School Year 2021-22

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elbow-bump-nobgReady – Set – LEARN!

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 May 18, 2022 Update

Our students are working incredibly hard as we enter the final month of the school year, and we are immensely proud of all they have accomplished. Thank you for your ongoing partnership. Here are my updates for this week, including some important changes to keep in mind for the summer and upcoming school year.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

Our students are working incredibly hard as we enter the final month of the school year, and we are immensely proud of all they have accomplished. Thank you for your ongoing partnership. Here are my updates for this week, including some important changes to keep in mind for the summer and upcoming school year:

Extended Day Registration for the 2022-23 School Year: Extended Day registration for the 2022-23 school year opens for returning families on May 24 and continues through June 7.  Summer School Extended Day registration concludes on Wed, May 25, 2022. Registration for Summer School Extended Day is currently very low, so it is likely that the program will be consolidated at a limited number of summer school sites. If programs are consolidated, upon summer school dismissal each day, children will be transported by bus to another summer school site for Extended Day. Further information will be provided next week based on final enrollment. Additional details are available online.

Graduation Schedule for Class of 2022: We are all looking forward to celebrating student achievement during upcoming graduations and year-end events. View the schedule for high school graduations and middle school promotion ceremonies. For those who cannot attend high school graduations in person, live streaming links will be available. Secondary families: I also want to re-share our call for your help in ensuring this season of celebration is safe for all. I will provide further guidance on any updates to our COVID-related protocols for graduation ceremonies in early June.

Meals Update for Summer and SY 2022-23: We have been fortunate to provide universal free meals this school year as an extension of the USDA’s COVID-19 waivers. Those waivers are set to expire June 30, meaning that meals will no longer be automatically served at no cost to all students beginning with Summer School and the 2022-23 school year. Additional information regarding meal prices will be shared with families as soon as it is available. In the meantime:

  • APS encourages all families who believe they may be eligible for free and reduced meal benefits for the 2022-23 School Year to apply online in August for the new school year. Students attending summer school can still apply online until June 30.
  • If your student is attending summer school at Washington-Liberty, Dorothy Hamm, Escuela Key, Jamestown, or Abingdon, you must have a current application on file by June 30 to receive meal benefits in summer school.
  • Students attending Barcroft, Drew, Carlin Springs, Randolph, and Barrett are the exception to this because these schools qualify for community eligibility provision.

End-of-Year Device Information: This year, we are requiring all student devices to be turned in by the last week of school. Devices will be collected at each school by the Instructional Technology Coordinator (ITC), and more details will be communicated by your school. This will allow students to take a break from screen time as we adjust back to best practices in educational technology. Additional information about summer school devices and the updated process for returning devices is available online.

Thank you for your ongoing partnership!

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s May 11, 2022 Update: Spring Assessments

As we approach the end of the school year, here are several updates to be aware of.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

As we approach the end of the school year, here are updates to be aware of:

Spring Assessments: I know our schools are working hard to coordinate the end-of-year assessments and Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) tests, which are administered to students in grades 3-12 May 16 through June 14. Additional information can be found online. Your school has also communicated specific dates to staff and families. Please help students do their best by making sure you don’t schedule appointments or days out of school on their test dates, and ensuring they have plenty of rest and a healthy breakfast before their tests.

COVID Status in Arlington—MEDIUM Community Level: Arlington has seen rising cases of COVID in our community and schools since mid-March. Outbreaks in schools have occurred due to this rapid increase in community transmission. Given current case volume and the ongoing outbreaks, masks are strongly recommended indoors at school to reduce transmission. Please continue to be vigilant, have your student wear a mask, participate in testing if exposed or symptomatic, and get vaccinated. Even if you think your student’s symptoms may be due to allergies or other causes, please ensure they get tested to rule out COVID-19 before coming to school.

Registration Dates for Extended Day: Extended Day registration for Summer School is open now; registration for the 2022-23 school year opens for returning families May 24 and continues through June 7. Additional details are available online.

Review the ARP/ESSER Fund Allocation Plan: As part of the FY 2022 Budget, APS allocated American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III Funds to help safely reopen schools and address the impacts of COVID-19. The plan is posted online, and APS is seeking feedback as part of the required periodic review cycle. Input on the plan is requested via engage@apsva.us by Wed, May 18. 

School Nurse Day: Today is National School Nurse Day—thank you to our wonderful School Nurses! We take time today to recognize the contributions that the public health nurses serving our school clinics make every day to support the health and learning of our 27,000+ APS students. This has been a challenging year to work in either a school or healthcare setting—our school nurses are at the intersection of both. Join me in thanking them today!

I also want to remind you that the FY 2023 Budget will be approved during this Thursday’s School Board meeting, and the Board will also vote on the proposed Bell Schedule Changes which will affect start and end times for some schools for the upcoming school year.

Enjoy the beautiful spring weather!

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s May 4, 2022 Update: Change in COVID Protocols & Teacher Appreciation Week

This is Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2-6), and I invite you to join us in thanking APS teachers. Students reach their full potential because of great teachers who support their growth and learning every step of the way, from kindergarten through graduation.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

This is Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2-6), and I invite you to join us in thanking APS teachers. Students reach their full potential because of great teachers who support their growth and learning every step of the way, from kindergarten through graduation. Share your appreciation on social media using #ThankAPSTeachers.Here are additional updates for this week:

Change in COVID Protocols: Beginning May 5, APS will be moving to a 5-day isolation period for students who test positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status. Previously, isolation for students was for a period of 10 days. This aligns with the APS 5-day isolation protocol for staff and follows the recommendations of the CDC and Virginia Department of Health.

  • Students may return to in-person instruction on Day 6 if on day five the student:
    • has no symptoms (or symptoms are improving) AND
    • has been fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, AND
    • is able to wear a well-fitting mask for days 6-10.
  • View additional information.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: I invite you to join APS in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May. Throughout the month, APS will honor the heritage, history and contributions of Asian and Pacific Islanders who enrich our community. Additional resources are available online.

May Recognitions: Here are additional recognitions we are observing this month:

  • School Lunch Hero Day – This Fri, May 6, is a day to thank our food service professionals and to highlight their dedication to serving our students healthy, delicious breakfasts and lunches during the school year.
  • Better Hearing and Speech Month – Audiologists and speech-language pathologists assist in the development of communication skills for children and adults with hearing loss. Thank you to the APS Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists who are committed to this work. To learn more, visit asha.org

The annual Celebration of Excellence takes place this evening at Washington-Liberty High School, with the ceremony starting at 6:30 p.m. We will honor our Principal of the Year, Teachers of the Year and Support Employees of the Year winners. I also want to thank the members of community who took time to nominate many outstanding teachers. I provided letters of appreciation to acknowledge their nominations.

Thank you for your partnership and support in this final stretch of the school year!

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s April 27, 2022 Update: School Bell Study Recommendation

Please read this week’s message for a few updates for the week ahead.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

Here are a few updates for the week ahead:

School Bell Study Recommendation – Thank you to everyone who provided input on the school bell schedules. Based on the feedback received, we developed an alternative scenario to present to the Board which minimizes start time changes as much as possible, while still achieving the goals of the project. The recommendations will be presented to the School Board this Thursday, for action on May 12. View the presentation online.

Summer School Extended Day Registration Continues – Families with children enrolled in Summer School are encouraged to register for Extended Day. The online registration continues through June 30 and there are no waitlists. However, sites may be consolidated if minimum enrollment is not reached, and students would be transported to another summer site. Only students enrolled in APS Elementary Summer School are eligible to participate and you must register for the school where your child is attending summer school. Additional information regarding Extended Day registration for the summer and upcoming school year (school year registration begins May 24) is available online.

Secondary Families: Know Your Rights Student Course – On Tue, May 3, secondary students and staff will be enrolled in a “Know Your Rights” Canvas Course. Since 2018, APS has provided this course and accompanying student guide, “Know Your Rights: Your Guide to Interacting with Law Enforcement,” to ensure middle and high school students know their 4th and 5th Amendment rights and have the resources they need to become informed, civic-minded members of society. The materials were updated this year to reflect changes to how APS works with law enforcement.  We hope that this resource will encourage families to engage in conversations about expectations for their student(s) when interacting with law enforcement. Additional resources and information are available online.  

Celebrating APS Admin Professionals and Extended Day Staff – Happy National Administrative Professionals Appreciation Day! Please remember to recognize the office staff and the administrative specialists who support your teams and help move APS forward. Please also join APS in thanking our phenomenal Extended Day staff, as part of National Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week. Our over 400 Extended Day staff work across APS to provide a safe, enriching and fun environment before and after school each day for over 4,000 children.

Coming Next Week: Teacher Appreciation – We look forward to the chance to thank our wonderful teachers next week for Teacher Appreciation Week! Please join us next week in thanking them for all they do.

Reminder – Monday is a holiday (no school) as we will celebrate Eid. Enjoy the long weekend!

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s April 20 Update

I hope you had a safe and restful break! Here are a few reminders and updates to help ensure our students have a successful fourth quarter.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En español

Dear APS Families,

I hope you had a safe and restful break! I also hope your students are feeling energized and ready for the final weeks of the school year. Here are a few reminders and updates to help ensure our students have a successful fourth quarter.

Safe Return from Spring Break: We know Spring Break travel and other activities can lead to increased risk of COVID infection as we return, so I urge everyone to be vigilant and practice the recommended steps to maintain safe schools. Arlington’s community COVID levels are now in the “medium” category, which means that masks are recommended indoors for students, staff and visitors. Please help keep our schools as COVID-free as possible by encouraging mask use indoors, as well as monitoring symptoms, keeping students home if they are sick, and participating in COVID testing. View our mask guidance.

Your Voice Matters Survey: The deadline for staff, families and students to complete the Your Voice Matters survey is extended through Sun, April 24. Your feedback is vital to helping improve our services and maintain positive school climates, so please take a few minutes to complete it before the deadline using the link provided by Panorama Education. Responses are confidential.

Eid Calendar Change: The School Board voted on a calendar change moving the Eid holiday from Tue, May 3 to Mon, May 2. This is reflected in the revised calendar online.

I wish you a great final stretch of the school year! Thank you for continuing to help our students achieve their goals and ensure every student is safe, engaged and supported in every way possible.

Sincerely, Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s April 6, 2022 Update: Spring Break

I wish you a wonderful Spring Break next week! Your students have worked incredibly hard this year, and I am sure they are ready for the break.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

I wish you a wonderful Spring Break next week! Your students have worked incredibly hard this year, and I am sure they are ready for the break.

As a reminder, APS schools and offices will be closed during Spring Break Week (April 11-15) as well as on Mon, April 18, which is a Grade Prep Day so there is no school for students. Staff will be teleworking on that date and will reply to messages during normal school hours.

We continue to be grateful for your support and incredibly proud of all your students and all they have accomplished so far. I look forward to seeing everyone back on April 19th to finish this school year strong.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent, Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s March 30, 2022 Update: Employees of the Year Announced

I am proud to announce the 2022 APS Principal, Teacher and Support Employees of the Year. This year, the Teacher and Principal of the Year nomination process was open to the entire community resulting in over 130 nominations for outstanding teachers and principals across the division.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

I am proud to announce the 2022 APS Principal, Teacher and Support Employees of the Year. This year, the Teacher and Principal of the Year nomination process was open to the entire community resulting in over 130 nominations for outstanding teachers and principals across the division. Thank you to all who took time to nominate staff for the awards. Based on the number of excellent nominees, we selected teachers for each level – elementary, middle and high school.

