Superintendent’s Feb. 9 Return-to-School Update and Timeline

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Dear APS Families,

After many months of planning, I am announcing the updated return timeline for families that have selected the hybrid/in-person instruction model. I am encouraged by recent improvements in the health metrics, with case positivity rates and other indicators currently decreasing in Arlington and neighboring communities. Over the past two weeks, staff have returned to our buildings to prepare for the upcoming transition and to further strengthen our mitigation efforts.

Additionally, well over half of our staff have received the first dose of the vaccine to date, with new appointments being added all the time. Thanks to the work of the Arlington County Public Health Division, staff who were first to receive vaccine appointments in mid-January are now scheduling their second dose appointments.

Student Return Dates
With those encouraging developments, students who have chosen hybrid/in-person learning will be able to return to school in March according to the timeline below. Teachers and staff will transition back to buildings one week prior to students.  Students in the hybrid/in-person and concurrent instructional models will attend in person two days per week, with some students attending in person on a Tuesday/Wednesday schedule and others in person on a Thursday/Friday schedule.

  • Week of Tuesday, March 2:
    • PreK-2nd grade students
    • All students enrolled in Countywide Elementary Special Education Programs (PreK-5th grade – mini MIPA, MIPA, Life Skills, Communications and Deaf and Hard of Hearing – in person four days a week, Tues-Fri)
    • Elementary students enrolled in Interlude
  • Week of Tuesday, March 9:
    • 3rd – 5th grade students
    • 6th and 9th grade students
    • All students enrolled in Countywide Secondary Special Education Programs (6th-12th grade – MIPA, Life Skills, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Shriver Program – in person four days a week, Tues-Fri)
    • Secondary students enrolled in Interlude and PEP program
  • Week of Tuesday, March 16:
    • 7th – 8th grade students
    • 10th – 12th grade students

Our reopening decisions are guided by the Virginia Department of Health’s revised guidance, and the dates are contingent upon continued improvement in health metrics and effective mitigation.  Visit our website for the latest timeline; APS COVID-19 Dashboard (as of Fri. Feb 5); and timeline for transitioning Level 1 students who have been attending classes in person since Nov. 4, from in-person support to in-person instruction.

Student Schedules and Other Details
Over the next few weeks, we will be communicating your students’ in-person days, instructional model information, any changes in teacher or classroom assignments, transportation, reminders about health and safety procedures, and more. Transportation will look different once students return. Details are available online.

Upcoming Service Changes
Please note the following changes to our services, due to staffing, building capacity, and transportation needs in preparation for these student returns.

  • Friday, Feb. 19 will be the final date for the current five-day schedule for the Instructional Learning Support (ILS) program offered at Ashlawn, Drew, Hoffman-Boston and Randolph elementary schools. Beginning Monday, Feb. 22, the ILS program will operate on Mondays only. Details will be communicated directly to enrolled families.
  • Friday, Feb. 19 will be the final date that we will operate the seven meal drop-off locations across the county that are not based at a school location. (more information)
  • Friday, Feb. 26 will be the final date for the Secondary Work Space program offered at Arlington Career Center, H-B Woodlawn, New Directions, Wakefield, Washington-Liberty and Yorktown high schools.

Again, look for more information about these transitions in the coming weeks, and I will also share more information at the Feb. 18 School Board meeting. Thank you for your partnership and patience during this pandemic. Our ability to continue moving ahead depends on all of us wearing masks, staying home when sick, and following all the other mitigation strategies recommended by Public Health to reduce the spread of the virus. We need to remain vigilant and work together.

Dr. Francisco Durán
Arlington Public Schools