School Year 2020-21

3 students using devices

Due to the pandemic, Arlington Public Schools will begin the 2020-21 school year in Full-Time Distance Learning, which begins on Tuesday, September 8. We are committed to providing students a quality educational experience, regardless of instructional model, and will work to meet the needs of each and every student. APS leaders will continue to monitor health conditions and work collaboratively with state and county health officials to review our plans and make adjustments as necessary.


Information and Updates:

Superintendent’s Sept. 15 Weekly Update

As we begin our second week back in school, I want to thank you again for your partnership, understanding, and for everything you are doing to help students navigate distance learning.

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Dear APS Families,

As we begin our second week back in school, I want to thank you again for your partnership, understanding, and for everything you are doing to help students navigate distance learning. I know the sacrifices families are making and the significant support required to help with this transition. We have outstanding teachers and staff committed to helping all students succeed, and we will continue working together, day by day, to overcome technology problems and to enhance the learning experience and support students in every way we can.

I know connection challenges have caused a lot of added frustration and stress, and I am committed to resolving them. To that end, below are additional updates on technology and other important reminders:   

Technology Updates and Progress 
Information Services provided an update last Friday, with information on progress to date. The major firewall-related hurdles with connectivity were addressed within the first few days of school, and by the end of last week we saw significant progress in the numbers of students connecting and engaging in synchronous learning using APS devices. We have more work to do to help teachers and students navigate Microsoft Teams and other applications more easily. We are working to address these challenges day by day, as quickly as possible.

I strongly urge all students to please use their APS-issued devices. These devices are set up with the applications needed for distance learning and configured in a certain way, making it easier for teachers to deliver instruction, support students and monitor their progress.

I provided a full update on the first day of school during the School Board meeting last week and you can watch that presentation here. Also, in case you missed it, AETV captured some of the many great back-to-school moments in this first day video.    

Save the Date for Back-to-School Nights
I hope you will join your schools for virtual back-to-school-nights to engage with teachers and staff and discuss the year ahead. Below is a full list of dates. Check with your schools for specific details.

  • 15: Arlington Community High School
  • 16: Elementary Schools
  • 22: Middle Schools
  • 23: High Schools
  • 24: H-B Woodlawn
  • 30: Career Center/Arlington Tech
  • 14:  Langston High School Continuation Program

Meal Services for All Children
There has been some confusion about our meal services and who is eligible to receive them. The Summer Food Service Program has been extended by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through Dec. 31. This means that ALL children ages 18 and under will continue to receive free meals at all sites, no student ID required. You can pick meals up at any of the 21 school sites or 10 delivery/drop-off locations, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Hot meals are currently only being served at the school meal sites. For the full list of sites and other details, visit our website.    

Planning for Returning to School In-Person
We continue to monitor COVID-19 metrics as we look ahead toward gradually returning in-person when possible, working in collaboration with state and local health officials. I am committed to protecting the health and safety of our students and staff, and to ensuring that our students with disabilities are the first to return in person once conditions are safe enough to begin this transition. I established a Working Group that has begun evaluating ways to bring back a small group of students with disabilities who need direct support to access their education. I will continue to keep you informed about this work.

We will also prioritize English Learners and PreK-3rd grade students, as we examine opportunities for phasing in hybrid, in-person instruction. Specific plans will be communicated well in advance and both families and staff will have an option to update the selections made mid-July, prior to any transitions.  I will be sharing more details on our plans and specific timing next week during my monitoring report at the Thursday, September 24 School Board meeting.

Thank you for your support and we will continue to keep you informed.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Sept. 11 Technology Update

Earlier this week, we updated families on the connectivity issues experienced by our students. Today, we want to provide you with an update regarding the progress that has been made.

APS Families,

Earlier this week, we updated families on the connectivity issues experienced by our students. Today, we want to provide you with an update regarding the progress that has been made.

We analyzed the connectivity issues experienced on Tuesday and determined a key cause was a bug in the software of our firewalls. Technicians put a patch in place on Tuesday night that substantially addressed connectivity issues for the iPads on Wednesday, although MacBook Airs continued to experience issues. Working with our vendor, we identified the cause of the different experiences for iPads and MacBook Airs and additional changes were made on Wednesday night. These changes seem to have addressed the issues for most students.

At this point, we have resolved the known network issues and will continue to monitor connectivity and refine the systems in order to enhance the student experience. We are aware of some issues related to using Microsoft Teams functions in virtual classrooms, and we are working to address those to better support teachers and students.

Some students have elected to use family-owned devices for virtual learning during the past few days due the initial issues connecting. When teachers plan their instruction, they rely on the students having access to a specific set of applications and software available on the student devices, set up in a specific way. We encourage students to resume using their APS-issued devices so teachers can leverage these resources. This helps to ensure all students have a consistent experience and allows APS to better monitor learning and provide support efficiently and effectively.

If you continue to experience connectivity issues, please visit https://www.apsva.us/school-year-2020-21/technical-support/ for guidance.

In addition, we want to clarify that the Family Technology Call Center can walk you through basic steps as outlined in the self-help guides available on the APS website, or can escalate issues to your child’s school on your behalf. Issues that cannot be resolved using self-help such as device replacements, password resets, and not seeing classes in Canvas, will be escalated to your child’s school.

We are continuing to work on this and thank you for your patience during this first week back.

Regards,

Raj Adusumilli
Assistant Superintendent Information Services

Sept. 9 Dept. of Teaching and Learning Update: Services for English Learners, Special Education and Gifted Students

As we start the school year via distance learning, this message is being sent from the Department of Teaching and Learning to share information about services and instructional strategies in support of students with disabilities, Gifted students and English Learners. These biweekly messages are designed to keep families informed and up-to-date during distance learning.

APS Families:

As we start the school year via distance learning, this message is being sent from the Department of Teaching and Learning to share information about services and instructional strategies in support of students with disabilities, Gifted students and English Learners. These biweekly messages are designed to keep families informed and up-to-date during distance learning.

Students with Disabilities
IEP teams are still busy collaborating with families to determine what supports students will need for Distance Learning, and preparing to welcome and support students on September 8th. To supplement APS’ recently posted distance learning parent handbooks, the Office of Special Education (OSE) has provided additional guidance for families. The Special Education Fall Guidance can be found here, and includes information on considerations for IEP Teams, Recovery Services, ATSS and Student Support Processes, and Re-opening FAQs.

OSE has also established two working groups. The first work group is working on how to bring in a small group of students to receive adult support to help students access distance learning. This group meets once a week, and as plans come together, we will update the community. The second work group focuses on ensuring all students, staff, and families can fully access all of our instructional resources, facilities and transportation. Both groups have parent representatives.

Parent Academy: The OSE has added a video to the newly re-launched APS Parent Academy. Getting Ready for Fall 2020: A session for families of students with unique talents and learning needs was created by a panel of staff members from the Office of Special Education and the Special Education Parent Resource Center (PRC). The video shares suggestions for creating a successful learning environment for students with disabilities at home, and provides a brief overview of special education services and supports that are available in Arlington Public Schools during this time of distance learning. Watch the video here.

On August 25 the Office of Special Education provided a professional learning opportunity to transportation staff. The training discussed characteristics of disabilities and strategies to support specific student needs. Topics included supporting students in the areas of social communication, executive functioning, information processing, and emotional regulation.

English Learners (EL)
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is hosting EL Family Webinar Series. Supporting School at Home for English Learners Webinar is created for families of English Learners. See the PDF of the flyers for dates, times, and Zoom links. The webinars started on August 26 and continue in different languages until September 8th. The slides and recording for each session will be posted here for use and sharing once all materials are finalized. The first slide of each presentation will include the link to the recording.

Parent Academy videos were created for parents to learn more about APS. There is a video specifically for parents of English Learners. The video was created by the Office of English Learners and it provides a brief overview of English Learner services available in Arlington Public Schools. It addresses how English Learners (ELs) will be supported both academically and emotionally during this time of distance learning. It gives information that will be helpful to parents as we begin the school year in distance learning.

Gifted Services APS Parent Academy
An Overview of K-12 Gifted Services  video was created for the APS Parent Academy site.  Parents, Family and community members will hear from a panel of resource teachers for the gifted representing elementary, middle and high school and the Supervisor of Gifted Services. The goal of the video is to provide a brief overview of how services are delivered through a collaborative cluster approach in Kindergarten through Grade 12. Panel members share their perspectives on how services need not change in a distance learning model even though the primary mode for how teachers deliver gifted services will change.

New to Arlington Screening and Eligibility for Gifted Services Students who are new to APS and who have been previously identified for gifted services will be eligible for the same level of service as outlined by the previous school district. In this situation, it is not necessary to go through the screening process since this already occurred in another school district. Parents/Guardians are asked to share the previous record of gifted services and/or previous record of eligibility for gifted services with the school registrar and/or the resource teacher for the gifted (RTG) and/or the principal. Upon receiving this information, your child will then be clustered in their area of identification and begin receiving gifted services. For additional information, please visit the Eligibility section and the FAQ section of the Gifted Services webpage.

Returning Arlington Families
Due to schools moving to remote learning in March, the universal screening ability assessments scheduled for after this time were not given. Without universal screening ability assessments at grades 1, 2 and 3, screening at these grade levels could not occur per the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) gifted regulations (8 VAC 20-40-40).  Since we were able to give an ability assessment in the fall in certain grade levels, the screening and identification process did occur at the following grade levels:

  • 4th grade
  • New to APS 5th grade students
  • New to APS 6th grade

VDOE confirmed that ability assessments will still need to be part of the screening and identification process for the 2020-2021. At this time, we have included the ability assessments in the testing calendar for this year. Given that we are starting the year in a virtual teaching and learning mode, more information will be shared once a comprehensive plan is in place.

For additional information, please visit the FAQ section of the Gifted Services webpage.

Update on Technical Issues

We sincerely apologize for the system-wide technical challenges many families experienced today, especially with connecting APS devices to Canvas and Microsoft Teams.

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APS Families,

We sincerely apologize for the system-wide technical challenges many families experienced today, especially with connecting APS devices to Canvas and Microsoft Teams. The Department of Information Services identified that the primary source of the issue was firewall-related, due to the large volume of traffic trying to access Microsoft Teams at one time. We are deploying a solution now.

We knew there would be a high volume of traffic on the first day of school. We believed we had taken all necessary steps to prepare for this in advance, and unfortunately this morning we discovered an additional adjustment was needed. We are refreshing the firewall servers now. Performance has already improved and should continue to improve through the afternoon. We will continue to monitor this tomorrow and throughout this first week to make adjustments when necessary.

There are no additional steps necessary for families. We encourage you to continue trying to log on and to try restarting your child’s device.

Additionally, the phone number we had set up for technology support was quickly overwhelmed due to the same issue, and we have resolved that issue. Families can continue to access our self-help guides on the website and dial 703-228-2570 for additional support. We are sorry for the issues and understand your frustration as we start the year. I also want to clarify that we were aware of an issue with Global Protect, brought to our attention late last week, and that issue was resolved over the weekend. We will continue to monitor and support families throughout this week and on an ongoing basis.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

APS Launches Family  Technology  Call Center 

Arlington Public Schools is launching a Family Technology Call Center to provide technical assistance to students and parents on Tue, Sept. 8. The call center will be open Monday – Thursday, from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Friday from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Support will be available in English and Spanish.

Español

Arlington Public Schools is launching a Family Technology Call Center to provide technical assistance to students and parents on Tue, Sept. 8. The call center will be open Monday – Thursday, from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Friday from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Support will be available in English and Spanish.

If your child is experiencing technical difficulties with their device, the fastest way to get them up and connected to learning is to use the troubleshooting guides for families. These guides cover the most common technical problems experienced by our students.In the event you cannot resolve the issue, you can contact the school technical staff using the school-specific links provided on the above technical support webpage. Families can also call the call center 703-228-2570.

In order for your child to have a great first day of school on Tuesday, we encourage families to test the device over the weekend, using the troubleshooting guides to resolve any issues. We have received some requests from families this week reporting various technical problems with devices or connectivity, and staff are working with them individually to address those issues prior to the start of school.

We continue to recommend families access our troubleshooting guides as a first step for common challenges and then to reach out for support from technical staff and the call center.

In the event your student cannot connect on Tuesday, parents should call the school by 11 a.m. to report the connectivity issue.

Sept. 1 Return-to-School Update

Next Tuesday, we will officially kick off the 2020-21 school year. While the start of this year will certainly look and feel different than previous years, we are all excited to welcome students back for distance learning and to start connecting and building relationships in new ways.

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Dear APS Families,

Next Tuesday, we will officially kick off the 2020-21 school year. While the start of this year will certainly look and feel different than previous years, we are all excited to welcome students back for distance learning and to start connecting and building relationships in new ways.

Our first days of school will be focused on helping students get to know their teachers and classmates and creating new routines. Teachers will spend a lot of time helping students practice new technology, engage in virtual classrooms, and understand how to navigate different learning platforms.

I know how challenging the present circumstances are for everyone and especially for working parents who are supporting students’ learning at home. We are here to support you. Know that we are in this together and will emerge stronger because of it. Please join us in reinforcing the importance of flexibility, empathy, kindness, patience, and keeping an open mind as we start the year.

Yesterday, I sent all families a message linking to parent guides for distance learning. They are available here: Elementary School , Middle School and High School. The guides provide information to prepare for school in a distance learning environment, including sample schedules, student expectations, attendance, social-emotional learning, parent resources, and specialized services for students with disabilities, English Learners, and gifted students.

I want to take a moment to express my gratitude for the support and feedback we have received from our staff and families. Since joining APS as your Superintendent just three months ago, I have observed first-hand the resiliency, passion, and commitment of the Arlington community to support quality education. The feedback you have provided has directly shaped our plans, and I would especially like to thank the members of our Return-to-School Task Force. They spent countless hours reviewing plans and meeting weekly to provide feedback and challenge our thinking. We held our 12th and final meeting yesterday, focused on cleaning and air quality (presentation available here), as we prepare to return safely in person when possible.

Please take time to review the information in the School Year 2020-21 section of our website, as it will help to answer questions about the start of school, as well as plans for the remainder of the school year. Also, take a moment to view a few reminders in my back to school video in English and Spanish. Below are additional back-to-school updates:

Meal Service During the School Year – Extending Free Meals for All Students
Yesterday, we were very excited to learn of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision to extend the summer food program waiver, allowing schools to continue providing free meals for all students through December 31, 2020. This is a positive development since it will allow us to provide free meals for all students without requiring a student ID, and we are currently awaiting guidance from the Virginia Department of Education and USDA regarding how to proceed. The USDA had not provided information to state agencies in advance of the public announcement yesterday, so they are working to get this to us as quickly as possible. We expect this information later this week and will communicate any changes to the previously announced food pickup procedures as soon as we have clear guidance.

NEW Help Desk Coming Sept. 8, Updates on Device Distribution and Connectivity
I am excited to announce that we will be launching a Help Desk with a new phone line and online portal to provide direct technology assistance to students and parents, Monday – Friday, from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. in English and Spanish. More details will be provided via School Talk tomorrow.

Additionally, many schools are organizing device pick-up times at schools this week and are working to ensure every student has a device that is ready to go on Day One. If you do not yet have a device, please contact your child’s school to make plans to pick one up by Thursday. Additionally, families should have received a School Talk message last week, and a letter in the mail this week, with instructions on how to receive a promo code for Comcast Internet Essentials. Once the school year begins, if you experience an outage or other challenges preventing you from connecting to distance learning on any given day, contact your student’s school or teacher by phone before 11 a.m. if possible.

Share Your First Day with Us!
Sept. 8 will be a first day to remember. Share with us images of your first day, at home learning spaces, your virtual classrooms and your first day of school photos. Share them on social media using the hashtag #APSBack2School or #APSInThisTogether and we will compile them all to share on our social media channels and as part of our first day recap highlighting great moments across the school division.  

Reminder about Immunization Requirements
Students new to APS and rising 7th graders are still required to have their physicals, TB test/screen and immunizations before the start of school on Sept. 8. Despite the fact that students will not be physically in school initially, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), have not changed or delayed school health entry requirements. Please see full message on our website. If your student is up to date with immunizations and you have previously submitted them to your school, no action is needed at this time. 

Looking Ahead
While we understand that Distance Learning cannot replicate all the experiences of in-person instruction, we look forward to the exciting opportunities this new environment offers. More than ever, we are all in this together. Please join us in reinforcing with our students that this unique start of school is something to look forward to and is a chance to reconnect with friends, teachers, and mentors. Sending my gratitude and best to all of you as we begin.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Aug. 25 Return-to-School Update

School begins remotely in distance learning for all students two weeks from today, on September 8. APS teachers and staff are all back virtually to make final preparations for students – making sure every student has a device and connectivity, finalizing class schedules, engaging in training for distance learning, and working to create online classroom environments and learning experiences that are safe, inclusive, and engaging.

En Español

Dear APS Community,

School begins remotely in distance learning for all students two weeks from today, on September 8. APS teachers and staff are all back virtually to make final preparations for students – making sure every student has a device and connectivity, finalizing class schedules, engaging in training for distance learning, and working to create online classroom environments and learning experiences that are safe, inclusive, and engaging. APS is committed to making this distance learning experience positive for all students.

Below you will find some information to help you and your student navigate distance learning in the new year.  We will be rolling out more resources to help you get your student ready for school over the next two weeks.

Parent Academy Resources Now Available
The first Parent Academy videos, tutorials, and resources are now available on the APS Parent Academy program page. They address frequent questions and topics for returning to school, including:

  • How to access and use Canvas and SeeSaw;
  • Instructional delivery for Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Arts electives;
  • Delivery of specialized services and supports for students with disabilities, English Learner and Gifted students;
  • Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) priorities and programs;
  • What to expect for extracurricular activities and athletics; and
  • Information about Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and Dual Enrollment courses as part of the distance learning model.

We are making some enhancements to this page in the coming week, so please check back. We will notify you as additional courses are posted.

Schedules in ParentVUE
Elementary class assignments and schedules are now available in ParentVUE. Secondary schedules will be posted next week once all schools are ready. We will notify families when schedules are available. If you need assistance accessing your child’s schedule or to obtain a printed copy, please contact your child’s school.

Biweekly Update on Services for Special Education, English Learners and Gifted Students
Yesterday, families of Special Education students, English Learners and Gifted students received an update on specialized services and resources in preparation for distance learning. These updates will be sent every other week on Mondays from the Department Teaching and Learning, and you can find them on our website here.

School Meals for All Students
Our summer grab-and-go meals service will continue through this Friday, Aug. 28, which will include meals for Saturday, Aug. 29 and Mon, Aug. 31. The national Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) ends on Aug. 31, so there will be no APS meal service during the week of Aug. 31. Meal services will resume on Sept. 8 when we will be operating under the National School Lunch Program. Under the National School Lunch Program, we are committed to ensuring that all students can easily access healthy meals and will be operating at 21 school locations three days per week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Additional details about this service can be found online and were shared earlier today via School Talk and text message in multiple languages.  

Technical Support and Services
APS is committed to ensuring that every student has a device and internet access before school starts. Devices are being distributed through individual schools. To support families during distance learning, APS has developed the Digital Learning Device Help webpage, including guidance on how to set up an APS device, iPad troubleshooting tips, Global Protect, Microsoft Teams, and more. In the event you need direct support, families can contact their school-based ITC for technical support. APS has partnered with Comcast to provide internet access to eligible families; find out more and get a school code to apply at apsva.us/internet-service/.

How to Help – School Supplies for Students in Need
As a reminder, APS has set up an online store where community members can help purchase basic kits of school supplies for students in need. More than 1,870 kits have been purchased so far for students in grades PreK-8. Thank you for your support! If you would like to contribute, please use this link to donate. Donations will be accepted until TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 1. Supply kits will be shipped directly to APS and distributed to families in September.

School Support and In-Person Registration
Last week we sent information about in-person registration and the document drop-off process now available at schools by appointment. To clarify, most of our staff are continuing to work remotely for their health and safety, but schools are checking voicemail regularly and will have staff working in the front office on Tuesdays and Thursdays to answer calls and schedule in-person registration appointments. As an alternative, families are also able to drop off registration documents at the APS Welcome Center by appointment Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. You can contact the APS Welcome Center at 703-228-8000 to schedule an appointment.

Buses on the Road Again
Transportation Services will be holding on-the-road training for staff on August 26, 27, and 28, so you may see some of our yellow school buses on the road in our community this week. This training is part of our ongoing preparation for anticipated transitions to hybrid, in-person learning, depending on health conditions. Also, several of the out-of-County schools to which we send a few of our students will start in-person learning in September, so a few of our buses will be out on the road again transporting students, starting September 1.

Latest Updates on Return-to-School Planning
I presented a comprehensive Return-to-School Monitoring Report at last Thursday’s School Board Meeting. The presentation is available on our website, and you can watch the video of my presentation and Q&A here. Yesterday, the Task Force met to review plans for Food Services and Technology. Both presentations are available on the APS website and provide updates on the expansion of meal services, as well as devices, connectivity, and technical support for staff, students, and families. The Task Force will hold our final meeting next week.  We look forward to a great start to the year.

Take care and stay safe.

Best Regards,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Aug. 24 Dept. of Teaching and Learning Update: Services for English Learners, Special Education and Gifted Students

To provide families with details on distance learning instruction, the Department of Teaching and Learning will be sending a biweekly message to Special Education students, Gifted students and English Learners.

APS Families:

To provide families with details on distance learning instruction, the Department of Teaching and Learning will be sending a biweekly message to Special Education students, Gifted students and English Learners. The biweekly messages are designed to keep families informed and up-to-date during distance learning.   

Special Education
The Special Education PTA (SEPTA) and APS hosted a Town Hall meeting on Wed, Aug. 19 to address questions from the community on Special Education supports. The recording can be accessed at this link. The Parent Resource Center (PRC) is a great resource for families to reach out if there are questions on special education.  Another great opportunity for families to connect, network, hear the latest APS updates and learn about new resources are attending the ASEAC and SEPTA monthly meetings. The September meetings for the following groups are on the following dates:

English Learners (EL)
EL teachers returned (virtually) to their schools today and will spend the next two weeks getting ready to receive their students in a distance learning environment. During this time they will attend a variety of professional learning workshops including a preservice training on specific strategies for working with English learners in distance learning. Both elementary and secondary EL teachers will receive training specific to their level. In addition, general education teachers will participate in their own professional learning, which will include options for learning about sheltered content instruction. The options for general education teachers includes training such as: Teaching Strategies for Content Instruction; Engaging Newcomer Multilingual Learners; and Developing Language for Learning in Mathematics.

Parents can help their students get ready for school by preparing a workspace for them. This workspace should have a table or desk for them to have their computer/tablet, as well as a place for writing. If the workspace is in a common area of the home, it would be helpful to have a sign that says, “Quiet Space” or “Quiet Time” while the student is online or studying. Removing distractions (loud TV, favorite toys, etc.) will also be a benefit as the students transition from summer break to the academic school year. Practicing a “quiet time” for everyone in the home, is a great way to get ready for learning!

Gifted
Throughout the summer, the Gifted Services office developed a variety of resources to support parents, community members and teachers as we navigate virtual learning and teaching. You can find the following parent resources on the Gifted services website and/or as outlined below:

The Gifted Services Advisory Committee (GSAC) is always looking for parents interested in learning more about gifted services and advocacy for the needs of all gifted learners within the Arlington community.  If you are interested in becoming involved in this advocacy work, please contact the chair of GSAC, Dan Corcoran danjcorcoraniii@gmail.com and/or the staff liaison Cheryl McCullough cheryl.mccullough@apsva.us. For additional information, please visit the GSAC webpage where you will find all of the yearly reports to the School Board, information on the last two program evaluations and meeting information.

Additional parent resources and videos about services for Special Education students, Gifted students and English Learners is available on our Parent Academy website. We will continue to keep you informed and updated as new information is available.

Thank you for your continued partnership.

Sincerely,
Bridget Loft,
Assistant Superintendent, Teaching and Learning

Familias de APS:

Para proporcionar a las familias detalles sobre la enseñanza a distancia, el Departamento de Enseñanza y Aprendizaje enviará un mensaje una vez cada dos semanas a los estudiantes de Educación Especial, estudiantes dotados y a los estudiantes aprendices de inglés. Los mensajes quincenales están diseñados para mantener a las familias informadas y actualizadas durante el aprendizaje a distancia. 

Educación Especial
La PTA de Educación Especial (SEPTA) y APS organizaron una Asamblea el 19 de agosto para abordar preguntas de la comunidad sobre apoyos de Educación Especial. Se puede acceder a la grabación en este enlace. El Centro de Recursos para Padres (PRC) Parent Resource Center (PRC) es un gran recurso para las familias y dónde pueden encontrar respuestas a sus preguntas de educación especial.   Otra gran oportunidad para que las familias se conecten, creen redes, escuchen las últimas actualizaciones de APS y aprendan sobre nuevos recursos, es que asistan a las reuniones mensuales de ASEAC y SEPTA. Las reuniones de septiembre para los siguientes grupos se llevarán a cabo en las siguientes fechas:

  • Reunión de ASEAC del 29 de septiembre
  • Reunión de SEPTA del 10 de septiembre. Oprima aquí para registrarse.

Estudiantes aprendices de inglés (EL, por sus siglas en inglés)
Los maestros de los EL regresaron (virtualmente) a sus escuelas hoy y pasarán las próximas dos semanas preparándose para recibir a sus estudiantes en un ambiente de aprendizaje a distancia. Durante este tiempo asistirán a una variedad de talleres de aprendizaje profesional, incluyendo una capacitación de preservicio sobre estrategias específicas para trabajar con estudiantes de inglés en el aprendizaje a distancia. Tanto los maestros de los EL de primaria como de escuelas intermedias y secundarias recibirán capacitación específica para su nivel. Además, los maestros de educación general participarán en su propio aprendizaje profesional, que incluirá opciones para aprender sobre la enseñanza de contenido protegido. Las opciones para los maestros de educación general incluyen capacitación tales como: Estrategias de Enseñanza para la Instrucción de Contenido; Involucrar a los estudiantes multilingües recién llegados; y El desarrollo del lenguaje para el aprendizaje en matemáticas.

Los padres pueden ayudar a sus hijos estudiantes a prepararse para la escuela preparando un espacio de trabajo para ellos. Este espacio de trabajo debe tener una mesa o escritorio para que tengan su computadora/tableta, así como un lugar para escribir. Si el espacio de trabajo está en un área común de la casa, sería útil tener un letrero que diga, “Espacio tranquilo” o “Tiempo de silencio” mientras el estudiante está en línea o estudiando. La eliminación de distracciones (televisión fuerte, juguetes favoritos, etc.) también será un beneficio a medida que los estudiantes pasen de las vacaciones de verano al año escolar académico. ¡Practicar un “tiempo tranquilo” para todos en el hogar, es una gran manera de prepararse para el aprendizaje!

Alumnos dotados
Durante todo el verano, la oficina de Servicios para Alumnos Dotados desarrolló una variedad de recursos para apoyar a los padres, miembros de la comunidad y maestros a medida que navegamos por el aprendizaje y la enseñanza virtuales. Pueden encontrar los siguientes recursos principales en el sitio web de servicios para alumnos dotados Gifted services y/o como se describe a continuación:

  • En la sección de recursos “Resources”, hay tres categorías de apoyo:
    • Recursos de apoyo para la variedad de necesidades de su niño: Resources to Support the Varying Needs of Your Child (Consejos de información para padres sobre temas como: Desarrollo Emocional Social, como abogar por uno mismo o sea Promoción, Creatividad, etc.)
    • Podcasts, Seminarios web, y Grabaciones (es decir, Perfeccionismo, Autorregulación, Ideas para organizar el espacio para un aprendizaje óptimo: Podcasts, Webinars & Recordings
    • Recursos en línea para desafiar a su niño en casa: Online Resources to Challenge Your Child at Home (estos se organizan en torno a las principales categorías generales tales como Artes, Matemáticas, Artes del Lenguaje, Ciencias, Estudios Sociales, y Podcasts para Niños)
  • En la sección de preguntas frecuentes Frequently Asked Questions se organizan preguntas y respuestas en torno a temas importantes como Instrucción, Evaluación e Identificación, Equidad, y Recursos

El Comité Asesor de Servicios Dotados (GSAC, por sus siglas en inglés), siempre está buscando padres interesados en aprender más sobre los servicios para los alumnos dotados y como abogar por uno mismo (promoción) para las necesidades de todos los estudiantes superdotados dentro de la comunidad de Arlington. Si usted está interesado en participar en este trabajo de promoción, por favor póngase en contacto con el presidente de GSAC, Dan Corcoran en el correo electrónico danjcorcoraniii@gmail.com, y/o con el personal de enlace, la Sra. Cheryl McCullough, en el correo electrónico cheryl.mccullough@apsva.us. Para obtener información adicional, visite el sitio web de GSAC en GSAC donde encontrará todos los informes anuales provistos a la Junta Escolar, información sobre las dos últimas evaluaciones del programa e información de las reuniones.

Recursos adicionales para padres y videos sobre servicios para estudiantes de Educación Especial, estudiantes dotados y estudiantes aprendices de inglés, English Learners (EL, por sus siglas en inglés), están disponibles en el sitio web de nuestra Academia para Padres en Parent Academy . Continuaremos manteniéndolos informados y actualizados a medida que tenemos nueva información.

Gracias por su continua colaboración.

Atentamente, Bridget Loft,

Superintendente auxiliar,
Departamento de Enseñanza y Aprendizaje (DTL, por sus siglas en inglés)

APS 2020-21 Instructional Plan Submitted to VDOE

APS submitted the finalized APS 2020-21 Instructional Plan to the VDOE in August.

APS submitted the finalized APS 2020-21 Instructional Plan to the VDOE in August.

View the APS 2020-21 Instructional Plan

Watch SEPTA Virtual Town Hall

On Wed, Aug. 19, the Arlington Special Education PTA (SEPTA) held a virtual town hall with Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán on distance learning instruction.

On Wed, Aug. 19, the Arlington Special Education PTA (SEPTA) held a virtual town hall with Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán on distance learning instruction. Watch the town hall below and view the presentation, here.

Aug. 18 Return-to-School Update

School starts three weeks from today, and we are excited to welcome all students back for distance learning on Tuesday, September 8. Our teachers and other 10-month employees are returning virtually next week to engage in professional learning and make final preparations. Whether you are new to Arlington Public Schools or returning, we look forward to welcoming you.

Español

Dear APS Community,

School starts three weeks from today, and we are excited to welcome all students back for distance learning on Tuesday, September 8. Our teachers and other 10-month employees are returning virtually next week to engage in professional learning and make final preparations. Whether you are new to Arlington Public Schools or returning, we look forward to welcoming you.

Starting the year in distance learning means that all students will meet and connect with their teachers and classmates online, according to their school’s regular start and end times. Details regarding student schedules will be provided by your school before the end of August.

The Return-to-School Task Force met yesterday to review our Social-Emotional Learning plans for students, families, and staff. We know that many have experienced trauma and that providing mental health and social-emotional support is a key foundation for learning. It was a productive meeting with lots of great ideas from teachers, staff, students, parents, and community members about how we can strengthen our connections with students in the online, distance learning environment. You can view the presentations here.

As we prepare for distance learning, I want to reiterate that we remain in close contact with state health officials and the Arlington County Public Health Division to monitor health data and evaluate opportunities to gradually phase in hybrid, in-person instruction. When we determine it is safe to begin this transition, we will prioritize phasing in in-person instruction for students with disabilities first, followed by students in grades PreK-3 and English Learner students. We will then work toward transitioning all families who select the hybrid in-person model. I will notify you well in advance as plans progress and circumstances change.

We are committed to making sure all students have a positive learning experience and have the resources they need to learn, grow, and succeed. Below are other updates to help you prepare:

Setting Up Your Distance Learning Space
Families have reached out for guidance on setting up learning spaces at home. Try to prepare a quiet location in your home where your student can spread out their device and other learning materials on a table or desk.

School Supplies
All APS PreK-8th grade students will receive educational materials in their “Distance Learning Toolkit” by the middle of September. These materials are the essential tools needed to engage in learning at home. More information regarding distribution of these materials will be coming from individual schools. Your student’s school will also be providing more information regarding traditional school supplies such as paper, glue, scissors, pencils and crayons.

How to Help – Purchase Supplies for Families in Need
APS is providing a second kit with basic school supplies for students who need them, at cost, and have set up an online store where community members and partners can support this effort. If you would like to purchase a kit of school supplies for families in need, the online store allows you to contribute now through September 1. More details are available on the APS website and you can donate directly using this link. Supply kits will be shipped directly to APS and distributed in September. Thank you for all the generous offers of support from our community.

Special Education Services
APS will provide additional communication devices for students who require American Sign Language (ASL)/Cued Language Transliterator (CLT) interpretation services. This will allow the students to have both a device for communication and a device for instructional needs.

As APS moves into Distance Learning, IEP teams will be able to discuss flexible instructional support for students to include smaller chunks of instruction, recorded synchronous sessions so students can view them at a later time, and flexibility in scheduling needs. Families are encouraged to work with their IEP team to determine what is best for their student(s).

There will be a Town Hall hosted by SEPTA this Wednesday at 7 p.m. to answer several questions from the community on Special Education supports. We welcome all families. Please register here to receive a link to the meeting.

Additionally, the Office of Special Education has posted the revised Student Support Manual. The revision incorporates feedback from families and staff. In the Fall of 2019, APS developed a streamlined process for supporting student learning and processes to support students’ academic, social emotional or behavioral needs. Some revisions include enhanced information on supporting English Learners; updates on Assistive Technology in APS; and a flow chart describing initiation of special education processes for Arlington residents and out of county residents who attend private schools located in Arlington. To learn more about the Student Support Process, please contact the Parent Resource Center (PRC) at 703-228-7239 or prc@apsva.us.

Regular communication about services for English Learners, students with disabilities, and gifted students will be provided in a separate communication coming soon from the Department of Teaching and Learning.

The APS Parent Academy
As a reminder, we are re-launching the APS Parent Academy, beginning next week. The Parent Academy will begin with pre-recorded courses and resources to help parents navigate distance learning and support students, addressing commonly asked questions such as how to access and use different learning applications, instructional delivery for Career and Technical Education, and the delivery of specialized services and supports. Initial videos will be pre-recorded and shared on a dedicated Parent Academy Program page on our website prior to the start of school, and we will provide interactive Parent Academy sessions for parents as we begin the year.

Childcare Options for Families
We know childcare is a major challenge for working families. We are working with the County to make some options available. The Department of Human Services has been working to expand availability among existing childcare providers, encouraging closed centers to reopen, and helping potential providers overcome obstacles such as licensing and land use processes. Through this work, DHS has identified more than 300 available slots through existing providers, based on numbers reported at the end of July:

  • Childcare Centers (63 total): 32 currently open with approximately 145 slots available
  • Family Day Care Homes (120 total): 109 currently open with approximately 183 slots available

More than 20 of these providers have indicated interest in expanding their hours and age ranges to accommodate school-aged children. DHS is supporting those efforts and creating a process to prioritize available slots to support children and families with the highest need. We are also working with the YMCA and other local non-profits and to expand options for low-income families. More details and how families can access these childcare options will be communicated through APS and the County as this work progresses.

Meal Services
Our grab-and-go meals service will continue through next Friday, Aug. 28, which will include meals for Monday, August 31. The national Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) ends on Aug. 31, so we will pause meal service during the week of Aug. 31 and will resume on Sept. 8 when we will be operating under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Under NSLP, we are committed to ensuring that ALL students can easily access healthy meals with the following changes:

  • APS will be expanding from the current nine sites to 21 school locations.
  • Food will be available for ALL students, and families are encouraged to pick up meals Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the school most convenient and closest to them.
  • All students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals will continue to receive free breakfast and lunch.
  • Students who are not eligible for free or reduced meals are encouraged to use their lunch accounts to purchase meals.

I presented this update to the School Board last Thursday and you can view the full presentation and list of the 21 locations here. We will also be providing meal delivery and distribution to 10 locations throughout the County using APS vehicles. We are working to ensure we have permission to distribute meals on those properties we have identified for meal delivery.  We will provide those locations and full meal service details next week.

Applying for Free and Reduced-Price Meals
To receive the Free and Reduced-Price Meals benefit, families need to submit a new household application at the start of each school year. Families that were eligible for meals last year will have until October 19, 2020, to reapply without losing benefits.

Paper applications will be available at APS meal sites next week, and online applications are available on the APS website. Families that are receiving SNAP, TANF or Medicaid may not have to fill out an application. The APS Office of Food & Nutrition Services has begun processing students who are directly certified to receive free meals in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and families will begin to receive eligibility notifications in the mail beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, August 19. Families that receive notification of direct certification do not need to apply.

The Community Eligibility Provision is a non-pricing meal service option for schools that meet the income requirements for the program. This year, five schools meet the criteria for this program, which entitles ALL students at those schools to receive free meals, including: Barcroft, Barrett, Carlin Springs, Dr. Charles R. Drew, and Randolph. Families with students attending these schools do not need to complete an application. Full details will be communicated to all families next week.

Upcoming School Board Meeting
The final regular School Board meeting prior to the start of school will take place this Thursday, August 20, and I will provide a full Return-to-School update on these items and more at that time.

I hope you view this meeting and share your feedback and questions through the APS Engage online feedback form. Visit the APS website for the latest updates and responses to frequently asked questions.

Stay safe and take care!

Best Regards,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Aug. 11 Return-to-School Update

I have several updates this week as we prepare for the new school year, beginning on September 8 in full-time distance learning for all students.

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Dear APS Families,

I have several updates this week as we prepare for the new school year, beginning on September 8 in full-time distance learning for all students. We are all looking forward to starting the year and reconnecting with students. I know families are eager to understand how schedules will work day-to-day. School administrators and counselors are working on master schedules and class assignments now, and you should receive more information from your schools in the next two weeks.

In anticipation of sharing schedules, I want to emphasize the importance of the first few weeks of school. This will be an important time of transition as students get acclimated to new routines and expectations in the distance learning environment and meet their teachers and new classmates. This is a big change, and we need to allow them some time to adjust before we dive fully into new content and curriculum. Our initial priority will be building community, addressing students’ social-emotional needs, and making sure they are comfortable, acclimated, and ready to learn. We ask for your support and patience as teachers build this important foundation for learning during the first few weeks.

We are nearing the end of our Summer School Distance Learning Program. Thank you to all who participated. We have received feedback on both ends of the spectrum. Some families have noted excellent teacher and staff support through regular check-ins and open office hours. Others have expressed frustration regarding technical challenges with connectivity issues, which prevented students from completing all their assignments. I apologize to families who did not have a great experience and appreciate your candid feedback. We are using this experience to strengthen instruction in the fall and are working to address the issues prior to the start of school, through training and professional learning which begins on August 24.

Our goal is to ensure every APS student is cared for, engaged, and supported in every way necessary to succeed.

The APS Parent Academy
To assist families with distance learning, we are re-launching the APS Parent Academy, beginning the week of August 24. The Parent Academy will begin with a series of pre-recorded courses, video tutorials and additional resources designed to enhance your understanding of processes related to distance learning, to help you optimize your student’s experience. The videos and resources will provide information from APS educators about distance learning, and address parent concerns and frequent questions, such as:

  • What distance learning is and what it will look like.
  • Tips for supporting your student and setting up a successful learning environment at home via Microsoft Teams.
  • How to access and use Canvas, SeeSaw, and other applications.
  • Global Protect connections and troubleshooting.
  • Career and Technical Education instructional delivery.
  • Delivery of specialized services and supports in synchronous and asynchronous instruction.

Initial videos will be pre-recorded and shared on the Parent Academy page on our website prior to the start of school, and we plan to schedule additional, interactive sessions in other formats as we begin the year and identify specific priority needs.  We will announce the full details next week.

School Supplies and Distance Learning Toolkits
APS is working to provide Distance Learning Toolkits for student in grades K-8 to ensure they have the educational tools to participate in distance learning. Materials will include items such as math manipulatives, art supplies, and science tools. We are also providing a second kit with basic school supplies for students who need them, at cost, and are looking at options for partners to help support this effort. More details will be provided next week as we finalize plans.

Scheduling IEP (Individualized Education Plan) Meetings
Schools are busy reaching out to families to schedule IEP meetings. The purpose of these IEP meetings is to ensure that teams have thoughtfully reviewed together any possible needs students may have accessing distance learning, and to align any services and supports students require in the distance learning model. Not all IEPs will need revisions. Schools will also note and document the services the students were receiving before schools closed in March in the Prior Written Notice (PWN), so services can resume when schools open back up to the normal 5 days/30 instructional hours per week. Additionally, the Office of Special Education (OSE) is working to ensure that, when the decision is made to transition to the hybrid model, students with disabilities will be among the first groups of students to transition to this model.

2020-21 School Year Calendar
We have received questions about changes to the 2020-21 School Year Calendar, given the full distance learning start. We are finalizing the calendar for distribution soon. Below are key points of clarification:

  • Friday, September 4, and Monday, September 7, will be holidays for all APS staff, as planned.
  • Tuesday, September 8, is the first day of school in full-time distance learning for all students, PreK-12.
  • Back-to-School Night for elementary schools will move to September 16. Back-to-School Night for middle school remains on September 17 and high school remains September 23.
  • We are recommending to the School Board the elimination of early release days that fall on Wednesdays (September 30, November 18, December 9, February 10, March 10) to maximize learning time, and will bring that to the School Board for information on August 20.
  • Monday, October 12, Columbus Day, is a student holiday and a professional learning day for staff.

Technology Update
The Department of Information Services is hard at work getting the students’ devices ready for the start of school. This year, APS is expanding the 1:1 program to include all students, grades PreK-12. Students in grades PreK-8 will receive iPads; middle school students will also receive iPad cases with keyboards; and students in grades 9-12 will receive Macbook Airs. When combined with our enrollment growth, APS will be providing devices to almost 10,000 additional students this year, in addition to providing middle school students with keyboard cases. As you might imagine, vendors are having difficulties filling orders quickly. Fortunately, APS placed its orders early:

  • The iPads have all arrived and are currently being set up.
  • We have received some of the MacBook Airs, and expect the rest to ship shortly along with the keyboard cases for 6th-grade students.
  • Keyboard cases for the 7th and 8th-grade students should arrive before the start of the 2nd
  • Depending on when shipments arrive from our vendors, 6th and 9th grade students may need to start the year with their existing devices. The goal is to have all devices ready by the end of August. If your student does not already have a device, you will receive information from your school in the next few weeks about how and where to pick up the device and learning tools for your student.

Clarification on High School Schedules
A School Talk message was sent to high school families yesterday informing them of an update to the high school instructional plan. Given the specific academic needs of high school students and after review of staff and student preferences, principals and directors of counseling decided that high school students will be scheduled to teachers for each of their courses just as they have been in previous years, as we begin the year in full-time distance learning. When transitions begin for some students to in-person instruction, based on their preference, all students will continue with the same teacher regardless of the model they choose.

This means that a student who transitions to in-person instruction may receive live instruction from a teacher who is not physically present in the classroom for certain courses. Those classes will be supervised by another staff member while instruction is provided remotely. This update is only for high school staff and students.

Task Force Update and Upcoming School Board Meetings
The Return-to-School Task Force met on Monday to review transportation plans and gather feedback on school bus service, as we assess opportunities to phase in hybrid in-person instruction for some students. You can view the presentation shared with the Task Force here.

We will hold a School Board Work Session on Return-to-School Planning this Thursday, August 13, focusing on costs related to the school closure, plans for our staff who are unable to perform work via telework, childcare, and meal services. The final regular School Board meeting prior to the start of school will take place on Thursday, August 20.

I hope you view those meetings and share your feedback and questions through the APS Engage online feedback form. Visit the APS website for the latest updates and responses to frequently asked questions.

Take care and stay safe!

Best Regards,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

August 4 Return-to-School Update

We are all looking forward to a new school year beginning virtually on September 8. Read some key highlights to expand on what was shared at the Board meeting and to address frequent questions from our families.

Español

Dear APS Families,

I hope you had a wonderful weekend! I presented an update on return-to-school planning during last Thursday’s Board meeting that you can watch here. During the meeting, we announced a new School Board Work Session on Return-to-School Planning scheduled for August 13, in addition to the update I will provide during the regular School Board meeting on August 20.

We are all looking forward to a new school year beginning virtually on September 8. I have received feedback from many families regarding your experiences with distance learning in the spring. I want you to know that I have heard your concerns and understand that many of our families and students did not have a positive experience with the distance learning provided last spring. I am committed to providing an improved, high quality distance learning experience this fall. You can expect an engaging virtual learning environment in which our students will learn new content, connect regularly with teachers and classmates, and have their social and emotional needs met.

With just over a month until the new school year begins, I know all are eager for more information about instruction, schedules, and other back-to-school details, and we are working to answer all questions as soon as we can. All of this takes time to develop and work through, and I appreciate your patience and collaboration. Our communications team is preparing additional back-to-school resources to help families prepare, and we will share those when ready.

Below are some key highlights to expand on what was shared at the Board meeting and to address frequent questions from our families:

Update on Class of 2020 Events
In spring, we communicated the possibility of holding some in-person graduation picnics and events to celebrate the Class of 2020, in addition to the virtual ceremonies organized by each school. We have made the difficult decision not to move forward with those events as a school division, due to health and safety and the present circumstances. I know some schools will be sending additional communication about this and know that we have all worked hard to honor the accomplishments of graduates safely in every way possible.

Scheduling
School counselors and administrators are working diligently to develop master schedules. Schools will provide this information to families later this month. Developing class assignments and schedules is a complicated process which balances many factors to support student progress and meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of each student. It is our intention to align survey responses and the preferred options when possible in anticipation of transitions to in-person learning at some point in the year, but recognize that a perfect alignment will not be possible, especially given that this is a fluid situation and both families and staff have another opportunity to change their selections.

Phasing in the Hybrid Model
Our primary focus now is to prepare a successful full-time distance learning start back to school for all students. We will continue to evaluate future opportunities to gradually phase in hybrid in-person instruction for some students, based on student need, family selections, health metrics and other factors I have previously noted. Our goal is to prioritize in-person instruction for specific groups, including early learners in grades PreK-3, special education students and English Learners, and we will keep you informed as plans progress and circumstances change.

APS Position on “Pods”
We have received questions from both staff and families regarding whether APS can support “pods” that are being formed to help manage distance learning and childcare for small groups of students this fall. While we recognize the significant challenges that families are facing in arranging schedules, the decision to form a pod is a parenting decision that is outside of our purview and separate from the work of the school division. APS cannot assign or reassign students based on pods that have been created, nor can we share names of students, class assignments or other personally identifiable information with families.

Given the staff and student preferences, among other complexities involved with planning, schools cannot accommodate specific pod requests, nor can a teacher employed with APS serve as a tutor for students they work with or take on outside work during the school day in support of pods for pay. Our goal is to get scheduling information to you as quickly as possible to help you prepare.

Childcare
Childcare planning for both staff and families was the sole focus of our Task Force meeting yesterday. The presentation is posted on our website, along with past Task Force presentations here. About 27 percent of staff have indicated that childcare is a barrier to meeting work responsibilities and we are working to provide childcare for APS staff at cost, utilizing some existing Extended Day staff.

Our childcare services will prioritize staff members with children ages 4 to 11 who must physically report to work and will be limited to very small groups of children in designated facilities. Cost for childcare services will be based on demand and staffing requirements. Safety measures and social distancing will be maintained; health screenings will be conducted prior to entering school buildings; and face coverings will be required, unless there are medical exemptions.

We are working with the County to provide childcare for families who need it most, in partnership with outside providers. When reviewing our plans with the Task Force, we received feedback from both staff and parents regarding prioritizing family care for students with specific needs and families who must work outside the home. Additional details will be shared as new information is ready and this important topic will be a focus at the August 13 School Board Work Session.

Distribution of Devices and Technology Access
All students will have devices and internet access for the start of the school year. While many already have devices, our Department of Information Services is coordinating with schools to provide devices to students who do not have one right now, so they are ready for school. Once we are confident all students have devices, we will begin replacing the 6th and 9th grader’s devices. Below is a reminder of devices provided by grade level:

  • Elementary: All PreK-5th grade students will receive iPads.
  • Middle: Rising 6th graders will receive a new iPad with a Keyboard Case. In addition, we have ordered keypads for 7th and 8th grade students to use with their iPads.
  • High: All high school students receive MacBook Air laptops.

For rising 6th and 9th grade students, schools will communicate when to return the device they already have. Additional information will be mailed this week about the Comcast Internet Essentials Partnership and how all families can obtain a code to apply. Details can be found at https://www.apsva.us/internet-service/. 

Immunization Requirements
Earlier today we sent a clarification on updated immunizations required for all students enrolling in APS for the 2020-21 school year even though school begins online for all students. These requirements apply only to kindergarten students and all students who are new to APS this school year. Additionally, parents of rising 7th graders should submit a record of Tdap vaccine if they have not already done so. If your student is up to date with immunizations and you have previously submitted them to your school, no action is needed at this time. The full message is available here.

Continue to stay informed and share your feedback and questions through the APS Engage online feedback form. Visit our website for the latest updates and responses to frequently asked questions.

We are all looking forward to a new school year. Please stay safe and take care.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Reopening Report from July 30 School Board Meeting

For closed captions, click the “CC” button in the bottom toolbar of the video window once the meeting starts (if you don’t see the toolbar, click once in the video window).

July 28 Return-to-School Update

I hope you are enjoying your summer so far! Summer school distance learning is now underway for many students, and we continue planning for the 2020-21 school year. Yesterday, the Return-to-School Task Force met to review and discuss feedback on instructional plans for serving specific student groups, including English Learners, Special Education and Gifted students.  

Español

Dear APS Families,

I hope you are enjoying your summer so far! Summer school distance learning is now underway for many students, and we continue planning for the 2020-21 school year. Yesterday, the Return-to-School Task Force met to review and discuss feedback on instructional plans for serving specific student groups, including English Learners, Special Education and Gifted students.

We are also working through details regarding instruction, scheduling, connectivity, and health and safety. We will share more information on each of these areas during this Thursday’s School Board meeting, as part of the next Return-to-School Monitoring Report.

In the meantime, below are updates on athletics and other key areas, based on frequent questions we have received over the past week.

VHSL Decision: Return of Activities
Yesterday, the Virginia High School League (VHSL) executive committee voted to delay the start of the 2020-21 high school activities and athletic season by implementing a compressed schedule that would run, as of now, from Dec. 14-June 26. The schedule as posted below would begin with the winter athletics season followed by the fall athletics season and end with the spring athletics season. The dates for each season are based on current Phase 3 information and guidance. Those dates could change if the guidance changes.

  • Season 1 (Winter Athletics) Dec. 14 to Feb. 20 (First Contest Date–December 28): Basketball, Gymnastics, Indoor Track, Swim/Dive, Wrestling.
  • Season 2 (Fall Athletics) Feb. 15 to May 1 (First Contest Date–March 1): Cheer, Cross Country, Field Hockey, Football, Golf, Volleyball.
  • Season 3 (Spring Athletics) April 12 to June 26 (First Contest Date–April 26): Baseball, Lacrosse, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Track and Field.

More information is available on the VHSL website at www.vhsl.org.  We anticipate being able to communicate these impacts to our activities and athletics soon.

Staff Return-to-School Surveys
Throughout this month, we surveyed APS teachers and staff to gain insight on their preferences for returning. The survey of teachers closed on July 20, and the survey for all other staff closed yesterday, July 27. Below is an initial summary of responses from teachers regarding their first preferences for returning:

  • 2,523 teachers completed the survey, which asked: “Given APS implementation of the health and safety measures outlined by VDOE and VDH, what is your preference for returning and working with students?”
    • 55% (1,396) of respondents prefer to support full-time distance instruction
    • 33% (836) of respondents prefer to support in-person instruction
    • 11% (276) of respondents do not have a preference
    • .56% (15) of respondents do not plan to return to work and either intend to request a leave of absence or to retire or resign

Human Resources is reviewing the submitted information to determine final assignments so that schools can move forward with scheduling students into class sections. The results of the family selection process were shared last week and are available here for your reference.

Assigning Student Groups
Last week, I mentioned that we are grouping students, based on the model their families selected, with teachers who selected the same model, so that students can remain in the same groups when in-person learning resumes. As we move forward, I want to clarify that there will be instances when this will not be possible, given the disproportionate staff and student preferences, among other planning factors which are unique to each student, program, and school. While instructional model is a consideration used to guide planning, we cannot guarantee that all classes will remain the same when in-person learning resumes, especially given that we will survey both families and staff again when we are closer to in-person learning.

Comcast Essentials Program
Earlier this month we announced our partnership with Arlington County and Comcast to provide free, high-quality internet connectivity to students and families in need during the pandemic. Since that time families have inquired about the application process and when additional information will be provided. We worked with Comcast to mail letters with promotional codes first to summer school families and students who requested MiFi devices. All APS families will receive letters in the mail next week providing additional details on the program, how to request promotional codes, and how to apply.Once you receive those letters, if you experience problems with your codes or have special circumstances, please reach out to your summer school or school administrators. They will be able to work with Information Services and Comcast to resolve the issues. For general information, visit www.apsva.us/internet-service/.

Criteria for Returning
We have received some questions regarding specific metrics we use to determine when it is safe to return. There is no single metric or data point, but rather a range of operational and health and safety criteria we evaluate daily. Those criteria include student instructional preference and employee work preference; global supply chain availability of essential health and safety equipment, including PPE and custodial supplies; local, regional and national COVID-19 health metrics, including positive case rates, hospitalizations, and death rates; and local, state and federal health guidance.

I will share additional information at Thursday’s School Board meeting which begins at 7 p.m. Video of my presentation will be shared on Friday via School Talk, as well as on social media and our website. Continue to visit our website for the latest updates and responses to frequently asked questions.

Take care of yourselves, care for one another, and enjoy your summer! Thank you for your continued partnership and for coming together as a community to support all students.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Duran
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

July 21 Return-to-School Update

I want to start out by saying thank you to everyone who participated in the town hall last week. We had over 5,600 viewers and more than 1,400 questions. It truly shows the level of engagement of our families and our staff.

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Dear APS Families,

I want to start out by saying thank you to everyone who participated in the town hall last week. We had over 5,600 viewers and more than 1,400 questions. It truly shows the level of engagement of our families and our staff.It was a difficult decision to pause in-person instruction and begin the school year online for all students.

I made the decision to prioritize the health and safety of teachers and students, as we continue to evaluate COVID-19 developments. Delaying the start of the school year by one week allows additional time to prepare teachers and staff to offer a robust full-time distance learning program that supports all students.

We are committed to resuming in-school instruction in the classroom, where students learn best, as soon as possible and in accordance with state guidelines for reopening. I will provide weekly updates to parents and will present a status update on the reopening plans at each School Board meeting.

At last week’s School Board meeting, I presented more information on the distance learning experience, scheduling and how we plan to deliver services to English Learners, students who require special education services, and gifted instruction. You can watch my full presentation here.

I also want to thank all our families for choosing the option that best supports their student(s) and family needs. Nearly 74% of families (20,729) made their selection with approximately two-thirds (13,808) selecting the hybrid option. We have heard from many families that they selected the hybrid option because we are taking the health and safety of staff and students into consideration and with the understanding there would now be a slower transition to in person learning. Some of those families also indicated that their students could wait to attend school until after all students with a genuine need to be in school have gone back and once there are enough teachers who feel safe teaching in person.

We can now begin to build schedules, with students grouped together based on their instructional method so that when school buildings reopen, students can remain in the same groups as they transition to their selected instructional delivery method. This information will also determine staff planning so that staff are assigned to student groups based on the selection families make for their students.

There will be another window provided during which families can adjust their selection. That window will be communicated at a later date as we continue to monitor developments and assess the transition to hybrid in-person learning.

I know that many students are anxiously awaiting a decision on fall sports. Last week, the Virginia High School League (VHSL) announced that on July 27, they will vote on the three recommended models presented at the meeting for reopening sports and activities. The Committee also voted to delay the beginning of fall sports until a final decision is made on July 27.Those options include:

  • Model 1: Leave all sports in current season
  • Model 2: Switch Fall and Spring seasons
  • Model 3: Delay all VHSL sports and adopt the Condensed Interscholastic Seasons Plan

More details can be found on the VHSL website. Workouts will continue until the vote, and APS will decide the next steps pending the vote.

Finally, I want to reiterate that face coverings are required for staff and students while inside APS buildings unless medically exempt. At the Family Town Hall last week, we shared the latest public health guidance and discussed our requirements for removal of face coverings: they can only be removed for necessary needs (e.g., eating and drinking), the removal is time-limited, and a six-foot distance must be  maintained while face coverings are off. Our commitment to requiring face coverings has not changed, and we are working through the details to provide clear guidance for the enforcement of this requirement.

Thank you for your continued support as we move forward together.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

School Board Approves Change to 2020-21 School Year Calendar

The School Board approved the Superintendent’s recommendation to delay the start of the 2020-21 school year to Sept. 8, with staff beginning on August 24 as planned.

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School Year to Begin Virtually on September 8 for All Students
Superintendent Presents Update on Reopening with Phased Approach to Hybrid In-Person Learning

The School Board approved the Superintendent’s recommendation to delay the start of the 2020-21 school year to Sept. 8, with staff beginning on August 24 as planned. This calendar change was made to build in more time for professional learning to prepare teachers to deliver a distance learning program that is synchronous, interactive and introduces new content effectively to meet the learning needs of all students.

The school year will now begin virtually on Tue, Sept. 8 for all students.The School Board also received a status update on the Superintendent’s revised Return-to-School Plan and decision to pause hybrid in-person instruction for the start of the year and begin the year in full-time distance learning for all students. This decision, announced Tue, July 14, was made to ensure the health and safety of staff and students, based on discussions with County leadership, health officials and monitoring of national and state trends that show continued spread of the virus and an increase in positive COVID-19 cases.

The School Board voiced its support for the plan with the understanding that APS will continue to monitor COVID-19 developments and look to transition some students back to school buildings with the modified, hybrid schedules in early October, if possible.

“We support and applaud the Superintendent for his leadership in prioritizing the health and safety of staff and students and his decision to take a pause and begin the school year virtually,” said Arlington School Board Chair Monique O’Grady. “This is an anxious time, and we must listen to what the virus is telling us. In this difficult time, we are committed to continuing to come together as a community to educate our students, to meet their social-emotional needs, and to find ways to stay healthy and support one another.”

The Superintendent’s presentation included an update on the revised plan; the selection process for families; distance learning instruction for elementary and secondary students; support for Special Education students, English Learners and Gifted students; and a health and safety planning update.

To read the rest of the Superintendent’s announcement, visit the APS website.

Watch the Superintendent’s School Board presentation here.

Message from the Superintendent: Proposed Change to Start of School Year and Reopening Plan

Based on these discussions and our monitoring of local and national trends in COVID-19 cases, I am proposing to the School Board on Thursday night to postpone the start of the academic year to Tuesday, September 8, and begin our school year virtually in the full-time distance learning model for all students.

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APS Families,

As we continue to see an increase in positive cases for COVID-19 nationwide, over the past several days I have taken time to re-evaluate our plan and path forward. I have met with both County leaders and School Board members to review current health data for Arlington and the state. Yesterday, we reviewed the APS health and safety plan with our Return-to-School Task Force to address concerns we have received from teachers, staff, parents, and the community.

Based on these discussions and our monitoring of local and national trends in COVID-19 cases, I am proposing to the School Board on Thursday night to postpone the start of the academic year to Tuesday, September 8, and begin our school year virtually in the full-time distance learning model for all students. Throughout our planning, the health and safety of our staff and students has been our top priority, and beginning the year with a virtual model allows us to continue to monitor the situation until we are confident it is safe to return.  With this proposed change, our teachers and staff will return as scheduled on August 24, so that we can devote more time and resources to professional learning, to ensure they are well prepared to provide a robust full-time distance learning program that supports all students.

The start of the school year will be fully virtual for all students. We will continue to monitor health data in September, with the goal of beginning to transition some students to in-person instruction in early October, which is the mid-point in the first quarter of the school year. Our goal is to have hybrid in-person instruction in place for all families that have selected that model by the beginning of the second quarter, based on health data and in consultation with health officials.   

We know many families have selected, or are in the process of selecting, the preferred model for your student. If your family has not selected your student’s instructional model, we ask that you still complete this process by July 20. We will use your feedback, along with feedback from our teachers and staff, to inform ongoing planning for reopening our school buildings.

I want to emphasize that this decision weighs heavily on all of us. We recognize that this change will present challenges to many of our families, and I hope that by informing you now, you will be able to make necessary adjustments to your plans for the fall.

Reopening our schools is a community-wide effort that impacts us all. Getting “back to normal” will take all of us working together, staying positive and following health and safety guidelines, including wearing masks, physical distancing and frequent hand washing.

I will share more information about this proposed change and the health data informing it at the Town Hall for families this evening, and in my presentation to the School Board on Thursday. I will provide more details on the plan for distance learning, including information about Special Education, English Learners and Gifted Services. I hope you will tune in for these updates. Thank you for your continued support as we move forward together.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Virtual Town Halls Scheduled for Families and Staff

Arlington Public Schools has scheduled two virtual Town Halls with the Superintendent to address the family selection process for choosing an instructional model for students and to address staff questions.

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Arlington Public Schools has scheduled two virtual Town Halls with the Superintendent to address the family selection process for choosing an instructional model for students and to address staff questions.

Virtual Town Halls Next Week  

  • For Families: Tue, July 14 from 6:30-8 p.m. The virtual Town Hall will be streamed on Microsoft Teams as well as Facebook Live. Details on how to participate are available online. Interpretation and closed captioning will be provided.
  • For Staff: Wed, July 15 from 1-2 p.m. and will be streamed on Microsoft Teams. Details will be posted on Staff Central later this week.

Video Message from the Superintendent
Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán recorded a video message in English and Spanish to review the instructional models and selection process underway. Watch the video below.

New Information Available Online  
For additional information and updates, please check the FAQ on the website before sending us a new question, as the FAQ and instructional model pages are being updated daily, based on the questions we are receiving. New questions and answers are noted by date in the FAQ.  The Transportation FAQ has been updated to include a new map illustrating potential elementary walk zone expansion areas.

July 7 Reopening Update

I hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend and found some time to relax and celebrate. Our work continues throughout the summer to prepare for the 2020-21 school year, and I will continue to share an update every Tuesday to keep you informed.

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Dear APS Families,

I hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend and found some time to relax and celebrate. Our work continues throughout the summer to prepare for the 2020-21 school year, and I will continue to share an update every Tuesday to keep you informed.

Yesterday, July 6, we launched the selection process in ParentVUE for APS families to choose, by July 20, the instructional delivery model that works best for your student(s). The two choices are hybrid in-person/distance learning or full-time distance learning. You should have received School Talk email and text messages alerting you about that process, and additional detailed instructions are available on the APS website. Remember that when you log into ParentVUE and go to the Student Information tab, you must select “Edit Information,” and then scroll down to update information in red regarding instructional and transportation preference, for each student. If you have trouble logging in or cannot access ParentVUE, your school’s main office can assist you, or you can try the troubleshooting tips available on the website. If you call your school and leave a voicemail with your name and contact information, a staff member will get back to you. Your response is vital to planning for the fall, so please share your preferences with us by July 20. If we do not receive your response by July 20, your student(s) will be enrolled in the hybrid model.

We continue to receive a high volume of questions through the engage@apsva.us email and are responding as quickly as possible. Please check the FAQ on the website before sending us a new question, as the FAQ and instructional model pages are being updated daily, based on the questions we are receiving. Some questions regarding specific course offerings and schedules cannot be answered at this time, as those decisions will be made based on student enrollment and staffing considerations.

I will be hosting a virtual Community Town Hall event next Tuesday, July 14, from 6:30-8 p.m. to address questions about the APS Return-to-School Plan. I will be joined by School Board Chair Monique O’Grady, and Bridget Loft, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning. The Town Hall event will be broadcast on Microsoft Teams and Facebook Live on the Arlington Public Schools Facebook page. I encourage you to save this date and we will share more details on the website and through School Talk later this week.

