School Year 2021-22

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School Year 2021-22 graphicArlington Public Schools is offering families two choices for the 2021-22 school year: full in-person learning, five days per week; or a K-12 Virtual Learning Program, five days per week.

The family selection process has closed. All families were asked to choose an instructional model and provide information regarding Transportation and Extended Day services. (Note: Extended Day registration is available now to returning families.) Students who did not have a selection made will be automatically enrolled in the in-person program.

Families who have questions about their selections are asked to please contact their school’s registrar.

New families and students will be asked to choose a model during their registration process.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions are provided on the left.

APS will continue to implement the recommended mitigation measures to provide the safest possible in-school experience, based on evolving guidance from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH).


Superintendent’s Updates

(The Superintendent’s updates will be posted weekly during the school year)

Superintendent’s June 15 Update: Wishing the APS Community a Great Summer!

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Dear APS Families,

This is it – the last week of school! I want to thank our entire community of parents, guardians, caregivers, teachers and staff for all your support and the many ways you pulled together to support students and help them reach the finish line.

Now is a time to celebrate the arrival of summer break and brighter days ahead. I leave you with a few final updates as we close the year:

HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!VIDEO: Watch my summer message here. I wish all APS families a wonderful summer and hope our students head into summer feeling empowered by all they overcame this year and knowing how proud we are of all they accomplished.

Celebrating Graduates – This is a wonderful week of celebration as we honor Class of 2021 graduates, enjoy year-end celebrations, and congratulate all students on everything they achieved. Here is the schedule for the graduations, with links to watch them online.

Transitions from the Virtual Learning Program (VLP) to In-Person School – As health metrics continue to improve and more students are vaccinated, we have adjusted the process for VLP students to transition to in-person learning in the 2021-22 school year. We are opening a one-week window next week to encourage families who are ready to resume in-person learning to do so as soon as possible, to help schools prepare to provide a strong start for all students in both models. Families not ready to make a change during this window will have the opportunity to make the change on an ongoing basis when they feel it is the best decision for their student. Virtual Learning Program families will receive more information about the process to change to in-person school later this week.

Summer Communications – This is my final Tuesday message of the school year, and I look forward to resuming these updates on Aug. 24. Below are updates on communications over the summer in preparation for the 2021-22 school year:

  • Back-to-School Town Halls: I will host a two virtual Town Halls for families on Wed, August 11, in English (6 p.m.) and Spanish (7:30 p.m.) to provide back-to-school updates and answer any questions families may have about the school year. We are exploring in-person attendance for these events. More details will be provided on the Engage webpage in July.
  • School Board Meetings and Monitoring Reports: I will present the final School Year 2020-21 Monitoring Report at the June 24 School Board meeting, providing a year-end summary of accomplishments of our students, schools and departments. The School Board will hold the organizational meeting to recognize the new Board Chair on July 1 at 9:30 a.m.
  • Website: The website will be updated regularly with information about the return to in-person school and the Virtual Learning Program. APS will post a back-to-school guide and other materials to prepare families for the school year in August.

As a reminder, Summer School starts on July 6, and APS Summer Meal Service starts on July 7 at 15 locations. Again, have a wonderful summer and we look forward to seeing your students on Aug. 30!

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s June 8 Update

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Dear APS Community,

Graduation season is here, and we are ready to celebrate our Senior Class of 2021 superstars, our 5th and 8th grade students being promoted to middle or high school, and all APS students during the next two weeks. As we approach the end of the school year, here are brief reminders.

Graduation Celebrations – The APS 2021 Graduation Schedule, including dates, times and locations, is available online. We invite APS students, families and staff to join in the celebration by sharing their favorite pictures from this year’s graduation or promotion events on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #APSGrads2021.

Year-End Dates – The last day of school for high schools is Wed, June 16 (early release), and elementary and middle schools end on Fri, June 18 (early release). Tomorrow, June 9, is an early release day for elementary students. Final report cards will be posted in ParentVUE for elementary students on June 18 and for middle and high school students on June 23.

APS Celebrates Pride Month in June – APS is recognizing and celebrating Pride Month to support our LGBTQ+ students and staff and to encourage all to honor our wonderfully diverse community. This is part of our strong commitment to equity and inclusion, to ensure APS is a place where all staff, students and families are welcome, valued and respected. Throughout this month, APS will share Pride Month resources online.

Health and Safety Updates – Also at the June 3 School Board meeting, I presented updates on how we are adjusting mask requirements and other mitigation measures in accordance with the Governor’s Orders which took effect in May. The changes are summarized online for APS summer school and fall 2021. Fully vaccinated individuals may now remove their masks when outside on school grounds and are exempt from quarantine if identified in contact tracing. Masks are required for everyone while inside our facilities and schools. These measures are subject to change as we anticipate additional revised guidance for schools prior to the start of the new school year.

Technology Over the Summer: Adjusted Device Turn-In Procedures – APS is committed to ensuring that students have targeted instructional resources available to them throughout the summer. At the end of the school year, students generally turn in their APS-issued devices, but this year, APS is adjusting the device replacement process. All students (except Grade 12), including those in grades 5 and 8, will keep their devices over the summer so they may participate in summer learning activities. Students should return their devices in the fall, if applicable.  Some students may receive new devices in the fall and will need to return their old ones at that time.

Extended Day Registration, Phase 2, Starts Tomorrow – Extended Day registration for all families officially opens tomorrow, and the registration window closes on June 23. Details about the process and links to register are available online. Families registering during this period will participate in a lottery and be assigned a family enrollment number. Students will be enrolled in order of the family enrollment number, if space is available. Otherwise, they will be placed on the waitlist in order of enrollment number.

Thank you for your partnership in making this a successful ending to the school year for our students.

We look forward to resuming five-days schedules for school in summer and fall.

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Actualización del 8 de junio del Superintendente

Estimados miembros de la comunidad de APS:

La temporada de graduación está aquí, y estamos listos para celebrar a los estudiantes de nuestra clase de último año de secundaria y superestrellas del 2021, a nuestros estudiantes de 5º y 8º grado que son promovidos a la escuela intermedia o secundaria, y a todos los estudiantes de APS durante las próximas dos semanas. A medida que nos acercamos al final del año escolar, proporcionamos aquí, breves recordatorios.

Las celebraciones de graduación:  El Calendario de Graduación de APS 2021, incluyendo fechas, horas y lugares, está disponible en línea. Invitamos a los estudiantes, familias y personal de APS a unirse a la celebración compartiendo sus fotos favoritas de los eventos de graduación o promoción de este año en Twitter, Facebook o Instagram usando el hashtag #APSGrads2021.

Las fechas de fin de año:  El último día de clases para las escuelas secundarias es el miércoles 16 de junio (día de salida temprana), y las escuelas primarias e intermedias terminan el viernes 18 de junio (día de salida temprana). Mañana, 9 de junio, es un día de salida temprana para los estudiantes de primaria.   Los Boletines de calificaciones finales se publicarán en ParentVUE para estudiantes de primaria el 18 de junio y para estudiantes de escuelas intermedias y secundarias el 23 de junio.

APS celebra el Mes del Orgullo (Pride Month) en junio:  APS está reconociendo y celebrando el Mes del Orgullo para apoyar a nuestros estudiantes y personal LGBTQ + y para alentar a todos a honrar a nuestra comunidad maravillosamente diversa. Esto es parte de nuestro fuerte compromiso con la equidad y la inclusión, para garantizar que APS sea un lugar donde todo el personal, los estudiantes y las familias sean bienvenidos, valorados y respetados.  A lo largo de este mes, APS compartirá los recursos del Mes del Orgullo en línea.

Actualizaciones de salud y seguridad:  También en la reunión de la Junta Escolar del 3 de junio, presenté actualizaciones sobre cómo estamos ajustando los requisitos de máscaras y otras medidas de mitigación de acuerdo con las Órdenes del Gobernador, que entraron en vigor en mayo.  Los cambios para la Escuela de Verano de APS y para el otoño del 2021 se resumen en línea.  Las personas completamente vacunadas ahora pueden quitarse las mascarillas cuando están afuera en los terrenos de la escuela y están exentas de cuarentena si se identifican en el rastreo de contactos. Las mascarillas son obligatorias para todos mientras están adentro de nuestras instalaciones y escuelas. Estas medidas están sujetas a cambios, ya que anticipamos una guía revisada adicional para las escuelas antes del inicio del nuevo año escolar.

Tecnología durante el verano – Procedimientos de entrega de dispositivos ajustados:  APS se compromete a garantizar que los estudiantes tengan recursos de instrucción específicos disponibles para ellos durante todo el verano. Al final del año escolar, los estudiantes generalmente entregan sus dispositivos emitidos por APS, pero este año, APS está ajustando el proceso de reemplazo de dispositivos. Todos los estudiantes (excepto los del grado 12), incluidos los de los grados 5 y 8, mantendrán sus dispositivos durante el verano para que puedan participar en las actividades de aprendizaje de verano. Los estudiantes deben devolver sus dispositivos en el otoño, si corresponde.  Algunos estudiantes pueden recibir nuevos dispositivos en el otoño y tendrán que devolver sus viejos en ese momento.

El registro para el servicio de guardería Extended Day, Fase 2, comienza mañana:  La inscripción en el Programa Extended Day para todas las familias oficialmente abre mañana, y la ventana de inscripción se cierra el 23 de junio.   Los detalles sobre el proceso y los enlaces para registrarse están disponibles en línea.  Las familias que se registren durante este período participarán en un sorteo y seguidamente, se les asignará un número de inscripción familiar.  Los estudiantes se inscribirán en orden del número de inscripción familiar, si hay espacio disponible.  De lo contrario, sus nombres se colocarán en la lista de espera en orden del número de inscripción.

Gracias por su colaboración por hacer de este un final exitoso del año escolar para nuestros estudiantes. Esperamos reanudar los horarios de cinco días por semana para la escuela en el verano y el otoño.

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendente escolar
Escuelas Públicas de Arlington (APS)

Superintendent’s Weekly Update

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Dear APS Families,

I hope you enjoyed a relaxing and fun Memorial Day weekend. APS honors our military families and pays tribute to all who have served and sacrificed for our country.

As summer break approaches, we have much to celebrate as we reflect on all our students have achieved and the challenges they have overcome. Our seniors are preparing to graduate and begin a new chapter in their lives, and we look forward to celebrating each of them at graduation ceremonies later this month.

We also celebrate progress in Arlington, as COVID-19 cases continue to decrease, vaccine availability expands, and we begin to resume some of our normal activities with fewer restrictions. To ensure a strong finish this school year, here are year-end calendar reminders, information about mask requirements on school grounds, and what to expect when APS resumes in-person classes five days a week in the fall.

June Calendar Reminders – This week, June 1-4, I want to remind high school families that most APS high school students will shift to asynchronous, full-distance learning. This change was made to ensure we have the staffing required to support and proctor SOL testing. Hybrid, in-person learning students should only come to school if they are scheduled to take an SOL test this week. Review your school’s specific testing schedule for details. Additional year-end calendar reminders:

  • Wed, June 2 – Elementary Early Release
  • Thurs, June 3 –School Board Meeting
  • Wed, June 9 – Elementary Early Release
  • Wed, June 16 – Last Day of High School – Early Release
  • Fri, June 18 – Last Day of Elementary and Middle School – Early Release
  • Thurs, June 24 – Final School Board Meeting of the 2020-21 School Year, Year-End Recap Report

Countdown to Graduation! – Graduation is just a few short weeks away. This is an incredibly joyous and special time for Class of 2021 graduates, and we look forward to celebrating all they have accomplished. The full schedule for in-person graduation events is available online. Schools are communicating the details regarding tickets for each graduate, so please contact your principal with any questions. In addition, Arlington Educational Television (AETV) will be broadcasting each in-person ceremony so that family members and friends not in attendance can watch the event live online or view it on APS broadcast channels.

Guidance on Masks for the Remainder of the School Year – Per the Governor’s Office Executive Order, APS continues to require masks indoors on school property. While inside on school property, students, teachers, staff, and visitors must wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. This is consistent with CDC guidelines which state that schools should continue with all current mitigation strategies through the end of the school year despite updated guidance for fully vaccinated people. While outside on school property, students, staff, and visitors who are fully vaccinated can remove their masks. If individuals are not fully vaccinated, they must wear a mask unless they can maintain at least six feet of distance. Additional FAQ on mask requirements in various settings per the Governor’s Order are available online.

Returning to Five Days a Week of In-Person Instruction in the Fall – We currently have nearly 60 percent of our students in person at least two days a week, which provides a great foundation as we prepare for our full reopening in the fall. As has been shared with families in several recent updates, APS is committed to a full reopening in the fall and resuming normal school schedules, in person, five days a week for students who selected in-person learning. Students who selected the Virtual Learning Program in the selection process will attend school online five days a week.

  • In August, I will be hosting a series of Return-to-School Town Halls for families and staff, in English and in Spanish, on what to expect in the new school year in both models. Details will be communicated closer to that date.
  • As a reminder, administrators are currently planning staffing and schedules for the 2021-22 school year based on the family selection process. Families will have additional opportunities to change their preferred model selection at various points throughout the school year. For elementary families, the window to change the selection will open prior the start of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th For secondary families, the window to change selections will open prior to the start of the second semester. Specific dates and details for the selection windows will be communicated at a later date.

I greatly appreciate your resilience in the face of so much uncertainty this school year, and we look forward to returning to five days a week of in-person learning in the fall. Your support for our school system and the strong partnerships between schools and families have made all the difference. I hope you have a wonderful, short week!

Sincerely,
Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Weekly Update

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Dear APS Families,

As we approach the end of the school year, here are updates on Extended Day registration, reminders for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday and week of June 1, and more.

Extended Day Registration for 2021-22 is Now Open for Returning Families – APS plans to resume the normal Extended Day Program operations, in person five days per week, for the 2021-22 School Year. The first phase of registration opened today, May 25- June 8, for returning families whose student(s) enrolled last spring for the 2020-21 after-school Extended Day session. The second phase of registration opens for all families June 9-June 23. View the details and learn how to register online.

Calendar Reminder: Week of June 1-4 is Asynchronous, Distance Learning for Most High School Students – During the week of June 1-4, most high schools will shift to full distance learning. Some learning will be delivered asynchronously. As SOL testing continues, this change is necessary in order for staff to support and proctor testing. Hybrid high school students are being asked to come to school only if they are scheduled to take an SOL test that week. Schedules vary for each high school, so families are advised to check with their schools for schedule details.

Meal Distribution for Memorial Day Holiday and Summer – This Friday, May 28, APS will distribute extra meals to families in advance of the Memorial Day holiday weekend. There will be no meal distribution on Mon, May 31, due to the Memorial Day holiday. APS will continue to provide free meals to all APS students through the summer beginning July 7:

  • Students participating in in-person summer school will receive breakfast and lunch at school. Students participating in distance learning summer school, and all other Arlington students, will be able to pick up grab-and-go meals three days per week, Mon, Wed and Fri, from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. at 14 different locations.
  • There are two special weekly meal distributions planned on June 21 and June 28, prior to summer meal services beginning July 7.
  • See the full update and list of summer meal sites on our website.

Vaccines Save Lives! Schedule Yours Now – Arlington County’s Public Health Division is offering free walk-in clinics and scheduled appointments to individuals 12 and up. The full schedule is online, including a walk-in clinic at Montessori Public School of Arlington tomorrow, Wed, May 26, from 4-8 p.m. No appointment required. (Parents must accompany children under 18). There are also several opportunities to receive first-dose appointments at the Walter Reed Community Center throughout the week. Thank you to the Arlington County Public Health Division for helping ensure all individuals 12 and older can receive the vaccine to protect their health and safety.

I will continue to provide the community with updates on any changes to school system operations, events and programs. I hope that you enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend!

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Summer Meals

APS to Provide Extra Meals Memorial Day Weekend

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Summer MealsAdditional Meal Distribution on June 21 and 28
Summer Meals Distribution to Begin July 7

APS will provide extra meals on Fri, May 28 for the Memorial Day weekend at all pickup locations. In addition, APS will have two special weekly distributions on Mon, June 21 and Mon, June 28 at all current meal locations.

Summer Food Service Program
APS will continue to serve free meals to all students this summer. Breakfast and lunch will be available at all summer school locations for students attending in person summer school. The following meal pick up locations will be open for food distribution from 11 a.m.-Noon on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays beginning July 7.

  • Abingdon (3035 S. Abingdon St.)
  • Arlington Career Center (816 S. Walter Reed Dr.)
  • Ashlawn (5950 8th N.)
  • Barcroft (625 S. Wakefield St.)
  • Barrett (4401 N. Henderson Rd.)
  • Campbell (737 S. Carlin Springs Rd.)
  • Claremont (4700 S. Chesterfield Rd.)
  • Drew (3500 S. 23rd)
  • Glebe (1770 N. Glebe Rd.)
  • Gunston (2700 S. Lang St.)
  • Hoffman-Boston (1415 S. Queen St.)
  • Kenmore (200 S. Carlin Springs Rd.)
  • Randolph (1306 S. Quincy St.)
  • The Heights (1601 Wilson Blvd.)
  • Yorktown (5200 Yorktown Blvd.)

Superintendent’s May 18 Update

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Dear APS Families,

With one month remaining in the school year, APS is working to help all students finish strong—whether through credit recovery, targeted assistance, extra supports, preparation for testing, meeting graduation requirements, or other strategies. We are also putting plans in place for resuming normal five-day in-person school schedules and the Virtual Learning Program for the upcoming school year.

Our community has come a long way since this time last year. In the past week, vaccine availability expanded to children 12 and older, Arlington’s COVID cases reached their lowest levels in months, and revised CDC guidance signals further progress. Here are updates on these positive developments, preparations for summer school and fall, and more.

Vaccine Now Available for Students 12+ – On Saturday, May 15, Arlington County began free vaccination appointments for children ages 12-15. I encourage you to get the vaccine if you have not already done so, or to schedule an appointment for your children ages 12 and older. The vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones. There are several walk-in clinics at school locations, including at Thomas Jefferson Middle School tomorrow. Children must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. For additional information on walk-in clinics or to schedule an appointment, visit Arlington County’s website.

Updated COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidance – Last week, Governor Ralph Northam lifted Virginia’s universal indoor mask mandate in alignment with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Governor Northam also announced that Virginia will ease all distancing and capacity restrictions on Friday, May 28. The updates to Virginia’s mask policy are reflected in amendments to Executive Order Seventy-Two. The order specifically states that all students, teachers, staff, and visitors must continue to wear a mask over their nose and mouth while on school property. In addition, the new guidance will allow APS to expand attendees for the in-person high school graduation ceremonies in June. I will provide an update on these changes and APS mitigation measures for summer school and the 2020-21 school year at the May 20 School Board meeting.

Summer School Update – Teachers have worked exceptionally hard to support students in every way possible this year, using every resource at their disposal, and are not responsible for changes in summer school enrollment. We expanded elementary summer school eligibility beyond previous years, due to increased learning needs evidenced in the pandemic. APS will provide summer school for approximately 1,900 elementary students with the greatest need. Elementary students who met the initial eligibility requirements for summer school but are unable to participate in the program will receive instruction from certified teachers through online programs such as Virtual Virginia. Targeted lessons delivered through Lexia and Dreambox will supplement these activities. Secondary summer school programming is being finalized and additional updates on Summer School will be announced later this week.

Employee Appreciation Month – Employee Appreciation Month continues this week as we highlight E-scale and custodians and maintenance staff. E-scale staff are ITCs, coordinators, project managers and analysts, who not only helped students stay connected this school year but innovated new methods of delivering services to families. Custodial and maintenance staff prepared our facilities and ensured classrooms and work spaces were ready for returning staff and students. There will be a special recognition of all staff at the May 20 School Board meeting.

Thank you and have a wonderful week.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s May 11 Return-to-School Update

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Dear APS Families,

As we begin our second week of APS Employee Appreciation Month, we recognize Extended Day staff and Bus Drivers and Attendants for their contributions to support students this school year. Here are updates on the next Employee Appreciation Month activities, the FY 2022 budget, vaccine clinics, and other reminders.

Employee Appreciation Video – I hope you will take a moment to watch this video, which shows how staff have come together to support and teach students in during the pandemic. Please join us this week in thanking the Extended Day staff working in your school. They have stepped up to learn new roles and have been instrumental in getting our schools ready, supporting student learning, performing health screening, and helping protect students’ health and safety. Later this week, we will highlight bus drivers and attendants, and their work to deliver meals and safely transport students to and from school.

School COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics This Week and Next – Arlington County’s Public Health Division is offering free, walk-in vaccine clinics to individuals ages 16 and up, no appointments required. These clinics will offer the Pfizer vaccine and are for first dose only. Walk-in clinics will be held from 4-8 p.m. at Montessori Public School of Arlington (5/12), Gunston (5/13), and Wakefield (5/17). The full schedule is available online. We strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Students who have received the COVID-19 vaccine will be exempt from quarantine in the new school year if identified in close contact tracing due to possible exposure. Arlington County is awaiting approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) on expanding the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12-15 years. Scheduling information for children ages 12-15 will be released soon after the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is expanded and all necessary approvals are received.

Family Selection Process Results – At the May 6 School Board meeting, I presented the results of the family selection process for the 2021-22 school year. We have posted the results on our website. Nearly 95% of families selected in-person learning. As a reminder, we are unable to accommodate changes in family selections at this time because we are using this data to develop schedules and finalize staffing for the fall. We will provide a one-week window for families to change their selections one month prior to the start of the second quarter for elementary students, and one month prior to the start of the second semester for secondary students.

Have a wonderful week!

Sincerely,
Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Employee Appreciation Month Collage

Superintendent’s Weekly Update — Thank You Staff and Teachers!

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Employee Appreciation Month CollageDear APS Families,

As we start the month of May, my update this week provides information on the family selection process, Standards of Learning (SOL) testing, and APS Employee Appreciation Month.

Family Selection Process Results Available Friday – Thank you for taking time to complete the selection process during the past two weeks. Your input allows us to plan effectively for the fall and ensure every student has the supports they need. The responses are being processed, and I will present the results at the May 6 School Board meeting. Families who did not respond will default to in-person instruction. The results will be posted on our website on Friday.

SOL Testing Update – As a reminder, SOL testing for this school year has not been waived and will be conducted in person at schools in May and June. ​Hybrid students will test on days when they are scheduled to attend school. Full-distance learning (DL) students will be scheduled to test on Mondays. Each school will communicate their individual SOL schedule with dates and times with their families. Additional information is available online.

  • Families of high school students, please note that the week of 6/1-6/4, all instruction at APS high schools will be asynchronous full-distance learning in order to have staffing to support and proctor testing. Hybrid students should only come to school if they are scheduled to take an SOL test that week. Students should review their school’s specific testing schedule for details.

Employee Appreciation Month – Thank you to everyone who submitted expressions of thanks for Employee Appreciation Month. Throughout May, we will share your messages and recognize the many ways teachers and support staff have made an enormous difference in the lives of Arlington students.

School Lunch Hero Day on Friday – Join us on Friday to thank your school’s food services team as part of School Lunch Hero Day. We thank the 126 staff who have served well over 2.1 million free meals this school year, to date. For the first part of the year, the meal pickups and friendly smiles from our food services staff provided an essential service and a way for students to feel connected.The full calendar of employee appreciation is available online.

Summer School Planning – We are currently finalizing plans for elementary summer school based on the staffing available and the results of the outreach conducted to families in April. Finalized plans will be communicated centrally and by individual schools, as soon as more information is available. Outreach for secondary summer school is taking place this month.Thank you to each of you – parents and guardians, even grandparents, and your extended families who have given significant time to support students in distance learning, in collaboration with teachers, while working and supporting your families. It has truly taken a village, and we thank you.

We look forward to a strong finish to the school year, and an even stronger start in the fall.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

April 28 Transportation Update

Students who have recently transitioned to in-person learning and requested bus transportation as of April 14 may view their routes and schedules in ParentVUE starting Sat, May 1. Students have been added to existing routes/stops to cause the least amount of disruption to current riders and on-time schedules and may require a longer walk to a bus stop than in past years. Service will begin on Tue, May 4. There will be no more changes to bus transportation this school year.

Families of students currently riding the bus also should review their students’ bus schedule in ParentVUE as pick-up and drop-off times may have slightly shifted due to the addition of more students on a route.

Updated FAQs are available online https://www.apsva.us/transportation-services/hybrid-in-person-bus-transportation-faq/

Superintendent’s April 27 Return-to-School Update

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Dear APS Families,

With fewer than eight weeks left in this school year, we are fully focused on ensuring all students have a strong finish. We are also actively planning for next school year, which includes the family selection process open now, and space and capacity planning for each school and classroom. Based on that work, here are important updates on in-person instruction for the 2021-22 school year, as well as graduation, promotions and other events:

Important Update on the Family Selection Process – Based on preliminary results from the family selection process, an overwhelming number of families are choosing to return in person in the fall. This signals a major shift in families’ comfort returning to the classroom, as vaccinations and health metrics progress. Previous communications stated that we are planning for both normal capacities as well as developing contingency plans should 3-foot distancing be recommended; however, we want to be transparent that 3-foot distancing is not feasible with the enrollment we are anticipating. This update is based on the varying size of classrooms across schools and the results of the space and capacity planning just completed by Facilities.We are committed to serving all students who want to be back in the classroom five days a week as safely as possible.

To accommodate all students who want to attend in-person school in the fall:

  • APS will implement safety measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools, including mask requirements for students and staff, air quality measures, health screening, and COVID-19 response procedures. Distancing will not be possible.
  • We are extending the Family Selection deadline to Mon, May 3, in case families want to change their selection based on this new information. Families are able to change their selections in ParentVUE while the selection window is still open, once they have been accepted by the school. We ask that you please complete the survey by 11:59 p.m. on Mon, May 3. Completing this process ensures that we have the staffing and resources in place for the start of the 2021-22 school year.
  • We have posted updated FAQ that include this new information, as well as responses to questions about the K-12 Distance Learning Program, how the program is being developed, and how specialized services will be provided to students with disabilities. Please take a moment to review the information and send any additional questions you may have to Engage with APS, at engage@apsva.us.

Graduation Ceremonies – We could not be any prouder of the perseverance our seniors have shown this year. To honor them, we will hold in-person, outdoor events for the graduates of comprehensive high schools and programs, June 11 – June 18, on school grounds. We are finalizing plans to safely accommodate two guests per student in person, in accordance with the Governor’s order. Events will be livestreamed. The latest information is reflected on our website and each school will communicate details with families as they are finalized.

Elementary and Middle School Promotions – VDOE guidance states that in-person ceremonies should be held for institutions where diploma is awarded, so I have stated that promotions will remain virtual. With that said, I fully support the efforts of schools to plan outside drive-by parades, smaller events, and other creative ways to safely celebrate their 5th and 8th grade students, that do not require large gatherings. We will be flexible and support schools’ plans that follow current guidance.

Next week, we kick-off APS Employee Appreciation Month by celebrating our teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. All staff are heroes who have done so much to support students in this pandemic year, and I invite you to join us in celebrating them all throughout the month.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s April 20 Return-to-School Message

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Dear APS Families,

Yesterday, we launched the selection process for the 2021-22 school year. Please take a moment to respond for each of your students by April 30. Below is information on this process and other updates.

Family Selections for SY 2021-22 – The process is now open for families to select a learning model for the 2021-22 school year: full-time in-person school or full-time distance learning. Families are also asked to indicate their Transportation and Extended Day needs. FAQ and one-pagers on the models are available online. Here are five things to know about the instructional choices and process:

  1. In-person school (PreK-12) will be conducted five days per week, with normal start and end times, and with teachers present in classrooms. Concurrent instruction will be limited to a very small number of specific secondary courses, such as AP, IB, Dual Enrollment.
  2. APS is committed to health and safety and will continue to follow the guidance from the CDC and VDH regarding effective COVID-19 mitigation, such as mask usage and health screenings.
  3. Transportation is being planned for all transportation-eligible students. Transportation-eligible families need to opt-out in ParentVUE, if they do not need transportation.
  4. The K-12 Distance Learning Program offers five days of synchronous distance learning per week. It is a separate program with a dedicated administrator and staff that will be aligned with in-person school schedules, curriculum, and pacing. Students will maintain connection to their school of record through their counselors, extracurricular activities, sports, and reporting/attendance.
  5. Responses are due by April 30 to allow us to plan effectively for the fall. Families who do not make a choice for their student will be automatically placed in the in-person model. Once the window closes, selections can be changed on a quarterly basis for elementary students (before the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters) and after the first semester in January for secondary students.
    • If you are moving schools, your selection will follow your student. If you have a student who is not yet registered or is a rising Kindergartener, your selection will be captured during registration.

Summer School – We look forward to welcoming many students for summer school beginning July 6, either in person or in distance learning. Strengthening programs are open to current APS students in grades PreK-12 who have been identified as eligible by a school administrator or counselor. Families of eligible elementary students should have been notified through ParentVUE and/or an email or phone call from their school last week or this week. Secondary students will be notified of eligibility by their counselors by mid-May and may take a maximum of two strengthening classes, as recommended by their counselors. Please be aware that Extended Day will not be offered during summer school. Additional information is available online.

Progress on Waitlists and Expanded In-Person Instruction – In response to the CDC’s 3-foot distancing update, schools have continued to accommodate more students in person, and nearly half of all APS schools have cleared their waitlists. So far in April, nearly 1,000 students have been added for in-person instruction, and we are working through the remaining students as capacity allows. Additionally, more classes at the elementary level have now transitioned into one classroom, versus the previous split classes. Current enrollment numbers in each model as of Monday, April 19, are online. Additional updates will be provided during this Thursday’s School Board meeting.

“Purple Up! For Military Kids” Day Tomorrow – Tomorrow is the day in April set aside for everyone to show their support for military-connected students. APS encourages the entire school community to wear purple, which represents the blending of the colors of the five branches of our armed forces. Here in Arlington, we are proud to be home to Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, National Guard and Reserve families, so this is a chance to show our solidarity and support.

Have a wonderful week and thank you for your partnership.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

APS Student/Family Selection Process Opens for the 2021-22 School Year

En Español

All Families Asked to Select a Model for Each Student by Mon, May 3

Updated April 28: Arlington Public Schools is offering families two choices for the 2021-22 school year: full in-person learning, five days per week; or a K-12 full distance learning program, five days per week.

In preparation, all families must complete the selection process, now available in ParentVUE, by Mon, May 3, for each student enrolled in APS. All families are asked to choose an instructional model and provide information regarding Transportation and Extended Day services. (Note: Extended Day registration will happen later this spring.) This information is vital for planning, staffing and preparing schedules for the new school year.

Information about both models, in-person learning and the K-12 full distance learning program, is available on our website, as well as in the “Resources & Links” tab in ParentVUE. Answers to Frequently Asked Questions are also provided on the APS website to assist families in making their choice.

The deadline for families to make their selections is Friday, April 30, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. Once the window closes, your selection cannot be changed until the end of the first quarter for elementary students, and the end of the first semester for middle and high school students.

APS will continue to implement the recommended mitigation measures to provide the safest possible in-school experience, based on evolving guidance from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

How to Complete the Selection Process

Families will need to complete the following steps in ParentVUE:

  1. Log in to ParentVUE with your username and password.
  2. As soon as you log in, you will be in the “Student Info” tab.
  3. On the top of the “Student Info” page, click “Edit Information.”
  4. Scroll to the middle of the “Student Info” edit page to select your choices for the instructional model and transportation questions.
  5. After selecting your choices, scroll to the top or the bottom of the page and click “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.

To access ParentVUE and complete the process, visit: https://vue.apsva.us.

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

Superintendent’s April 13 Return-to-School Update

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Dear APS Families,

I hope your week is off to a great start as we begin the fourth quarter. We are currently in the process of planning for summer and fall 2021-22. Our goal remains to resume instructional schedules that are as close to the normal school day as possible, while also providing a fully remote, K-12 distance learning program for students who need it. Here are important updates on the work in progress and upcoming dates to remember:

Family Surveys for the 2021-22 School Year – APS will be offering a five-day in-person instructional model and a separate, five-day K-12 distance learning program for students in the fall, while following health and safety guidelines. We are launching a family/student survey from Mon, April 19 through Fri, April 30, requesting each student’s preferred instructional model and transportation choices for the 2021-22 school year. The survey will launch in ParentVUE on Monday, and families will receive a School Talk providing instructions, FAQ, and general information on each instructional model. Families will be asked to make their selections in ParentVUE by April 30 so that APS can proceed with staffing and master schedule planning in both models.

Extended Day for SY 2021-22 – APS plans to offer Extended Day for the 2021-22 School Year. Registration is postponed to allow for Extended Day to review the data from Family Surveys and confirm modifications or health and safety measures needed to run the program safely for as many students as possible. New registration dates will be announced soon.

Expanding In-Person Instruction Opportunities – During last week’s School Board meeting, I reiterated our commitment to expanding in-person instruction to as many additional students as possible now, while following 3-foot distancing guidelines. Schools have been working to reconfigure classrooms to expand their capacity in accordance with the new guidance, and many have already admitted additional students. Principals are making those decisions for each school based on capacity. Many schools have successfully accommodated all students on their wait lists. I am also glad to report that the reduced distancing has allowed some elementary hybrid classes to transition to a single classroom, versus having classes split into two groups with the teacher and assistant rotating between the rooms. Those decisions are being made at the building level, and I encourage all families interested in transitioning to in-person instruction to reach out to your school for assistance.

Updated Enrollment by Instructional Model – We will continue to keep the community informed of our enrollment and any changes in each model on a weekly basis. The data, posted online and updated every Monday, shows the current enrollment and changes, with breakdowns by special populations, grade level, school, and ethnicity. I will also continue to share this information during my School Board Monitoring Reports.

Summer School Information – Parents of elementary students who are eligible for the elementary summer strengthening program will be notified starting on Fri, April 16, and will have until Fri, April 30 to opt out of summer school. Parents of secondary students who are eligible for summer school will be notified by their school in mid-May. They will have until May 28 to opt out.  Registration for Economics and Personal Finance (the only new work course that APS will offer this summer) will be conducted online through the Social Studies Office from May 3-14. Details are being finalized.

Thank you for your ongoing support and partnership.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s April 6 Weekly Update

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I hope that all of you enjoyed a relaxing, safe, and restful spring break last week. As we resume instruction this week, I want to take a moment to thank our incredibly talented assistant principals in recognition of National Assistant Principals Week. They are exceptional leaders who inspire us all through their work to serve students and contribute to schoolwide success. April is also National Library Month and a time to celebrate our outstanding school librarians who have shown their expertise and creativity in adapting library services and inspiring readers during the pandemic. Please take a moment to thank your school’s AP and school librarians this week.

I have a few updates to share with you as we move ahead for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year:

Expanding In-Person Learning Opportunities—We are working to serve as many PreK-12 students as possible in the hybrid/in-person model, while keeping safety at the forefront and COVID-19 transmission rates low. Our ability to serve additional students in person is based on each school’s capacity and consideration of the CDC’s updated distancing guidance, which permits schools transition from 6 to 3 feet of social distancing in some school circumstances, depending on community transmission levels. Throughout the remainder of the current school year, APS will:

  • Contact families on waitlists to admit additional students for hybrid/in-person instruction, based on capacity and distancing guidelines. Families interested in changing your child’s instructional model choice during the current school year should contact your school for assistance. English learners, special education students, and students experiencing challenges with distance learning will be given priority for in-person instruction. Updates on changes in hybrid/in-person and full-time distance learning student enrollment will be provided in my School Board monitoring reports beginning April 8.
  • Plan for five-day schedules for summer school and the 2021-22 school year. We will be providing a full in-person model and a full distance learning model of five days of learning for the 2021-22 school year. I will continue to keep you informed about the details, as plans develop.

Enrollment Projections for Fall 2021—As part of planning for the 2021-22 school year, schools are conducting outreach now to ascertain families’ intent to return in the fall, from families who withdrew from APS since March 2020 due to the pandemic. Having accurate enrollment information is important for the FY 2022 budget, staffing schools, and preparation for the upcoming school year.  Please help spread the word to any families, friends, or neighbors you may know who opted out of APS and are considering returning in the fall.

In-Person SOL Testing—APS is preparing to administer Standards of Learning (SOL) testing to students in grades 3-12, as this requirement has not been waived for the current school year. SOL tests will be limited to reading and math in grades 3-8, science in grades 5 and 8, and required End of Course (EOC) high school credit-bearing classes. The test results will provide information regarding the impact of the pandemic on student achievement, and a baseline for growth for future accreditation calculations. ​To help families prepare:

  • All SOL testing will be done in-person at schools in May and June, with safety protocols in place. ​Hybrid students will test on days when they are scheduled to attend school. Full-distance-learning students will be scheduled to test on Mondays.
  • APS is coordinating transportation for distance-learning students who may need a bus to come to school for SOL testing. ​ Buses may carry up to 21 students per bus. We encourage families to provide their own transportation for their child, whenever possible, on the day they are scheduled to take their SOL test(s). 
  • Parents who do not wish for their student to participate in state and/or federally mandated assessments due to COVID-19 concerns, should contact their school’s administrative staff or School Testing Coordinator by phone or email to discuss scheduling options or request information on opting out.
  • The Virginia Dept. of Education (VDOE) has provided a remote assessment option for full-time distance learning students in grades 3-8 who, due to the pandemic, are receiving all their instruction remotely and will not go to their school to take the SOL tests. It will be available on April 12 and details are available online: https://www.doe.virginia.gov/remotetest/.
  • There will be no penalty for students who are not assessed, but parents will need to submit the APS Parent Refusal Form for the appropriate assessment which can be obtained here: APS Parent Refusal Forms

COVID-19 Testing in Schools—This month, APS will begin providing free testing for students and staff who are symptomatic, or who have been exposed to COVID-19. Walk-up testing sites will be provided at three schools. APS is providing the free testing in partnership with ResourcePath. Parent/guardian consent will be required in advance of student testing, and additional information regarding the school sites and consent process will be shared with families via School Talk later this week.

Transportation Information—Transportation Services adjusted some bus routes, bus stops and pick-up times during the break to accommodate changes in families’ transportation choices and to provide more efficient service for all. Those schedules are posted in ParentVUE and took effect beginning today.

During the April 8 School Board meeting, I will provide more information on the return-to-school plan, and the School Board will act on their proposed FY 2022 Budget. The full budget development calendar is available online.

Thank you for your continued support as we move ahead for the remainder of the school year.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

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

Dear Parent or Guardian,

Given that many students have transitioned to the hybrid model, this will be the last update regarding services and supports provided to parents of students with disabilties, English Learners and Gifted Students. Moving forward, please work with your child’s case carrier, EL teacher(s) or counselor or Resource Teacher of the Gifted should you have questions or need more information about these services. The Parent Resource Center is also a terrific resource.

Understanding Transition Services: Building Interdependence with our Students
Arlington Public Schools Transition Services, Parent Resource Center and Program for Employment Preparedness (PEP) are continuing to sponsor a monthly Transition Series. This month’s session featured a workshop on the importance of building interdependence with students. As students and children grow into adulthood, we often strive to support them in obtaining independence. What often gets left out is teaching them interdependence. Humans have the capacity for meaningful relationships with one another that are mutually beneficial. This is interdependence. Teaching interdependence to people with disabilities demonstrates that they are valued by society, and shows how building connections with others can support and enrich their lives.

Please contact Kelly Mountain at 703-228-2136 or Christina Eagle at 703-228-5738 for additional information.

Youth Mental Health First Aid
Space is LIMITED to the first 8 registrants on each date! To register, email YMHFA@apsva.onmicrosoft.com (indicate name and date interested in the course). Register for one of the following dates:

  • April 12: 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • May 13: 3:30-8 p.m.
  • May 25: 3:30-8 p.m.
  • June 2: 3:30-8 p.m.

Why Youth Mental Health First Aid? Youth Mental Health First Aid teaches you how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders in youth. This 6-hour training gives adults who work with youth the skills they need to reach out and provide initial support to children and adolescents (ages 6-18) who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and help connect them to the appropriate care. First Aiders will complete a 2-hour, self-paced online class, then participate in a 4- to 5-hour Instructor-led videoconference.The course will cover common signs and symptoms of mental illness in this age group, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Common signs and symptoms of substance use
  • How to interact with a child or adolescent in crisis
  • How to connect the person with help
  • NEW: Expanded content on trauma, addiction and self-care and the impact of social media and bullying

The course will teach you how to apply the ALGEE action plan:

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm.
  • Listen non judgmentally.
  • Give reassurance and information.
  • Encourage appropriate professional help.
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

Presented by Arlington Public Schools’ Office of Student Services

EL
We are happy to see those English learners that have chosen to return to school, at their schools. The past few weeks have been a steady celebration of students in hybrid and in distance learning continuing their school year. As students and teachers become accustomed to the new learning environments, we are excited to see language growth continuing for our English learners.

As we move into spring, there will soon be information about summer school. We strongly encourage all English learners that are eligible for summer school to participate in the summer learning opportunities. These opportunities are currently under development. Summer learning will give students time to continue their language acquisition that has been taking all school year long. Summer 2021 will be an important time to focus on increasing language skills, concept attainment and overall school skills/study habits.

Gifted Summer Enrichment Opportunities
The Gifted Services summer programs webpage offers a variety of opportunities for families. In the Enrichment Opportunities you will find many programs in Virginia and around the country. In addition, a multitude of opportunities are also highlighted further down the webpage.

Ed Talk Radio with Larry Jacobs
Cheryl McCullough, K-12 Supervisor of Gifted Services and State Representative to the NAGC Board of Directors, had an opportunity to discuss the importance of equity in gifted education on an episode of Ed Talk Radio.

Ed Talk

 

 

 

 

 

Purdue Gifted Education Research & Resource Institute (GER2I)
Registration is now open for this virtual summer program for students currently in grades 5 – 12 on July 11-24, 2021. For more details about registration, and a full listing of classes, please visit: https://www.education.purdue.edu/geri/youth-programs/summer-residential/.

Center for Legal & Court Technology (CLCT) at the William and Mary Law School Summer Online Classes CLCT has developed a series of online introductory law courses for high school and college interested in law, tech or business students.

Gifted Services in Action @APSGifted:  Spotlight on Schools

Campbell

Campbell

 

 

 

 

 

Carlin Springs

Carlin SPrings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Claremont

Claremont

 

 

 

 

 

McKinley

McKinley

 

 

 

 

 

Dorothy Hamm

Hamm

 

 

 

 

 

Washington-Liberty

W-L

 

 

 

 

 

Yorktown

YHS

Superintendent’s March 23 Return-to-School Message

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Dear APS Families,

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s March 16 Return-to-School Update

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Dear APS Families,

This week, students in grades 7-8 and 10-12 return to in-person instruction, concluding three consecutive weeks of celebrating student returns. By the end of this week, 64 percent of APS students will be in person at least two days per week in the hybrid model, while 36 percent of our students continue in full-time distance learning. We remain committed to ensuring all students finish the year strong and confident in all they have accomplished.

As we look ahead, here are updates regarding the remainder of the current school year, spring break, summer school, and fall 2021.

Current School Year Hybrid Schedules – In response to requests for APS to bring additional students back for more in-person days, I want to clarify that APS will continue with the current hybrid model for the remainder of this school year, in accordance with current health and safety guidance. We all want to have as many students as possible back in the classroom, as soon as it is safe to do so; however, we need to continue to adhere to current health guidelines.

  • Current CDC and Virginia Department of Health (VDH)/Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) guidelines necessitate hybrid schedules and reduced classroom capacities to maintain the physical distancing and limited mixing of student groups.
  • We understand some families wish to change their model selection from distance to hybrid as soon as possible in the current school year, and we will continue to monitor capacities at each school. Principals are maintaining waitlists and will inform families if space opens for additional students to return for in-person instruction.

Planning for the Fall 2021-22 School Year – My goal is to return to five days of in-person instruction per week in the fall. We are beginning to plan now so that we are ready to make the transition back to five-day per week, in-person schedules, while continuing to follow CDC and VDH/VDOE health and safety guidelines for schools. We will continue to monitor changes in health metrics, social distancing guidelines and other factors that would allow more students to attend school in person.

We are also working to provide an all virtual, full-time distance learning option in the fall. Many students are doing very well in full-time distance learning and wish to continue in this model or a variation of it.

Spring Break Safety – Spring break is March 29-April 2. We encourage staff and families to continue to practice all recommendations for reducing your risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 while on break:

Together, we all share responsibility for keeping our schools as safe and healthy as possible. 

Summer School – I know many are interested in learning more about summer school, and we will be sending a communication with details on summer school this Friday. We will continue to keep you informed of planning for fall 2021, as we learn of changes in the federal and state law and guidance for schools.

Thank you for your support and cooperation during these transitions. This truly takes a village.

Sincerely,
Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s March 9 Return-to-School Update

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Dear APS Families,

Last week marked the start of a new chapter for our school community, as more staff and students returned to the classroom. This week, we welcome back grades 3-5, 6 and 9, and countywide secondary special education students for hybrid/in-person instruction. We remain focused on health and safety, and supporting all students, in person and in distance learning.Thank you all for staying engaged, providing feedback, and helping ensure students arriving at buses and schools are wearing masks, with their screeners completed and adhering to health and safety guidelines. Students have done an amazing job adapting to these transitions, and we are so proud of them all.

Below are a few quick updates this week:

COVID Notification Procedures – As more people attend in-person school and activities, I want to remind you of how staff and students will be notified of positive COVID-19 cases. If an in-person student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, the school will send a general notification to staff and families at that school, and we will post the notice on the main APS website. The notification will inform families and staff that the Arlington County Public Health Division (ACPHD) will follow up with contact tracing and specific guidance for anyone identified as a close contact.

  • Based on guidance from the ACPHD, we may temporarily pause in-person instruction, athletics, or school activities for anyone identified as potentially exposed during the case investigation and contact tracing.
  • The investigation will determine close contacts and ACPHD will contact those individuals directly to provide the appropriate guidance, which may include quarantine. A close contact is defined as someone who has spent more than 15 minutes during a 24-hour period within 6 feet of someone who has tested positive.
  • More information on contact tracing procedures is available online. When contact tracing is complete, APS will send out a final notification letting the school community know that the process has been completed.

APS COVID-19 Dashboard Updates – APS maintains the COVID-19 Dashboard including documenting all positive cases and close contacts among staff and students at all schools. We continue to make enhancements as more students and staff return, including closely monitoring the dashboard format to provide useful data for the community. On Friday, March 5, the dashboard was updated to include exclusion data for students and staff, with total numbers, reported by week and in total since November. The dashboard links to building-level reports of close contacts and positive cases by school, using data pulled from the Qualtrics health screener.

Eating Outdoors – 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. APS has strongly encouraged all schools to utilize outdoor spaces to help improve physical distancing during lunch in the hybrid model. We have provided guidance to help schools devise an outdoor lunch plan as an option for students, to the extent possible. While many schools are implementing those plans now, others are continuing to adjust their plans. Additional information on meal services and indoor and outdoor lunch guidance is available online.

Use of Playgrounds – We want to remind community members about community use for playgrounds and other facilities at our school buildings. While school is in session, the playgrounds are reserved for the use of APS students with limitations on numbers and other safety procedures in place for the school day. Even though there are only a few students in each building, we ask that community members refrain from using school grounds or using the school as a cut-through during school hours.

This Thursday’s School Board Meeting – I look forward to providing the 2020-21 SY Monitoring Report this Thursday at the March 11 School Board Meeting. Beginning this Thursday, regular School Board Meetings will be conducted in person, with limited attendance. Public Comment on Agenda and Non-Agenda items will be heard at the beginning of the meeting and will be limited to 1 hour. A maximum of 15 speakers will be allowed to comment in person and the remaining slots will be given to call-in speakers. A lottery process will continue to be used to select speakers if more requests than available slots are received. Details online.

Budget Timeline – The FY 2022 proposed budget, which I presented on Feb. 25, emphasizes support for education, equity, and compensation for employees. I hope you will follow the work sessions and public hearings, prior to School Board action on May 6. This evening, March 9, we will hold work session #2, beginning at 5 p.m., on Employee Advisory Groups, compensation, and Human Resources. The full budget document and budget development calendar are available online.

Thank you for your patience and support as we transition to in-person learning.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

March 8 Dept. of Teaching and Learning Update: Services for English Learners, Special Education and Gifted Students

Dear Parent or Guardian,

Please take note of the following services, supports and opportunities that are available for Students with Disabilities, English Learners and Gifted learners.

Special Education
Student Support Coordinators (SSC) are available at every school. The SSCs help our schools and families navigate the Student Support Process. The Student Support Team (SST) is a team assembled to assess the concerns and needs of any student referred. Committee members include parents/guardians, and usually a school administrator or designee, a classroom teacher, and/or others invited by school and/or family. The person who has referred the child will share concerns. Important information regarding the student will be discussed. The team may recommend strategies and/or interventions to be tried in the student’s classroom(s). The team may refer the student for evaluation for eligibility for special education and related services, and/or a Section 504 evaluation. If the team recommends an evaluation, and parents/guardians provide consent, the student will be tested by qualified personnel (persons who hold the required license from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) or other appropriate state or national agency) in all areas related to the suspected disability. These may include, if appropriate: health, vision, hearing; social and emotional status; general intelligence; academic performance; communicative status; motor abilities; and adaptive behavior. Recommended assessment components may include: Socio-cultural, Psychological, Educational, Teacher Narrative, and others, as needed, such as Speech/Language, and/or Occupational Therapy. Information on who your Student Support Coordinator can be found here.

English Learners
The Bilingual Family Liaisons (BFLs) are an important part of the school staff. They are bilingual/bicultural staff liaisons who work closely with other members of your school’s staff, including: administrators (principal, assistant principal, etc.), teachers (including English Learner teachers), special education and gifted staff, counselors, social workers, technology staff and others in order to provide supports to students and families. The Bilingual Family Liaison serves as a liaison between families and the school. They will welcome you into the school community and help connect you to the staff in the school who can answer your questions.

The BFLs can also help connect you to community resources and other supports in the community. Please contact the BFL with your questions, concerns and needs. They will do their best to connect you with the appropriate resources. In addition, once schools are back in person, many of the BFLs have classes, meetings, volunteer opportunities and other activities. Now is a good time to get to know your BFLs!

School Bilingual Family Liaison APS Cell Number Email Address
ELEMENTARY
Abingdon Aminta (Caty) Branco 703-969-0758 caty.branco@apsva.us
Ashlawn Celia Arnade 703-969-1331 celia.arnade@apsva.us
Arlington Science Focus vacant vacant vacant
Arl Traditional Victoria Metz 703-969-4105 victoria.metz@apsva.us
Barcroft Marcelo Ribera 571-327-6875 juan.riberamendoza@apsva.us
Barrett Diana Bustamante 571-327-4262 diana.osorio@apsva.us
Campbell Joyce Navia Penaloza 571-970-7867 joyce.naviapenaloza@apsva.us
Carlin Springs Lyzbeth Monard Eguren 703-969-3709 lyzbeth.monardeguren@apsva.us
Claremont Haydeé Colón-Jennings 703-969-3101 haydee.colon@apsva.us
Drew Evin Rodriguez 703-969-2633 evin.rodriguez@apsva.us
Fleet Lidia Reyes 703-969-3682 lidia.reyes@apsva.us
Glebe Ana (Beronica) Salas 703-969-0253 beronica.salas@apsva.us
Hoffman-Boston Mungunzaya (Zaya) Coughlin 703-969-3857 mungunzaya.coughlin@apsva.us
Hoffman-Boston Augusto Wayar 703-969-0274 augusto.wayar@apsva.us
Key Marta Gomez 703-969-3778 marta.gomez@apsva.us
Long Branch Evin Rodriguez 703-969-2633 evin.rodriguez@apsva.us
McKinley Maria Montas 703-969-3725 maria.montas@apsva.us
Montessori Henry Cardenas 571-327-4593 henry.cardenas@apsva.us
Oakridge Hanim Magzoub 703-969-2954 hanim.magzoub@apsva.us
Randolph Elvira (Jackie) Garcia 703-969-2527 elvira.garcia@apsva.us
SECONDARY
School Bilingual Liaison APS Cell Phone Email Address
ACC Yesenia Martinez 703-969-4203 yesenia.martinez@apsva.us
ACHS Daniel Castillo 703-969-1755 daniel.castillo@apsva.us
Gunston Diana Claro Gerardino 703-969-2063 diana.clarogerardino@apsva.us
Hamm Cecilia Oetgen 703-969-1057 cecilia.oetgen@apsva.us
HBW Daysi Palomeque daysi.palomeque@apsva.us
Jefferson Irma DeLeon Veliz 571-481-7222 irma.deleonveliz@apsva.us
Kenmore Noemi Yerovi 703-969-3963 noemi.yerovi@apsva.us
Kenmore Alam Lainez (part-time) 703-969-0080 alam.lainez@apsva.us
Swanson Nohra Rodriguez 571-249-0981 nohra.rodriguez@apsva.us
Williamsburg Celia Arnade 703-969-1331 celia.arnade@apsva.us
Wakefield Eddy Guerrero 571-439-1075 eddy.guerrero@apsva.us
Wakefield Martha Heredia 703-969-3780 martha.heredia@apsva.us
Wakefield Carlos Murillo 703-969-0367 carlos.murillo@apsva.us
W-L Jimmy Carrasquillo 703-969-3329 jimmy.carrasquillo@apsva.us
W-L David Hernandez 703-969-1791 david.hernandez@apsva.us
Yorktown Juan Peredo 703-969-3572 juan.peredo@apsva.us

Gifted Referral for Gifted Services Deadline
Families who would like to refer their child for gifted services may submit a referral form by Monday, April 5th. (The referral deadline each year is always April 1st. Since this date is during spring break, schools will accept referrals according to this extended deadline.) Referral forms can be found on the APS Gifted Services website in the eligibility section. Families may also find more information in the updated FAQ section.

Universal Screener Planned
A universal screener/ability assessment is planned in April for multiple grade levels as outlined below:

  • elementary students in grades 2 – 4 and 5th graders new to APS
  • middle school students who are new to APS in grades 6-7 (grade 8 administration is optional for schools)

Students who have a benchmark score of 120 or higher will be automatically screened for gifted services. Schools will notify families of assessment windows. Please see the Assessment site and calendar for additional details.

Universal Screener Postponed
With the return of students to in-person learning in March and the previously scheduled Naglieri Nonverbal Assessment (NNAT) scheduled for March 16-26, the Department of Teaching and Learning has decided to postpone the 1st grade universal ability screener until the 2021-22 school year. This will allow schools and staff to focus on transitioning back to in-person instruction.  Per VDOE gifted regulations 8 VAC 20-40-40, if a referral is received, an ability assessment will be scheduled so that the student may go through the screening process. Your school will be in touch by the end of April with more information on how the screener will be administered keeping in mind COVID guidelines. In addition and since we are not planning to do a universal screener at Grade 1 this year, school teams will use yearlong student portfolios/work samples and teacher observations to group students who are showing advanced potential and ability  in the 2nd grade clusters.

Jack Kent Cook Foundation Young Scholars Program
The Cooke Foundation Young Scholars Program is a selective 5-year pre-college scholarship for exceptionally talented 7th grade students with financial need. It provides comprehensive academic and college advising, as well as financial support for school, Cooke-sponsored summer programs, internships, and other learning enrichment opportunities. Applications are due on March 22, 2021. Here are some tips for submitting your application.

CTY Offers Free Resource for Parents
Have you joined the Center for Talented Youth (CTY) Parents Group on Facebook?  This is a great way to learn more about resources, opportunities, scholarships, and issues in gifted education.

Gifted Services in Action @APSGifted: Spotlight on Schools

Campbell

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Jamestown

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McKinley

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Dorothy Hamm

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Wakefield

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Washington-Liberty

DTL Message

Superintendent’s March 2 Return-to-School Update

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Dear APS Families,

This is a big week! Today we welcomed elementary students arriving at school for the first time in many months. It was exciting to see their smiling faces as they reunited with their teachers and classmates. Thank you to our staff who have worked to ensure our buildings and classrooms are ready. Thank you to all APS parents for your support as we make this transition.

While we are excited to welcome back staff and students in the hybrid model, we are equally focused on supporting the many students who continue to participate in full-time distance learning. As we move forward together, health and safety will continue to be our priority.

The full return-to-school timeline and details about the instructional models are available online. Below are important reminders about health and safety, transportation, and meal services:

  • Ready to Return with Mitigation Measures in Place – APS is committed to providing a safe learning environment and preventing the spread of COVID-19 by adhering to the guidance provided by the Virginia Department of Health for returning students to schools.
  • All of Us Play a Part – Stay Vigilant – We will be monitoring to ensure each schools’ adherence to mitigation strategies for COVID-19. Staff and families can report any concerns about compliance using the Safety, Security, Risk and Emergency Management Concern Form. We conduct random onsite spot checks and generate regular reports for school administrators. APS will also monitor the APS COVID-19 Dashboard health metrics and exclusion data for any indication of virus transmission within our schools.
  • Student Screener – The arrivals this morning went smoothly with many families having completed the online health screener in advance of arriving at the bus and school. A few reminders regarding the screener:
    • Remember to complete both the screening questions and the acknowledgement form. Indicating “I agree” on the second screen completes the process.
    • If you make a mistake when answering the questions and need to redo the screener, contact your child’s school for assistance.
    • We are aware that some families are not receiving screeners for all of their students, and some screener texts and email notices are arriving late. Families should check their spam, junk, or other spam filter email boxes and consider adding the email address used for sending emails to their SafeSender list (noreply@qemailserver.com).
    • Updates are being made with our vendor to fine-tune the system and ensure families receive screeners prior to school start times for each of their students. We are also working to make the screener available via Canvas for secondary students as they arrive. More information about the screener is available online.
  • Transportation – Bus schedules for elementary and special education students were posted in ParentVUE on Fri, Feb. 26, and additional updates are being made. APS will re-post information in ParentVUE on Fri, March 5 to address missing information. Bus schedules for students in grades 6 and 9 will be posted in ParentVUE on Fri, March 5. Schedules for students in grades 7 and 8 and 10-12 will be posted in ParentVUE on Fri, March 12. View details and FAQ for more information.
  • Meal Services – Students attending school in person will receive free breakfast and lunch during the school day. APS continues to serve free grab-and-go meals for all children 18 and under at the 22 designated school meal sites. Meals are available for pick up on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. The menus are posted online in Nutrislice.
  • Proposed FY 2022 Budget – Last Thursday, I presented the FY 2022 proposed budget, which emphasizes support for education, equity, and compensation for employees. I hope you will stay engaged and follow along through the work sessions and public hearings, prior to School Board action on May 6. The full budget document and budget development calendar are available online.

Thank you for your ongoing support as we prepared for this important milestone. We are so proud of our students and appreciative of the support we receive from our families and community partners in this uncertain year.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Schedule Updates in March and April

Schedule Updates in March and April – To better support both students and teachers, we are adjusting the schedule as follows:

  • Friday, March 5 will be a teacher planning day for grades 3-12 as teachers prepare for delivering concurrent instruction.
    • March 5 will be a no school day for 3rd-12th grade students as well as PEP students at the Career Center.
    • Students in PreK-2nd grade and those who attend Montessori Public School of Arlington will attend school as planned via distance learning or in the hybrid model on March 5.
    • Specials teachers will instruct PreK-2nd grade classes and will use time when they would normally instruct grades 3-5 to plan for hybrid instruction.
  • Monday, April 5 will be a synchronous, distance learning day for all students, to support uninterrupted instruction during the final week of third quarter. The additional synchronous day allows students five days to access their teachers with week of April 5 to ensure that their 3rd quarter grades are representative of their learning and performance.

APS to Launch Online Student Symptom Screener on Monday, March 1

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Arlington Public Schools, in consultation with the Arlington County Public Health Division, has developed an online symptom screener for students. APS is using the Qualtrics platform to pre-screen staff and student health prior to arrivals at bus stops and at schools. This screening will help streamline the arrival process, track important health information, and help protect the health and safety of our staff, students, and families.

Beginning March 1, all parents/guardians will receive a daily online symptom screener, developed using Virginia Department of Health guidance, to complete for each student. The daily screening and exposure questions will be sent to every parent/guardian via email and text at 5:30 a.m., regardless of if your student is in distance learning or in person. The health screening tool is available in English, Amharic, Arabic, Mongolian and Spanish.

The questions must be completed before a student arrives at the bus or attends school or school-based activities. If the symptom screener has not been completed prior to arrival at a bus stop or school, the student will be required to complete it with the bus or school attendant during arrivals, before being allowed to start the day.

Health Screening Steps and Results
The screener includes screening questions and one acknowledgement form.

  • Health Screening Questions: The first screen includes yes or no health-related questions about fever, cough, and other symptoms, as well as any reported close contacts, COVID testing or positive results. Questions below:
    • Does your student have a fever (100.4°F or higher) or a sense of having a fever?
    • Does your student have a new cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing that cannot be attributed to another health condition?
    • Does your student have any new chills, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell that cannot be attributed to another health condition?
    • Does your student have any new muscle aches (myalgia) that cannot be attributed to another health condition or specific activity (such as physical exercise)?
    • Is your student currently awaiting COVID-19 test results?
    • Has your student or anyone in your household had a positive test result for the virus that causes COVID-19 disease within the past 10 days?
    • Has your student had close contact (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more cumulative) with someone in the past 14 days with suspected or confirmed COVID-19?
  • Acknowledgement Page: The second screen requests agreement and commitment to adhere to APS health mitigation strategies.

As a member of the Arlington Public Schools community, I agree that my student and I will:

1. Immediately notify Arlington Public Schools if my student develops symptoms of COVID-19.
2. Encourage proper hand hygiene.
3. Maintain appropriate physical distance between myself and others, as much possible (at least 10 feet with physical activity and 6 feet for all other cases).
4. Limit physical contact between myself and others, as much as possible.
5. Wear a face covering consistent with Arlington Public Schools policy unless exempt.
6. Limit touching of surfaces to only when is necessary.

If you answer NO to all health screening questions and respond “I agree” to the acknowledgement form, your student will be cleared for in person attendance with a green checkmark. Show the screener result to the bus driver or school attendant when you arrive at the school.

If you answer YES to any one the screening questions, your student will not be cleared for attendance and you will receive a red X follow up email with step-by-step instructions regarding how to proceed.

Who Must Complete the Screener
We are asking all families to complete the screener, whether your student is in distance learning or in person, so that APS can capture complete and accurate data regarding the health of the school community. This screener will be used for monitoring and reporting close contacts, reported positive cases, COVID-like symptoms and other illnesses, and attendance among all APS staff and students.

Symptom Screener Frequency
The system cannot separate school days from additional activities so all families will receive the messages every day of the week. It is important that the screener be completed on weekends prior to participation in weekend athletics or other school-based activities.

Additional Information
Watch the Screener Tutorial in English and Spanish for a step-by-step view of the process and health screening questions.An Overview of Screening Process and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) are available online.

Transportation Information for Hybrid/In-Person Returns

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Transportation Services is working to finalize transportation for students who are eligible for bus service. The schedules for all students returning in the hybrid model will be posted in ParentVUE on Friday, February 26. A School Talk will be sent once schedules are posted. Please be aware of the following important information, given the complexity of designing all new routes and schedules, with reduced bus capacities for the hybrid model:

  • These routes are based on student data as of February 5. No additions or changes are being accepted at this time.
  • At that time, students must have been enrolled in hybrid instruction, be eligible for APS transportation and told us in the Fall instructional model survey that they would use APS transportation.
  • These schedules and routes are subject to change in the first few weeks of March as more students return and adjustments are made. Adjustments may include time changes, adjusted routes based on driver feedback, and special case routing required in some scenarios.
  • We are aware that some hub stop assignments need to be adjusted and will work on them in the next two weeks.
  • Families using APS transportation should check ParentVUE regularly on Mondays to confirm schedules during this transition for the first few weeks. While every attempt will be made to maintain schedules or isolate to specific student groups or schools, it may not be possible.
  • Please arrive at the assigned bus stop on your scheduled day 10 minutes ahead of the scheduled time and wait for at least 10 minutes after your scheduled time. For the first week, you may want to arrive earlier and wait a little longer as routes settle in.
  • Only students assigned to the bus who complete and pass the student health symptom screener and temperature check will be allowed to ride on the bus. Masks are required.

We appreciate the patience of our community as we begin the new routes and make adjustments. As always, our commitment is to transport students to and from school safely and to ensure they are reliable and on time. While we are not making any changes at this time, if you desire a bus and are not currently assigned one, you may contact your school and request your student be placed on a waitlist. If you are having trouble accessing ParentVUE or do not have access, please call your child’s school for routing information.

Additional Resources

Superintendent’s Feb. 23 Return-to-School Update

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Español

Dear APS Families,

We look forward to welcoming our earliest learners back next week. Our buildings are ready, mitigation steps are in place, and we look forward to moving ahead together. I am also encouraged that we continue to see metrics improve in Arlington County and throughout Northern Virginia. As of today, our 14-day case rate per 100,000 has dropped to 259.3 and our test positivity rate is below 5 percent.

Below is return-to-school information to help families prepare.

Student Health Symptom Screener Launches March 1 – A daily health screening will be required for all students attending in-person instruction. APS is using the Qualtrics platform to pre-screen staff and student health prior to arrivals at bus stops and at schools. Beginning March 1, all parents/guardians will receive a daily online symptom screener (one per student) guiding them through questions they must answer before their student arrives at the bus or attends school or school-based activities.

  • The daily screening and exposure questions will be sent to every parent/guardian via email and text at 5:30 a.m., for each student, whether your student is in distance learning or in person.
  • The health screening tool is available in English, Amharic, Arabic, Mongolian and Spanish.
  • Students who are unable to complete the symptom screener prior to arrival at a bus stop or school will be required to complete it before being allowed to start the day.
  • Students who do not pass the health screening will be excluded from in-person participation and will need to be cleared by a physician and/or the Arlington County Public Health Division, before returning.
  • While all families will receive the screener seven days per week, only those who are participating in athletics or other school-sponsored activities will be required to complete it on Saturdays and or Sundays.

More information is available online including Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and tutorials in English and Spanish.

COVID Response and Testing – We have posted information about testing and response procedures online. COVID-19 testing will be provided for students and staff, both symptomatic and asymptomatic. We have collaborated with Arlington County Public Health provide for symptomatic COVID-19 testing in schools and offices. A plan for asymptomatic testing is being developed as well.

  • Parents/legal guardians will be required to OPT-IN to have their students tested in school if they are showing symptoms during the school day.
  • More information regarding asymptomatic testing will be provided as we work with partners to ensure effective and efficient asymptomatic testing is available for our staff and students.

Schedule Updates in March and April – To better support both students and teachers, we are adjusting the schedule as follows:

  • Friday, March 5 will be a teacher planning day for grades 3-12 as teachers prepare for delivering concurrent instruction.
    • March 5 will be a no school day for 3rd-12th grade students as well as PEP students at the Career Center.
    • Students in PreK-2nd grade and those who attend Montessori Public School of Arlington will attend school as planned via distance learning or in the hybrid model on March 5.
    • Specials teachers will instruct PreK-2nd grade classes and will use time when they would normally instruct grades 3-5 to plan for hybrid instruction.
  • Monday, April 5 will be a synchronous, distance learning day for all students, to support uninterrupted instruction during the final week of third quarter. The additional synchronous day allows students five days to access their teachers with week of April 5 to ensure that their 3rd quarter grades are representative of their learning and performance.

School Resource Officer (SRO) Program Update – As we reopen for more students in March, I want to make families aware that APS is currently pausing having SROs return to school buildings, pending our review of a new Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) body camera policy.

  • We are currently reviewing this policy to ensure our existing SRO partnership agreement with the ACPD is appropriately updated with guidelines for how the cameras are to be used in schools by SROs.
  • Our goal is to complete that review and ensure the use of the footage complies with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and there are clear expectations for when body cameras are used in schools. Once that is completed in collaboration with ACPD, we will provide an update on the transition plan for having SROs back in schools. We will continue to partner with ACPD for traffic management, outdoor athletic events and other outside of school hours events as needed.

Additional Family Communications This Week – Over the coming days additional return-to-school information will be shared regarding the hybrid/in-person student returns, including:

  • A transportation video in English and Spanish highlighting changes in routes and stops, with schedules being posted in ParentVUE this Fri, Feb. 26.
  • Health and safety procedures and other protocols will be updated on the website to help families know what to expect at school.
  • Reminders on the importance of proper and consistent mask usage – Please talk with your students about proper and consistent mask usage. APS is requiring that all staff and students wear a face covering/mask during the school day and while participating in school activities. APS will provide every student with two face coverings/masks that meet guidelines. See the APS Mask Policy.

We know every transition brings different emotions for all, and that many have looked forward to this transition for some time. We are looking forward to seeing more students in person soon and continuing to support all students. Please continue to share your feedback as we make yet another major transition in our school year.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Feb. 16 Return-to-School Update

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Dear APS Families,

We are looking forward to seeing our students back in the classroom soon. Below is some information to help you prepare, as well as an update on changes in our camera expectations when students are engaging in distance learning with their teachers and classmates.

Camera-On Expectation for Students – In response to challenges teachers are experiencing engaging students with cameras off, we have adapted our policy regarding the use of cameras during instruction time, based on input we have received from teachers, staff, parents, the Distance Learning Task Force, and advisory committee members. We are asking teachers to encourage students to turn on their cameras during synchronous instruction and while directly engaging with peers and staff.

  • Teachers are communicating this expectation, encouraging parents and students to work directly with them to discuss individual concerns or exceptions.
  • Teachers will encourage students to turn on their cameras during class or break-out sessions.
  • If it is not feasible for students to have their cameras on during class or break-out sessions, they should at least turn on their cameras during office hours.
  • Students should not be penalized with lower grades for not turning on their cameras. Rather, staff should work with students and parents to identify barriers to student camera use and to develop strategies to allow the students to turn on their cameras.
  • More information will be shared with parents and students directly by teachers.

Hybrid Schedules – Schools are beginning to share details of student schedules and which teachers are providing full-time distance or in-person instruction to students. Student schedule information is available in ParentVUE and schools are updating this information throughout this week.

  • All current, confirmed information for students returning the week of March 2 will be available in ParentVUE the week of February 22. Schedules for students beginning the week of March 9 and March 16 will be updated in ParentVUE as soon as possible, and schools will keep families informed.
  • Most schools have communicated that it is not possible at this time to change your student’s model from full-time distance to hybrid/in-person instruction. Most schools are now at full capacity due to the six-foot distancing requirements and are keeping waitlists for families wishing to make a change in the event space becomes available.
  • There may be some changes in the amount of synchronous or asynchronous learning time as we make these transitions, as students and staff learn new routines related to arrival, lunch time and dismissal. Teachers will prepare for possible differences in instructional time experienced by students in distance learning and students who report in-person during the first weeks of each grade level’s transition, and will share this planning with students and parents.

Transportation Details – Transportation information and schedules for all students eligible for bus service will be posted in ParentVUE by Friday, February 26. Transportation Services is working hard to re-engineer routes and stops to serve students, with significantly reduced capacity per bus. Due to these changes and a limited number of drivers, we cannot accommodate any requests for bus stop, route, or schedule changes at this time. We ask for your patience in advance as our drivers learn these new routes. Please keep in mind that:

  • The bus stops and routes will look very different than normal to adjust to 11 riders per bus.
  • Pickups may be earlier than families are used to, so we can get the buses back out to pick up more students before start time.
  • Students will only have one bus stop and those who are not assigned will not be able to ride the bus.
  • If you have a student who may be signed up for bus service but does not intend to take the bus, please contact your school as soon as possible.

Routes are based on student data as of February 5. Since that date, Transportation Services has worked with a consultant to develop entirely new routes and will train drivers on new routes next week. Unfortunately, we are not able to release route information to families before Friday, February 26. For more information, visit https://www.apsva.us/transportation-services/hybrid-in-person-bus-transportation-faq/.

This Thursday, I will present the 2020-21 School Year Monitoring Report with the latest updates on our opening plans, a report on recommendations from the Distance Learning Task Force, guidance for outdoor lunch, and more details on air quality and ventilation efforts.

Next week, additional information will be shared regarding health and safety reminders and student health screening using the Qualtrics platform. Keep in mind also that Parent-Teacher Conferences are coming up for elementary and middle school students on February 25-26. This is an important time to make connections with teachers regarding progress students are making and next steps in this unusual year.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Feb. 9 Return-to-School Update and Timeline

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Dear APS Families,

After many months of planning, I am announcing the updated return timeline for families that have selected the hybrid/in-person instruction model. I am encouraged by recent improvements in the health metrics, with case positivity rates and other indicators currently decreasing in Arlington and neighboring communities. Over the past two weeks, staff have returned to our buildings to prepare for the upcoming transition and to further strengthen our mitigation efforts.

Additionally, well over half of our staff have received the first dose of the vaccine to date, with new appointments being added all the time. Thanks to the work of the Arlington County Public Health Division, staff who were first to receive vaccine appointments in mid-January are now scheduling their second dose appointments.

Student Return Dates
With those encouraging developments, students who have chosen hybrid/in-person learning will be able to return to school in March according to the timeline below. Teachers and staff will transition back to buildings one week prior to students.  Students in the hybrid/in-person and concurrent instructional models will attend in person two days per week, with some students attending in person on a Tuesday/Wednesday schedule and others in person on a Thursday/Friday schedule.

  • Week of Tuesday, March 2:
    • PreK-2nd grade students
    • All students enrolled in Countywide Elementary Special Education Programs (PreK-5th grade – mini MIPA, MIPA, Life Skills, Communications and Deaf and Hard of Hearing – in person four days a week, Tues-Fri)
    • Elementary students enrolled in Interlude
  • Week of Tuesday, March 9:
    • 3rd – 5th grade students
    • 6th and 9th grade students
    • All students enrolled in Countywide Secondary Special Education Programs (6th-12th grade – MIPA, Life Skills, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Shriver Program – in person four days a week, Tues-Fri)
    • Secondary students enrolled in Interlude and PEP program
  • Week of Tuesday, March 16:
    • 7th – 8th grade students
    • 10th – 12th grade students

Our reopening decisions are guided by the Virginia Department of Health’s revised guidance, and the dates are contingent upon continued improvement in health metrics and effective mitigation.  Visit our website for the latest timeline; APS COVID-19 Dashboard (as of Fri. Feb 5); and timeline for transitioning Level 1 students who have been attending classes in person since Nov. 4, from in-person support to in-person instruction.

Student Schedules and Other Details
Over the next few weeks, we will be communicating your students’ in-person days, instructional model information, any changes in teacher or classroom assignments, transportation, reminders about health and safety procedures, and more. Transportation will look different once students return. Details are available online.

Upcoming Service Changes
Please note the following changes to our services, due to staffing, building capacity, and transportation needs in preparation for these student returns.

  • Friday, Feb. 19 will be the final date for the current five-day schedule for the Instructional Learning Support (ILS) program offered at Ashlawn, Drew, Hoffman-Boston and Randolph elementary schools. Beginning Monday, Feb. 22, the ILS program will operate on Mondays only. Details will be communicated directly to enrolled families.
  • Friday, Feb. 19 will be the final date that we will operate the seven meal drop-off locations across the county that are not based at a school location. (more information)
  • Friday, Feb. 26 will be the final date for the Secondary Work Space program offered at Arlington Career Center, H-B Woodlawn, New Directions, Wakefield, Washington-Liberty and Yorktown high schools.

Again, look for more information about these transitions in the coming weeks, and I will also share more information at the Feb. 18 School Board meeting. Thank you for your partnership and patience during this pandemic. Our ability to continue moving ahead depends on all of us wearing masks, staying home when sick, and following all the other mitigation strategies recommended by Public Health to reduce the spread of the virus. We need to remain vigilant and work together.

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Update on Return-to-School Timeline

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Dear APS Families and Staff,

At last night’s School Board meeting, I provided updates on the work that has been underway with principals and staff to prepare for student returns in March, in anticipation of announcing those dates at the next School Board meeting. Given Governor Northam’s press conference this morning, I will announce the dates in my Return-to-School Update this coming Tuesday. Our timeline aligns with the Governor’s guidance.

The Governor’s press conference is available online, with a press release summarizing expectations for in-person learning transitions by March 15.  Thank you and please stay tuned next Tuesday for detailed timing.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Feb. 2 Return-to-School Update

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Dear Families,

This week, we kick off Black History Month, and also recognize our school counselors during National School Counseling Week, as they work to support students’ academic and social-emotional needs in so many important ways during the pandemic. I hope you will join me in thanking them for all they do.

We look forward to welcoming Level 2 Career & Technical Education students to the Arlington Career Center for hybrid/in-person instruction starting tomorrow, Feb. 3 (weather permitting). We continue to assess additional student return dates. Below is information on revised guidance for reopening from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), as well as other reminders.

Revised Guidance for Reopening – Last week I shared guidance from the VDH, and that guidance has been revised. We continue adapting to make the best decisions possible for our community. Key points:

  • The new VDH guidance includes a decision matrix for prioritizing students for in-person learning based on community virus transmission, the level of community impact (e.g., positive cases in schools open for in-person learning) and the ability to implement effective mitigation.
  • VDH expands student groups that can receive in-person instruction in communities with the “highest risk” level of transmission, to include early learners, students with disabilities and English learners, as capacity and mitigation efforts allow.
  • As Arlington continues to see COVID-19 transmission at the “highest risk” level, we remain cautious and focused on the health and safety of Level 1 staff and students. Continued success with mitigation in Level 1 and CTE is essential to proceeding with larger groups.
  • The next group to return will be Level 2, PreK through second grade and countywide elementary special education students. Return dates for this group will be communicated at the Feb. 18 School Board meeting. We will provide advance notice before any transitions.

Community Impact – Exclusion Data Reporting – On Friday, Jan. 29, we updated the APS COVID-19 Dashboard with data showing exclusions to date since November 1, based on positive cases and close contacts among Level 1 staff and students, and student athletes. There is no further breakdown of data at the building level or other grouping, to protect the privacy and health information of the relatively small numbers of staff and students in Level 1. With the new health screening platform, and as more employees and students return, we will be able to provide further detail in our dashboard reports.

New Parent Academy Resources – We have posted new videos on the Parent Academy, including an Introduction to Student Mental Health for Parents of Secondary Students, and others. New resources are being produced all the time, and we will alert you as new videos are posted. 

Important Dates – Today marks the first day of the third quarter, and below are a few key dates:

  • TONIGHT, 6:30-8:30 p.m., the Parent Resource Center is hosting a virtual workshop on talking to kids about race and discrimination. Parents/caregivers will receive strategies for talking with children (PreK through high school) about race, diversity and discrimination. Additional details are here and families can register here.
  • Fri, Feb 5 will be an early release day for elementary students only, to allow for professional learning and preparation for the in-person learning model transitions.
  • Thu, Feb. 4 and Fri, Feb.5 are asynchronous days for secondary students (grades 6-12) to provide time for professional learning to prepare staff for the concurrent learning model.
  • Report cards will be issued on Feb. 9 (middle and high) and Feb. 17 (elementary).
  • Parent-teacher conferences are Thu, Feb. 25 (elementary) and Fri, Feb. 26 (CORRECTION: elementary and middle only, no high school conferences). Thu, Feb. 25 is an early release day for elementary students. There is no school for elementary and middle school students on Fri, Feb. 26.

This Thursday, I will present the 2020-21 School Year Monitoring Report with the latest updates on opening plans, reading data for grades 3-5, and details on air quality and ventilation efforts.

Thank you for your ongoing engagement and support.

Sincerely,
Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Jan. 26 Return-to-School Update

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Dear APS Families,

This week and next, we are glad to have many teachers and staff back in our buildings to continue preparations for more students to return. Next week, nearly 200 Career & Technical Education (CTE) students enrolled in select courses at the Arlington Career Center will return for hybrid/in-person learning. Return dates for additional student groups have not been set yet. Below is information on how we are determining and preparing for additional return dates:

Return Decisions – I want to reiterate that we are closely following health metrics and state guidance as we assess return dates. Arlington remains in the “highest risk” category for COVID-19 transmission as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention core indicators for reopening schools.

  • In the “highest risk” category, the Virginia Department of Health advises school systems to limit in-person support to students with disabilities, with effective mitigation in place.
  • In-person instruction for early learners and larger groups of students is only advised by VDH for school communities in the “moderate or higher risk”
  • To begin phasing in additional groups, we need to see the health metrics in Arlington move toward the “moderate to higher risk” category, per the state’s guidance.

I am committed to making these transitions as soon as it is safe enough to do so—looking not only at the health metrics, but all available information regarding health and safety, mitigation, instruction and operations—knowing that there are risks in every scenario. We will provide a two-to-three-week window of notice for any future transitions to hybrid/in-person learning.

Air Quality Update – Facilities and Operations has been working to make our classrooms and offices as safe as possible for in-person learning. To ensure all classrooms meet standards for proper ventilation and indoor air quality, we have ordered 650 Certified Air Cleaning Devices (CACDs) and are installing them in classrooms and offices where MERV 13 filters are not available. We are preparing to place another order that will allow us to provide one CACD per classroom, as well as for some larger, communal spaces such as main offices. The CACDs will help ensure every room meets the recommended air changes per hour (ACH) for proper ventilation and indoor air quality.

Exclusion Reporting – In response to requests for more information on exclusions due to reported positive cases and close contacts among staff and students reporting in person, I provided additional data in last week’s Monitoring Report. The numbers below are for Nov. 1, 2020 through Jan. 21, 2021. We will integrate this data into the APS COVID-19 Dashboard beginning next week:

  • Approximately 1,311 employees are reporting in person, and there have been 76 reported positive cases and 103 close contacts. Note that employees are reporting in person to support Level 1 students, as well as for in-person learning support programs, food services, and other jobs that must be performed onsite. The total number of staff will increase as more staff members are reporting to central offices and schools in the coming weeks.
  • Approximately 320 students are reporting in person, and there have been 16 positive cases and 73 close contacts.
  • Reports are received every day of the week so the data will fluctuate based on date of submission. An employee or student may show up in both the close contact category and positive category, which results in double counting for the purposes of this report.

Calendar Reminders – I also want to remind families of a few key calendar dates coming up as Jan. 29 marks the end of the second quarter of the school year:

  • Mon, Feb. 1 is a grade preparation day, and there will be no school and no asynchronous instruction for students. Tues, Feb. 2 marks the start of the third quarter.
  • Fri, Feb 5 will be an early release day for elementary students only to allow for professional learning and preparation for the in-person learning model transitions.
  • Thu, Feb. 4 and Fri, Feb. 5 are asynchronous days for secondary students (grades 6-12) to provide time for professional learning to prepare staff for the concurrent learning model.

I will continue to keep you informed about any changes or new return dates as soon as they are set. I appreciate your emails and engagement.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s January 19 Update

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This weekend marked an important and hopeful milestone for our school division as the first two vaccine clinics for educators took place in Arlington. Below is information on vaccinations and other return-to-school updates.

Vaccine Updates – APS is collaborating with the Arlington County Government to ensure all APS teachers and staff have an opportunity to receive the vaccine in Phase 1B. Arlington County Government held two initial clinics this past Saturday and Monday, and administered 1,800 initial doses to eligible childcare and K-12 staff. The county continues to work with the Governor to acquire additional vaccine doses for Arlington County. More information and links to County information are available on the website.

Return-to-School Updates – We do not have new student return dates to announce yet. We have designated preparation time for Level 2 and Level 3 staff, either the week of Jan. 25 or Feb. 1, as we continue to plan for more students to return. We will communicate updates on the timeline for students as soon as that is determined.

Feb. 5 Added as Elementary Early Release Day/Model Adjustment for Elementary 3rd-5th Grade – This morning we sent a School Talk informing families of 3rd-5th grade students that we will change 3rd-5th grade hybrid instruction to the “concurrent instruction model,” similar to the model adopted at the secondary level, due to staffing constraints. This change will take effect once in-person learning begins.

  • In the concurrent model, all 3rd-5th grade students will continue in their current class, with their current teacher, regardless of the model they selected. Teachers will instruct both groups of students – those attending school in person, and those participating online – simultaneously, whether the teacher is in the classroom or working remotely.
  • Staff supporting 3rd-5th grade students in person will return for one week the week of Feb. 1.
  • We are building in an early release day on Feb. 5 for all elementary schools. This will allow 3rd-5th grade teachers to receive training on this model, and all other elementary teachers and staff will also receive additional professional learning at that time.

As a reminder, tomorrow is a holiday in observation of Inauguration Day. This Thursday, I will present the 2020-21 School Year Monitoring Report with the latest updates.

Thank you for all you do and for your ongoing commitment and patience as we work to keep everyone safe, while meeting the needs of our students.

Changes to Instructional Model for 3rd-5th Grade Students

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Dear Elementary Families,

As return-to-school planning continues, we want to update you on changes to the instructional learning model for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade elementary students, which will take effect once in-person learning transitions begin.

Over the past several weeks, APS elementary principals and the Department of Teaching & Learning have engaged in discussions and scheduling to prepare for student transitions to in-person learning. Discussions have focused on how to best serve all students in the model of their choosing, while addressing 3rd-5th grade staffing limitations.

Based on those discussions, we have decided to transition 3rd- 5th grade students to the “concurrent instruction” model, similar to the model adopted for secondary students. In the concurrent model, all 3rd-5th grade students will be able to continue in their current class, with their current teacher, regardless of the model they selected. Teachers will instruct both groups of students – those attending school in person, and those participating online – simultaneously, whether the teacher is in the classroom or working remotely.

Concurrent Instruction Model for 3rd-5th Grade Students
The concurrent model changes detailed below ONLY apply to 3rd-5th grade students and will take effect once it is determined that hybrid/in-person learning transitions can begin (return dates to be announced). All other elementary students (PreK-2nd grade) selecting hybrid/in-person model will follow the elementary hybrid/in-person learning model as already described.  In the concurrent instructional model:

  • Students will participate in a combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction four days (Tues.-Fri.) each week, regardless of the delivery model selected.
  • Students continue in their current class, with their current teacher, regardless of the model they selected.
  • Students will be divided into three concurrent groups—full-time distance, Hybrid A (in-person Tues/Wed), and Hybrid B (in-person Thurs/Fri).
  • Both Full-Distance and Hybrid students will interact with each other and their teachers four days each week. Hybrid students will attend school in-person two days each week.
  • Teachers will instruct both groups of students simultaneously, whether the teacher is in school in person or teaching remotely. This may mean that some students in school will receive instruction from a teacher who is remote; these students will be monitored and assisted in-person by classroom assistants.
  • Mondays will continue as asynchronous learning days for all students, with time for teacher planning and small group interventions.

This change applies to 3rd-5th grade students at all elementary neighborhood schools and option programs, except for Montessori Public School of Arlington (MPSA), Claremont Immersion and Key Immersion.

  • All MPSA students will participate in the original hybrid/in-person model.
  • All Claremont and Key Immersion students, PreK-5th grade, will follow the concurrent model described above.

Professional learning for 3rd-5th grade teachers will take place on Friday, Feb. 5, in the afternoon, to support the skills needed to teach in these unique environments concurrently. To accommodate this training and other professional learning for elementary teachers and staff, Fri, Feb 5 will be an early release day for elementary students.

Thank you for continued patience and cooperation as we work to navigate these changes. If you have questions about this adjusted model, please reach out to your principal. We will update all families as additional details and student return timelines become available.

Regards,
Bridget Loft
Assistant Superintendent
Department of Teaching and Learning

Jan. 15 Dept. of Teaching and Learning Update: Services for English Learners, Special Education and Gifted Students

Dear Parent or Guardian,

Happy new year! Please note the following information about the services and supports available to special education students, English Learners and Gifted students.

Special Education 
UPCOMING EVENTS: The Parent Resource Center (PRC) Is sponsoring/co-sponsoring several wonderful events over the next few weeks. Please click here for more details. Highlights include:

  • Worry and Anxiety in Children and Adolescents: Using evidence based strategies to help kids and caregivers cope during tough times: Tue, Jan. 19: 7-8:30 p.m.
  • Understanding Transition Services: Supported Decision Making (SDM) Wed, Jan. 27: 7-9 p.m.
  • Talking with Kids about Race and Discrimination Tue, Feb 2: 6:30-8 p.m.

Additional upcoming community events include:

  • Stress and Mental Health: Wed, Jan. 13: 2-3 p.m.
  • Know What Your Teen Knows: Thu, Jan. 14: 6:30- 8 p.m.
  • Home Safety: Tue, Jan. 19 at 6 p.m.

PARENT ACADEMY:
The PRC has also created a new Parent Academy video. The PRC Overview  introduces families to the PRC’s staff, supports and services; touches on the Student Support Process; and wraps up with PRC resources.

English Learniers (EL)
As required by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) in compliance with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), all students eligible for English learner services are required to take an annual English language proficiency assessment. This year APS will continue to use the assessment mandated by VDOE, the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0. Who must take the 2020-21 ACCESS for ELLs 2.0? K-12 English Learners (EL) at English Language Proficiency Levels 1-4, including presumptive ELs, and students who are eligible but have opted out of EL services must take the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 if they:

  • were enrolled in grades K-12 in 2019-20 and received less than 4.4 on the overall composite score on the 2019-20 ACCESS for ELLs 2.0;or
  • have been identified to receive English Learner services for this school year and did not take or complete the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 in 2019-20.

K-12 students who are considered presumptive ELs will take ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 in order to determine eligibility for EL Services. That is a recent change from the Virginia Department of Education.

Results from the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 will be used to help determine English language proficiency (for Presumptive ELs), progress and program placement and/or proficiency.

ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 testing will begin in mid-January and end in mid-April and must be conducted in-person. Your school will be reaching out to schedule the testing. For additional information you can see this information in ParentVue or you can contact your student’s school.

Gifted Services 
VDOE Summer Residential Governor’s School
Academic Applications are due on Wednesday, January 13. Contact your RTG for support and additional information.

VDOE Summer Residential Governor’s School
VPA applications are due on Friday, January 15. All VPA applicants moving on to the state adjudications will audition on Friday, January 8th (PM) and Saturday, January 9th. Contact your RTG for support and additional information.


William & Mary’s Center for Gifted Education is offering two virtual programs for high-ability students:

  • Saturday, January 30th:  Focusing on the Future is a career and academic planning experience for students in grades 6-12, their parents, and their counselors. 

Brochure (shares parent and student sessions)


The National Research Center on Gifted Education Hosts Free Parent Webinars

Renzulli Center Third Thursday Parenting Topics (Streaming LIVE at 8 p.m. Eastern)

  • Helping Your 2E Child (Sally Reis and Susan Baum) – Jan. 21
  • Technology Roulette in the Age of COVID-19 (Stacy Hayden) – Feb. 18
  • Talking with Children About Their Giftedness (Del Siegle) – March 18
  • Perfectionism and Productive Struggle (Catherine Little) – April 15

Registration is open.


Building Leaders for Advancing Science and Technology (BLAST) Virginia Space Grant Consortium offers a free educational program, BLAST,  designed to ignite a passion in students who already show an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). BLAST is a 3-day residential, on-campus experience, which is packed with demonstrations and collaborative activities led by college faculty, designed to inspire students to envision a career in a STEM field and motivate them to expand the number of STEM-related classes they take in higher grade levels. Registration is open now and closes on February 8, 2021.


Gifted Services in Action @APSGifted: Spotlight on Schools 

Abingdon

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Campbell

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Carlin Springs

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McKinley

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Jefferson

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Williamsburg

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Yorktown

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Wakefield

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Washington-Liberty

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Meal Service Adjustments for Week of Jan. 18-22

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Arlington Public Schools is adjusting its meal pickup service the week of Jan. 18-22 due to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Inauguration Day holidays.

There will be no meal service on Mon, Jan. 18 and Wed, Jan. 20. Instead, meals will be distributed on Tue, Jan. 19 and Fri, Jan. 22. Three meals will be included in the bags on January 15 and Jan. 19.

Meals can be picked up from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at locations throughout Arlington. For a list of locations, visit the APS website.

Superintendent’s Jan. 12 Return-to-School Update

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Dear APS Families,

Thank you for reaching out with questions and comments regarding return-to-school plans. I have received many emails since last week, and while I cannot respond to them all, I want you to know that I read all of them and appreciate your feedback. We have not yet made a final decision regarding the student return dates and will keep you informed as soon as we have a definitive timeline. Last week, we announced the timeline for teachers and staff to return, and I continue to evaluate when the time is right to bring more students back into our buildings.

Below is the latest information and reminders for the coming week.

Return-to-School Timeline – I have received questions regarding why Level 2 and 3 teachers and staff are returning prior to the announcement of student return dates. Staff will report in person, either the week Jan. 25 or Feb. 1, for one week of preparation while teaching from their classroom, according to their assigned in-person schedule. This ensures staff who are reporting in person feel confident in the mitigation measures that we have in place and builds in time for staff to prepare classrooms and adapt to new operating protocols and health and safety routines, prior to students returning.

Transportation Planning – As we continue to prepare for Level 2 and 3 students to return, bus schedules are being finalized in accordance with state guidelines for health and safety. Student bus routes and schedules will be communicated to families via ParentVUE once the student return dates are finalized. Bus service will operate very differently because of limited bus capacity for the hybrid learning model. We have posted additional information about changes to expect with bus service that protect the health and safety of students on our website.

Next Week’s Schedule – Mon, Jan. 18, and Wed, Jan. 20, are holidays in recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day and Inauguration Day. We have designated Tues, Jan. 19 as an asynchronous day ONLY for middle and high school students to provide ample preparation for the last week of the second quarter, and of the first semester for semester classes. Elementary will continue as synchronous on that date. The additional middle and high school asynchronous day will allow more opportunities for teachers to connect with students via office hours and provide targeted interventions for students whose second quarter grades are D’s and E’s.

Vaccine Update – We are excited by the news that APS teachers and staff are able to receive the vaccine soon, within Phase 1b. We are working with the Arlington County Public Health Department to begin the process for APS staff to register for vaccinations, and employees will be receiving more information later this week.

Thank you again for your patience and support as we navigate these changes. I will keep you informed of new developments. My commitment remains to protect the health and safety of our staff and students, as we continue to work towards a return to in-person learning for more students.

Sincerely,
Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Jan. 5 Return-to-School Update

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Dear APS Families,

Welcome back and Happy New Year! I hope that you all enjoyed a relaxing time off with your families for Winter Break. For me, it was an opportunity to reflect and recharge, and I hope it was for you as well. I know many of you are eager to learn about our plans for the remainder of the school year. The following provides an update on the transition to hybrid/in-person learning, as well as a new resource available through Parent Academy, and other calendar updates.

Phased Hybrid/In-Person Learning Transitions: I have worked closely with administrators on a phased plan to begin Level 2 and Level 3 transitions to in-person learning. We are finalizing those plans and will provide the timeline and other details during my Monitoring Report at the School Board meeting this Thursday. I want to emphasize that we continue to take a gradual approach, following guidance from the Virginia Department of Health, with effective mitigation, health and safety measures at the center of all planning.Our planning for Levels 2 and 3 builds in time for teachers and staff to transition back to school buildings prior to students and considers the academic calendar as well. With the second quarter concluding at the end of January and the start of the third quarter in February, our goal is to minimize learning disruptions and to maintain as much consistency as possible. The overall timeline will be shared this Thursday, and additional communication will be provided as plans are finalized.

Additional Calendar Dates and Updates: As a reminder, Mon, Jan. 18, and Wed, Jan. 20, are holidays in recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Inauguration Day. Additionally, we have designated Tuesday, January 19 as an asynchronous day for middle and high school students to provide ample preparation for the following week, which is the last week of the second quarter, and the end of the first semester. The additional asynchronous day will allow more opportunities for teachers to connect with students via office hours and provide targeted interventions for students whose second quarter grades are D’s and E’s.

New Parent Academy Resource: We have provided a new video for families on Parent Academy about asynchronous Mondays. In the video, teachers explain how asynchronous Mondays are used to support instruction for students. New resources are continuing to be produced to support families and students, and we will alert you as new videos are posted.

New Daily Health Screening App—Coming Soon: APS will soon launch a new COVID-19 health screening application that allows students and staff reporting to school and work in person to complete mandatory health screening questions from home, using a mobile device or PC. Developed on the Qualtrics platform, the new app will require individuals to monitor their health daily and complete a short survey regarding symptoms, recent travel, and possible exposure, before reporting to school or work. Temperature checks must still be completed onsite. In addition, the Qualtrics platform will enhance the process for reporting exposures and positive tests, to assist with the speed and efficiency of our contact tracing process.

Thank you for your ongoing support, and I wish you and all our students a successful first week back in this new year.

Sincerely,

Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Dec. 17 Dept. of Teaching and Learning Update: Services for English Learners, Special Education and Gifted Students

Dear Parent or Guardian,

At the midpoint of the second quarter, please note the following supports available for students with disabilities, English Learners and Gifted students.

Special Education
On Dec. 1, the Office of Special Education held a work session with the School Board and presented a 5-year action plan and goals for special education in APS. The presentation can be found on Board Docs.

On Dec.7, the Office of Special Education, members of the Executive Leadership Team, and the Superintendent held a Town Hall meeting with staff members who are providing support to students participating in Level 1. The topics discussed included instruction, staffing, and health and safety protocols.

On Dec. 9, the Superintendent held a “Super Chat” with SEPTA. He answered questions from the community on a variety of topics related to special education. The recording can be found on the, SEPTA website.

English Learners (EL)
As winter break approaches, here are a few ideas to keep your students engaged in their English language development while on vacation. Reading a book each day/night that can be found through the student’s accounts on their device. If you are not sure how to access the reading materials, please check with their teacher(s) before Friday. Reading for a period of time each night and having a conversation about the story (in English or in the home language) is a fun way to encourage reading and have a family discussion about what was read. Asking students questions about the characters in the book, “Who is your favorite character and why?” or “Which character would you like to be your best friend?” is a fun way to have them think about what they are reading.

Storytelling is another fun way to practice speaking English. Have your student tell a story over a five, six or seven day period. Each day, they can make up part of the story that continues the next day. The idea for the story can be created by the student or chosen from a list of ideas that the family comes up with together. Here are some examples: A story about the first time you saw snow. A story about getting a pet for the first time. A story about a hero in the family. A story about finding a $100 bill. A story about winning a big game. Being able to create a story over many days can be fun, especially if there are family members asking questions to the storyteller about the setting and the characters.

Keeping a ‘winter break journal’ is a fun way to continue writing during the two week break. The journal can have a daily focus or a single focus the entire time. The journal entries can be about what the student did each day. Or, it can be about what they wish for in 2021. They can even take their storytelling to the journal and write about the topic ideas listed above. A journal is often used to write daily gratitudes or daily appreciations. For emerging writers, they can draw a picture and write a small amount about what they drew in the picture.

Visit the Arlington Public Library website as a way to access thousands of free books at all age levels and reading levels. Although the branch library buildings are currently closed, the main Arlington Library is open for picking up books that are reserved online. In addition, the library has online events such as cookie decorating, book talks and arts and crafts activities.

Gifted Services

CTY Virtual Clubs
Johns Hopkins CTY’s new Virtual Clubs offer students interested in Math, Chess, or World Languages a chance to come together, have fun, and learn in real time as a community. Clubs run from January 18 – April 11, 2021. Registration is open with a deadline of January 5, 2021.


Building Leaders for Advancing Science and Technology (BLAST)
Virginia Space Grant Consortium offers a free educational program, BLAST,  designed to ignite a passion in students who already show an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). BLAST is a 3-day residential, on-campus experience, which is packed with demonstrations and collaborative activities led by college faculty, designed to inspire students to envision a career in a STEM field and motivate them to expand the number of STEM-related classes they take in higher grade levels. Registration is open now and closes on February 8, 2021.


Gifted Services in Action @APSGifted Spotlight on Schools

Carlin Springs 

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Glebe Elementary School

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Jefferson Middle School 

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Williamsburg Middle School

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Wakefield High School

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W-L High School

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Superintendent’s Dec. 15 Return-to-School Update

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Dear APS Families,

As students complete their final week of school before the Winter Break, I want to remind you about changes to our meal services schedule, as well as next steps in planning for future hybrid/in-person learning transitions. Additionally, with snowfall in the forecast this week, I have provided updated information regarding our inclement weather procedures below.

Winter Break Meal Service
To ensure all families have access to healthy meals during the Winter Break we are modifying meal services as follows:

  • Friday, Dec. 18: We will serve three days of meals for Friday, Saturday, and Monday at all current locations, including 22 school sites and 7 drop-off locations.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 22: There will be no meals served on Monday, December 21. On Tuesday, Dec. 22, we will serve five days of meals for Tuesday – Saturday. Meals will be distributed at the following school locations: Barcroft, Barrett, Campbell, Drew, Gunston, Hoffman-Boston, Kenmore, Key, Randolph, Swanson, Wakefield, W-L and Yorktown.

Meals will be served on both days during the regular 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. service window. There will be no meal services provided during the week of December 28. We will resume regular meal service on Monday, January 4. This information will be communicated through School Talk and text reminders later this week as well. Thank you to our Food and Nutrition Services staff for their ongoing work to provide meals for students.

Updates on 2020-21 School Year and Hybrid/In-Person Learning Transitions
We will hold our final School Board meeting of the current calendar year this Thursday, December 17. During the meeting, I will present the 2020-21 School Year Monitoring Report, including updates on COVID-19 health and safety metrics, instruction, results of the Level 3 family selection process, operations, and financial projections. I am continuing to work with administrators and staff to monitor the health metrics and operating conditions, and to finalize timing for Level 2 and Level 3 transitions to hybrid/in-person learning for families and students who have selected that instructional model.

Specific details and dates for future in-person learning transitions for students in Level 2 and Level 3 will be communicated to staff and families in early January. We continue to evaluate all metrics, and to focus on effective mitigation strategies to ensure the health and safety of staff and students.

Winter Weather Procedures
In the event of a change in our operating status due to weather, we will alert all staff and families by 6 p.m. the evening before, with any morning updates communicated by 5 a.m. Distance Learning will continue for all students during inclement weather events providing there is no interruption in power or network connectivity. In the event schools and facilities need to close due to an inclement weather event, Level 1 students attending school in-person would temporarily revert to Distance Learning. Distance Learning will follow the normal schedule during inclement weather, with asynchronous instruction on Mondays and synchronous instruction on Tuesday through Friday.

A major storm causing a power or network outage may require us to cancel distance learning and call an official “snow day.” We will follow our inclement weather protocols on deciding if other school-based activities, such as meal services, in-person learning support or athletic practices can continue, and will keep you updated through School Talk messages, social media, text alerts, local media, and our website. Click here to view our winter weather procedures in full.

Additionally, as we head into the Winter Break, please note that this is the final Weekly Update message that I will be sending until the week of January 4. I look forward to providing additional updates and information as we head into a new calendar year.

I continue to appreciate your support and partnership in making this school year as successful as possible for all students. Stay safe, and I wish everyone a great break.

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Dec. 8 Return-to-School Update

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APS Families,

Those of you following the health metrics closely are aware that the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) data continues to show that we have substantial COVID-19 transmission for our region, placing Arlington in the “highest risk” category based on number of new cases. The latest data is summarized in the APS COVID-19 Dashboard and we are monitoring the public health metrics carefully.

We know that the virus will be with us for some time, and that there is no zero-risk scenario for schools in the foreseeable future. Knowing that, we have adjusted our approach to evaluating in-person learning transitions. In addition to public health metrics and focusing on mitigation measures, I continue to weigh the mental health concerns, learning loss and other challenges many of our community members are facing.

With all this in mind, I want to reiterate that we are staying the course with Level 1 at this time based on the state’s guidance, which advises that schools provide in-person support to students with disabilities, with effective mitigation measures in place. We have now been in-person in Level 1 for over a month, and the first month has gone very well thanks to the cooperation, dedication and excellent efforts of our staff. Our mitigation measures exceed the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and VDH.

I will continue working closely with our administrators and staff between now and January to assess our transition plans and will communicate specific dates after the Winter Break. I understand the weight of every decision and its impact on the community emotionally, economically and academically. I take your feedback seriously as we consider the ways to best serve our students in these challenging times. We all come to this with different perspectives and we must continue to work together as one community. Thank you for your continued work and support.

Below are a few other important reminders and resources to take note of:

Calendar Approved for 2021-22 School Year; Inauguration Day Added as Staff and Student Holiday

Last Thursday, the School Board designated Inauguration Day, Wed, Jan. 20, 2021, as a staff and student holiday. The School Board also approved the 2021-22 school year calendar for all APS schools. You can find the final calendar posted online. The school year will start on Aug. 30, 2021, ends on June 17, 2022, and this year includes four cultural and religious holidays.

New APS Parent Academy Videos

New videos have been posted to the APS Parent Academy website, including the latest guidance on Accessing the APS Technical Support Website, Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning, and Effective Parent Involvement During Distance Learning. Take a moment to review these and other resources to support families in distance learning, available through the Parent Academy.

Level 3 Selection Process

The Level 3 Family Selection Process concluded yesterday, and we will publish full results when ready. We continue to plan to transition more students back in-person, and while I cannot confirm a specific date yet for transitioning Level 2 and 3 back in person, we are working to do so when possible.

Distance Learning Focus Groups and Task Force

As part of last Thursday’s monitoring report, we presented initial recommendations from a series of six focus groups on strengthening distance learning. Feedback included a desire for more small-group instruction and more non-digital materials for young learners, as well as a better balance between synchronous and asynchronous instruction for secondary students. As a next step, DTL is forming a Task Force comprising representatives of these focus groups as well as advisory committee and community members. The Task Force will work in January to develop strategies related to students’ academic performance and social-emotional growth during distance learning.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Dec. 1 Return-to-School Update

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APS Families,

I hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving break. As we move into December, I would like to share a few brief updates and reminders:

COVID-19 Monitoring and Return Plans
As we continue to see rising COVID-19 cases in our community, we are working with the Virginia Department of Education and following public health guidance to make decisions regarding our operating status. In accordance with state guidance, we are continuing to provide in-person support for Level 1, students with disabilities, focusing on consistent implementation of health mitigation measures to protect staff and students. We have paused in-person return for students in Levels 2 and 3 through December as we continue to plan for future transitions. This is an evolving situation, and we will continue to adjust based on metrics, trends, and the guidance we receive.

Level 3 Family Selection Process
We initiated the Level 3 Family Selection Process on Monday, Nov. 30. Families of middle and high school students have until December 7 to select an instructional model. Principals are working with staff to ensure every family has the information they need to make a selection during this window. We also released a short video and overview to describe a hybrid day for middle and high school students, so that students and families know what to expect in the hybrid model. More details are available online.

Update on New School at the Reed Site
I also want to update you on the status of the new elementary school under construction at the Reed site. I am pleased to report that the project is on track and the school will open in August 2021. Additionally, in collaboration with the County, we are working to construct a large stormwater management facility under the playing fields at the new school. The school will open on schedule with access to the playground and courts. The fields will be available after the stormwater facility has been completed. We are collaborating with the County to complete the fields as early as possible. We will present more information on this project at Thursday’s School Board meeting.

Monitoring Report
I will also present the latest 2020-21 School Year Monitoring Report at this Thursday’s School Board meeting, focusing on health and safety metrics, air quality and ventilation, the new task force formed to continually enhance distance learning, and other next steps.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Instructional Delivery Model and Transportation Selection Process for Middle and High School Students

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The selection process for Level 3 student-return, which includes middle and high school students, opens today, November 30 and closes on Monday, December 7. The goal is for Level 3 students to return to school sometime in January, contingent upon safety and operational metrics. The families of all secondary families are encouraged to respond and make a selection during the selection window.

Even though the current health metrics only allow for distance learning, APS is requesting families make instructional delivery and transportation selections during the selection window to allow time for schools to plan for when students are able to safely return to school. Delaying the selection process would mean schools would not be ready to open for students when it is safe to do so.

Instructional Delivery Methods
Families will be able to decide if they would prefer for their child to return to school to receive in-person hybrid learning, or if they would like to continue receiving full-time distance learning when school buildings reopen for students. All families will be required to make a selection because schools will be conducting outreach to ensure families make a selection because there is not a default instructional delivery model option. Whether a family selects full-time distance learning or hybrid/in-person learning, a student’s teacher will not change. Each grade level has two available instructional delivery method choices as follows:

  • Full-Time Distance Learning– Students will participate in full-time distance learning will continue to receive instruction as they are now, including both interactive, teacher-led (synchronous) instruction and asynchronous instruction.
  • Middle School Hybrid Model – Middle school students will receive synchronous instruction four days a week, Tuesday-Friday. Students who select the hybrid model will attend school in person two days a week. Teachers will instruct both groups of students using a blended learning model. This may mean that some students in school will receive instruction from a teacher who is remote; these students will be monitored and assisted in person by classroom assistants. Based on parent and staff survey results, there may be some sections with only virtual students participating in them, which may result in a schedule change.
  • High School Hybrid Model – High school students will receive synchronous instruction four days a week, Tuesday-Friday. Students who select the hybrid model will attend school in person two days a week. Teachers will instruct both groups of students using a blended learning model. This may mean that some students in school will receive instruction from a teacher who is remote; these students will be monitored and assisted in person by classroom assistants.

Families considering hybrid/in-person learning are encouraged to review the “A Day in Hybrid/In-Person Learning for Secondary School” infographic and the “Secondary Hybrid Day” video for an overview of hybrid/in-person learning for secondary students. (NOTE: The video indicates that no instruments can be played on in-person learning days. This only applies to Band and Chorus. String instruments in orchestra can be played during in-person days.) Additional details on the instructional delivery methods and sample school schedules are available on the 2020-21 School Year webpage.

Instructional Delivery Model Changes
Due to limitations on classroom space, staffing, and scheduling needs, families will be unable to change the instructional delivery model they selected for their student until after school resumes for Level 3 students. After that time, any requests for changes should be submitted to the school’s principal, and changes may be approved on a case-by-case basis due to staffing and capacity limitations. 

Important Transportation Information & Changes
As a part of the return to school process, APS is requesting that families not only select their instructional delivery model, but also their transportation preference. If selecting the full-time distance learning instructional delivery model, there is no need to complete the transportation information. For families selecting the hybrid, in-person instructional delivery model, transportation-eligible families should select if a student(s) will ride the bus. If they will not ride the bus when in-person learning begins, please select the mode of transportation that will be used. The following is important transportation information for families:

  • Bus rider information (stops and times) will be delivered in ParentVUE. Due to the limited time to plan routes, the standard bus letter will not be mailed. Families can also call their child’s school to request their bus stop and time. Students must follow the schedule provided to them.
  • Each bus will carry a maximum of 11 student riders. To accommodate 11 riders per bus, buses will have to make multiple trips back and forth to school. For stops with more than 11 students assigned to them, there will be multiple pick-up times at each stop. Students will be assigned a scheduled pick-up time. Families should plan to be at the bus stop least 10 minutes before their scheduled time and wait at least 10 minutes after if the bus has not yet arrived.
  • Students who are not assigned to a bus may not ride on a bus. Bus attendants will have rosters to facilitate health screenings and check student ride assignments.
  • Riders are encouraged to take the bus in the morning and afternoon. Students who do not use the bus will have their slot reassigned.
  • Bus attendants will screen students at each stop. If a student has a fever or other symptoms, they will not be allowed on the bus and must return home. Families should have a backup plan in case this happens.
  • Students must wear a mask on the bus.
  • Only one student is permitted on each seat due to health and safety guidelines. Seats will be marked for student use.
  • Siblings are not permitted on special needs buses.

Bus routes that typically carry a heavy load of bus riders will require several trips back and forth to school. This change means that APS must also make some changes to where and how bus riders are picked up to allow Transportation Services to focus bus service on routes that are farthest from school and allow them to move more quickly between stops and school. Students attending option schools and programs will be assigned to hub stops. Families should review stop information in the documents folder on ParentVUE.

How to Select or Change Your Selection in ParentVUE
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 their student’s school or call the Family Technology Call Center at 703-228-2570.

Nov. 18 Dept. of Teaching and Learning Update: Services for English Learners, Special Education and Gifted Students

Dear APS Parent or Guardian,

The Department of Teaching and Learning is pleased to share the following updates regarding delivery of services to special education, Gifted and English Learners as we remain in distance learning.

Special Education Level 1
On Nov. 4, we welcomed approximately 230 students with disabilities to 33 different school buildings for in-person learning support. This is an important step forward in our Return-to-School Plan.

The Office of Special Education and the Parent Resource Center (PRC) are pleased to celebrate Family Engagement in Education Month. The PRC continues to provide information and support to families to encourage family engagement in special education through video and phone consultations, weekly parent communications, collaboration with the Arlington Special Education Advisory Committee and Arlington SEPTA, and a variety of learning opportunities. The PRC is co-sponsoring Project Core Parent Series sessions on Monday evenings with Assistive Technology and Low-Incidence/Autism Specialists, and has continued to host Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI) training sessions for families in collaboration with the CPI team. The PRC hosted a regional PRC meeting earlier this month. Later this month, the PRC will co-host the following session:

Understanding Transition Services: Employment Connections
Wed, Nov. 18 from 7-9 p.m.

APS Transition Services, PRC and Program for Employment Preparedness (PEP) are sponsoring the second in a monthly series of transition workshops. This month’s session will feature opportunities for families to learn about employment supports from a host of community and agency partners. Presenters will include ServiceSource, Melwood, Didlake and many others.

English Learners (EL)
In the last message, we shared what instruction looks like for English learners as they acquire English and learn new content (ie: language arts, science, etc.). These two components are taught in tandem and therefore students can practice their nearly acquired English and use it to talk, write and read about the new content.

Below, is an example of learning mathematics and the language of mathematics. This was from an English Learner teacher, teaching elementary math. The teacher explained what place value is and about tens and ones.

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Once the students learned about the place values and had some time to practice using their new math, the teacher had them use a sentence frame to talk about the mathematics. This is an example of language and content in tandem.

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In the example below, from a middle school English learner class, the students were learning US history and using their new vocabulary and grammar. This example shows, again, the teaching of the content and the language in tandem. This also shows the use of academic language, which is language that students need in each content area. The examples, overwhelm and retreat, are words that are not commonly used, but are important to understand for this history lesson.

DTL Message

Gifted Services
Engagement is a top priority to all of us in APS and in Gifted Services, we focus much of our work around our APS Critical and Creative Thinking Framework. Another top priority is sharing ways families can use critical and creative thinking strategies to extend learning after lessons end and offer opportunities for the whole family to experience tasks that are engaging, enjoyable, and perhaps even a source of inspiration. Because of these goals and the innovation of RTGs, the CCT Family Edition was born.

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Take a look at the introductory PowerPoint with notes to learn the thinking behind this idea and how it was structured. Then select one of the Choice Boards to do as a family. They can all be found on the Gifted Services website in the Resources section. The icons below each represent a CCT strategy and can help you select a new one to try or do another activity each week around the same strategy.

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The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) hosted a virtual 67th Annual Convention Re-imagined! this past week. As a school district, we were able to secure a site license for interested families who would like to learn about research in gifted education, strategies and ideas to support families working collaboratively with teachers and administrators. There are several sessions from which to choose in the Parent, Family and Community and we’ve listed a few below:

  • Developing Resilience in Gifted Students
  • Social Emotional Learning in Early Childhood: Practical Strategies for Families & Educators
  • Parents’ Recognition, Expectation, and Differentiation for Young Gifted Learners
  • Navigating the World as a Gifted Student of Color
  • Engaging the Parents of Gifted Hispanic/Latino and ELL Students
  • Six Life-Changing Strategies for Raising Gifted Children with ADHD
  • Empowering, Engaging and Sustaining Successful Grassroots Advocacy

These sessions will be available to us until May 2021. To access these and even more sessions of interest, please see Steps to Register.


Gifted Services in Action @APSGifted: 

Spotlight on Schools 

Long Branch Elementary School

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Jamestown Elementary

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Gunston Middle School 

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Jefferson Middle School

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W-L High School

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Wakefield High School  

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Superintendent’s Nov. 17 Return-to-School Update

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APS Families,

I want to remind you that this week’s School Board meeting takes place tonight, and I will present the 2020-21 School Year Monitoring Report. Tonight’s update will include health and safety updates, a first look at student academic data from the first quarter of the school year, and next steps in our planning for hybrid/ in-person learning. We are also presenting the proposed 2021-22 School Year Calendar for information tonight, as well as a proposed revision to this year’s calendar to make Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021, a holiday for staff and students. The Board will act on the Inauguration Day recommendation at their December 3, 2020 meeting, and we will update the community on any changes.

We continue to see COVID-19 cases rising in Arlington and across the state. In response, Governor Northam and other leaders across the country are announcing new restrictions to limit public gatherings. We are carefully monitoring the latest data and posting it weekly in the APS COVID-19 Dashboard, as we determine timing for future in-person learning transitions.

In the latest dashboard updates, you will see that the Case Incident Rate for Arlington County has entered into the highest risk category, per the CDC’s primary indicators for school decision-making. We are monitoring this carefully and following the state’s guidance, which currently states that schools should continue to provide in-person support to students with disabilities, as appropriate and with parental consent. We will continue our current status for Level 1 at this time, focusing on mitigation efforts, to support these students. We are in communication with the State Superintendent; this is an evolving situation, and we will continue to adjust decision-making based on guidance we receive.

Below are a few key updates and reminders as we head into Thanksgiving Break next week:

Level 2 and Level 3 Planning is Underway
APS continues to plan for Level 2 and 3 transitions in January, as health, safety and operational metrics allow. In preparation, the Level 3 family selection process for secondary students will take place from November 30 through December 7, to allow families of middle and high school students to choose a preferred instructional model. We will release more details and information on the hybrid/ in-person learning model when that window opens, and schools will be conducting direct outreach to help all families select a model. Importantly, we want every secondary family to respond and make a new selection during the upcoming window.

Some have asked why we are proceeding at this time given the latest health metrics. It is important that we gather the information schools need to plan now, so that they have the time to prepare for possible transitions in January. Delaying the process would mean that we would not be ready to open our schools for more students, should we determine it is safe enough to do so.

In-Person Learning Support at Several School Locations
In addition to Level 1 students who began on November 4, APS is providing in-person learning support for up to 150 identified students with the greatest need, ages 4-11. This includes a limited number of children of APS Level 1 staff who are required to report in person. Students participate in distance learning Monday-Friday with supervision and support provided by Extended Day staff. We started this service this week at Drew, Hoffman-Boston and Ashlawn elementary schools.

The Extended Day Central Office is continuing to contact potential participants based on information provided by Principals and Human Resources.

Additionally, I want to thank our secondary principals for coming up with a proposal to provide extra support to students who need help connecting. Wakefield is now piloting a “Work Space” program, before expanding to other select secondary schools. This gives secondary students the option to come into the building Tuesday-Friday to participate in distance learning in a quiet space with reliable internet connectivity. Check with your school for additional details.

Thanksgiving Break Meal Service
We are adjusting the meal service schedule in preparation for Thanksgiving Break. Visit any of our 22 school locations or seven additional pickup sites on Fri, Nov. 20, to receive meals for Friday, Saturday and Monday. On Tue, Nov. 24, we will provide five days of meals for Tuesday through Saturday. Pickup is 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and meals are free for children 18 and under. There will be no meal services on Monday, November 23, Wednesday, November 25, or Friday, November 27.  We have served nearly 630,000 meals since this school year began and I would like to thank our Office of Food and Nutrition Services for their work to make this possible.

Next Week’s Schedule
As a reminder, there is no school next Wednesday through Friday, for Thanksgiving Break. The elementary Monday/Tuesday schedule will remain the same, with Monday as the usual asynchronous learning day, and Tuesday as a normal synchronous learning day. At the secondary level, most schools will be synchronous on Monday and Tuesday, with the following exceptions:

  • Washington-Liberty will be holding parent-teacher conferences on Monday, Nov. 23. Classes will be asynchronous on that day.  Tue, Nov. 24 will be a synchronous “L” day.
  • Jefferson will be asynchronous on Mon, Nov. 23, and Tue, Nov. 24, will be a synchronous “A” day.

Note that transportation will not be provided for Level 1 secondary students on Monday, Nov. 23. These students will participate in synchronous learning from home on that day. Transportation will be provided for all Level 1 students on Tuesday, Nov. 24.

Schools have communicated specific details about these schedules. If you have any questions, please contact your child’s school. I hope that you have a good week. Stay safe and take care.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Nov. 10 Return-to-School Update

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Dear APS Families,

Last week, we welcomed approximately 230 students with disabilities to 33 different school buildings for in-person learning support. This is an important step forward in our Return-to-School Plan, and I would like to thank the staff and families involved for their partnership in facilitating a safe, successful Level 1 transition.

As we prepare for the next hybrid/in-person learning transitions, I want to update you on changes to the APS COVID-19 Dashboard, Season 1 Winter athletics competition, and new videos now available on the APS Parent Academy.

APS COVID-19 Dashboard Adjustments
We have adjusted the APS COVID-19 Dashboard to present a view of the health metrics that aligns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicators for schools.

  • This new view of the metrics still uses the data from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), which we have been following all along, just highlighted differently to align with the updated CDC guidance for schools.
  • We are using the CDC and VDH benchmarks for health data moving forward, rather than benchmarks for specific return levels and operational metrics, to provide greater flexibility.
  • We look holistically at all CDC indicators and additional health metrics, in combination with our operational metrics, to decide when and how student cohorts can safely resume in-person learning.

Notably, the total number of new cases in Northern Virginia has continued to rise over the past 14 days, placing Arlington towards the top end of the “higher risk” category. We will continue to monitor the metrics and prioritize the health and safety of employees and students in determining our next steps.

Season 1 Winter Athletic Competition
I have received many emails from students and families regarding my decision not to participate in Season 1 Winter athletic competition, due to current health metrics and safety concerns related to indoor sports.

After consulting with neighboring jurisdictions as well as our staff, APS will proceed with Virginia High School League (VHSL) Season 1 Winter athletic competition, with some modifications. We will continue to monitor health metrics and work with school athletic staff and other school divisions to protect our athletes, coaches, employees, and families.

  • Depending on health and safety conditions, we will proceed with Season 1 for swimming and dive, gymnastics, track and field, basketball, rifle, and dance.
  • We will not proceed with wrestling at this time, given that it requires frequent close contact between participants. We will also not proceed with Winter Cheer, as competitive cheer is a Season 2 sport and it can be offered outside, which lessens risk.
  • Athletic modifications will include sport-by-sport decisions, competitions held without in-person spectators, limited or no locker room use, and sport-specific skill modifications. We are exploring opportunities to livestream some competitions for spectators and will share information once arrangements have been made.
  • As with our in-person instructional plans, if community health conditions worsen, APS, in consultation with Public Health, may at any time modify or suspend athletics activities.

Additional guidance will be provided to student athletes and families as we get closer to the start of the season, which begins December 7. Our plans are evolving with the current conditions, and we will be flexible and responsive to the needs of our students whenever possible, assessing all options to safely support our students’ academic successes, mental health, and social-emotional well-being.

New APS Parent Academy Videos Available
The Department of Teaching & Learning has posted new Parent Academy resources addressing topics such as:

  • Parenting During COVID-19
  • Athletic Participation
  • Family Life Education
  • The College Application Process
  • Early Childhood – Reading with Your Child
  • Library Services – Accessing Resources from Home

Access the Parent Academy resources online.

We will continue to provide regular updates regarding the Return-to-School Plan, and my next monitoring report will be Tuesday, November 17. The update will include a snapshot of how our students are doing in distance learning, as well as the latest health and safety information, and plans for Levels 2 and 3 students.

Tomorrow is a holiday in honor of Veteran’s Day, and I hope that you enjoy your day as we celebrate their service to our country.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Meal Service Adjustments for Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving

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School Meals for All Students M/W/F 11am-1pm, with icon of bag lunchArlington Public Schools is adjusting meal services for the week of Nov. 9-13 and for the week of Thanksgiving, Nov. 23-27. These adjustments will take into account Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving.

  • Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11): Families will receive meals Mon, Nov. 9 and Thu, Nov. 12. Meals on Monday will include meals for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday’s service will include meals for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. There is no pickup on Wed, Nov. 11.
  • Thanksgiving Week: Meals served on Fri, Nov. 20 and Tue, Nov. 24. Families will receive meals for Friday, Saturday and Monday on Nov. 20. Tuesday’s service will include 5 meals for Tuesday-Saturday.

Parents and guardians may pick up meals for children.

More information, including locations is available online.

Nov. 3 Dept. of Teaching and Learning Update: Services for English Learners, Special Education and Gifted Students

Dear APS Families,

As we begin the second quarter via distance learning instruction, the Department of Teaching and Learning invites you to learn about resources and strategies for support special education and Gifted students and English Learners. This message also includes information about middle school CTE classes. These biweekly messages are designed to keep families informed and up-to-date during distance learning.

Special Education
Students participating in Level 1 will be returning to school on Wed, Nov. 4. The students will be engaging in distance learning with adult support in APS school buildings.

Crisis Prevention and Intervention (CPI) training is being provided to parents through the Parent Resource Center (PRC) on Mon, Nov. 10. This training is in response to families inquiring about strategies to support challenging and non-compliant behaviors exhibited by their children within the home setting. Understanding how adult responses and approaches to behavior displayed by children is a key factor in preventing and de-escalating undesired behavior.

October was Dyslexia Awareness Month. The Office of Special Education (OSE), English Language Arts (ELA) and the Arlington Tiered System of Support (ATSS) along with the PRC collaborated to offer seven virtual sessions for families. There were more than 650 registrants for the seven dyslexia conference sessions. As a culmination, a video discussing future steps for APS was created providing students with a structured literacy approach.

OSE also supported Project Core for families: The AsTech and Autism/Low-Incidence Disability Team are partnering with PRC to offer a 12-week Project Core series for parents of students with complex needs who are emerging in communication and literacy skills. PRC adapted and delivered companion guides to 38 families.

Transition Series: APS Transition Services/PRC/PEP are offering a monthly transition series. The Oct. 28 session included an overview of transition supports within APS and the community. There were over 50 participants.

The PRC and Arlington SEPTA hosted its Fall Parent Liaisons Meeting on October 21. There are presently liaisons serving 33 APS schools/programs.

English Learners (EL)
English learner instruction in APS focuses on English language development and content attainment in tandem. As ELs are learning their grade level standards (The Virginia Standards of Learning), they are also learning to read, write, speak and listen in English. The English language development standards (WIDA Standards), focus on the language of Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science.

At the elementary level, whether a student participates in distance learning for the entire year or opts into the hybrid learning model, they will be taught by their grade level teacher in addition to an EL teacher. Both teachers focus on the content as well as the language. However, the grade level teacher mostly focuses on the content and teaches it in a way that ELs can understand. The EL teacher uses that content learning and focuses on the specifics of reading, writing, speaking and listening. The two teachers work collaboratively to help the ELs move through the proficiency levels in order to become English proficient.

At the secondary level, ELs receive their English language development in either a self-contained (sheltered) class with an EL teacher or in a co-taught class with an EL and content teacher. In the self-contained classes, the EL teacher teaches the content with a strong focus on language development. In the co-taught classes, the content teacher provides scaffolded instruction about the content, and the EL teacher focuses on English language development.

Ultimately, the goal for English learners is to learn the content and develop their English to the point of proficiency. If you have questions about your student’s EL instruction or their language proficiency, please contact your EL teacher. You can always contact the Bilingual Family Liaison at your school as well, who will connect you to the appropriate teacher(s).

Gifted Services Virginia Department Of Education (VDOE) Summer Residential Governor’s School and World Language Academies
Applications are now available for
Summer Residential Governor’s Schools for current grade 10-11 students. The Summer Residential Governor’s Schools provide gifted high school students with intensive educational experiences in visual and performing arts; humanities; mathematics, science, and technology; or through mentorships in marine science, medicine and health sciences, or engineering.

Each Summer Residential Governor’s School focuses on one special area of interest. Students live on a college or university campus for up to four weeks each summer. During this time, students are involved in classroom and laboratory work, field studies, research, individual and group projects and performances, and seminars with noted scholars, visiting artists, and other professionals. In the three mentorships, students are selected to work side-by-side with research scientists, physicians, and a variety of other professionals. A director and a student-life staff provide supervision of students 24 hours a day, throughout the program.

The APS Timelines for the Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) applications/auditions and the Academic applications are below:

APS Summer Residential Governor’s School Visual and Performing Arts Timeline
APS Summer Residential Governor’s School Academic Timeline 

This year, students will submit their information electronically (the specific links and deadlines are in each APS timeline above).

New This Year: Since we cannot hold live auditions in November, students will need to submit a video of their specialty area following the VDOE guidelines (please see APS timeline for more information) and will also have a virtual interview with judges.

Please contact your schools resource teacher for the gifted (RTG) if you are interested in applying:

Applications are now available for Summer Residential Governor’s Schools World Language Academies. Since 1987, VDOE has sponsored the Governor’s World Language Academies, summer residential programs for Virginia’s most motivated and talented world language students. As of 2020, more than 9,600 students have completed one of the programs. The 2021 Governor’s Summer Residential World Language Academies will include full-immersion academies in French, German and Spanish; a partial-immersion Japanese Academy; and a Latin Academy.  Students interested in applying to World Language academies should contact their world language department heads.

Gifted Services in Action @APSGifted
In addition to following the Gifted Services Twitter handle @APSGifted, families interested in seeing the impact of collaboration between RTGs and cluster teachers can follow their RTG’s Twitter handle found on our Gifted Services site here. Check out the collaborations happening to challenge advanced learners in a variety of content areas throughout the county:

Abingdon

Abingdon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Campbell

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Claremont

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Dorothy Hamm MS

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At the high school level, RTGs support students in career and college aspirations. Wendy Maitland, RTG, shares how this is happening virtually between Wakefield alumns and current students.

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Family Engagement
One of the roles of RTGs is ongoing outreach and connection to families. Many schools use innovative ways to to increase family engagement and incorporating  strategies from our Critical and Creative Thinking Framework  Here are a few examples:

At Arlington Science Focus, families are invited to do an October STEM challenge on SeeSaw.

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At McKinley, each Monday there is a new Critical and Creative Family Edition Choice Board.

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CTE
The middle school Computer Science and Robotics students will be issued MacBooks to ensure equity in accessing these high school credit courses. Both Computer Science and Robotics traditionally use Career and Technical Education high end computers that are part of the computer science and robotics lab spaces in each of our middle schools. Despite our best efforts, the iPad platform is unable to meet all the instructional needs of students enrolled in computer science or robotics. By issuing MacBooks, our computer science students will now have access to the software necessary to prepare for industry credentialing tests, a hallmark of Career and Technical Education. By issuing MacBooks to robotic students, they will be able to access various software programs and utilize the software to program peripherals including robots, breadboards and other hardware required as part of their course competencies and in preparation for industry credentialing.

Superintendent’s Nov. 2 Weekly Update

Superintendent's Updates logo

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APS Community,

With in-person learning for Level 1 beginning on Wednesday and with November 12 fast approaching, I am providing my weekly Return-to-School Plan update today instead of tomorrow.

Last week we received interim guidance for schools from the Virginia Department of Education and Virginia Department Health. We will be making modifications to the APS COVID-19 Dashboard this week to reflect the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention primary and secondary indicators for schools. Our dashboard reporting will continue to show the regional weekly transmission information from the Virginia Department of Health in addition to these core indicators.

Based on our review of the updated guidance and latest health metrics, we are proceeding with Return-to-School Level 1 beginning on November 4. We are prepared to provide in-person learning support to the 236 students in Level 1, using every recommended health and safety protocol to make this transition safely. Schools have communicated details regarding this transition to Level 1 families, and transportation information for Level 1 students is available in ParentVUE.

I have made the decision to pause Level 2, which we had projected to begin November 12. We continue to see the case incidence rate in our area increasing, not decreasing. Level 2 comprises significantly larger numbers of students and staff. Moving too quickly to Level 2, while case levels are still rising, represents a safety risk and could cause further disruption to schedules.

We will pause through the remainder of this calendar year. This decision allows us to carefully monitor the effective implementation of all CDC mitigation strategies, while continuing to solidify staffing plans and capacity for Level 2 students. I will provide continuous updates on our planning and progress through my regular weekly messages and in our School Board Monitoring Reports on November 5, November 17, December 3, and December 17.

As we plan for in-person learning, we continue to strengthen our distance learning offering. Teachers, students, and classes have established meaningful routines together during the first quarter of the school year, and our teachers and staff are working harder than ever to provide a quality distance learning experience. We remain committed to providing all students the best educational experience possible, with the academic and social-emotional support they need to learn and grow during these challenging times.

Thank you for continuing to work collaboratively with us to support all students, by sharing your questions, comments, and ideas.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Level 2 Family Selection Process Results

The family selection process for Level 2 students, which includes PreK-5th grade and CTE students enrolled in select Career Center courses, concluded on October 23. Families were able to choose a preferred instructional model―hybrid/in-person learning or full-time distance learning―through ParentVUE. APS is using this data to plan and prepare for Level 2 transitions when health and operating conditions allow as indicated on the APS COVID-19 Dashboard that is updated every Friday.

Level 2 Selection Process Results

image of selection survey results - click for PDF

Superintendent’s Oct. 27 Return-to-School Update

Superintendent's Updates logo

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Dear APS Families,

I want to take this opportunity to update you on our Return-to-School Plan and next steps. I have received many questions from staff and families regarding how we are using the APS COVID-19 Dashboard to assess our readiness to reopen.

We use the dashboard to analyze risk and to help assess our readiness to open. Based on my review of the data and in consultation with Public Health, the current health and operational conditions allow for us to provide in-person learning support for Level 1 students with disabilities, beginning on November 4. My decision to proceed is based on the health and safety data; my confidence in our preparations for Level 1; mitigation measures in place to protect employee and student health and safety; and the urgency of serving our highest-need students who are currently struggling to access their education.A few points of clarification and factors to keep in mind:

  • All metrics have been met for Level 1 except for the case incidence rate for Northern Virginia which has a score of 9.4, per the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) weekly transmission report. This is just above the threshold of 9 the school division set for Level 1. We will monitor this closely as we move forward. I am looking holistically at all health and operational data to inform decisions for each level, factoring in student numbers and needs, as well as the mitigation strategies we have in place to ensure health and safety.
  • Level 1 comprises 236 students with disabilities and 115 employees, who will be returning to 33 buildings. This is a relatively small group of students per building which averages to three students per classroom at this level. This allows us to effectively monitor compliance with our safety measures.
  • We have taken every recommended precaution to mitigate risk and to ensure a safe return for our employees and students. Every school site has received the required cleaning and disinfecting supplies, face coverings, and other equipment necessary.

Final preparations are taking place this week and next. I will be out visiting schools personally in November as we begin to welcome students back to ensure each member of our staff has all the support needed to serve our students effectively and safely.

Level 2 Monitoring and Next Steps
Currently, the health and safety metrics are not where they need to be to proceed with Level 2, Phase 1 Return on Nov. 12 for PreK, Kindergarten, and Career & Technical Education (CTE) students. Compared to Level 1, Level 2 brings a significantly larger group of staff and students into our buildings and classrooms, and that is why the metrics are set to a more rigorous standard.  To begin phasing in Level 2 students, we need to see further improvement in the metrics.

We will continue to monitor the data at the end of this week and, in consultation with Public Health, will make a final determination about next steps for Level 2 by next week.

Level 2 ParentVUE Selection Results
The ParentVUE selection process for Level 2 for elementary and CTE students has concluded. We will post the results of the family selection process on our website later this week. Schools are working through staffing, bus routing, and other next steps based on that data. The instructional model selection process for middle and high school students has not opened yet, and we will let families know when it will open.

As we prepare to begin in-person learning, I urge families, students and staff to continue to take the recommended actions to slow the spread of the virus in our community. Wear face coverings, follow distancing guidelines, and stay home when you are sick. Our success in opening schools and remaining open is directly connected to and dependent upon everyone helping to prevent transmission in the community.

Again, I want to thank you for continuing to direct your concerns to me or to engage@apsva.us. I understand the stress we are all under and the different opinions being expressed about the best way to proceed in this pandemic.

Thank you for acknowledging our teachers and staff who are working harder than ever before to deliver instruction virtually while preparing for in-person learning.

Sincerely,
Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Return Level 2 Dates

In his presentation at the School Board on Oct. 22, Dr. Durán updated the timeline for Return Level 2. Level 2 will be divided into three groups:, PreK-K and CTE, Grades 1-2, and Grades 3-5, projected to return on Nov. 12, Dec. 1 and early January, respectively.

More information

Superintendent’s Oct. 20 Weekly Update

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Dear Families,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Transportation Details for Level 1 and 2 Families

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Bus transportation will look very different as APS transitions to in-person learning. Due to the state’s physical distancing guidelines, buses will only be able to transport a maximum of 11 students at a time. To help manage this process, please be sure to complete the instructional model survey and tell us if your student will use the bus or not.

To meet state guidelines, APS Transportation Services has modified bus service for the 2020-21 school year. Below is important information about how transportation will operate as APS brings students back for in-person learning. As always, if your child is sick or has any COVID-related symptoms, please keep them home.

  • Bus rider information (stops and times) will be delivered in ParentVue. Due to the limited time to plan routes, the standard bus letter will not be mailed. Families can also call their child’s school to request their bus stop and time. Students must follow the schedule provided to them.
  • To accommodate 11 riders per bus, buses will have to make multiple trips back and forth to school. For stops with more than 11 students assigned to them, there will be multiple pick-up times at each stop. Students will be assigned a scheduled pick-up time. Families should plan to be at the bus stop least 10 minutes before their scheduled time and wait at least 10 minutes after if the bus has not yet arrived.
  • Students who are not assigned to a bus may not ride on a bus. Bus attendants will have rosters to facilitate health screenings and check student ride assignments.
  • Riders are encouraged to take the bus. Students who do not use the bus will have their slot reassigned.
  • Bus attendants will screen students at each stop. Parents/guardians will need to remain at the stop to take home students who do not pass the screening. If a student has a fever or other symptoms, they will not be allowed on the bus.
  • Students must wear a mask on the bus.
  • Only one student is permitted on each seat due to health and safety guidelines. Seats will be marked for student use.
  • Each bus will carry a maximum of 11 student riders.
  • Siblings are not permitted on special needs buses.

For routes that typically carry a heavy load of bus riders will require several trips back and forth to school. This change means that APS must also make some changes to where and how bus riders are picked up to allow Transportation Services to focus bus service on routes that are farthest from school and allow them to move more quickly between stops and school.

To help, APS has expanded walk zones at 16 elementary schools. APS will not provide bus service in this expanded area. For those families that live within these expanded areas, we encourage walking and/or biking to school. Not only will it allow families to avoid vehicle congestion and the need to find a parking space around their school, but it will give students an opportunity for some movement before the start of what will otherwise be a fairly sedentary day. APS is developing route maps to help families find their way and will work with the school to ensure families have access to them, and is collaborating with Arlington County to add crossing assistance at critical street crossings

A Day in Hybrid/In-Person Elementary School

(click to open PDF) (En español)

A day in Hybrid/In-Person Elementary School - links to PDF

Superintendent’s Oct. 13 Weekly Update

En Español

Dear APS Families,

As announced last week, Arlington Public Schools has extended the deadline for families of Return Level 2 students to update their instructional delivery method and transportation selections until Wed, Oct. 21. The deadline was extended due to the revised return-to-school plan announced last week, including an updated elementary hybrid/in-person learning model and revised Level 2 student grouping. Return Level 2 now includes PreK-5th grade students and high school students enrolled in select Career & Technical Education (CTE) courses at the Arlington Career Center. This extension provides families of Level 2 students more time to make their decision for their student(s) to remain in full-time distance learning or transition to hybrid/in-person learning.

It is important to note that this grouping for the elementary hybrid/in-person learning model is by grade level and based on student needs, including all students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), 504 plans and English Learners in grades PreK-5th. Level 2 is not a reference to a student’s English language proficiency level. The levels represent a group of students eligible to return for hybrid/in-person model instruction. Return Level 2 includes English Learners (ELs) in grades PreK-5. All other secondary English Learner students will return with their general education peers as part of Level 3, projected to return in January.

Level 3 families will have a separate window for completing the selection process for secondary students at a later date.

Details about the student groupings, phased return timeline, and selection process are provided below and on the APS website.

APS will hold a virtual town hall to address family questions this Fri, Oct. 16, from 5-6 p.m. Details on how to view the town hall are available on Engage with APS.

Return Level 2 Student Groupings

Below are the student grouping levels and projected timing for the transition to hybrid, in-person learning. All projected dates are subject to health, safety, and operational metrics and may be changed as necessary. Depending on the health data and outcome of the staff surveys and family selection process, we may need to further prioritize the students returning in person for each Level, based on identified needs and specific criteria. More information will be shared once we have all the data from both surveys.

Return Level 2 Students: Projected Phased Return – Beginning Mid November to early December

  • All PreK-5th grade students, including PreK-5th grade English Learners and SWDs with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), and high school students enrolled in selected Career & Technical Education (CTE) courses at the Career Center (list of courses in Level 2).
  • Students phase in, in groups, according to the following projected timeline:
    • Starting Tue, November 10*: Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade students, plus CTE students (* Wed, Nov. 11 is a holiday, so students on the Tue/Wed schedule will be in person one day that week.)
    • Starting Week of Tues, December 1: 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students begin

Only the selections for students in Return Level 2 will be recorded in ParentVUE during the upcoming selection process window. If families made the selections for their student(s) in Return Level 2 in July, they only need to make an update if they decide to change their selections.

If families decide to keep their selections the same, they do not need to make any updates in ParentVUE. If families did not make their selections in July and do not do so during the current selection process window for Return Level 2, their student(s) will automatically be placed in hybrid/in-person learning.

Transportation Selections

Families are strongly encouraged to update their transportation selection as well because this information is needed so the transportation team is able to adequately plan bus routes. Due to only 11 students being able to ride the bus at a time, the transportation selections will provide data on the number of transportation eligible students that plan to ride the bus when hybrid/in-person learning begins.

Additional Information About the Selection Process

Instructions on how to update the instructional delivery method and transportation selections in ParentVUE are available on the Selection Process for Families webpage.

  • To update the instructional delivery methods and transportation choices for your student(s), log into ParentVUE using this linkhttps://vue.apsva.us.
  • If no changes are made, students will remain in the model families selected in July. If a family did not select a model in July and does not reply by October 21, the student’s selection will default to hybrid/in-person learning.

Families that need assistance or are unable to update the selections for their student(s) should contact their child’s school because staff are able to update the selections for families remotely if families experience issues accessing ParentVUE.

Additional information on the hybrid/in-person model is available on the Transition to Hybrid/In-Person Model webpage.

Thank you for your continued patience and support.

Sincerely,
Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Oct. 12 Dept. of Teaching and Learning Update: Services for English Learners, Special Education and Gifted Students

Dear Parent or Guardian,

Now that we have reached the midpoint of the first quarter, please see the following information about ongoing services, supports and opportunities for our students with disabilities, English Learners and Gifted students: 

Special Education
APS has developed an inclusive model to phase students back into hybrid instruction. More information can be found here.

On Tue, Oct. 6, Dr. Durán, Bridget Loft, Dr. Kelly Krug, and Heather Rothenbueshcher joined Arlington SEPTA to present awards and honor winners and nominees during SEPTA’s virtual annual Awards Ceremony, recognizing excellence in special education. Read more about the winners and nominees here.

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. APS is hosting a Virtual Dyslexia Conference, which will feature sessions including: The Science of Reading; Recognizing and Supporting a Student with More than Dyslexia; Dyscalculia: What We Know and Strategies to Help; Read & Write Literacy Software Tool; A Step in the Writing Direction; and Practical Strategies for Parents. More information and registration links can be found here.

October is also Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Awareness Month. In addition to providing professional development for staff on core vocabulary, the Assistive Technology Team is partnering with our Autism/Low-Incidence Disability Specialists and the Parent Resource Center to launch a Project Core Parent Series, a 12-part series of learning modules that aims to build capacity to support students of all ages with disabilities and complex communication needs who are emerging in their communication and literacy skills.

Our Transition Services team, Program for Employment Preparedness (PEP), and Parent Resource Center (PRC) are sponsoring a Transition Series this year, which will feature monthly transition topics. October’s topic, scheduled for October 28th, is Understanding Transition Services and What Needs to Happen. Registration and additional information can be found here.  

English Learners (ELs)
As you may know, each year Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures, and valuable contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. In APS, almost a third of our students identify as Hispanic/Latinx. APS is proud of them and all our outstanding staff and students. APS is proudly celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. In addition to a variety of activities at schools, at the School Board meeting on October 8th, the Board presented the Annual Latinx Student Recognitions which highlight one high school student from each secondary program chosen by their principal for their character, leadership and outstanding successes in school and life.

DTL Oct. 12 Message DTL Oct. 12 Message

APS is currently planning for English Learners (ELs) to be eligible to return to school, in the hybrid model. The transition to hybrid in person webpage has complete information regarding ELs and all students. The transition back to hybrid will start with a small group of students in what is called Level 1. That is NOT a reference to a student’s English language proficiency level. The levels in this sense represent a  group of students eligible to return for hybrid model instruction. In Level 2, English learners will start to return to school in the hybrid model. For the most current information, please refer back to the link above. Ability to proceed to each Level is based on the COVID-19 dashboard. If community health conditions worsen, APS, in collaboration with the Arlington County Public Health Department, will pause at the current level, reverse, or suspend all in-person instruction. ​It is best to continue to check back at these two web pages.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your child’s English Learner (EL) teacher. They can give you information about what instruction will look like in the hybrid model. Also, the Bilingual Family Liaison is always a good contact when you have questions about the school and the hybrid or distance learning model.

