Dear APS Families,
With one month remaining in the school year, APS is working to help all students finish strong—whether through credit recovery, targeted assistance, extra supports, preparation for testing, meeting graduation requirements, or other strategies. We are also putting plans in place for resuming normal five-day in-person school schedules and the Virtual Learning Program for the upcoming school year.
Our community has come a long way since this time last year. In the past week, vaccine availability expanded to children 12 and older, Arlington’s COVID cases reached their lowest levels in months, and revised CDC guidance signals further progress. Here are updates on these positive developments, preparations for summer school and fall, and more.
Vaccine Now Available for Students 12+ – On Saturday, May 15, Arlington County began free vaccination appointments for children ages 12-15. I encourage you to get the vaccine if you have not already done so, or to schedule an appointment for your children ages 12 and older. The vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones. There are several walk-in clinics at school locations, including at Thomas Jefferson Middle School tomorrow. Children must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. For additional information on walk-in clinics or to schedule an appointment, visit Arlington County’s website.
Updated COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidance – Last week, Governor Ralph Northam lifted Virginia’s universal indoor mask mandate in alignment with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Governor Northam also announced that Virginia will ease all distancing and capacity restrictions on Friday, May 28. The updates to Virginia’s mask policy are reflected in amendments to Executive Order Seventy-Two. The order specifically states that all students, teachers, staff, and visitors must continue to wear a mask over their nose and mouth while on school property. In addition, the new guidance will allow APS to expand attendees for the in-person high school graduation ceremonies in June. I will provide an update on these changes and APS mitigation measures for summer school and the 2020-21 school year at the May 20 School Board meeting.
Summer School Update – Teachers have worked exceptionally hard to support students in every way possible this year, using every resource at their disposal, and are not responsible for changes in summer school enrollment. We expanded elementary summer school eligibility beyond previous years, due to increased learning needs evidenced in the pandemic. APS will provide summer school for approximately 1,900 elementary students with the greatest need. Elementary students who met the initial eligibility requirements for summer school but are unable to participate in the program will receive instruction from certified teachers through online programs such as Virtual Virginia. Targeted lessons delivered through Lexia and Dreambox will supplement these activities. Secondary summer school programming is being finalized and additional updates on Summer School will be announced later this week.
Employee Appreciation Month – Employee Appreciation Month continues this week as we highlight E-scale and custodians and maintenance staff. E-scale staff are ITCs, coordinators, project managers and analysts, who not only helped students stay connected this school year but innovated new methods of delivering services to families. Custodial and maintenance staff prepared our facilities and ensured classrooms and work spaces were ready for returning staff and students. There will be a special recognition of all staff at the May 20 School Board meeting.
Thank you and have a wonderful week.
Dr. Francisco Durán
Arlington Public Schools