Superintendent’s Oct. 20 Weekly Update

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Dear Families,

Thank you to everyone who joined us last Friday for the APS Return-to-School Town Hall. More than 7,500 community members joined, and we appreciated the opportunity to answer your questions and share more information, including what a hybrid/in-person learning day will look like. If you were unable to participate, you can watch the Town Hall online. I also had the opportunity to join the Arlington Schools Hispanic Parent Association (ASHPA) for a Town Hall in Spanish, and that is also available for you to view online.  I will be providing the latest information regarding our return-to-school plan at this Thursday’s School Board meeting. In the meantime, below are important updates and reminders to take note of:

Level 1 Return Projected Start: Wednesday, November 4 (NEW):
As we have shared, we were aiming for an October 29 start for Level 1, which includes approximately 225 students with disabilities who need in-person support to access distance learning. We are now moving the start date back to Wednesday, November 4, to ensure all operational metrics are met and staff are well equipped and ready to support our students at each school.

Tomorrow is the Deadline for PreK-5th Grade and CTE Student (Level 2) Selections in ParentVUE:
Tomorrow is the deadline for families of all Level 2 students, including all PreK-5th grade students and CTE students enrolled in select Career Center courses, to select whether you prefer to continue in distance learning or to transition to hybrid, in-person learning. I urge every family with an elementary student or CTE student (in designated courses) to log into ParentVUE by tomorrow, October 21, to review and update your selected instructional model and transportation preferences. Additional guidance is available here. We want to proceed with clear knowledge of each family’s choice, based on their individual circumstances and learning preferences. A few reminders:

  • If families made the selections for their student(s) in July, you only need to make an update if you want to change your selection.
  • If you did not make your selections in July and do not do so during the current selection process window for Return Level 2, your Level 2 student(s) will automatically be placed in hybrid/in-person learning.
  • Families do not need to make selections for secondary students at this time. There will be a separate window open for secondary families at a later date, prior to Level 3 Return.

Level 2 Planning: We will continue to analyze staff survey results in response to student needs at each phase of the plan, communicating about schedules and timing as we move forward. Based on the staff survey results and the Level 2 family selection process data, we will continue planning for a Level 2 return for the following students:

  • Level 2, Phase 1: PreK-2nd grade students and CTE students beginning November 12
  • Level 2, Phase 2: Students in grades 3-5 in early December.

The dates are subject to change based on health, safety and operational metrics, and staffing levels. This phasing aligns with the Governor’s guidance to prioritize in-person learning transitions for students with disabilities (Level 1) and early learners (Level 2, phase 1) first.

Schedule Updates – This Week and Next:
Parent-Teacher Conferences are being held this Thursday and Friday, October 22 and 23. Thu, Oct. 22, is an early release day for elementary students, and Fri, Oct. 23, is no school for elementary and middle school students to allow for the conferences to take place. Additionally, to prepare for the transition to in-person instruction, we have added two pre-service professional learning days on Tue, Oct. 27 and Wed, Oct. 28. This means that all PreK-5th grade classes and select CTE classes will be asynchronous on those dates. Further details will be communicated by your school. We apologize for the schedule change and appreciate your understanding and patience regarding this adjustment.

Calendar Survey:
The Draft APS Calendar for the 2021-22 School Year is now available, along with a survey seeking community input, which will be open through October 30. The current plan is to have the final calendar proposal go to the School Board as an information item at the November 17 meeting, and for approval at the December 3 meeting. This will allow a final calendar to be approved more than a month earlier than in previous years. Take the survey and view details online.

VPI Application Period Extended:
APS has openings in our Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) Program at some of our neighborhood locations. Students can attend school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as we enter Level 2 and continue to receive distance learning from the teacher and instructional assistant on Thursdays and Fridays. To qualify, children must be 4 years old by September 30, 2020 and a family’s household income needs to meet federal poverty income eligibility guidelines or the family receives federal benefits including unemployment. Contact 703-228-8000 or 703-228-8632 for application and registration assistance.

Thank you again for your patience, partnership and cooperation to support students.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent