School Year 2021-22

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FREE MEALS continue for all students. Although school meals are provided free to all children, school funding and eligibility for other programs depends on completed meal applications.


News & Updates

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

Superintendent’s Nov. 17 Update: Snow Days + New Weather Codes

Today, I have updates to share on APS inclement weather procedures. I am also pleased to announce the nomination process for APS Teacher and Principal of the Year, as well as updates on instruction and vaccination rates for children aged 5+.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

Today, I have updates to share on APS inclement weather procedures. I am also pleased to announce the nomination process for APS Teacher and Principal of the Year, as well as updates on instruction and vaccination rates for children aged 5+.

Snow Days + New Weather Codes – We have updated our winter weather procedures, including a return to traditional snow days and a code system:

  • The first six inclement weather days will be treated as traditional “snow days.” These six days may occur consecutively as part of a single major event or at different times during isolated weather events.
  • Once the six days are used, APS will revert to full distance learning (virtual) days to allow learning to continue and avoid “makeup” days at the end of the school year. This threshold is based on the number of days built into the current calendar for inclement weather.
  • Five Weather Codes: Code 1 – All Schools and Offices Closed; Code 2 – Two Hour Delay; Code 3 – Early Release; Code 4 – After School Activities Canceled; and Code 5 – Weekend Activities Canceled.
  • APS will announce decisions impacting the following day by 6 p.m. whenever possible. Morning decisions will be announced by 5 a.m., as needed, based on conditions overnight.
  • Families are encouraged to update your emergency contacts now and have a plan in place.

Detailed information regarding inclement weather procedures is available online.

Now Accepting Nominations for Teacher and Principal of the Year – The nomination process for Teacher and Principal of the Year is open through December 8. Due to the pandemic, this year we have centralized the nomination process rather than each school running a separate process. The process is open to students, staff, and families. There are many beloved teachers and administrators in APS, and this is one way to recognize individuals who are making a difference.Secondary Literacy Update – At last night’s Board meeting, I shared an update on the great work happening in secondary literacy. View this video showing how Wakefield teachers are working with students on English content, reading, and writing.Vaccination Updates – In the first week of vaccine eligibility for children aged 5-11, over 6,000 children (37%) in that age group received their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. This places Arlington among the highest rates for the youngest age group in Virginia. The County maintains an online dashboard showing vaccination rates by age group online.

  • Vaccine appointments are FREE and can be made at nearby pharmacies online, or by checking with your pediatrician’s office.
  • Arlington is now offering walk-in opportunities for 5-11-year-olds at Arlington Mill and Walter Reed Community Centers. View times.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving next week! Next week will be a short week as all schools and offices are closed Wednesday – Friday, so my next weekly message will be on Dec. 1. Enjoy your holiday break and thank you for all you do to support our schools and students.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Nov. 10 Update: Vaccinations for 5-11-Year-Old Students Available

There are so many great things happening in APS as we begin our second quarter. I continue visiting schools to observe lessons, intervention planning and other important work teachers and staff are doing to support students. I look forward to sharing more videos to highlight that work in the coming weeks.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear Families,

There are so many great things happening in APS as we begin our second quarter. I continue visiting schools to observe lessons, intervention planning and other important work teachers and staff are doing to support students. I look forward to sharing more videos to highlight that work in the coming weeks. Here are updates for the week/month ahead:

Vaccinations for 5-11-Year-Old Students – Every student aged 5 or older is now eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine! Appointments can be made at nearby pharmacies and clinics by visiting Vaccines.gov (www.vacunas.gov), or by checking with your pediatrician’s office. Additionally, Arlington County Public Health is holding clinics specifically for 5-11-year-old children this weekend, Nov. 13 and 14, from 9 a.m.–5 p.m., by appointment only. Make your appointment online by visiting VAMS and clicking the “Schedule a Pediatric COVID-19 vaccine appointment” icon or by calling the County’s COVID-19 hotline at 703-228-7999.

  • In these early weeks, vaccine supply may be limited. But as supplies increase, so too will appointment availability. Check Vaccines.gov regularly to see updated appointment availability and make an appointment for your child’s free vaccine as soon as possible.  Vaccination is key to keeping our schools open and our students safe.
  • The vaccine is FREE and has been rigorously tested for safety. APS and Arlington County can help families with making appointments: View details and contact information.

Interventions for Students Needing Additional Support – Earlier this year, K-8 parents were notified about Beginning of Year (BOY) universal screeners to assess student needs in Reading and Math. Any student whose overall score does not meet the benchmark on the universal screener will receive an intervention. An accompanying intervention plan will be shared with the student’s parent/guardian. Interventions to target specific area(s) of need in Reading or Math may include:

  • Targeted lessons assigned in Dreambox and additional small group or one-on-one instruction to target specific area(s) of need.
  • Targeted small group instruction using research-based best practices that incorporate models, multiple representations, and/or other mathematical supports.
  • Targeted small group instruction using Orton-Gillingham (OG) methodology.
  • Increased weekly usage in Lexia Core5 and additional small group or one-on-one instruction to target specific area(s) of need.

If you have specific questions about the Beginning of Year data or any interventions, please contact your student’s classroom and/or Reading/English/Math content area teacher.

National School Psychology Week – Please join APS in celebrating National School Psychology Week, Nov. 8-12! Throughout the week, APS will highlight how school psychologists work with teachers and staff to help students learn and grow even in the face of difficulties. To find your school’s psychologist, visit www.apsva.us/student-services/psychological-services/.

Recognizing Military Families – Veterans Day is Thu, Nov. 11, and November is also Military Family Appreciation Month—a time to recognize the unique sacrifices students, families and staff make to support loved ones in uniform. We are proud to have a strong community of over 1,600 students from military families enrolled in APS, and this is a chance to celebrate them and show our solidarity and support. We also value partnerships with the local Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and other organizations supporting our efforts to meet the unique needs of military families.

Secondary Report Cards Available – Middle and high school student report cards are now available through ParentVUE and StudentVUE. Families who are unable to access ParentVUE may contact their child’s school to request a paper or PDF copy. Elementary report cards will be available on Nov. 19. We are closed on Thursday for the Veterans Day holiday. As a reminder, our next Board meeting is next Tue, Nov. 16. Also, next week, I will be sharing guidance and information on our snow day and inclement weather procedures for the winter season.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Nov. 3 Update: Thank You for Supporting Our Schools

More than 78% of voters approved this year’s School Bond, which allows APS to invest in future facility and infrastructure improvements to meet the needs of students. Updates on Social Emotional Learning and Vaccinations for 5-11-year-olds.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear Families,

Here are updates for the remainder of the short week ahead.

  • Spotlight on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) – SEL and mental health are priorities for APS, especially this school year as students adjust to being back in school. Our teachers, counselors, social workers and psychologists are engaged in community-building and providing supports matched to students’ individual needs. Every school offers this support, and in this video, AETV features Glebe Elementary’s work to foster a supportive, inclusive community of support. 
  • Thank You for Supporting Our Schools – More than 78% of voters approved this year’s School Bond, which allows APS to invest in future facility and infrastructure improvements to meet the needs of students. The $23.01 million bond will be used for improvements such as required kitchen renovations and safety and security projects. Congratulations to Mary Kadera, elected to the Arlington School Board. She will replace outgoing Board member Monique O’Grady beginning in the new calendar year.
  • COVID-19 Vaccination Appointments for Children Ages 5-11 Available – On Sat, Nov. 6, Arlington County Public Health will begin offering free COVID-19 vaccines by appointment to children ages 5–11 years old at Walter Reed and Arlington Mill Community Centers. Clinics designated specifically for this age group will be held Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 13 and 14, from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. I encourage all employees to help spread the word to encourage families with children in this age range about the vaccine—this is the safest, most effective way to help keep our community safe and schools open. Keep in mind that in the early weeks of distribution, vaccine supply may be limited. As supplies increase, so too will appointment availability. APS will provide scheduling support and assistance to families who may need it at our Title I schools. Families at non-Title I schools who may need scheduling support and assistance should contact 703-228-7999. Details are in the announcement.

Thank you and enjoy the holiday tomorrow, as all schools and offices are closed in observance of Diwali.

Sincerely,
Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Oct. 27 Update: Vaccinations for Ages 5-11 Coming Soon

This week I am pleased to share the highlights of our new literacy initiatives, and the strategies teachers are using to empower students to become skilled readers. I also have updates on vaccinations for students ages 5-11 and other reminders for the month ahead, as we get ready to begin the second quarter.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

This week I am pleased to share the highlights of our new literacy initiatives, and the strategies teachers are using to empower students to become skilled readers. I also have updates on vaccinations for students ages 5-11 and other reminders for the month ahead, as we get ready to begin the second quarter.

Spotlight on Literacy: The Science of Teaching Students to Read – Literacy is a division-wide priority, and I am so excited to see elementary and secondary teachers embracing new approaches to help our students become more proficient readers. The English Language Arts Department has shifted its model to teach foundational skills and phonics more explicitly and systematically. This video highlights literacy instruction and the strategies teachers are using to strengthen reading proficiency. Teaching students to read early and well is fundamental to a strong education and I believe we are going to see better outcomes for our students with this science-based approach.

Increasing Awareness about Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) – This week, Oct. 25-29, APS is raising awareness of AAC, which focuses on assistive technologies and strategies being used to help students communicate using forms of communication other than speech. The Parent Resource Center has developed a new webpage highlighting AAC Awareness Week activities, including videos and resources for staff and families.  Coming Soon: Vaccinations for Students Ages 5-11 – APS continues to work with the County on plans for rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine to students ages 5-11 once it is approved, which we anticipate very soon. Once approved, we will inform the community about the availability of doses and how to schedule appointments. Arlington County Public Health anticipates holding clinics and scheduling vaccinations by appointment, hopefully by mid-November. We will keep families informed as new information is received.

Month Ahead – November – Here are some calendar reminders for November to help you plan. Note that there is no school for students on Tue, Nov. 2, which is a grade prep day for staff. Many staff will be working remotely on that day, so please be aware that responses to inquiries may be delayed.

  • Mon, Nov. 1 – End of First Quarter
  • Mon, Nov. 1 – High School Information Night
  • Tues, Nov. 2 – No School – Election Day and Grade Prep (Most School Staff Working Remotely)
  • Thu, Nov. 4 – Holiday – Diwali
  • Tue, Nov. 9 – Report Cards (Grades 6-12)
  • Thu, Nov. 11 – Holiday – Veterans Day
  • Fri, Nov. 19 – Report Cards (Grades 1-5)
  • Wed-Fri, Nov. 24-26 – Holiday – Thanksgiving Break​​​​​​​

Have a great week!

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Oct. 20 Update: Share Your Input on the 2022-23 Draft School Calendar

Here are this week’s updates as we continue the fall season.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

Here are this week’s updates as we continue the fall season.

Share Your Input on the 2022-23 School Year Draft Calendars – Draft Calendars for the 2022-23 School Year are online for staff and family input—there are two options with the main difference being the start and end dates. Take a moment to complete the survey by Fri, Oct. 29. Your input will help shape the final calendar proposal to the School Board in early November. Take the survey and view details online.

Clarification on Testing Procedures for Student Illnesses – Health and safety remains a priority as we work to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in our schools. If your student is out of school due to illness and exhibits any symptoms that could be a sign of COVID-19:

  • Parents/guardians must provide evidence of a negative PCR COVID-19 test OR an alternate diagnosis from a healthcare provider before returning to school.
  • PCR COVID-19 tests can be obtained at Kenmore, Courthouse Plaza, Arlington Mill, and many other local providers.
  • Families must submit the medical clearance or negative results to their school’s administrative team or School Health Clinic.
  • Families must receive notice in writing from the school, clearing the student to return before they can return to school.
  • Parents/guardians should not send their student back to school until they receive that written clearance from the school.
  • We understand that these test results sometimes take time, so we encourage families to get tested early and often.

View the quick guide online for families.

Office of Special Education Update on Inclusivity – Creating and supporting inclusive environments in our schools is a key priority for APS. We know from research that inclusivity benefits all learners, and improves academic, social, and emotional outcomes for students with disabilities. We also know that increasing inclusivity practices requires changing behaviors, habits and mindsets. How we are doing this now:

  • Every two weeks, school staff receive inclusivity tips for implementation and reflection from the Office of Special Education. The Parent Resource Center will also be sharing resources for families to support inclusion in the coming months.
  • Seven model sites receive a two-week schedule of steps to implement that build capacity and change mindsets. (These sites were selected intentionally to represent all three levels of school, a variety of demographics and diversity, and varying data points)
  • The Office of Special Education is working with those schools on professional learning and inclusive practices which will then serve as an exemplar for other schools.

Prioritizing inclusive practices is a key priority in our 5-Year Action Plan which is based on the APS Comprehensive Special Education Review conducted during the 2018-2019 school year.

Learning Disabilities Awareness Month – As part of our inclusivity work, APS is participating in Learning Disabilities Awareness Month in October to raise awareness about the one in five students who learn differently because they have Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or other learning issues. This is a time to understand how these disabilities impact students and their families, and to renew our commitment to creating a stronger future for them. Read more about Parent Resource Center resources and activities online.

Finally, as a reminder, virtual parent-teacher conferences are underway for elementary and middle schools. This Thursday is early release for elementary students. There is no school on Friday for elementary and middle schools to allow for conferences. Please be mindful that most school staff will be working remotely on Friday.   

Have a great week!
Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Oct. 13 Update: Thank You Principals

Reminders about October recognitions and acknowledgments, as well as an update on our efforts to accelerate student learning through targeted interventions and differentiated instruction.

Superintendent's Updates logo

 

En Español

Dear APS Families,

Here are reminders about October recognitions and acknowledgments, as well as an update on our efforts to accelerate student learning through targeted interventions and differentiated instruction.

Update on Arlington’s Tiered System of Support (ATSS)—In a previous message, I highlighted our focus on the universal screener assessments underway in English Language Arts and Math. Following these assessments, teachers work in their Collaborative Learning Teams (CLTs) to analyze results, determine each student’s unique strengths, differentiate core (Level 1) instruction, and institute necessary interventions (Tier 2 or 3) for students who need it. Read more about our approach online. If you have any questions about your student’s assessment results and/or their intervention plan, please reach out to your student’s teacher.

Bullying Prevention in October: APS teaches bullying prevention to foster safe and supportive school communities. Throughout this month, your student’s school counselors are engaging in various bullying prevention efforts such as reinforcing the three Rs of bullying prevention: Recognize, Report and Refuse; participating in Wear Orange Unity Day (Oct. 20) to show unity for kindness, support, and inclusion; and spreading the Upstander Pledge, a commitment to standing up for others. Everyone can do something to help prevent bullying. Learn what you can do.  View this short video about our efforts.

Thank You Principals!: October is National Principal Appreciation Month and while we typically recognize principals during Virginia’s statewide Principal Appreciation Week at the end of January, I do want to take a moment to recognize our incredible administrators for their leadership and excellent work – especially in these uncertain and challenging times, as they’ve taken on contact tracing, coordination of indoor and outside lunches and so many other duties that fall outside of the already busy schedule of a principal. Please take a moment to thank our principals for all they do this month.

October 14 School Board Meeting: We have a school board meeting this Thursday, during which we will recognize our outstanding high school Latinx Student Leaders for Hispanic Heritage Month, as well as present monitoring updates on APS Responses to Student Behaviors and the Virtual Learning Program. View the full agenda online.  ​​​​​​​Thank you for your engagement and partnership.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent​​​​​​​
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Oct. 6 Update: Highlights from Recent School Visits

An update on the W-L incident, calendar reminders, highlights of recent school visits, and an important message about the TikTok Challenge trend affecting our schools.

Here are some of the highlights of my visits to schools in the first month of the school year. Most schools are captured here but there were not photos from every visit, including Abingdon. I will be visiting schools throughout the year and will highlight all schools.


Español

Dear APS Families,

I want to provide an update on this morning’s incident at Washington-Liberty High School (W-L). Fortunately, everyone is safe, and the police did not find any evidence of a real threat. Students and staff were immediately placed in a secure location while the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) conducted its investigation and were later dismissed from school as a safety precaution.

This was frightening for everyone involved, and we are grateful for the quick response by Washington-Liberty Principal Tony Hall, his staff, and the ACPD to keep our staff and students safe. ACPD has given the all-clear for school to resume on its normal schedule tomorrow, with increased police presence. We will continue to provide updates as we receive new information. Additional APS counselors and Employee Assistance Program staff will be at W-L tomorrow to help students and staff who need support processing the event. Today, I am also sharing calendar reminders, highlights of my recent school visits, an important message about the TikTok Challenge trend affecting our schools.

Monday is a Day of Learning for Staff, No School for Students – There is no school for students on Monday, Oct. 11, for Indigenous Peoples Day. Monday is a professional learning day for our staff, with many participating remotely, so please be aware that responses to inquiries may be delayed.

Highlights from Recent School Visits: During the first month of school, I made it a priority to visit every school across the division to observe academic and Social Emotional Learning supports for students, as well as health and safety measures. I had the opportunity to see innovative literacy and math strategies in practice, teams strategizing about interventions, and many other highlights. It was uplifting to see so many excited and engaged students and the great work happening in the classroom. I look forward to visiting schools throughout the school year. I shared photos from many visits on Twitter and you can view photo highlights online.

Spotlight on Ashlawn’s Global Citizens Project: During my visits, I had the opportunity to participate in Ashlawn’s Global Citizens Project with an amazing group of students. This is a multi-year initiative that helps students develop skills in respecting different cultures, the environment, social justice and leadership. Watch the video spotlighting the project and its impact on students. This is the first in a series of videos to come, highlighting academics, mental health and SEL, and health and safety.

TikTok Challenges: I shared a message on Friday informing families about TikTok Challenges, which can lead to destructive and harmful acts at school. September’s challenge affected APS schools at every level – elementary through high school – so we are seeking your help in reminding students of the consequences and serious nature of these challenges. Read more here.

Upcoming Dates: Mark your calendar for these dates:

  • Oct. 11 – Indigenous Peoples Day (no school for students – professional learning for staff)
  • Oct. 14 – School Board Meeting – Hispanic Heritage Month Recognition of High School Student Leaders
  • Oct. 16 – Hispanic Heritage Month event (2-5 pm): Reencuentro – Latinos in Arlington. Register here.
  • Oct. 21 – Elementary Parent Teacher Conferences (Early Dismissal)
  • Oct. 22 – Elementary and Middle School Parent Teacher Conferences (No School for Elementary and Middle Schools)
  • Oct. 25 – Middle School Information Night
  • Nov. 1 – End of First Quarter
  • Nov. 1 – High School Information Night
  • Nov. 9 – Report Cards (Grades 6-12)
  • Nov. 20 – Report Cards (Grades 1-5)

Thank you for your engagement and partnership.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Sept. 29 Update: Instruction During COVID-Related Absences

I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony of our 20th neighborhood elementary school over the weekend – Innovation Elementary. In the words of the 5th grade students who spoke at the event, their school is a community of innovators who aim to be “smarter and kinder” and will ultimately be world changers.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony of our 20th neighborhood elementary school over the weekend – Innovation Elementary. In the words of the 5th grade students who spoke at the event, their school is a community of innovators who aim to be “smarter and kinder” and will ultimately be world changers. I believe they will! Watch video of the full event online—the students once again remind us of our hope for the future.As we conclude the first month of the school year, here are updates on our instructional plans and other reminders.

  • Instruction During COVID-Related Absences: We are committed to continuing instruction for students who are quarantined or excluded from attending class due to COVID-19, when directed by the Arlington County Public Health Department. If Public Health requires a student to quarantine, APS will provide one of the following opportunities, as determined by the student’s teacher:
    • Limited livestreaming of instruction (Please note this is not concurrent instruction. The remote student’s camera and audio will be off, but they will be able to watch and listen.) OR
    • Recorded lessons focused on concepts for the course or grade level OR
    • Collaborative work via Canvas or Google.

This is in addition to the asynchronous work provided in Canvas. Teachers will communicate the method with further instructions. If a whole class quarantines, the class will revert to synchronous distance learning during the quarantine period. View the detailed guidance online.

Contact APS and New Family Information Line: There are many ways for families to connect and receive support, depending on the type of help needed. We have posted updated guidance on how to contact APS online. This includes a new Family Information Line (703-228-8000) established this school year to better serve families and address key topics such as transportation, technology and registration.

Virtual Parent-Teacher Conferences: This year, parent-teacher conferences will be held on:

  • Thursday, October 21 (after early release) for elementary schools
  • Friday, October 22 (no school for students) for elementary and middle schools

Each school and teacher will communicate directly with more details about the meetings. This is a time to build relationships with your student’s teacher and discuss your student’s academic needs, how they are adjusting to being back in school, and social-emotional skills. We are continuing the virtual format to make the conferences more accessible for families, based on feedback last school year, as well as to limit visitors in our school buildings as much as possible. This is part of our focus on keeping schools safe and open.

Vaccination Verification Update: We have continued the process of verifying employee vaccination status, and 71.65% percent of staff have responded as of this morning. Of those completing the survey, over 97.24% percent of staff have verified they are fully vaccinated. Overall, 67 percent of all staff and 91 percent of instructional staff are fully vaccinated, and we are following up with all those who have not responded to the survey. This data will be compiled and finalized in early October. Regular testing is required for staff who are unvaccinated or did not respond to the survey. Vaccination rates for staff are regularly updated on the dashboard.

As a reminder, we have a School Board meeting Thursday evening that begins at 7 p.m. View information about meetings, the agenda and how to view it online here.  Thank you for your partnership in supporting student success!

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán

Superintendent

New guidance for instruction during quarantine

Students will receive instructional support if they are not able to attend class because they are quarantined. Learn more.

Superintendent’s Sept. 22 Update: Assessing Student Instructional Needs

As we continue into Fall, assessments are happening division-wide to evaluate and meet individual student needs – academically, socially and emotionally.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

As we continue into Fall, assessments are happening division-wide to evaluate and meet individual student needs – academically, socially and emotionally.

In my weekly messages moving forward, I will be highlighting more examples of how teams are collaborating to advance our three priorities for this school year: Accelerated Learning and Support, Mental Health and Social Emotional Learning (SEL), and Health and Safety.

Here is more information on the assessments taking place now, as well as other updates

.Assessing Student Instructional Needs: Throughout the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, schools are engaged in various assessments. The various assessments allow us to collect data on students’ readiness for learning and educational progress, and are vital to shaping teachers’ instructional plans for whole classes and individualizing instructional strategies for students who might need more support. Assessments are also needed to meet local, State, and Federal requirements. The various assessments allow us to collect data on students’ readiness for learning and educational progress. More details on the work underway and the specific assessments being conducted by grade level can be found here: 2021-22 Assessment.

Updated Health and Safety:  We have updated the guidance for staff and families on our website to help better explain COVID response protocols. Please take a moment to view the Parent Quick Guide as well as newly revised health and safety procedures. More information will be shared soon on instructional plans for various scenarios. You can continue to find information on Covid-related exclusions on our staff and student COVID dashboard, which is continually evolving to help document the transmission rates by school.

Hispanic Heritage Month: We have started celebrating outstanding Latinx high school student leaders on our website and social media in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month. I hope you will join us in congratulating them and will tune in for the official recognition at the Oct. 14 School Board meeting. Arlington County is hosting several Hispanic Heritage Month events for employees. Details on those events are online.

Have a great week.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Sept. 15 Update: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

It is inspiring to see the great work happening across APS to help our students grow academically, socially and emotionally.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Community,

It is inspiring to see the great work happening across APS to help our students grow academically, socially and emotionally. I have had the opportunity to visit classes and see teachers and Collaborative Learning Teams in action, as they work on assessments and develop strategies to accelerate student learning. We will continue to share highlights of the work happening across our schools in the coming weeks, specifically in the priority areas of learning recovery and mental health. Here are important health reminders and additional updates for the week ahead:

  • Do Your Part to Keep School Open and Safe: While the recommended mitigation measures help us reduce the spread of the virus, every member of our community plays a role in keeping schools open and safe. Our collective goal is to continue to provide in-person school safely. That takes all of us. Please do your part. Take the daily health screening seriously, answer the questions honestly, and do not send your student to school if they are ill or have COVID-like symptoms. When there are confirmed COVID cases in schools, notices are sent to the school community, and individuals identified as close contacts receive detailed instructions on quarantine procedures. This data is tracked on our exclusion dashboard.
  • Mandatory Vaccinations for Staff Now in Effect: Monday was the compliance deadline for employees to verify their vaccination status. So far, 65 percent of all staff have verified they have been fully vaccinated. We are currently working to verify the status of the remaining employees who have not completed the verification process. Unvaccinated employees with approved exemptions will begin testing this week.
  • Mandatory Vaccinations for Student Athletes: Last Thursday, I announced that APS will require all students participating in high school sports (including 8th graders) to be vaccinated, effective November 8 (start of Winter Season). Student athletes who have an approved exemption will be required to submit to regular testing. APS will communicate with families about this requirement in the coming weeks.
  • COVID Testing: Our opt-in COVID testing program started Monday. The schedule for each school is online. I want to clarify a few points:
    • This is strategic asymptomatic testing which helps with COVID-19 detection and is a key strategy to keep our schools open and safe.
    • This is NOT randomized testing. Students and staff who have opted in for this will be tested every week at the set time for their work/school location. Students whose parents/guardians have not completed the consent forms will not be tested.
    • To date, more than 5,000 students have signed up to receive the testing. Individuals who miss their time window will be eligible to go on the same day or the next day to Kenmore’s dedicated site. The latest information is available online.
  • Virtual Learning Program (VLP) Update: VLP administrators are continuing to work to ensure every enrolled student is actively engaging in their learning. Strides have been made to correct issues that occurred at the start of school, and families can view daily updates. We value the engagement and partnership with VLP families and remain committed to the success of this new program and its students.
  • Hispanic Heritage Month: Today kicks off the national Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, which occurs annually from Sept. 15-Oct. 15. View this kick-off video to learn why this month is so meaningful in APS. We honor our Latinx students and the many Hispanic Americans who have enriched and made positive differences in our schools, community and culture. We also celebrate high school Latinx student leaders chosen by their principals for their outstanding achievements. They will be featured online throughout the month and at the Oct. 14 School Board meeting.

Also, a brief reminder that we celebrate Yom Kippur as a holiday for students and staff tomorrow, Thur. Sept. 16. In observance of the holiday, no school-based activities will be scheduled on Thursday, and no assessments that require student preparation will be given on Friday. Have a great week.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Sept. 8 Update: COVID Testing Begins Next Week

We look forward to the second week of school and hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend. Here are updates for this week and the month ahead.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

We look forward to the second week of school and hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend. Here are updates for this week and the month ahead:

  • Virtual Learning Program Changes: Yesterday, VLP staff and families received a message informing them of changes in leadership and staffing to address the issues that some VLP students experienced last week. Many students in the program had a successful first week joining their classes and connecting with their teachers and peers; however, that was not the consistent experience across the board. We are taking immediate steps to address the issues and remain committed to providing a positive and engaging experience for all students. To that end, Amy Jackson, Supervisor of Educational Technology & Programs, will lead the program with additional staff support until a new administrator is appointed. We will host a virtual town hall for VLP families this evening at 7 p.m. and have sent the details for the event to those families.
  • COVID Testing Starts Next Week: Our no cost COVID testing program will begin at all school locations the week of Sept. 13. To date, nearly 5,000 students and staff have signed up to receive the testing. Due to a nationwide shortage of the rapid antigen nasal swab test, ResourcePath staff will be primarily using a pooled PRC-RT test method to begin with. We are finalizing logistics today for each location and those details will be communicated by your school or work location. Each location will have a dedicated two-hour time block during which ResourcePath staff will administer tests on a weekly basis. Individuals who miss their time window will be eligible to go same day or next day to Kenmore’s dedicated site. Unvaccinated employees must participate in weekly testing. The latest information is available online.
  • Schedule Reminders: Tomorrow, Thursday, September 9, is the first School Board meeting of this school year, and I will present the first day of school report as well as a video highlighting first day arrivals. Additionally, elementary back-to-school nights are taking place virtually this week. Key dates below:
    • Back-to-School Nights in September
      • Sept. 9 Thu Elementary School
      • Sept. 14 Tue Middle School
      • Sept. 22 Wed High School
      • Sept. 23 Thu H-B Woodlawn / ACHS
      • Sept. 30 Thu Career Center/ Arlington Tech
    • September Holidays
      • Sept. 16 Thu Holiday – Yom Kippur
      • Sept. 29 Wed Early Release for Elementary/Middle/High School (School-Based PL for Staff)

Thank you for your continued partnership in making this a safe, successful school year for students.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Sept. 1 Update: Welcome Back

We’re off to a great start! Thank you to everyone – students, families and staff – for pulling together to make it a successful start to the new school year.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Community:

We’re off to a great start! Thank you to everyone – students, families and staff – for pulling together to make it a successful start to the new school year. There were many great moments on the first day of school, and it was clear to see the emotions, hope and excitement. Let’s continue working together to make sure we’re adhering to safety protocols and doing everything possible to support student learning and growth this school year. Here are some reminders as we head into the long weekend for Labor Day:

  • First Day Photo Gallery: Here is a collection of photos from the opening day submitted by students, staff and families. We will be sharing a video capturing some first day moments at next Thursday’s School Board meeting when I present the first day report, which will also include initial enrollment statistics and other updates from our first day of school. The agenda for the Board meeting is available online.
  • COVID Testing Starts in All Schools the Week of Sept. 13—Opt In Now: Our asymptomatic/symptomatic COVID testing program is set to begin at all school locations the week of Sept. 13. We are working with our partner, ResourcePath, to finalize the schedule for each location. This testing will be available to students whose parents/guardians complete the consent form online. If you completed the form this summer or last school year, you do not need to complete it again. This testing is offered at no cost on a weekly basis and is one way we are working to keep our schools safe and open. Testing is already underway after school hours for those with symptoms at Kenmore Middle School. The latest information is available online—parent/guardian consent is required for students to participate.
  • Daily Health Symptom Screener: Thank you to all the families that consistently completed the Qualtrics symptom screener on the honor system this week—we had a great response rate on the first two days of school. We kept the tool in place with a daily reminder to reinforce the importance of checking your student’s health and keeping students who are ill at home. There are symptoms to look for posted on our website.
  • Transportation Updates: We have received questions about transportation through email and the call center, mostly related to reports of late buses, the hub stops for option schools, and requests to change stops. There are some schedules being updated and other route adjustments to be made, as there always are at the start of the year.
    • Our transportation team is working very hard to respond to a high volume of calls and will get back to all callers in the order they were received.
    • Thank you to every family for planning ahead to arrive 10 minutes early and stay at least 10 minutes after the set time, as drivers get used to the new routes. Please continue to remind your students to wear their masks on the bus.
    • In response to questions about our windows open policy – every bus driver is instructed to put all windows down at least to the midpoint when students are on board to help increase outside air circulation. We will conduct regular monitoring to ensure this is happening consistently.
  • Vaccination Requirements for Student Athletes: APS is currently exploring mandatory vaccinations for high school student athletes who are eligible to be vaccinated, starting with the winter sports season. We are reviewing this and will follow up when more information is available.
  • Upcoming Holidays: APS is closed Sept. 3 – Sept. 7 for the Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah holidays. Per APS policy, no school-based activities will be scheduled on staff and student holidays, including religious observances. View the full calendar for the school year online.

Thank you for your continued partnership in keeping our students safe and in school. Have a wonderful rest of the week, and a great long weekend.

Sincerely, Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Aug. 25 Update: Welcome to the 2021-2022 School Year!

Welcome back! The new school year starts next week, and we cannot wait to welcome your students back to school. It is going to be a great year of reconnecting, learning, growth, and new beginnings.

Superintendent's Updates logo

Español

Welcome back! The new school year starts next week, and we cannot wait to welcome your students back to school. It is going to be a great year of reconnecting, learning, growth, and new beginnings. Our schools are ready and looking forward to providing a safe, strong start to the school year for all.

Here are a few important reminders in preparation for the first day of school on Monday:

  • Our 2021-22 Priorities—Accelerated Learning, Mental Health Support, and Health and Safety: Everything we do will revolve around these three priorities this school year.
    • Accelerated Learning: We will be conducting assessments at the start of the school year to evaluate individual student needs, and target resources and interventions to support and accelerate their learning. Read more about the plan online. In the instances when quarantine is necessary, we strive to ensure learning can continue. View our plans for learning in quarantine. Updates will be provided as plans evolve.
    • Mental Health and Social Emotional Learning (SEL): APS is taking a tiered approach to ensure our students have the SEL supports they need. School counselors, psychologists and social workers will be engaging and checking in with students in a variety of ways.
    • Layered Approach to Safety – Please Do Your Part: We are using layered prevention measures to provide the safest learning environments possible, including universal mask requirements, symptom screening, testing, and response procedures. Please do your part by screening your student’s health daily by completing a temperature check and Qualtrics symptom screener before leaving home. Keep students home if they are sick, and reinforce the importance of consistent mask use and handwashing with your student.
  • Opt-In for Free Weekly COVID-19 Testing: We are pleased to provide both symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for students at all school locations. Testing schedules will be communicated by your school and posted on our testing website. In order for your student to receive weekly COVID-19 testing, parents/guardians must opt-in by filling out an online consent form. Families who completed the consent form last school year do not need to opt-in again. Details are available online.
  • Outdoor Lunch: Every school has health and safety protocols in place to ensure indoor dining is as safe as possible when masks are removed. Additionally, every school has either a full or partial outside lunch plan in place. We are working with the County to obtain more resources, such as tents, to further expand outside lunch opportunities. Individual plans for student dining will be posted on your school’s website this week.
  • Apply for Meal Benefits – Free and Reduced Meal Applications: School meals are available at no cost to all students this school year. Even though meals are free, applying for meal benefits is still very important! By applying for meal benefits, families that qualify may be eligible for additional resources. Applications are available in ParentVUE, on the APS Food Services Webpage or online at myschoolapps.com.
  • Bus Information: Bus information has been posted in ParentVUE under the student information tab. Families of bus-eligible students will also receive a School Talk message today with their student’s bus information.

This school year I will send my weekly updates every Wednesday, highlighting important news and information about division-wide priorities. Additionally, information and resources for the new school year are posted on our website and updated regularly. I wish your family a successful start to the school year and look forward to staying connected.

Transportation Updates for the 2021-22 School Year

Here are important updates regarding transportation services and what to expect on the school bus when school starts on August 30.

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As final preparations are being made for the start of the 2021-22 school year, Transportation is finalizing bus routes and stops for all eligible students. Here are important updates regarding transportation services and what to expect on the school bus when school starts on August 30.

Bus Schedules Available on Tues, Aug. 24

  • Final bus schedules will be posted in ParentVUE on Tuesday, Aug. 24.
  • Schedules are located in the Student Information Tab in ParentVUE, under Instructional Choice. Under Instructional Choice, scroll down to pick-up and drop-off information. Click here for details on how to access ParentVUE. A School Talk will be sent next week to notify families when the schedules are available.
  • To check your student’s eligibility for bus transportation, please view our bus eligibility zones and maps online. If you have additional questions about eligibility, please call the transportation call center for assistance.

What to Expect on the School Bus

  • APS will operate with normal bus capacity and follow normal procedures. Properly fitted masks are required for everyone on school buses and inside schools.
  • There will be no temperature checks or verification of health screening completion upon arrival at the bus or school. Families will continue to receive the daily Qualtrics Symptom Screener as a reminder to complete health screening with their children prior to arrival at the bus, and to check temperatures daily. Please keep students home if they are sick.
  • Plan to arrive at the bus stop 10 minutes early and plan to stay 10 minutes after the planned pickup time. Thank you for your patience during the first week back as drivers adjust to the routes.

Hub Stops for Option Schools
As a reminder, APS will be using hub stops for option schools to shorten trips to and from school and improve efficiency and reliability. Read more about hub stops.

Stay Safe Out There!
Watch the video message below from APS and the Arlington County Police Department with safety reminders for drivers and the community as students head back to school and there are more vehicles on the road and more pedestrians in the crosswalks.

Transportation Call Center
For questions, contact the call center at 703-228-8670 or 703-228-6640. Call center hours are 6 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays excluding holidays. Families can also contact Transportation by email at transportation@aspva.us.

Transportation Services is committed to providing safe, reliable bus service to all eligible students in the upcoming school year. Thank you for your cooperation and patience as we return in person and resume normal schedules, starting on Monday, August 30.

APS Universal Mask Requirements and Back-to-School Updates

The new school year begins August 30, and we look forward to welcoming students back to school for in-person learning, five days per week. As we prepare for the start of school, here are important updates on masks, health and safety, and plans for the 2021-22 school year.

Español

Dear APS Community,

The new school year begins August 30, and we look forward to welcoming students back to school for in-person learning, five days per week. As we prepare for the start of school, here are important updates on masks, health and safety, and plans for the 2021-22 school year:

  • Universal Masks to Start the School Year – To help ensure a safe start to the school year, masks will be required for all students, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, when inside APS buildings and on school buses. This is consistent with our current practices for in-person summer school. Masks will not be required when eating or during outside recess, PE, athletics, or other outdoor activities. Universal masks are part of a layered approach to help our schools stay open and safe, and to ensure all students can safely return to our buildings, especially when physical distancing is not possible at all times and not all our students are eligible yet for vaccinations. Key points:
  • Get Vaccinated! – The most effective tool for protecting our school community and preventing the spread of COVID-19 is vaccination. Vaccination appointments are widely available in Arlington for anyone age 12 and older. If you and your student are eligible for vaccination and have not yet had your shot, visit a vaccination clinic or make an appointment to be vaccinated as soon as possible. APS will continue to keep our community informed when vaccination opportunities are expanded to students under the age of 12.
  • Stay Informed – APS is updating back-to-school information regularly, so visit our 2021-22 school year page for information on calendar dates, registration, health and safety, transportation, immunizations, and back-to-school town halls and events. There will be two virtual town halls for families in English and Spanish on Wed, Aug. 11, to provide information and answer questions about the upcoming school year. More information

Here is a short video message as we look ahead to school starting. Thank you for helping us start the 2021-22 school year safely together, back in the classroom.

Sincerely,
Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Changes to APS Grab-and-Go Meal Locations Beginning the Week of August 2

Arlington Public Schools is making changes to meal service locations for the week of August 2 and August 9. For the week of August 2, grab-and-go meals will be available for all students at seven locations, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. – noon

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Arlington Public Schools is making changes to meal service locations for the week of August 2 and August 9. For the week of August 2, grab-and-go meals will be available for all students at seven locations, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. – noon:

  • Arlington Career Center (816 S. Walter Reed Dr.)
  • Barrett Elementary School 4401 N Henderson Rd.)
  • Drew Elementary School (3500 S. 23rd)
  • Gunston Middle School (2700 S. Lang St.)
  • Kenmore Middle School (200 S. Carlin Springs Rd.)
  • The Heights (1601 Wilson Blvd.)
  • Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd.)

APS will hold a final Summer Meal Pickup for all APS students at the seven locations listed above on Monday, August 9, from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. to distribute a week of meals for the week of August 9.There will be no APS meal service the week of August 16 or August 23, as APS Food Services staff prepare for the 2021-22 school year. For additional food assistance resources, visit Arlington County’s Food Assistance website.

School meals will resume for the new school year on Monday, August 30. Breakfast and lunch will be provided to students attending school in-person and virtually. Meals will continue to be free for all students at all schools. For more details, please visit the meal services page.