The Support Employee of the Year process was open for internal nominations only, and it also garnered many excellent nominations representing every employee scale. We look forward to celebrating the honorees in person at the annual Celebration of Excellence event on May 4.

Here is the list of 11 honorees:

  • Jessica Panfil, Principal, Claremont Immersion – Principal of the Year
  • Iris Gibson, Business Education Teacher, Langston High School Continuation Program – APS Teacher of the Year—High School
  • Katie Willet, Science Teacher, Williamsburg Middle School – Middle School Teacher of the Year
  • Brittany Oman, Special Education Teacher, Arlington Science Focus School – Elementary School Teacher of the Year
  • Aurelia Sicha, Instructional Assistant, Thomas Jefferson Middle School – Support Employee of the Year (A-Scale)
  • Estela Reyes, Food Services, Carlin Springs Elementary School – Support Employee of the Year (C-Scale)
  • Mariflor Ventura, Bus Attendant, Trades Center – Support Employee of the Year (D-Scale)
  • Keith Reeves, Instructional Technology Coordinator, Discovery Elementary School – Support Employee of the Year (E-Scale)
  • Jonathan Martinez, Administrative Assistant, Special Education, Syphax Education Center – Support Employee of the Year (G-Scale)
  • Rosaura Palacios, Custodian, Trades Center – Support Employee of the Year (M-Scale)
  • Irma Sierra, Extended Day, Arlington Science Focus – Support Employee of the Year (X-Scale)

View the press release and visit our website to view a gallery of photos from surprise visits and more information about each staff member. Join me in celebrating them!

Other updates and reminders:

Your Voice Matters Survey – Please complete the Your Voice Matters Survey, using the link sent by Panorama, before April 10. To date, fewer than 10 percent of families have completed the survey and we want to hear from all of you.

Calendar Change for Eid Religious Holiday – At next Thursday’s School Board meeting, the School Board will vote to adjust the APS calendar making Mon, May 2, a no school day for students and a holiday for staff instead of Tue, May 3, as currently listed on the 2021-22 school year calendar.

Ramadan (April 1-May 1) – Ramadan begins the evening of Friday, April 1, and I have shared guidance with principals and staff on supporting our students who are participating in the month-long practice of prayer and fasting.

Assessment Results and Timeline Reminder – Midyear testing score report letters are now available in ParentVUE.  For details about each assessment, please refer to the Parent Notification Letter for Student Score Reports shared at the beginning of the year in ParentVUE and also available on the ATSS webpage. Information on the end-of-year testing results will be shared via ParentVUE by June 15, 2022, and the testing dates will be as follows:

  • April 19 – May 20:  PreK and Kindergarten will take the Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program which includes the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) used to assess students’ literacy skills, Early Mathematics Assessment System (EMAS) used to assess students’ mathematics skills, and the Child Behavior Rating Scale (CBRS) used to assess students’ social skills and self-regulation.
  • April 19 – May 27:  2nd through 8th Grades will take the end-of-year Math Inventory
  • April 25 – May 20:  1st and 2nd Grades will take the end-of-year PALS assessment
  • May 2 – May 27:  Kindergarten through 5th Grade will take the end-of-year DIBELS assessment
  • May 2 – May 27:  6th through 9th Grades will take the end-of-year Reading Inventory

Please note that the end-of-year assessments are administered before the SOL testing window.  Have great week as we head toward Spring Break.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s March 23, 2022 Update: Student Progress Dashboard & March All Stars

Here are a few updates for this week including the student progress dashboard and the March All Stars.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

Here are a few updates for this week:

APS Student Progress Dashboard – At the March 24 School Board meeting, I will provide a preview of the Student Progress Dashboard which will be posted online on Fri, March 25. The dashboard illustrates student progress in reading and math, beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

Families will be able to view overall student progress and trends based on the school division’s three primary universal screeners which are each administered three times per school year – Reading Inventory, Math Inventory and Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS). Families will be able to view the data based on school, grade level or student subgroup, including race and ethnicity, students with disabilities, English Learners (ELs), and ELs by proficiency. Teachers are using this data to identify students needing extra support and to determine appropriate interventions.

APS Summer School Update – The upcoming APS Summer School Program for students meeting specific eligibility criteria begins July 5 and will provide in-person strengthening support, intervention, credit recovery, and Extended School Year Services. Elementary families who have been notified that their students are eligible need to register by March 31. The middle and high school registration deadline is May 31; families will be notified of eligibility during May. More information and registration forms are available on the summer school website.

Inclusive History Panel – On Mon, March 28 from 7:30-8:30 p.m., APS is participating in a joint virtual panel discussion with neighboring Northern VA school divisions on the on the topic of Inclusive History. Learn more and register here.School Bell Times Survey – Please share your feedback on the School Bell Times Survey by March 28. As a reminder, the goal is to both improve operational efficiency by reducing variations in school start and end times and ensure that APS instructional minutes are on par with neighboring school divisions. Currently, APS instructional minutes are among the fewest compared to neighboring school divisions. To maximize instructional time, APS will add up to ten minutes to the school day for the 2022-2023 school year. The approved school year calendar for the 2022-2023 school year includes the equivalent of six instructional days built into the calendar for inclement weather. Adding up to ten instructional minutes to the school day will allow APS to add up to 5 more instructional days. Additional information is available online.