In the meantime, there are a few points I want to emphasize based on questions received over the weekend:

  • Why APS is not offering a full-time in-school option: We understand there are difficult decisions to be made with both models. The full-time in-school scenario is not possible at this time, due to physical distancing requirements issued by the CDC, Virginia Department of Health and local health officials. Physical distancing limits the number of students and staff who can be inside a school at any one time, so the hybrid model allows half of students to be in school part of the week in order to reduce capacities in classrooms and on buses.
  • What APS will do if health conditions improve: If health conditions improve and physical distancing and other health requirements are adjusted in a way that would allow APS to resume in-person instruction for all students, we would reassess our operating status at that time.
  • What APS will do if health conditions worsen: We continue to monitor COVID-19 guidance from the CDC and state and local health officials on a daily basis. Our hybrid in-school model is contingent upon the school year beginning in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan. If health data and recommendations from the Arlington County Public Health Division necessitate closing schools, students and staff participating in the hybrid model will transition to full time distance learning similar in substance to the existing full time distance learning model which will include a blend of teacher-led/synchronous instruction and asynchronous instruction.
  • How distance learning will be different from this past spring: In both models, new content and all courses required by Virginia standards of learning will be offered, work will be graded, attendance will be required and all students will receive more frequent interaction with teachers and classmates. Distance learning will include a blend of scheduled synchronous/teacher-led instruction and asynchronous/independent instruction, in small groups or as a whole class. Devices and connectivity are being provided to all students so that everyone can access distance learning tools.
  • What are the start and end times for the in-school days in the hybrid option: The instructional time for the hybrid model will be the same as a regular school day; however, distancing requirements on buses and temperature checks and handwashing requirements may require staggered start and end times, so the school day may start or end at different times than usual for some groups of students. No decisions have been made yet regarding Extended Day operations for 2020-21. A high-level sample weekly schedule is provided to give you a snapshot of what a day of instruction may entail.
  • How will APS maintain the school culture and connection in full-time distance learning: APS will make every effort to group students and teachers from their school of record. Final groupings and assignments will be based on available staff and student enrollment. For example, if a given school had only 5 staff elect to teach virtually, but a large group of students enrolled in full-time distance learning, staff from other schools may need to be assigned for some courses. More information will be available at the beginning of August, when we have student enrollment numbers and staffing selections, and can begin to create master schedules and student groupings.

We are committed to providing a safe and strong return to school for all grade levels, regardless of the model you choose. Our Task Force meets next on Monday, July 13, to focus on safety, childcare and transportation, and I encourage you to join us for the Town Hall on July 14. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Student Instructional Delivery Method and Transportation Selection for SY 2020-21

For the 2020-21 school year, Arlington Public Schools (APS) will provide families the opportunity to select the instructional delivery method that works best for their student(s), due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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For the 2020-21 school year, Arlington Public Schools (APS) will provide families the opportunity to select the instructional delivery method that works best for their student(s), due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. APS is expected to be in Phase 3 of Virginia’s reopening plan when school resumes in August, so students will not be able to safely return to school buildings on a normal, full-time schedule due to CDC physical distancing guidelines. As a result, APS will provide two instructional delivery methods for families to choose from – hybrid in-person with physical distancing or full-time distance learning – when school resumes.

Families will have until July 20 at 5 p.m. to select one of the two instructional delivery methods. If families do not select one of the two options by the deadline, their selection will automatically default to the hybrid instructional delivery model. It is important that families select one of the instructional delivery methods by the deadline so schools can begin planning for both full-time distance learning and in-person class schedules.

Instructional Delivery Methods

The two instructional delivery choices for the start of the 2020-21 school year are as follows:

  • Hybrid In-School and Distance Learning– Students will participate in two consecutive in-person instruction days per week combined with three days per week of independent (asynchronous) distance learning.
  • Full-Time Distance Learning– Students will participate in full-time distance learning, including both interactive, teacher-led (synchronous) instruction and asynchronous instruction.

Additional details on the instructional delivery methods and sample school schedules are available on the Return to School Planning webpage.

Student Schedules & Instructional Delivery Method Changes

Decisions regarding schedules and student group assignments for each school will be made centrally based on student enrollment and multiple factors. Siblings will be assigned to the same in-school schedule to simplify family arrangements, when possible. Details regarding student assignments and scheduling will be finalized and communicated in August once family selections are received and processed.

Students will remain in their selected instructional delivery method while the state and Virginia schools are in Phase 3 of the reopening plan. Families will be unable to change the instructional delivery method they selected before school resumes on August 31, 2020 to allow APS to effectively plan schedules, staffing and other details in preparation for a strong start to the new school year. After that time, any requests for changes will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis determined by school and bus capacity and school staffing levels. 

Transportation

Due to the state’s physical distancing guidelines, buses will only be able to transport approximately 11 students at a time. As a result, buses may need to make several trips back and forth to school to get all students eligible for transportation to and from school. In order to reduce the number of students APS will transport, some elementary walk zones will expand to areas close to schools. APS will establish (distanced) walking school buses and bicycle trains at schools to support the expanded elementary walk zones.

To help buses move quickly between trips to and from school, all option schools will start using hub stops and some bus stops for neighborhood schools will be consolidated. APS will also establish remote car drop-off locations near schools to give buses easy access to school entrances to drop off students quickly and begin the next bus trip to return students in time for their instructional day.

As a part of the return to school process, APS is requesting that families not only select their instructional delivery method for the start of the school year, but their transportation choice as well. For transportation-eligible students, please select if student(s) will ride the bus. If they will not ride the bus when school resumes, please select the mode of transportation that will be used. When families log in to ParentVUE, they will be able to select their choices.

Accessing ParentVUE (View Selection Instructions)

Families will need to complete the following steps in ParentVUE to select their choices for the instructional delivery method and transportation questions:

  1. Log in to ParentVUE with your username and password.
  2. As soon as you log in, the default tab you will see is the “Student Info” tab.
  3. On the top of the “Student Info” page, click “Edit Information” to select your choices to the instructional delivery method and transportation questions.
  4. Scroll to the middle of the “Student Info” page to select your choices for the instructional delivery method and transportation questions.
  5. After selecting your choices, scroll to the top or the bottom of the page to select “Save Changes.”
  6. If you have multiple students, you will need to complete this process for each student by selecting their name in the box located in the upper-left corner of the screen in ParentVUE.

Families are able to use the following link to access ParentVUE when they are ready to select their instructional delivery methods and transportation choices for their student(s): https://vue.apsva.us.

For additional information or assistance with accessing ParentVUE, families should contact the main office at their student’s school.

July 1 Reopening Update

Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán provided an update on the plan to reopen schools this fall.

Superintendent Provides Reopening Update to the School Board
Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán provided an update on the plan to reopen schools this fall. The presentation included new details on health and safety, instruction, and the process for families to select the instructional model that works best for their student(s). Additionally, Dr. Durán highlighted the process for teachers and staff to provide input on their preferences for hybrid or full-time virtual instruction. Video of the presentation and the presentation are linked below. An FAQ will be posted later this week. Families and staff can continue to submit questions to engage@apsva.us. These emails will be forwarded to the appropriate staff and added to the FAQ.

Superintendent’s July 1 School Board Presentation (pdf)

Video of Dr. Durán’s presentation on July 1
(For closed captions, once the video starts, click on the lower toolbar and then click on “cc”)

June 30 Reopening Update

Last week, I announced that APS will offer two learning options to our students this fall: 1) a hybrid in-school learning model, blending two days of in-school instruction each week with three days of distance learning; and 2) a full-time virtual learning model.

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Dear APS Families,

Last week, I announced that APS will offer two learning options to our students this fall: 1) a hybrid in-school learning model, blending two days of in-school instruction each week with three days of distance learning; and 2) a full-time virtual learning model. For both options, our priority is to provide every APS student with a quality education in learning environments that are safe and supportive for all.

I also outlined the process for families to select the preferred option for your student(s) between July 6 and July 20, to help our staff prepare. We understand the magnitude of the decision for every family, and our goal is to provide the information you need to make an informed choice about what works best for your family to meet your student’s learning needs.

Many families have reached out with specific questions and feedback, mostly focused on health and safety measures and how the learning experience varies between the two models. This week, the Return-to-School Task Force focused on the details of our health and safety plan. At tomorrow’s School Board meeting, July 1, I will present another status update highlighting health and safety, detailed instructional guidelines and the selection process for families. We will post updated information along with frequently asked questions (FAQ) on our website, under Engage with APS, following that meeting.

In the meantime, below are key points I want to highlight regarding our health and safety procedures:

Health and Safety Measures
APS continues to work closely with the Arlington County Public Health Division (ACPHD) to develop our health and safety plan and procedures for in-school operations, based on industry best practices from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Points of note:

  • Health and Safety Screening: All staff and students must complete a daily health screening process including temperature checks before participating in any in-person activities with APS. This includes riding the bus, entering the school, or participating in a conditioning workout for VHSL sports.
  • Face Coverings/Masks: All staff and students will be required to wear cloth face coverings/masks as medically appropriate while in school and at work. We have purchased cloth face coverings that meet CDC guidance – two for each student and four for each employee. These three-layer cloth face coverings include a filter pocket; families and employees may purchase an additional filter to increase their level of protection. Specialized face coverings will be provided for Deaf/Hard of Hearing students and staff, and staff supporting Deaf/Hard of Hearing students.
  • Bus Capacity: APS will maintain six-foot distances on buses to the extent possible. We are confirming our loading and unloading procedures for all our transportation vehicles.
  • Cleaning/Disinfecting: APS already complies with the current CDC and VDH guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting facilities, which includes daily sanitizing of frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, handles, fixtures, etc. and we will enhance the cleaning routine for school year 2020-21.
  • Personal Protective Equipment: APS will ensure all staff members have the necessary equipment based on their role. We use guidance provided by the Arlington County Public Health Division and OSHA in evaluating activities for increased risk of infection with COVID-19. APS will continuously evaluate activities accordingly and will purchase equipment where risk cannot be mitigated or eliminated.
  • Indoor Air Quality/Ventilation: APS is contracting with private consultants to analyze air exchange rates and air filters and implement a program of improvements related to COVID-19 where needed.
  • Return-to-Work Kit: In addition to four cloth face coverings, each employee will also receive a kit including hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to supplement initial return-to-work supplies. These supplies are to provide an additional level of commitment to safety and are not supplementing or supplanting our enhanced cleaning program for school year 2020-21.

We will provide more details on the safety plan and our instructional models tomorrow and that information will be posted for you to review.

Our school and division leaders are here to assist you with any additional questions or needs. Additionally, it is worth noting that each of the above protocols will be revised as necessary, based on ongoing feedback from the health department and state and federal health agencies, and in collaboration with Northern Virginia superintendents. As updates are made, information will be sent to all families and staff.

Your feedback and collaboration are critically important in this process. I encourage you to continue to share feedback with us using engage@apsva.us. I will continue to share updates every Tuesday to address questions and provide details and I urge you to visit our website under Engage for the latest information.

