This week, we kick off Black History Month, and also recognize our school counselors during National School Counseling Week, as they work to support students’ academic and social-emotional needs in so many important ways during the pandemic. I hope you will join me in thanking them for all they do.
We look forward to welcoming Level 2 Career & Technical Education students to the Arlington Career Center for hybrid/in-person instruction starting tomorrow, Feb. 3 (weather permitting). We continue to assess additional student return dates. Below is information on revised guidance for reopening from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), as well as other reminders.
Revised Guidance for Reopening – Last week I shared guidance from the VDH, and that guidance has been revised. We continue adapting to make the best decisions possible for our community. Key points:
- The new VDH guidance includes a decision matrix for prioritizing students for in-person learning based on community virus transmission, the level of community impact (e.g., positive cases in schools open for in-person learning) and the ability to implement effective mitigation.
- VDH expands student groups that can receive in-person instruction in communities with the “highest risk” level of transmission, to include early learners, students with disabilities and English learners, as capacity and mitigation efforts allow.
- As Arlington continues to see COVID-19 transmission at the “highest risk” level, we remain cautious and focused on the health and safety of Level 1 staff and students. Continued success with mitigation in Level 1 and CTE is essential to proceeding with larger groups.
- The next group to return will be Level 2, PreK through second grade and countywide elementary special education students. Return dates for this group will be communicated at the Feb. 18 School Board meeting. We will provide advance notice before any transitions.
Community Impact – Exclusion Data Reporting – On Friday, Jan. 29, we updated the APS COVID-19 Dashboard with data showing exclusions to date since November 1, based on positive cases and close contacts among Level 1 staff and students, and student athletes. There is no further breakdown of data at the building level or other grouping, to protect the privacy and health information of the relatively small numbers of staff and students in Level 1. With the new health screening platform, and as more employees and students return, we will be able to provide further detail in our dashboard reports.
New Parent Academy Resources – We have posted new videos on the Parent Academy, including an Introduction to Student Mental Health for Parents of Secondary Students, and others. New resources are being produced all the time, and we will alert you as new videos are posted.
Important Dates – Today marks the first day of the third quarter, and below are a few key dates:
- TONIGHT, 6:30-8:30 p.m., the Parent Resource Center is hosting a virtual workshop on talking to kids about race and discrimination. Parents/caregivers will receive strategies for talking with children (PreK through high school) about race, diversity and discrimination. Additional details are here and families can register here.
- Fri, Feb 5 will be an early release day for elementary students only, to allow for professional learning and preparation for the in-person learning model transitions.
- Thu, Feb. 4 and Fri, Feb.5 are asynchronous days for secondary students (grades 6-12) to provide time for professional learning to prepare staff for the concurrent learning model.
- Report cards will be issued on Feb. 9 (middle and high) and Feb. 17 (elementary).
- Parent-teacher conferences are Thu, Feb. 25 (elementary) and Fri, Feb. 26 (CORRECTION: elementary and middle only, no high school conferences). Thu, Feb. 25 is an early release day for elementary students. There is no school for elementary and middle school students on Fri, Feb. 26.
This Thursday, I will present the 2020-21 School Year Monitoring Report with the latest updates on opening plans, reading data for grades 3-5, and details on air quality and ventilation efforts.
Thank you for your ongoing engagement and support.
Dr. Francisco Durán
Arlington Public Schools