Other Survey Reminders:

  • Your Voice Matters – Please take the 2022 Your Voice Matters Survey by April 10, using the link provided by Panorama Education. Your feedback is confidential and is so important to helping us improve in all areas.
  • Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Survey – As a reminder, we will conduct an SEL survey for students in grades 3-12. The survey window is from March 21- April 8. Families will receive an individualized report regarding their student’s results in May.  Additional information is available on the website. For support, email laura.newton@apsva.us. For questions regarding opt-out lists, email Xenia.castaneda@apsva.us

Congratulations to the March APS All Stars:

  • Chris McDermott, Teacher, Williamsburg
  • Kristen Patterson, Extended Day Staff, Discovery
  • Alam Lainez, Bilingual Family Liaison/Instructional Assistant, Kenmore
  • Lyzbeth Monard, Bilingual Family Liaison, Carlin Springs
  • Morgan Payne, Pandemic Response Coordinator, Trades Center

Thank you to our outstanding staff – these individuals were selected out of more than 400 excellent nominations. Read more about the recipients and how to nominate staff.

Have a great rest of the week!

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s March 16, 2022 Update: Community Surveys

We have several important community surveys in progress, and I encourage you to participate. Your feedback is important to us and helps us gather actionable data to strengthen student services, operations and more.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

We have several important community surveys in progress, and I encourage you to participate. Your feedback is important to us and helps us gather actionable data to strengthen student services, operations and more.

  • 2022 Your Voice Matters Survey (Deadline: Apr 10): Families received an email from Panorama Education with a personalized survey link on Mon, March 14. This is the biannual survey APS conducts to gather input on family engagement, student well-being, school climate and other vital areas. Responses are confidential. Details online.
  • School Bell Times Study Survey (Deadline: Mar 28): This survey launched today to gather community input on potential changes to school start and end times for the 2022-23 school year. The survey is part of the School Bell Times Study Project to improve transportation and maximize instructional time. Responses will help form recommendations to the School Board on April 28, for vote on May 12. Questions can be directed to engage@apsva.us. Take the survey.
  • 2022 SEL Survey (Mar 21-April 8): In addition to the two community-wide surveys, the Panorama Social and Emotional Survey (SEL) Survey for students (grades 3-12) opens on March 21. This is administered online in a classroom setting on topics such as well-being and sense of belonging. Details, including the sample surveys, are available online.

Reminder that today is an Early Release Day for all schools and professional learning day for teachers.

Thank you in advance for participating in the surveys and for being valued members of the APS community.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s March 9, 2022 Update: Discussing the Crisis in Ukraine & Highlighting Student Artists

Here are this week’s updates, parent resources and reminders.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

Here are this week’s updates, parent resources and reminders:

Discussing the Crisis in Ukraine – Over the past week, we have received questions about how schools are helping students process news about Ukraine. We have staff and students with family or cultural ties to Ukraine and Russia, and many U.S. military-connected families, and our focus is on supporting and maintaining safe spaces for all. To help students better understand this event, we provided age-appropriate resources for teachers to use as a guide. Here are some parent resources:

2022 Your Voice Matters (YVM) Survey – Students in grades 4-12 will be taking the YVM survey in class beginning this week through April 10. Sample student surveys are online for your reference. Families will receive a link to take the survey from Panorama Education on Mon, March 14. Your feedback is important to us as it helps us improve student services and track progress on our 2018-24 Strategic Plan goals. Please respond by April 10. Details online.

Highlighting Student Artists – On Monday night, it was my honor to speak at the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Ceremony celebrating student artists who received regional recognition. View the online gallery of Awarded Scholastic Artwork. Judges awarded over 1,000 pieces of work and it is incredible to see the talent exhibited among these entries. Arts Education is hosting the High School Gold Exhibit at the Syphax Education Center through March 25. Entries that received Gold will be judged in New York for national recognition and announced later this month.

School Bell Times Study – The bell times study project is underway to review school start and end times with the goal to improve transportation services and maximize instructional time. The newly formed Technical Advisory Team of APS staff, advisory groups and PTA representatives met earlier this week and will launch a community-wide survey on Mon, March 14, to gather input on various scenarios. The survey will inform recommendations to the School Board which will be voted on in May. Details online.

Thank You, APS Social Workers! – It is School Social Work Week through March 12. Our diverse, talented team of social workers is essential to removing barriers for students and strengthening family-school partnerships. View this video featuring social workers and how they help students succeed.

Also, as a reminder, the FY 2023 budget process is underway – see the timeline and details online.

Have a good rest of the week.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Your Voice Matters Survey Opens Today

APS and the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth, and Families (APCYF) conduct the YVM survey every two years to gather information on areas of mutual importance and to deepen understanding of youth and family well-being.

Español| Монгол | አማርኛ | العربية

The 2022 Your Voice Matters (YVM) survey opens for students and staff on March 7, and for families on March 14. APS and the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth, and Families (APCYF) conduct the YVM survey every two years to gather information on areas of mutual importance and to deepen understanding of youth and family well-being. Topics include safety (school and community climate), health and well-being, voice, and engagement.

Timeline and Survey Administration

  • Staff and students (grades 4-12) – March 7-April 10
  • Families – March 14-April 10

The student survey is administered in a classroom setting and completed online. Parents either receive an email invitation or if an email was not on file, they receive instructions through the mail about accessing the survey from any internet-connected device. APS staff will receive an email to complete the confidential survey online.The survey administration process is managed by Panorama Education, an independent educational survey research company. The results are confidential and are used to inform work across both the school division and the County. The data also provides APS with new benchmarks for measuring progress with stakeholders on the 2018-24 Strategic Plan.

Additional information about the YVM, including FAQ, sample surveys and results from previous YVM surveys is available on the APS website.

Superintendent’s March 2, 2022 Update: Mask Guidance & March Celebrations

Thank you for your support of our schools as APS announced yesterday that masks are now optional. Here are some additional reminders about masks and health and safety, along with updates on the budget, March observances and staff recognitions.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

Thank you for your support of our schools as APS announced yesterday that masks are now optional. Here are some additional reminders about masks and health and safety, along with updates on the budget, March observances and staff recognitions.

Also, remember that tomorrow is an Elementary School Early Release Day, and there is no school for elementary and middle schools on Friday, March 4, for Parent-Teacher Conferences. Please be aware that elementary and middle school staff may telework and will monitor emails during normal hours.

Mask Guidance: As communicated on Monday, masks are now optional for everyone at school and on buses during low and medium COVID-19 community levels, in alignment with the revised CDC guidance. So far, we have not received any reports of negative behaviors or concerns raised about mask use at school. We will continue to foster safe, supportive environments in our schools and ask families to remind your students to support the choices of their teachers and classmates.

Layered Mitigation Measures: APS is continuing the layered mitigation strategies we have in place, including contact tracing, isolation and quarantine protocols, health screening, in-school weekly testing and mandatory employee vaccination. These measures align with current CDC guidance for maintaining safe schools. We anticipate that the CDC will update its guidance for contact tracing, isolation and quarantine protocols soon, and I will provide any update when those changes are announced.

FY 2023 Budget: This year’s proposed budget prioritizes investments that are needed most to directly serve our students, invest in staff and maintain excellent schools, including a proposed $33 million investment in employee compensation. View more information about the process and next steps.

March Celebrations:

  • March is Arts in the Schools Month: I encourage you to take advantage of opportunities to see March concerts, arts festivals, workshops, recitals, poetry readings and plays. A complete list of events is available in the Arts in the Schools Month brochure. Follow APS on twitter using #APSMarchisArts.
  • Women’s History Month: During Women’s History Month, we celebrate famous pioneers and leaders in our community. #APSWomensHistory.
  • Social Work Week: March 6-12 is Social Work Week, and APS will be thanking our school social workers for their many contributions to student well-being and success. Make sure to show them your appreciation next week and throughout the month.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Changes to Mask Guidance Effective March 1

APS will continue following the CDC’s guidance for operating safely to allow everyone—students, families, staff and visitors—to decide whether they will wear a mask at school and on the school bus. This change takes effect March 1, and there is no opt-out form required.

En Español

Dear APS Staff and Families,

On Friday evening, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published updated guidance that included new metrics for measuring COVID-19 community levels.

The CDC’s new guidance lists Arlington’s current COVID-19 community level as low, and states that masks should be optional in communities at the low level.

APS will continue following the CDC’s guidance for operating safely to allow everyone—students, families, staff and visitors—to decide whether they will wear a mask at school and on the school bus. This change takes effect March 1, and there is no opt-out form required. APS will adjust these requirements, should community levels change. More information is available online.

Mask-wearing is a personal decision based on individual circumstances, and I ask everyone to support our students and each other. We will continue to foster inclusive, safe and supportive learning environments for all. Families, please talk to your student(s) regarding your expectations for mask-wearing and remind them to be kind and respect their peers as they exercise decisions to wear a mask or not.

We are encouraged by the decline in COVID-19 cases in our community. Please continue to do your part to maintain a healthy environment by monitoring for illness and staying at home or keeping students at home when sick by using the Daily Health Screener and continuing to actively participate in our layered mitigation strategies. I also urge staff and families to opt into free, weekly in-school testing if they have not already done so.

Per the CDC guidance, “employees and students can continue to wear a mask based on your personal preference, informed by your personal level of risk.” We encourage all families and staff to review the CDC’s guidance for individual or household prevention measures. At low community levels, the CDC advises individuals who are immunocompromised or at high risk of serious diseases to have a plan for rapid testing and to speak to your healthcare provider.

Families with concerns after reviewing the CDC’s guidance for when community levels are low should contact your administrator for assistance. Staff may refer to the Employee Relations resources available on Staff Central regarding medical accommodations.

We remain committed to providing safe learning environments for all and will continue to keep the community informed of any additional updates to our health and safety protocols. Thank you for your continued partnership and support of our schools.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Superintendent’s Feb. 23, 2022 Update: Mask Guidance & APS All Stars

Today’s update includes information about health and safety and APS mask requirements for students, elementary mathematics, APS All Stars and the FY 2023 budget.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

Today’s update includes information about health and safety and APS mask requirements for students, elementary mathematics, APS All Stars and the FY 2023 budget.

Updated Student Mask Guidance: As communicated last week, families will be able to opt their students out of wearing a mask in school beginning next Tuesday, March 1, in accordance with the recently passed Virginia law, Senate Bill 739. As this new law takes effect, I ask everyone to practice patience and understanding for others with respect to mask choice. We are one community, unified by our shared commitment to student success, health and well-being. A few points to know:

  • I will provide a comprehensive update this Friday with further student opt-out information and related guidance for parents. APS will collect opt-out information for contact tracing only; opt-outs will not be monitored for any other reason.
  • Our medical accommodation process remains available for families with serious health issues that place their student at high risk for COVID complications. Further information on this process will be included in Friday’s update.
  • Masks continue to be required for all students and staff riding on school buses per the CDC’s federal mask requirement for transit.
  • All APS staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear masks inside our buildings during high and substantial community transmission.

We have navigated many tough challenges together throughout this pandemic, and I am confident we will continue working together through this change. Let us continue to model the mutual respect that we expect of our students in the classroom.

COVID-19 Layered Mitigation Measures: Arlington remains in the high transmission category, and we continue to encourage active participation in the layered prevention measures we have in place. We continue to require masking, encourage weekly testing and vaccinations, and implement daily COVID case monitoring, contact tracing, and isolation and quarantine protocols. I am hopeful that the recent signs of progress will continue and will keep you updated as conditions improve, moving transmission levels to moderate to low.

Math Update: This video takes you inside a classroom at Randolph Elementary to see how APS Math Coaches and Teams are helping students excel in mathematics. I will provide a similar update on secondary math at the March 10 School Board Meeting, followed by a comprehensive update on student performance data in English Language Arts and Math at the March 24 Board meeting.

FY 2023 Budget: I will present my proposed FY 2023 Budget on Thursday with a focus on investing in students, staff and schools. View the full budget calendar.

APS All Stars: Thank you to the students, parents and staff who nominated over 200 staff members for APS All Stars awards. Our first five were surprised with their awards on Friday. Read about these outstanding staff online—all nominations received so far will be considered again in March.Our students always say it best. Take a moment to view this feel-good video of MLK contest winners sharing famous quotes that inspire them toward unity, peace and kindness.This is a good reminder that Arlington’s strength has always been in our shared values of diversity and inclusivity, and in embracing our differences.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

 

Superintendent’s Feb. 16, 2022 Message: Mask Requirement & Yorktown Takeaways

Here are several important updates for this week, including information about last week’s incident at Yorktown, masks and COVID-19 testing, and a new study to review APS school start and end times. 

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

Here are several important updates for this week, including information about last week’s incident at Yorktown, masks and COVID-19 testing, and a new study to review APS school start and end times.

Mask Requirement: I know there are questions about next steps with our mask policy. Like other local school divisions, APS has been reviewing the latest health guidance and planning for when we can safely ease our masks requirements. We will present our plan and revised policy at Thursday’s School Board meeting. We have come far together as a community in maintaining safe, open schools, even during the Omicron spike, and we will continue that work together.

Yorktown Takeaways: I want to commend Yorktown High School staff and students for their coordinated response to last Thursday’s incident. While the Arlington County Police Department’s investigation found no real threat, our community is still processing this event. I remind everyone to report any suspicious activity you see or hear. We take every reported threat seriously, and every school has an established safety plan in place for responding when incidents occur. I encourage parents to talk to your students to make sure they know what to do when incidents do occur and if you have questions, reach out to the principal. In the wake of the incident, we are reviewing our procedures with ACPD to ensure we maintain safe, secure schools.

COVID Testing: We launched the Test-to-Stay program this week—testing times and information are available online. Also, we transitioned to a new vendor for weekly preventative, in-school COVID testing and encourage families to opt in online.

Bell Study: We are conducting a “bell study” project to review and reduce the variations in school start and end times across the division, to strengthen operations and improve transportation. Community engagement will begin in March. Read more about the study online.

Thank you for your partnership.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Superintendent’s Feb. 9, 2022 Update: Staff Recognitions & Test-to-Stay

Today I want to share a few reminders about recognitions we are observing this week, as well as an update on some changes coming to our COVID testing program. Also, please take note of the special meal pick-up happening today at three designated school sites.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

Today I want to share a few reminders about recognitions we are observing this week, as well as an update on some changes coming to our COVID testing program. Also, please take note of the special meal pick-up happening today at three designated school sites.

Lunar New Year: Feb. 1 marked the start of the Year of the Tiger and the Lunar New Year holiday. Read more about the holiday and its significance in Asian culture.

Happy School Counseling Week: This week, join us in thanking the outstanding APS School Counseling Team. We are fortunate to have 124 talented professional counselors helping students grow and thrive. Watch this video featuring APS school counselors sharing why they do what they do.

Appreciating APS Crossing Guards: This week is also Crossing Guard Appreciation Week, so remember to thank them for keeping students safe. Congrats to Long Branch and Fleet Crossing Guard, Shashu Gebre, for being recognized as one of Virginia’s Most Outstanding Crossing Guards of 2021!

Summer School and Activities Update: APS will hold our virtual Summer Activities Fair Wed, Feb. 16, providing families information about Summer School and the camps and enrichment activities available through Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation and other local providers. Full details online.

New Vendor for Weekly In-School COVID Testing: Over the past several weeks, APS has been working with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to address challenges with our current testing vendor, CIAN Diagnostics. VDH has advised that the best course of action for APS is to transition to a new VDH-approved provider, Aegis Solutions. Aegis will begin providing the weekly in-school COVID testing on Mon, Feb. 14. Families currently opted in with CIAN will receive an email with a link to update their consent later today with Aegis Solutions. While this is an inconvenience, it’s a necessary change to sustain the weekly screening as a preventative measure.

Test-to-Stay Program Starts on Monday: Reminder that free, proctored testing for eligible students identified as close contacts will be provided at Syphax on school days, starting Monday from 2:30-7 p.m. The VDH Test-to-Stay program helps keep students who are not up-to-date on their COVID vaccinations in school if they are identified as close contacts, as long as they are asymptomatic and test negative for five days following the exposure. Close contacts exposed on or after Mon, Feb. 14, 2022, will be eligible for the test-to-stay program; students exposed prior to that date are not eligible and should complete their 5-day quarantine. As a reminder, students who are up-to-date on their vaccinations are exempt from quarantine if they have no symptoms and wear a mask consistently. Guidance is available online.

Early Release and Meal Kit Pickup TODAY: Today is an Early Release Day for students. Extended Day operates on the normal schedule. Food & Nutrition Services is holding a special meal pickup today from 2- 3:30 p.m. at Kenmore, Gunston and Yorktown. This is a proactive measure to ensure all students have breakfast and lunch at home if we need to transition to virtual learning due to inclement weather at any time in February or March. We encourage all families to pick up a free meal kit which includes three days of shelf-stable meals.

Thank you and have a great week!

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Update on Virtual Learning Program for 2022-23 SY

I am writing to share an update on proposed changes to the Virtual Learning Program (VLP) and steps to foster the continued success and well-being of all students.

En Español

Dear VLP Families,

I am writing to share an update on proposed changes to the Virtual Learning Program (VLP) and steps to foster the continued success and well-being of all students.

At tomorrow’s School Board meeting, the Board will receive the Superintendent’s recommendations for proposed changes to the VLP for SY 2022-23. The recommendation is to pause the program for next school year, as we take the time necessary to build a comprehensive virtual option program that will be sustainable and serve the needs of students who thrive in the virtual setting, for the long term.

The current VLP was developed with pandemic relief funds to provide students and families with an alternative option for the SY 2021-22, in response to family feedback regarding health and safety concerns, and to a lesser extent, vaccine availability and preferred learning experience. While there was no requirement for school divisions to offer a fully virtual program, Arlington Public Schools committed to make this option widely available to all families for the 2021-22 school year.

For the 2022-23 School Year, the recommendation is for virtual instruction to be offered on a limited basis to students who are eligible due to medical conditions and meet specific criteria, such as health impairments whose conditions interfere with continuous daily school attendance. Students who are unable to return to in-person instruction due to the medical condition of a family member who resides in the household will be able to apply for exemption to returning to in-person instruction.

Students found eligible and/or who meet the criteria for exemption due to a family member’s medical condition will be offered enrollment in K-12 Virtual VA courses and provided with instructional support from a teacher and/or mentor. Virtual VA provides core instructional courses except for elementary Art, Music and PE which would be supplemented by specifically hired APS staff. Additional details about Homebound Instruction including the application, is available online. Application for families to apply for exemption due to a family member’s medical condition will be made available.

The proposal is scheduled to be voted on at the Feb. 17 School Board meeting.

Support for VLP Students and Families
The success and well-being of your student(s) through the remainder of this school year, and throughout the transition back to in-person school at their school of record for the 2022-23 school year, are our priority and are the priority of our administrators and staff.  To support VLP students, APS will provide:

  • A virtual Town Hall Meeting will be scheduled in February to address questions and concerns from VLP families related to the recommendations for VLP for next year. Additional details to come.
  • Academic planning, course selection and instructional plans to support students’ learning and transition back to home schools for upcoming school year. Student Intent to Return Surveys/Course Selection Forms will take place/are due March 7.
  • Limited virtual course options for students to access via Virtual@APS and other external third-party vendors in alignment with practices currently available to students in middle and high school.
  • Access to members of the School Support Team to support students with transition.
  • A continued commitment to providing safe, healthy learning environments and following the measures recommended for K-12 schools.

Future Virtual Learning Option Program Planning

Following the Board’s vote on the proposed changes to the VLP, there will be opportunities to engage in developing a comprehensive framework for future Virtual Learning Option Program by participating in a Task Force/Committee led by current VLP Principal Danielle Harrell.If you have any additional questions, please reach out to Ms. Harrell.

Sincerely,

Kimberley Graves
Chief of School Support

Superintendent’s Feb. 2, 2022 Message: Social Emotional Learning Screener & Test-to-Stay

This month, I invite you to join APS in celebrating Black History Month and the contributions African Americans have made in our schools and community.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

This month, I invite you to join APS in celebrating Black History Month and the contributions African Americans have made in our schools and community. Watch this video kicking off the month-long celebration and follow APS on Twitter, using #APSBlackHistory, to learn more about the ways schools are participating in Black History Month.  Here are reminders about other upcoming dates and information related to social-emotional learning and health and safety.  

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Screener Launching in March: Beginning March 21, APS is partnering with our research partner, Panorama Education, to conduct a universal SEL screener for students in grades 3-12. The screener collects information about students’ SEL skills and well-being, and the results will help support our students’ academic, social and emotional growth. Families can opt out by Feb 14 if they do not wish for their student to participate. Individual schools will be setting a specific date for the screeners during a three-week period. Information about the screener, questions and use of data is available online.

Test-to-Stay Begins Feb. 14: APS is launching Test-to-Stay on Feb. 14. Free testing will be provided for students at Syphax from 2:30-7 p.m. on school days. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) program helps ensure students identified as close contacts can remain in school as long as they test negative. Per VDH eligibility requirements, students must be unvaccinated, asymptomatic, and identified as a close contact via exposure that occurred at school, on the school bus, or during school-sponsored extracurricular activities. When a student is identified as a close contact, the Contact Tracing Team will provide documentation on eligibility and a consent form to participate.

Virtual Learning on Inclement Weather Days: February promises to be another snowy, icy month, so please review the Guidance for families which is available online, so that you can be prepared for virtual learning.

Reporting Student Absences Through ParentVUE: Beginning Mon, Feb. 7, parents/guardians will be able to report their student(s) absence via the ParentVUE website and the mobile app. The “Report Absence” feature allows parents and guardians to report absences for a single day or multiple days. Additional details are available online.

February Recognitions: We will be celebrating staff on these dates this month:

  • National School Counseling Week (Feb. 7-11)
  • Crossing Guard Appreciation Week (Feb. 7-11)
  • School Board Clerk Appreciation Week (Feb. 14-18)
  • National Bus Driver Appreciation Day (Feb. 22)
  • School Board Appreciation Month
  • Career &Technical Education Month

Appreciating Teachers and Staff: We know there is so much positivity happening in our schools and want to highlight examples of how staff are supporting and enriching the lives of students. If you want to recognize an APS All Star, the nomination form is here. Thank you for all the messages of support for our teachers and staff. I am immensely proud of our school system and the work of our staff to support Arlington students. Have a wonderful week.

