APS News Release

Superintendent’s Feb. 16 Return-to-School Update

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Dear APS Families,

We are looking forward to seeing our students back in the classroom soon. Below is some information to help you prepare, as well as an update on changes in our camera expectations when students are engaging in distance learning with their teachers and classmates.

Camera-On Expectation for Students – In response to challenges teachers are experiencing engaging students with cameras off, we have adapted our policy regarding the use of cameras during instruction time, based on input we have received from teachers, staff, parents, the Distance Learning Task Force, and advisory committee members. We are asking teachers to encourage students to turn on their cameras during synchronous instruction and while directly engaging with peers and staff.

  • Teachers are communicating this expectation, encouraging parents and students to work directly with them to discuss individual concerns or exceptions.
  • Teachers will encourage students to turn on their cameras during class or break-out sessions.
  • If it is not feasible for students to have their cameras on during class or break-out sessions, they should at least turn on their cameras during office hours.
  • Students should not be penalized with lower grades for not turning on their cameras. Rather, staff should work with students and parents to identify barriers to student camera use and to develop strategies to allow the students to turn on their cameras.
  • More information will be shared with parents and students directly by teachers.

Hybrid Schedules – Schools are beginning to share details of student schedules and which teachers are providing full-time distance or in-person instruction to students. Student schedule information is available in ParentVUE and schools are updating this information throughout this week.

  • All current, confirmed information for students returning the week of March 2 will be available in ParentVUE the week of February 22. Schedules for students beginning the week of March 9 and March 16 will be updated in ParentVUE as soon as possible, and schools will keep families informed.
  • Most schools have communicated that it is not possible at this time to change your student’s model from full-time distance to hybrid/in-person instruction. Most schools are now at full capacity due to the six-foot distancing requirements and are keeping waitlists for families wishing to make a change in the event space becomes available.
  • There may be some changes in the amount of synchronous or asynchronous learning time as we make these transitions, as students and staff learn new routines related to arrival, lunch time and dismissal. Teachers will prepare for possible differences in instructional time experienced by students in distance learning and students who report in-person during the first weeks of each grade level’s transition, and will share this planning with students and parents.

Transportation Details – Transportation information and schedules for all students eligible for bus service will be posted in ParentVUE by Friday, February 26. Transportation Services is working hard to re-engineer routes and stops to serve students, with significantly reduced capacity per bus. Due to these changes and a limited number of drivers, we cannot accommodate any requests for bus stop, route, or schedule changes at this time. We ask for your patience in advance as our drivers learn these new routes. Please keep in mind that:

  • The bus stops and routes will look very different than normal to adjust to 11 riders per bus.
  • Pickups may be earlier than families are used to, so we can get the buses back out to pick up more students before start time.
  • Students will only have one bus stop and those who are not assigned will not be able to ride the bus.
  • If you have a student who may be signed up for bus service but does not intend to take the bus, please contact your school as soon as possible.

Routes are based on student data as of February 5. Since that date, Transportation Services has worked with a consultant to develop entirely new routes and will train drivers on new routes next week. Unfortunately, we are not able to release route information to families before Friday, February 26. For more information, visit https://www.apsva.us/transportation-services/hybrid-in-person-bus-transportation-faq/.

This Thursday, I will present the 2020-21 School Year Monitoring Report with the latest updates on our opening plans, a report on recommendations from the Distance Learning Task Force, guidance for outdoor lunch, and more details on air quality and ventilation efforts.

Next week, additional information will be shared regarding health and safety reminders and student health screening using the Qualtrics platform. Keep in mind also that Parent-Teacher Conferences are coming up for elementary and middle school students on February 25-26. This is an important time to make connections with teachers regarding progress students are making and next steps in this unusual year.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools