Dear APS Families,
It is wonderful to have everyone back at school this week. This continues to be a challenging time due to the pandemic and the recent surge of COVID-19 cases.We have updated the website with frequently asked questions (FAQ) and current protocols.
Here are some updates on our protocols and other reminders as we all work together:
Thank You, Principals – This week is Virginia School Principal Appreciation Week, so please join me in thanking our outstanding principals on social media using #ThankAPSPrincipals. They have provided leadership to maintain open, welcoming schools and safe environments in a tumultuous time, and they work daily to resolve the unique challenges as guidance continues changing in this pandemic. We appreciate our principals!
In-Person Athletics and Extracurricular Activities Resume – All in-person athletics and extracurricular activities may resume effective today, Wed, Jan. 12, following our current testing, vaccination and mask requirements. Spectators for all athletic events will consist of family members, and limitations may be implemented based on a school’s facility capacity. The pause was due to the significant surge in positive cases among athletes and helped us to interrupt the chain of transmission and to ensure the continuity of education with the spread of COVID-19 as students returned from the break. APS will continue to closely monitor the situation and evaluate activities as needed.
COVID Response – NEW Guidance Regarding Quarantine and Isolation – Effective Mon, Jan. 17, APS will adopt the CDC’s revised guidance on quarantine and isolation, as follows:
- APS will reduce the quarantine period for students and staff to five days. Students who are exempt from quarantine (e.g., those with up-to-date vaccinations, are asymptomatic and are able to wear a mask) will be excluded and verified by Contact Tracers before being able to return to school. (Note: Quarantine keeps someone who was in close contact with COVID-19 away from others. View full definition.)
- APS will reduce the isolation period for staff to five days. (Note: Isolation keeps those who test positive for COVID-19 away from others, even in their own home. View full definition.)
- APS will maintain current 10-day isolation period for students with COVID-19; this is per CDC guidance that the reduced timeframe be implemented for students only with consistent physical distancing and mask protocols in place at all times, including during meals. Since we cannot maintain distancing consistently, per CDC, APS will maintain 10 days isolation for students with COVID-19.
Requirements to Return After Isolation: Please note the requirements for students to return:
- Complete 10 days of isolation from symptom onset or since testing positive (day test administered), whichever is first; AND
- Be fever free for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.
Please view our webpage outlining the quarantine and return guidance for students who are identified as close contacts through school-related exposures.
Keeping Schools Open Amid the Surge – Maintaining safe, consistent in-person learning is our priority. APS will maintain in-person learning except in limited instances to address high transmission in a classroom or school. Switching any class or school to virtual learning—even for a short period of time—will be a last resort. We will make those decisions on a case-by-case basis based on the best available information and the guidance of Arlington County Public Health Division professionals. Factors we consider include the following:
- The number of students and staff who have tested positive;
- The number of students in quarantine; the number of staff absent for COVID-related reasons; and
- The level of transmission of the virus in the classroom or school.
We are ready to pivot, when needed, to deliver instruction remotely in those instances, and have plans to provide instruction to individual students in quarantine or isolation. Those plans are on the website.
Weekly In-School Testing: We are aware there are some transition issues with the new Virginia Department of Health (VDH) vendor for surveillance testing. We have spoken with VDH and the vendor directly as they work to address the issues. We thank everyone who has opted in for this testing and appreciate your understanding during the transition.
We Are in This Together – We, like many school systems, are facing staffing challenges due to COVID. We are working to recruit more subs and are deploying more central office staff to schools to help substitute so our schools can open. Help us spread the word or apply online to support students and schools. Keep your student(s) home from school if they don’t feel well and complete the Qualtrics health screener questions daily.
We are all in this together as a community, and it will take all of us to keep our schools open. Thank you for your support of APS, our students, and our excellent teachers and staff.
Dr. Francisco Durán