allows half of students to be in school part of the week in order to reduce capacities in classrooms and on buses.
- What APS will do if health conditions improve: If health conditions improve and physical distancing and other health requirements are adjusted in a way that would allow APS to resume in-person instruction for all students, we would reassess our operating status at that time.
- What APS will do if health conditions worsen: We continue to monitor COVID-19 guidance from the CDC and state and local health officials on a daily basis. Our hybrid in-school model is contingent upon the school year beginning in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan. If health data and recommendations from the Arlington County Public Health Division necessitate closing schools, students and staff participating in the hybrid model will transition to full time distance learning similar in substance to the existing full time distance learning model which will include a blend of teacher-led/synchronous instruction and asynchronous instruction.
- How distance learning will be different from this past spring: In both models, new content and all courses required by Virginia standards of learning will be offered, work will be graded, attendance will be required and all students will receive more frequent interaction with teachers and classmates. Distance learning will include a blend of scheduled synchronous/teacher-led instruction and asynchronous/independent instruction, in small groups or as a whole class. Devices and connectivity are being provided to all students so that everyone can access distance learning tools.
- What are the start and end times for the in-school days in the hybrid option: The instructional time for the hybrid model will be the same as a regular school day; however, distancing requirements on buses and temperature checks and handwashing requirements may require staggered start and end times, so the school day may start or end at different times than usual for some groups of students. No decisions have been made yet regarding Extended Day operations for 2020-21. A high-level sample weekly schedule is provided to give you a snapshot of what a day of instruction may entail.
- How will APS maintain the school culture and connection in full-time distance learning: APS will make every effort to group students and teachers from their school of record. Final groupings and assignments will be based on available staff and student enrollment. For example, if a given school had only 5 staff elect to teach virtually, but a large group of students enrolled in full-time distance learning, staff from other schools may need to be assigned for some courses. More information will be available at the beginning of August, when we have student enrollment numbers and staffing selections, and can begin to create master schedules and student groupings.
We are committed to providing a safe and strong return to school for all grade levels, regardless of the model you choose. Our Task Force meets next on Monday, July 13, to focus on safety, childcare and transportation, and I encourage you to join us for the Town Hall on July 14. Thank you.
Dr. Francisco Durán
Arlington Public Schools