APS News Release

Superintendent’s Jan. 26 Return-to-School Update


Dear APS Families,

This week and next, we are glad to have many teachers and staff back in our buildings to continue preparations for more students to return. Next week, nearly 200 Career & Technical Education (CTE) students enrolled in select courses at the Arlington Career Center will return for hybrid/in-person learning. Return dates for additional student groups have not been set yet. Below is information on how we are determining and preparing for additional return dates:

Return Decisions – I want to reiterate that we are closely following health metrics and state guidance as we assess return dates. Arlington remains in the “highest risk” category for COVID-19 transmission as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention core indicators for reopening schools.

  • In the “highest risk” category, the Virginia Department of Health advises school systems to limit in-person support to students with disabilities, with effective mitigation in place.
  • In-person instruction for early learners and larger groups of students is only advised by VDH for school communities in the “moderate or higher risk”
  • To begin phasing in additional groups, we need to see the health metrics in Arlington move toward the “moderate to higher risk” category, per the state’s guidance.

I am committed to making these transitions as soon as it is safe enough to do so—looking not only at the health metrics, but all available information regarding health and safety, mitigation, instruction and operations—knowing that there are risks in every scenario. We will provide a two-to-three-week window of notice for any future transitions to hybrid/in-person learning.

Air Quality Update – Facilities and Operations has been working to make our classrooms and offices as safe as possible for in-person learning. To ensure all classrooms meet standards for proper ventilation and indoor air quality, we have ordered 650 Certified Air Cleaning Devices (CACDs) and are installing them in classrooms and offices where MERV 13 filters are not available. We are preparing to place another order that will allow us to provide one CACD per classroom, as well as for some larger, communal spaces such as main offices. The CACDs will help ensure every room meets the recommended air changes per hour (ACH) for proper ventilation and indoor air quality.

Exclusion Reporting – In response to requests for more information on exclusions due to reported positive cases and close contacts among staff and students reporting in person, I provided additional data in last week’s Monitoring Report. The numbers below are for Nov. 1, 2020 through Jan. 21, 2021. We will integrate this data into the APS COVID-19 Dashboard beginning next week:

  • Approximately 1,311 employees are reporting in person, and there have been 76 reported positive cases and 103 close contacts. Note that employees are reporting in person to support Level 1 students, as well as for in-person learning support programs, food services, and other jobs that must be performed onsite. The total number of staff will increase as more staff members are reporting to central offices and schools in the coming weeks.
  • Approximately 320 students are reporting in person, and there have been 16 positive cases and 73 close contacts.
  • Reports are received every day of the week so the data will fluctuate based on date of submission. An employee or student may show up in both the close contact category and positive category, which results in double counting for the purposes of this report.

Calendar Reminders – I also want to remind families of a few key calendar dates coming up as Jan. 29 marks the end of the second quarter of the school year:

  • Mon, Feb. 1 is a grade preparation day, and there will be no school and no asynchronous instruction for students. Tues, Feb. 2 marks the start of the third quarter.
  • 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.

I will continue to keep you informed about any changes or new return dates as soon as they are set. I appreciate your emails and engagement.


Dr. Francisco Durán
Arlington Public Schools