I understand the anxiety and concerns many are experiencing, as we are all operating in the most challenging and uncertain times for educators and families everywhere. We have a dedicated and highly qualified extended team of health experts, County partners, administrators, teachers, staff, students and parents, all working together and bringing their insight and expertise to develop a plan that is flexible and best meets the needs of our community.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent Presents Update on APS Return-to-School Planning

Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán presented the recommended hybrid and distance learning instructional models for the 2020-21 school year, and announced that Arlington Public Schools (APS) will provide families the option to select the instructional delivery model that works best for their student(s) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Recommends Hybrid In-School and Distance Learning Instructional Model and Full-Time Distance Learning Option for the 2020-21 School Year

At last night’s School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán presented the recommended hybrid and distance learning instructional models for the 2020-21 school year, and announced that Arlington Public Schools (APS) will provide families the option to select the instructional delivery model that works best for their student(s) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The recommendations are based on Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) guidance for reopening of Virginia schools, and were developed in coordination with the APS Return-to-School Task Force, the Arlington County Public Health Division and neighboring Northern Virginia school divisions.

“Since the Governor’s guidance was released on June 9, our teams have been working hard to analyze the options and to develop the plan that best meets the needs of our staff, students and families, keeping health and safety at the forefront of our decision-making,” said Dr. Durán. “We have provided options for families to consider, knowing there are no easy choices for any of us and that we all need to be flexible and work together as a community.”

Assuming APS will be in Phase 3 when school resumes in August, staff and students will not be able to safely be full-time in school buildings due to CDC physical distancing guidelines. The Return-to-School Task Force reviewed many possible hybrid approaches (combining in-person and distance learning) and has selected two instructional delivery methods for families to choose from:

  • Hybrid In-School and Distance Learning Instructional Model – Two consecutive in-person instruction days per week combined with three days per week of distance learning.
    • Half of students attend school in-person on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and participate in distance learning on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
    • The other half of students attend school in-person on Thursdays and Fridays and participate in distance learning on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
    • Distance learning days are structured to build on new concepts introduced on in-school days, delivered asynchronously through self-directed instruction.
  • Full-Time Virtual Learning Instructional Delivery Method – Full-time online learning will be available for students in high-risk health categories or who are not comfortable returning to school in-person. Schedules by grade level are to be determined and include:
    • Elementary and Middle School: Daily online, interactive teacher-led (synchronous) instruction provided, in combination with self-directed instruction.
    • High School: Daily distance learning facilitated in partnership with online virtual course providers. While students enrolled in virtual courses may receive their instruction from a teacher outside of APS, they will be closely monitored by a faculty member from the school of attendance.

The Return-to-School Task Force, including 35 principals, teachers, support staff, parents and students, reached consensus on this approach based on health and safety considerations, and on the benefits of providing a consistent routine and regular opportunities for face-to-face interaction with students and teachers each week. 

ParentVUE Enrollment Process: July 6-20
APS will notify families of the two options through ParentVUE on July 6, providing additional information and requesting that families select one of the two available models by July 20.  If families do not select an option, their selection will automatically default to the hybrid instructional delivery model. It is important that families select one of the instructional delivery methods by the deadline so schools can begin planning for both virtual and in-person class schedules.

“We recognize these are difficult decisions for some families to make,” said Dr. Durán. “Reopening in these circumstances requires a complete redesign of school schedules and staffing, teaching methods, transportation plans and many other logistics, so we do need decisions from families on a relatively tight timeline in order to prepare for a successful start to the school year.”

Students will remain in their selected instructional delivery method while schools are in Phase 3. Families will be unable to change the instructional delivery method, once selected, before school resumes on August 31, 2020. After that time, any requests for changes will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis determined by school capacity and staffing levels.

The details of the process will be shared in July along with additional information to help inform families’ decisions.

Health and Safety Planning
This week, APS and the Task Force are focused on the details of health and safety plans for submission to the state, including daily health screenings, provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and requirements for face coverings, disinfection of facilities, and other details.  A

PS is committed to completing health screenings of its employees and students every day to ensure school and workplace safety. Plans will also include enhanced cleaning of facilities and at least one cloth face covering per employee and student to be worn while at work and school.

Additional information about health screenings and procedures will be provided next week.   

Next Steps 
At the July 1 School Board Organizational Meeting, APS will provide a status update with additional details on health and safety and other plans.

APS Working Groups and Task Force members will be meeting throughout July to develop detailed plans and will provide regular updates.

To view the results of the APS stakeholder surveys, visit Engage.

To view the full presentation from last night, visit BoardDocs.

Families are encouraged to visit the following link for updates on the APS Return-to-School Plan: https://www.apsva.us/engage/planning-for-reopening-schools. To provide feedback on the plans, write to engage@apsva.us.

Reopening Update June 23

We continue to develop our plan for returning to school this fall based on the state’s guidance, working in collaboration with the Task Force, regional superintendents, and the Arlington County Public Health Division. This week, our team is reviewing hybrid instructional models that blend in-person and distance learning for students

Español

Dear APS Community,

We continue to develop our plan for returning to school this fall based on the state’s guidance, working in collaboration with the Task Force, regional superintendents, and the Arlington County Public Health Division. This week, our team is reviewing hybrid instructional models that blend in-person and distance learning for students, assuming Virginia enters Phase 3 by the start of school.

The Task Force has already reviewed many possible instructional models and is now focusing on three that best meet APS needs  and align with neighboring school divisions. We are also planning for a distance-learning-only option for students who are in high risk health categories or are not comfortable returning to school in person.

I will share more details on our work and present the recommended instructional model at the School Board meeting this Thursday. Deciding on the model will allow for us to begin to make decisions regarding staffing, budget, childcare, transportation, and other elements of our plan.

The results are in from the staff, student and family surveys on distance learning and reopening, and I would like to thank everyone who participated. Your input is invaluable as we work to plan for the upcoming year. We will post the complete results on our APS Engage webpage by this Friday. In the meantime, here are a few highlights which are informing our work moving forward:

  • 37% of families preferred reopening school with a hybrid combination of in-person and distance learning; 42% preferred in-person instruction only; and 10% preferred distance learning only.
  • 73% of families said they are comfortable sending students back to school with no concerns or some concerns; 9% were not at all comfortable.
  • 38% of staff said they are comfortable returning to school/workplace with no concerns or some concerns, while 39% said they were not at all comfortable returning.
  • The top factors influencing the level of comfort in returning for both groups were whether public health regulations will be followed, disinfection of facilities, and availability of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
  • 35% of families reported that their students will not continue to ride the school bus, and 28% are uncertain if their students would continue to ride the bus.

We are developing health and safety plans to address these concerns to make sure students and staff are learning and working in a safe environment.

In terms of distance learning feedback, a few highlights:

  • Families (52%), students (43%) and staff (62%) all preferred a combination of live, synchronous distance learning and self-directed, asynchronous distance learning.
  • Students indicated that they know how to contact their teachers and get technical help when necessary (68% for both).
  • Staff indicated that they mostly felt “somewhat prepared” to connect with students, provide social-emotional support, and provide instructional supports to students (Special Needs, English Learners, and Gifted); further questions allowed them to specify what professional development and supports they would need.

This input will help inform our work in developing professional supports for staff, providing training as needed, and making sure that the 2020-21 school year is a success for all.

I hope that you will continue to follow updates on APS Engage and that you can join me at 7 p.m. tonight for the final Community Town Hall in this initial series of virtual events I have held this month. I also encourage you to view the School Board meeting on Thursday, June 25, as I present the recommended instructional model along with other important details and next steps.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Reopening Update for June 16

Providing an update on the work underway to prepare for returning to school in the fall.

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Dear APS Community,

I am writing to provide an update on the work underway to prepare for returning to school in the fall. As you may know, on June 9, Governor Northam announced a phased reopening plan and detailed guidance for Virginia schools, entitled Recover, Redesign, Restart 2020.

The guidance includes a phased approach to reopening to allow a gradual return to in-person instruction that aligns with the broader “Forward Virginia” blueprint for easing public health restrictions. Each phase specifies allowable in-person instructional options and includes health and safety measures, such as physical distancing and enhanced cleaning, to decrease the spread of COVID-19.

The APS stakeholder Task Force, in coordination with cross-departmental Work Groups focused on Instruction, Operations, Extracurricular Activities and Communication, is reviewing state guidance to develop the APS Return-to-School Plan. I continue to work closely with the Arlington County Public Health Division and regional superintendents to align our plans.

As our work progresses, I want to share a few high-level takeaways:

  • For summer, in response to state guidance, we have enhanced our summer distance learning for English Learners, students in grades PreK-3, and students with special needs, as follows:
    • Middle and high school English Learners with a current English Proficiency Level of 1 or 2, are eligible for a free summer English language development course. The model will include both live online instruction (synchronous) and self-paced (asynchronous) components.
    • Eligible elementary students in grades K-3 will receive enhanced teacher interaction and support, including check-ins with teachers every other day related to literacy, mathematics, and social-emotional learning.
    • APS will offer free virtual Extended School Year (ESY) services and targeted instruction to approximately 800 students based on Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals.
  • For the fall, all Virginia schools will deliver new instruction to all students, whether through distance learning or in-person. New instruction will be both synchronous—in real time with teachers—and in a self-paced, asynchronous format.
  • Assuming the state enters Phase 3 by the start of next school year, August 31, APS will provide in-person instruction in the classroom; however, the school day will look very different. We are exploring a variety of hybrid models (e.g., staggering schedules and rotating morning and afternoon classes) to provide in-person instruction while ensuring physical distancing and protecting the health and safety of our staff and students. This is where our teams and the Task Force are focusing this week.

We will continue to share weekly updates through the summer, and I encourage you to visit the Engage with APS webpage for the latest news and information.

Thank you to all staff, students and families who took time to participate in the reopening survey; the survey results will be available on the Engage page next Tuesday. Your input is important to us as we plan for the future.I also encourage you to participate in my next Town Hall on June 23 at 7 p.m., and to watch the School Board meeting next Thursday, June 25. A status update on the Return-to-School plan will be a standing item at every board meeting through the summer and into the fall, and I expect to present a final plan in late June or early July.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Family Surveys–Thank You For Participating

APS recently conducted surveys (now closed) to gather input from students, staff, teachers and families regarding their experiences during the school closure, and opinions about various scenarios for reopening. Results will be used to inform planning. Thank you for your participation and input!

View the Survey Results Report

Virginia’s Return to School Plan

Virginia’s Return to School Plan

The Virginia Department of Education website includes the state’s guiding document for school divisions planning a return to school. It addresses all facets of school operations and recommendations for school leaders within the parameters set for by Governor Northam.

APS Announces Return-To-School Task Force Members

 

APS has formed the Return-to-School Task Force, including teachers, staff, students and parents from designated APS advisory groups, to provide input as APS develops plans for return to school. The Task Force is chaired by Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán.

More information about the Task Force