Superintendent’s March 23 Return-to-School Message

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Dear APS Families,

As we head into spring break next week, I want to thank you all—our incredible students, families, and staff—for your partnership and consistent adherence to mitigation strategies. This has helped to make our transition to in-person instruction as smooth and successful as possible and gives us a strong foundation to build on in the future.

Here are a few important updates to keep in mind as we prepare for the remainder of the year.

  • Updated CDC Distancing Guidelines—On Friday afternoon, the CDC reduced distancing recommendations to three feet in some school circumstances depending on transmission levels. I am very encouraged by this development as we plan for five-day in-person schedules in fall 2021. I am reviewing the new guidance with school administrators, public health officials, Facilities & Operations staff, and other teams this week. We are working through opportunities to serve additional students in person during the current school year, and to strengthen our summer school plans. I will provide an update on next steps at Thursday’s School Board meeting.
  • COVID-19 Testing in Schools—After spring break, we will begin symptomatic COVID-19 testing in schools in partnership with an outside provider, ResourcePath. This will allow for staff and students who develop symptoms during the school day to be tested by certified healthcare professionals in the designated isolation room for their school. Consent will be required in advance and more details will be provided the week of April 5.
  • Instructional Learning Support (ILS) Program— The APS ILS program, which provides in-person support for students in need at four elementary schools, was shortened to Mondays only when we returned for hybrid instruction. We have been working with Arlington County to expand the program using their facilities. The County will provide ILS at a dedicated site Tuesday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. beginning April 6. Arlington County will be able to accommodate 30 students each day. Extended Day staff is assisting with the transition by reaching out first to McKinney-Vento families and then to other existing ILS families. APS will continue to operate ILS on Mondays at Ashlawn, Drew, Hoffman-Boston, and Randolph.
  • Safety Reminders—We are thankful to all APS staff and students who have been following the recommended mitigation strategies in our schools and offices. As a result, we have seen very low cases among staff and students in schools. While on spring break, please adhere to CDC mitigation measures and avoid non-essential travel if possible. The steps you take during break will help us maintain in-person operations, keeping cases low and our community safe. The CDC and VDH guidelines for travel are available online.

At this Thursday’s School Board meeting, I will present updates on the return-to-school plan and highlights on the Career & Technical Education program. Also, please note our Spring Break Meal Schedule.

I will not be sending a Tuesday message next week and will resume April 6. Thank you, and I wish you and your families a safe, restful break.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools