APS News Release

Superintendent Presents Update on APS Return-to-School Planning

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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.