Safety at School

Cleaning/Air Quality | Distancing  |  Medications at School  |   Supplies  |  Visitors  |  Meals  |  Recess  |  PE/Art/Music  |  Library

Cleaning and Disinfecting, Air Quality

APS Air Quality and Ventilation Fact Sheet (updated 4/8/21)
APS Air Quality & Ventilation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) (updated 4/8/21)

APS custodial staff will clean and sanitize the school building regularly. Custodians use hospital grade disinfectant and sanitizing products every day. The following steps are performed to maximize our sanitizing efforts:

  • Increased cleaning or restrooms and high-touch surfaces/points such as door handles
  • Cleaning chairs and tables in between cafeteria shifts where relevant
  • Daytime custodians have been instructed to continuously disinfect and sanitize all touch points throughout the day.

APS has partnered with an independent consultant to conduct a comprehensive review of school ventilation systems to ensure facilities are operating in accordance with CDC and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) guidance. This work has been conducted over the course of several months and has involved the purchase and installation of new equipment. Steps have included:

  • Checked ventilation equipment, controls, and filter fit
  • Maximize outside air ventilation wherever possible
  • Encourage staff to open windows if available to provide additional outside air
  • Set a target of 4 – 6 ACH (air changes per hour) for classrooms based on the recommendation from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Provide one CACD (certified air cleaning device) for every classroom identified in the Return to School Classroom Capacity Matrix to meet the 4 – 6 ACH target.
  • Classrooms that need two CACDs to meet the 4 – 6 ACH target will be provided with two CACDs. See the ventilation reports

Distancing at School – Six Feet or Ten Feet

Physical distancing should be maintained to the extent possible during the school day. On March 19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance regarding physical distancing to allow school divisions to begin to transition from 6 foot distancing to 3 feet in some school circumstances, depending on community transmission levels. This allows APS to admit additional students for in-person instruction, depending on school capacities. Schools are contacting families on waitlists as space is available.

As the community transmission rates remain below the high transmission level, we will be able to follow the new distancing guidelines.

  • Three-foot separation within classrooms; limited mixing among student groups (cohorts).
  • Physical distancing on buses (11 students, one seat between each student) in accordance with health and safety protocols.
  • Desks/seats will be separated by three feet (from the center of each desk) and will face the same direction.
  • Student traffic patterns in hallways will be set up to maintain social distancing, including during arrival and dismissal.
  • Six-foot distance will be maintained while eating and during recess.
  • Physical Education classes will utilize the 6-foot requirement per CDC guidelines.

Please discuss the importance of maintaining physical distance with your child. It is important for children to understand that common interactions (holding hands, hugs, high-fives, sitting close to other students) are not allowed when physical distancing.


Medications Administered at School

To minimize the number of students in the clinic and to ensure both student and staff safety, please make every effort to give medications at home, instead of during school hours. Some medications are offered in a sustained release (SR) version which may eliminate the need for an in-school dose or can be given in the morning or afternoon outside of school hours. Please check with your healthcare provider if needed. Our goal is to minimize any unnecessary contact for your student as well as for staff.

If your student needs to have medication administered by the clinic, please contact the school clinic staff at your school to make an appointment prior to the start of school. This number can be found in the online school directory for your student’s school.

  • When you arrive at the school report to the front office for a symptom screening check. Clinic staff will accompany you to the clinic to complete the process.

Here are a few reminders about having medications administered at school:

  • All medications must be transported to and from the school clinic by a parent/guardian, unless the student is 18 years or older or is an emancipated minor.
  • The first dose of any medication must be given at home.
  • All prescription medications, including healthcare provider’s prescription drug samples, must be in their original containers and labeled by a healthcare provider or pharmacist. When the medication needs to be taken at home AND at school, ask the pharmacist for two (2) labeled containers – one for home and one for school.
  • All non-prescription medications must be in the original, un-opened container with the name of the medication, the dosage, the directions for administration, and the expiration date clearly visible. Please write student’s name on the container.
  • If student has special requirements for taking the medication (e.g., with applesauce, medicine needs to be broken in half, etc.), please discuss this with the clinic staff. If medications need to be broken in half, this must be done by parent. Clinic staff are not authorized to break pills in half.

Medication Authorization Forms can be downloaded from the School Health website:  https://health.arlingtonva.us/public-health/school-health/.


School Supplies and Devices

There will be no sharing of supplies. Schools will provide a list of supplies and other items to bring.


Visitors

APS is limiting visitors in school buildings during the pandemic. We ask that parents/guardians not enter a school building except for the main office due to COVID health and safety measures. A staff member will escort students to their class at the beginning of the day.


Food Services

APS will continue to provide grab and go meals for all students at 22 designated school meal locations. APS will no longer utilize the additional countywide meal delivery sites. All students attending in person are also able to receive free breakfast and lunch. All APS schools are committed to the health and safety of staff and students and are following the guidance provided by the CDC and VDH for student dining during the school day. In accordance with CDC guidance for safe dining, students attending in person will eat meals:

  • In classrooms with six-foot distancing between desks, physical barriers (clear partitions) at each desk, and staff supervision;
  • In larger communal spaces such as cafeterias and gymnasiums with 10-foot distancing or six-foot distancing with physical barriers (clear partitions) and staff supervision; or
  • Outdoors with six-foot distancing, as feasible and as conditions allow.

Regardless of the designated meal location, all meals will be supervised by school staff to ensure safe dining and adherence to physical distancing, proper hand hygiene and other health and safety guidelines.

Outdoor Lunch 

APS has strongly encouraged all schools to utilize outdoor spaces to help improve physical distancing during lunch in the hybrid model. APS has provided guidance to help schools devise an outdoor lunch plan as an option for students, to the extent possible. While every school has different challenges, many schools provide lunch outside as an option for students when weather, space and seating, and staffing conditions allow. Schools have implemented creative solutions, such as the use of:

  • Blacktop or hard surface play spaces marked to indicate six feet apart to designate seating for students.
  • Playing fields or other green spaces provided the ground is dry and that all students have equitable seating such as blankets or another alternative.
  • Reconfigured courtyards, picnic tables, desks or other seating outside, provided those locations are available.

As schools adjust to having more students in the building over the next few weeks, they will continue to  adjust and communicate their plans for meals. 


Recess and Break Times

Recess continues to be an important part of the school day for elementary students and will be offered with distancing and masks wearing procedures in place.

  • Students will be encouraged to engage in activities that minimize close physical contact and allow for social distancing as much as possible.
  • Shared equipment (balls, ropes, hula hoops, etc.):
    • Each grade should have their own set of recess equipment that can be easily identifiable by class.
    • Items include nonporous equipment which can be cleaned easily and used individually (hula hoops, jump ropes, basketballs, etc.) or in pairs with “foot use” only (soccer balls, playground balls).
    • Equipment must be sanitized by staff between and after use.
  • Students must wear face covering/ mask at all times unless a medical exemption has been received.
  • Students are to wash hands immediately before and following recess with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol easily accessible in playground areas for students and staff.
  • The number of students on the playground at any given time will be closely monitored and varies depending on each school’s space considerations.
  • Support staff will remain on the playground to help students maintain physical distancing during outdoor play to the extent possible.
  • Guidance for Social Distancing on the Playground
    • Limit the numbers of students and staff on the playground at one time to avoid overcrowding and in order to maintain social distancing.
    • Schools should have designated entrance and exit doors for the playground. (Handicapped access doors are helpful for entering the building to eliminate the need to touch doors and handles.)
  • “Carpet time,” small groups and breaks will be modified so that students can remain safely at their desks.

Schools will communicate details specific to their recess policies directly with families.


PE, Art and Music

PE

All PE courses will adhere to state and APS regulations. Equipment use will comply with mandated cleaning protocols. Students will not use locker rooms. Art:

  • Elementary art and music will be delivered virtually to all students through the grade level classrooms. Students will not be in the art or music room. Elementary students in the hybrid setting should bring their art and music kits to school on the day they have music or art.
  • Secondary Visual Art: Students will receive art instruction in the art room. Students should plan to bring their art kits to school on their hybrid days.

Music 

  • Orchestra/Guitar: Students can play all strings and non-wind instruments in person, with social distancing and other health and safety mitigation measures in place.
  • Band and Choir: Due to the CDC guidelines and lack of sufficient research studies on aerosol droplets due to playing wind instruments or singing, students attending school in person will not be able to play wind instruments in band class or sing in choral classes. However, band classes will be using percussion instruments in hybrid rather than wind instruments. In choral classes, students are unable to sing in hybrid but will be able to hum or speak in rhythmic patterns. These students will perform asynchronous work on in-person days that does not involve playing or singing.

Library Services

APS Library Services team has developed a variety of opportunities for students at all grade levels, regardless of instructional model, to have access to books and other library services. School librarians will provide library services and instruction for all students virtually, as plans for some in-person services are finalized. Students who attend school in person will be able to put books on hold and have them delivered to their class. School staff will communicate how virtual students can check out books.