Gifted Services Gifted Services in Action @APSGifted
Every school has a resource teacher for the gifted (RTG). One of the roles of RTGs is to model critical and creative thinking strategies from the APS Critical and Creative Thinking Strategies Framework (CCT Framework) and then support teachers in their implementation of strategies to add additional rigor and engagement in lessons.

With the very important focus on social emotional learning and academic success especially in the virtual environment, RTGs are working with teachers on Habits of Mind (HOM) which are part of the Decision and Outcomes section of our CCT Framework.

HOM are 16 attributes and/or dispositions that support knowing how to behave intelligently especially when confronted with a situation in which there is no readily agreed upon solution. For more information please visit The Institute of Habits of Mind. Be sure to visit the parent section with additional resources.

Here are a few examples of this work happening at McKinley ES and Arlington Traditional School: Kevin Trainor, RTG at McKinley, collaboratively planning with Ms. Sklar:

DTL Oct. 12 Message

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Another role of the RTG is to communicate with families about happenings within the school as well as opportunities happening outside the school day. Here are examples from Williamsburg MS, Dorothy Hamm MS and Yorktown HS.

Kristie Board, RTG at Williamsburg, shares the latest newsletter on the WMS Gifted Services page:

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Kat Partington, RTG at Dorothy Hamm, shares the latest on the Vocabulary Bowl for interested Dorothy Hamm students:

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Eileen Wagner, RTG at Yorktown, shares a SciFest All Access for students, families, educators:

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Follow @APSGifted for more news!       

William & Mary’s Center for Gifted Education is offering two virtual programs for high-ability students:

Gifted Services Advisory Committee (GSAC)
The first meeting of the year was held virtually on September 30th from 7:00 – 8:30 PM. You can find the presentation by Cheryl McCullough, K-12 Supervisor of Gifted Services in the GSAC section. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 26th from 7:00 – 8:30 PM.

Please email Dan Corcoran danjcorcoraniii@gmail.com if you would like to attend.

Revised Plan for Hybrid/In-Person Learning

Español

Dear APS Community,

To better serve our students, we are announcing updates to the return-to-school plan, including revisions to the elementary and middle school hybrid/in-person instructional models and adjusted student groupings for Return Levels 2 and 3. While many students have had a successful start in distance learning, we all recognize that students learn best in school, and are following guidance from the Virginia Department of Education and public health officials to transition our staff and students back into classrooms safely. We are adjusting our hybrid/in-person learning model to ensure that all students will receive four days of synchronous instruction regardless of their grade level or learning model preference.

The changes to the elementary and middle school hybrid/in-person learning model and student groupings for Levels 2 and 3 students are detailed below. In addition, we are extending the time frame for Level 2 families to update their preferred instructional model in ParentVUE to Wed, Oct. 21. Watch my video message, summarizing the changes, here.

All Dates Contingent Upon Meeting Health and Safety and Operational Metrics
The dates listed for beginning in-person learning for each level are projected dates that we are working toward, and are subject to change based on health, safety, and operational metrics. APS will not proceed through the various levels without those measures in place. The APS COVID-19 Dashboard is updated every Friday to provide details on those metrics and track progress toward each projected Level and return date.

REVISED HYBRID MODEL Elementary Hybrid Model – Elementary school students who choose the hybrid model will participate in two consecutive in-person instruction days per week, and two consecutive days per week of synchronous distance learning with their teachers. Mondays will continue as asynchronous learning days. We will make every effort to keep classes and teachers together; however, some changes may be necessary based on the outcome of the staff surveys and family selection process.

Instead of assigning students to report in the A/A or B/B group by last name, students will be assigned by grade level, with PreK, 1st, 3rd, 5th grade students attending in-person on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (A/A) and Kindergarten, 2nd, 4th grade students attending in-person on Thursdays and Fridays (B/B). This model allows students and teachers in each class to remain together on both in-person and distance learning days, allowing for synchronous distance learning.

Sample Schedule:Monday (All Hybrid and Full-Time Distance Students):

  • Teacher Planning/Asynchronous Distance Learning + Additional Synchronous Small Group Instruction Sessions for Some Students

Tuesday/Wednesday (A/A Hybrid Students):

  • All PreK, 1st, 3rd, and 5th graders who select the hybrid model attend school in person.
  • Each class would be divided into two classrooms (to achieve required physical distancing) and receive instruction by their teacher and an assistant.
  • The assistant will monitor students while they work, as the teacher delivers instruction, rotating from one classroom to the other.
  • All Kindergarten, 2nd and 4th grade students who select the hybrid model will participate in distance learning, including synchronous and asynchronous instruction, with their assigned teachers.

Thursday/Friday (B/B):

  • All Kindergarten, 2nd and 4th graders who select the hybrid model attend school in person.
  • Each class would be divided into two classrooms (to achieve required physical distancing) and receive instruction by their teacher and an assistant.
  • The assistant will monitor students while they work, as the teacher delivers instruction, rotating from one classroom to the other.
  • All PreK, 1st, 3rd and 5th grade students who select hybrid model will participate in distance learning, including synchronous and asynchronous instruction, with their assigned teachers.

Students who select full-time distance learning will continue as they are now, with a possible change in teacher, depending on the result of staff and family surveys. For hybrid model staff and students, benefits are:

  • Teachers will be able to deliver synchronous instruction on days that were previously identified as asynchronous, since the grade level will move together as a unit and the class and teacher remain together for hybrid in-person and distance learning.
  • English Learners (ELs) and students with disabilities (SWD) will receive four days of synchronous instruction.
  • Teachers will not have to create two separate lesson plans for the in-person students and the students at home.
  • Classroom teachers in the hybrid model will report to school two days a week, instead of four days a week, to limit in-person interactions with students and other staff.

Middle School Hybrid – Middle school students will follow the high school model communicated several weeks ago. Middle school students will receive synchronous instruction four days a week, Tuesday-Friday.  Students who select the hybrid model will attend school in person two days a week. Teachers will instruct both groups of students using a blended learning model. This may mean that some students in school will receive instruction from a teacher who is remote; these students will be monitored and assisted in person by classroom assistants. Based on parent and staff survey results, there may be some sections with only virtual students participating in them, which may result in a schedule change.

High School Hybrid – As communicated earlier this year, high school students will receive synchronous instruction four days a week, Tuesday-Friday. Students who select the hybrid model will attend school in person two days a week. Teachers will instruct both groups of students using a blended learning model. This may mean that some students in school will receive instruction from a teacher who is remote; these students will be monitored and assisted in person by classroom assistants. 

REVISED STUDENT GROUPING LEVELS AND TIMELINE
APS will adjust student grouping for the return levels, to accommodate the adjustments to the hybrid model, and to ensure that students with IEPs and English Learners are able transition with their general education peers. The dates listed below for each phase are projected dates that we are working toward, and are subject to change based on health, safety, and operational metrics.

  • Level 1: Projected Return Date – Mid to Late October (No Change)
    • Students with Disabilities (SWDs) who require direct support to access distance learning.
  • Level 2: Projected Phased Return – Beginning Mid to Late November (NEW)
    • All PreK-5th grade students, including PreK-5th grade English Learners and SWDs with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), and high school students enrolled in selected Career & Technical Education (CTE) courses at the Career Center.
    • Students phase in, in groups, according to the following projected timeline:
      • Starting Week of November 10*: PreK, Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade students, plus CTE students
      • Starting Week of December 1: 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students begin
    • All projected dates are subject to health and safety and operational metrics and may be changed as necessary.
  • Level 3: Projected Return Date – Mid-January (NEW)
    • All APS middle and high school students who selected hybrid, in-person instruction
    • Specific phases to be announced at a later date

* Wed, Nov. 11 is a holiday, so students on the Tue/Wed schedule will be in person one day that week.

Extending the ParentVUE Selection Window:
These changes require that we extend the window for families to make selections in ParentVUE, so we will extend the deadline for Level 2 families to update their selections to Wednesday, October 21. Details on the selection process and how update your selections in ParentVUE can be found online.

Additional details regarding this plan can be found online here. I will present the modified plan to the School Board this Thursday, October 8, as part of the 2020-21 School Year Monitoring Report.

We are committed to providing a quality learning experience whichever path you choose. Thank you for your support, and for keeping an open mind as we move forward.

Sincerely,
Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Superintendent’s Oct. 6 Weekly Update

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Dear APS Families,

Thank you for sharing your feedback on our return-to-school plan. We have received a lot of great feedback and want to reiterate that APS remains committed to transitioning students back to school safely and gradually, beginning with students with disabilities who need the most support. Our plan follows the guidelines set by the Virginia Department of Education and adheres to all public health recommendations for safely reopening schools.

In response to feedback from both staff and families, we are revisiting our timeline and making some positive changes to our plan, including changes to the elementary and middle school hybrid models to best serve all students, regardless of the model you choose. Details on the revised plan and timeline will be shared tomorrow via School Talk, and in my monitoring report at Thursday’s School Board meeting. As we move forward with these changes, we will also extend the deadlines for families to complete the selection process or update their preferences in ParentVUE.

Many families also requested information about teacher assignments prior to choosing a learning model. We understand that many students have already formed bonds with their teachers and classmates, and we will do our very best to provide continuity and consistency whenever possible. Given the complexities in realigning schedules, and because we are committed to making decisions based on student need, first and foremost, we are unable to share this information in advance.

Thank you for your patience, and for keeping an open mind as we move forward, knowing that there is no perfect solution to meet all needs at once, during the pandemic. I am confident that the changes we are making will address many of the concerns families have shared and help to relieve some of the stress our community is experiencing.

We continue to receive excellent questions and feedback from staff and families, and we are processing all of it as quickly as possible. Given the high volume of messages, this takes some time. I encourage you to send your input via the Engage form or by writing to engage@apsva.us, and we will continue to update the FAQ on our website with responses to your questions.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Family Selection Process Open for Return Level 2

Families will be able to select their preferred instructional delivery method for Level 2 students online through ParentVUE. The selection process for Level 2 students is from Tuesday, Sept. 29, and closes on Tuesday, Oct. 13. More information

Superintendent Provides Return to Hybrid, In-Person Learning Plan

Update includes New APS COVID-19 Dashboard, Timeline and Metrics

Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán presented the APS plan to return to in-person learning at the Sept. 24 School Board meeting. The presentation included updated metrics, a timeline for returning to buildings, and details on a new dashboard for monitoring health and safety metrics.

APS Dashboard
The dashboard is designed to provide a quick glance review of each metric using five colors associated with each level of instruction. ​

  • Grey – Level 0 which is full distance learning
  • Red – Level 1 which includes distance learning supports for select students with disabilities.
  • Orange – Level 2 which provides in-person instruction for PreK to Grade 3, select English Language Learners, students with disabilities and select career and technical education courses,
  • Yellow – Level 3 provides in-person instruction for all students in a hybrid instructional model
  • Green – Level 4 denotes a 100% capacity with no public health restrictions ​

The dashboard is now posted on the APS website homepage and will be updated weekly on Fridays to provide more clarity on how data is informing our plans.

Pandemic Operating Conditions
APS has created four operating levels associated with COVID-19.

  • Level 1: The majority of schools and offices may be closed, or limited employees are reporting.  ​
  • Level 2: The majority of schools and offices will be open and identified students with the greatest need of additional support will receive one or more days of hybrid, in person instruction.
  • Level 3: All our schools and offices will be open, and students will be participating in a hybrid model (either distance or in-person learning.)
  • Level 4: APS returns to pre-pandemic operating status of 100% capacity for students with no public health restrictions. ​

Health and Safety Response
If community health conditions worsen, APS, in collaboration with the Arlington County Public Health Department will pause at the current level, reverse, or suspend all in-person instruction. ​

Student Cohort Group Identification
APS has identified the following groups of students who are most in need of in-person support and instruction and plans to transition them into school this fall, prior to bringing back all students who select hybrid/in-person instruction. ​

  • Level 1: Students with Disabilities (SWD)  SWD who require direct support to access the curriculum as presented via distance learning. ​
  • Level 2:
    • English Learners/SWD – English Learners 1-4 in grades K-12 and all SWD with IEP’s as both groups of students need additional in-person support for language acquisition (EL’s) and access to the curriculum. ​
    • Early Learners – All PreK-3rd grade students given that they need more support in accessing their education in early years of learning. ​
  • Career and Technical Education (CTE) Students – CTE students enrolled in many Career Center courses need to have access to industry tools and equipment to become proficient in their field of study. Some in-person hands-on work is required in order to meet VDOE competencies not waived and industry credentialing requirements. ​

Return to School Timeline
APS has identified target dates for bringing students back, defined by return level, contingent upon operational readiness and positive health metrics. APS is planning toward these timeframes but cannot yet promise a specific date until operational areas are fully addressed. APS will communicate specific dates when they are available.

  • September: Full-Time Distance Learning, All Students
  • Mid to Late-October: Return Level 1
  • Early to Mid-November: Return Level 2
  • Early December: Return Level 3

The ability to be able to return in each level of instruction during the pandemic is highly dependent on the ability to meet some key metrics and operational capacities, including: Bus Routing; COVID-19 Equipment​; Isolation Equipment​; Health Measure Compliance​; Employee and Substitute Availability​; and Cleaning and Disinfecting Supplies​.

Selection Process for Students, Staff and Families

Staff: Staff will not be surveyed all at one time. APS will determine staffing needs for each level, and only those staff will be surveyed prior to return. ​For Level 1, Human Resources will survey staff Oct. 1-8 and the week of Oct. 5 for Level 2.

Families: APS will contact Level 1 return families directly to confirm preference the week of Sept. 28. For Level 2, APS will open the ParentVue process for all level 2 students and families to update their selections on Tue, Sept. 29.Additional details on return levels, transportation considerations, health and safety expectations and more is available on BoardDocs. To watch the Superintendent’s presentation, click here.

Monitoring Items
The Board was provided updates on the following:

  • Update from the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families – Representatives from the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families will present data and recommendations from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the Your Voice Matters Survey. Details are available here.
  • Elementary Boundary Process Update – Staff provided an update on the Fall 2020 Elementary School Boundary Process which will happen as scheduled but the scope of this process will be limited in response to COVID-19 and the strain it has placed on the school community. The full presentation is available online.

Appointments
The Board approved the following appointments:

  • Melaney Mackin was named the new Principal of Carlin Springs Elementary School. Dr. Mackin currently serves as the principal at Silverbrook Elementary School in Fairfax County and her appointment begins Nov. 1
  • The School Board appointed Frank Bellavia as the Director of Communications. Bellavia has been with Arlington Public Schools for 15 years.

Information Items
The Board discussed the following items.

  • Charge for the Arlington Public Schools and School Resource Officers Work Group – The APS and School Resource Officers Work Group is being created to primarily address the community concerns expressed to the School Board and Superintendent regarding the relationship and the operations that Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) have with APS. The work of the Work Group will also serve to meet the requirement to review the memorandum of understanding with our local law enforcement and ensure opportunity for community input during the review per VA Code § 22.1-280.2:3. The proposed charge is available on BoardDocs.
  • ATS Key McKinley Refresh and Kitchen Renovation Funding – Staff is proposing a kitchen and two building refreshes as part of the School Moves process that took place last year. The full presentation is available online.

Action Items
The Board approved the following items:

  • School Board 2020-2021 Action Plan – The School Board approved it’s 2020-21 Action Plan that included overarching goals that focus on excellent education and a continued focus on equity. The Action Plan also includes goals on student success and well-being as well as operational planning. The full action plan is available on BoardDocs.
  • Transportation Staff Facility Construction Contract Award – The Board approved the construction contract award for the Transportation Staff Facility Renovation project. Staff recommends awarding the contract to The Matthews Group, Inc. in the amount of $1,847, 427 as well as approving a transfer of $1.2 million from the Capital Reserves. The full presentation is available online.

For More Information:

Citizens who want to comment on any items discussed at the School Board meeting should email the Board at school.board@apsva.us or call 703-228-6015. Citizens may call 703-228-2400 on the Monday after the School Board meetings to listen to a meeting summary.

School Board meetings are also broadcast live on Comcast Cable Channel 70 and Verizon FiOS Channel 41; live-streamed on the APS website, and re-broadcast on Fridays at 9 p.m. and Mondays at 7:30 p.m. immediately following the meeting. All materials and minutes will be posted to the website at www.apsva.us/schoolboard upon School Board approval at a subsequent meeting.

Sept. 21 Dept. of Teaching & Learning Update: Services for Students with Disabilities, English Learners, and Gifted Students

We are two weeks into the new school year and our students and staff are settling in to instructional routines.  Here is some information about ongoing services, supports and opportunities for our students with disabilities, English Learners and Gifted students:

Special Education

Phase 1 updates-
Students who are unable to access distance learning without significant adult support will be the first group of students to return to APS school buildings. This group of students will have the opportunity to continue virtual learning with the support of APS staff members in our school building. Schools are in the process of identifying students for this phase. Communication to parents will follow. An additional working group has been formed to plan on phasing in the second group of students with disabilities into our building in a hybrid model.

The Office of Special Education will be providing the opportunity for parents to participate in Crisis Intervention and Prevention Training (CPI). This course is designed to build strategies to safely manage and prevent difficult behavior. More information will be made available through the Parent Resource Center (PRC).

English Learners (ELs)

As students have returned to learning, we wanted you to be aware of some of the supports in place to make learning even better.

Bilingual Family Liaisons  – The Bilingual Family Liaisons are bilingual/bicultural parent liaisons who work closely with other school staff, including administrators, teachers (including English Learner department staff), special education and gifted staff, counselors, social workers and other school staff, in order to provide supports to students and families. The Bilingual Family Liaison serves as a liaison between families and the school. They will welcome you into the school and help connect you to the staff in the school who can answer your questions. Please see the list of the Bilingual Family Liaisons for more information for your school.

English Learner (EL) Counselors – The EL Counselors, who are at each of the middle and high schools and sites, support English learners in many different ways. They can provide direct services to ELs which include, but are not limited to, individual counseling, group counseling, crisis intervention, family reunification, acculturation and trauma support. Students may be referred by teachers, administrators, school counselors, nurses, school staff, parents and/or self. The EL Counselors are bilingual and collaborate with other professionals to ensure appropriate and meaningful support. If your student is in need of social-emotional support, please reach out to the school and ask for the EL counselor. Or, using the Bilingual Family Liaison (BFL) list above, contact the BFL at your middle or high school.

Having issues with connectivity and getting online? APS has a phone line that can help you. Call the Family Technology Call Center at 703-228-2570 for technical support. They can be reached:

    • 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday
    • 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Friday

Gifted Services 

One of the ways RTGs are supporting virtual teaching and learning is to model how to use the different APPS available to teachers to nurture student discussion, gather feedback and/or raise the level of engagement for all students. Each RTG created a short Flipgrid video to introduce themselves to their communities and welcome everyone back to the new school year. For easy access for the community, these Flipgrid videos have been added to the Gifted Services webpage and can be directly found using the following links:  Meet the Elementary RTGs and Meet the Secondary RTGs. You will also see a list of all RTGs by school and their email addresses.

In anticipation of distance learning and the need for on-demand virtual professional learning for teachers, the Gifted Services office offered over 30 online webinars and self-paced sessions for teachers and staff this summer and during pre-service week. In addition, these sessions are available for teachers to access anytime for just-in-time learning. These sessions were organized around the following categories: Equity in the Screening and Identification for Gifted Services, Virtual Teaching and Learning for Gifted Learners, Social Emotional Development and Needs of Gifted Learners, Differentiation and Purposefully Planning for Diverse Gifted Learners, and Problem-Based and Project-Based Learning. Over 480 webinars and reflections were completed by teachers from across the county during the pre-service phase of our professional learning.

One way to see Gifted Services in action in APS is to follow us on Twitter @APSGifted. You will also see articles about current best practices in education and resources to support families. Here are just a few examples from RTGs in a high school, middle school and elementary school: At W-L, Liz Burgos, the RTG at W-L, worked with the 9th grade teachers and students on the QFT strategy. (Question Formulation Technique) Kat Partington, RTG at Dorothy Hamm, shared her enthusiasm for class discussions in two social studies classrooms. At Randolph ES, Jacqui Greene, RTG, shares how teachers and students are focusing on building a learning community. Eileen Wagner, RTG at Yorktown @YHSGifted, also shared a great resource for families as we all navigate the virtual teaching and learning world: “Navigating Uncharted Waters: Supporting Students’ Engagement During Virtual Learning” presented September 2020 by Dr. Jennifer Pease, UVa Associate Professor, Dept. of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education. Dr. Pease emphasizes the structures needed at home and addresses organizational management ideas, motivation and mindsets during virtual learning given current research.

screenshot from twitter    screenshot from twitter

screenshot from twitter    screenshot from twitter

 

Superintendent’s Sept. 15 Weekly Update

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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

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

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

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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 

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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

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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

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

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.

View the APS 2020-21 Instructional Plan (Updated 3/2/2021)

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. Watch the town hall below and view the presentation, here.

Aug. 18 Return-to-School Update

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

Español

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 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

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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

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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

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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

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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