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Superintendent’s Jan. 19, 2022 Update: Test to Stay Program Launching

This week I want to share an important reminder regarding masks, tips to prepare for a possible inclement weather virtual learning day, and clarification on COVID response procedures.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

I hope you had a great holiday weekend. In celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I am pleased to announce the 2022 MLK Visual and Literary Arts Contest student winners, who beautifully depicted King’s vision for unity, peace and community. We will recognize the student winners and highlight their works at the Feb. 17 School Board Meeting.

This week I want to share an important reminder regarding masks, tips to prepare for a possible inclement weather virtual learning day, and clarification on COVID response procedures.

Masks: Masks continue to be required for all students, staff and visitors in our schools and on school buses, so please ensure your student arrives at school with a well-fitting mask. Universal masking is part of our layered approach to health and safety, which has proven effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our schools. Our mask requirement complies with Virginia law, SB1303, and follows U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local health guidance.

APS distributed new KN95 masks for our students and staff during the week of Jan. 10. Thank you to Arlington County Government for providing us with 4,000 additional KN95 masks to assist with supply concerns during this time.

Returning to School After COVID-Related Exclusion: In last week’s message, we outlined documentation required for students to return to school following COVID-related quarantine or isolation. Following my update, we received some questions about how parents/guardians can obtain the “end-of-isolation letter” I referenced. Families needing assistance obtaining clearance for return can reach out to their school’s main office or clinic for support. 

Clarification on Quarantine Exemption: Students who are up to date on their vaccinations per CDC requirements and do not have any symptoms will be exempt from quarantining if identified as a close contact. All students who are considered close contacts will receive an official exclusion letter – even if they meet exemption requirements. This letter informs parents that their child was a close contact. Follow-up contact will be made to verify vaccination status and inform parents of the student’s ability to return to school if they are without symptoms. Please wait to hear from the follow-up contact before calling the school about exemption.

“Test to Stay” Program Launching in APS: In a previous update, I noted that APS was not one of the schools selected to participate in the Virginia Dept. of Health (VDH) Test to Stay (TTS) pilot program. I am pleased to share that APS has received VDH authorization to implement the TTS program in Arlington, using their approved materials and requirements. Once the test kits purchased for staff and students are received, we will use the remaining kits to implement the program in APS. As part of this process, we will be launching a portal for parents to document the vaccination status of their students. More information regarding eligibility and enrollment will be shared in the coming weeks. 

Preparing for An Inclement Weather Virtual Learning Day: This year, APS announced that the first six closures due to inclement weather would be treated as traditional snow days, and after that, we will revert to virtual learning, when possible. Given that APS has used most of the allotted snow days, staff are preparing for how teachers and students can transition to synchronous, virtual learning on future inclement weather days when schools must close and as conditions allow.  If virtual learning is not possible due to widespread power outages or other factors, calendar adjustments may have to be made for the duration of the school year. I will share the full plan in my Jan. 26 message. In the meantime, you can help your child be ready for virtual learning by doing the following:

  • Remind your student(s) to bring their devices and charging cords home daily in preparation for a closure due to inclement weather. Teachers will also remind students.
  • Notify your child’s teacher if your child does not have access to reliable internet so that the school can help connect you to this resource. More information is available online.

 Information on our weather procedures is available on the website. We continue to appreciate your partnership.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s January 12, 2022 Update

It is wonderful to have everyone back at school this week. This continues to be a challenging time due to the pandemic and the recent surge of COVID-19 cases.We have updated the website with frequently asked questions (FAQ) and current protocols.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

It is wonderful to have everyone back at school this week. This continues to be a challenging time due to the pandemic and the recent surge of COVID-19 cases.We have updated the website with frequently asked questions (FAQ) and current protocols.

Here are some updates on our protocols and other reminders as we all work together:

Thank You, Principals – This week is Virginia School Principal Appreciation Week, so please join me in thanking our outstanding principals on social media using #ThankAPSPrincipals. They have provided leadership to maintain open, welcoming schools and safe environments in a tumultuous time, and they work daily to resolve the unique challenges as guidance continues changing in this pandemic. We appreciate our principals!

In-Person Athletics and Extracurricular Activities Resume – All in-person athletics and extracurricular activities may resume effective today, Wed, Jan. 12, following our current testing, vaccination and mask requirements. Spectators for all athletic events will consist of family members, and limitations may be implemented based on a school’s facility capacity. The pause was due to the significant surge in positive cases among athletes and helped us to interrupt the chain of transmission and to ensure the continuity of education with the spread of COVID-19 as students returned from the break.  APS will continue to closely monitor the situation and evaluate activities as needed.

COVID Response – NEW Guidance Regarding Quarantine and Isolation – Effective Mon, Jan. 17, APS will adopt the CDC’s revised guidance on quarantine and isolation, as follows:

  • APS will reduce the quarantine period for students and staff to five days. Students who are exempt from quarantine (e.g., those with up-to-date vaccinations, are asymptomatic and are able to wear a mask) will be excluded and verified by Contact Tracers before being able to return to school. (Note: Quarantine keeps someone who was in close contact with COVID-19 away from others. View full definition.)
  • APS will reduce the isolation period for staff to five days. (Note: Isolation keeps those who test positive for COVID-19 away from others, even in their own home. View full definition.)
  • APS will maintain current 10-day isolation period for students with COVID-19; this is per CDC guidance that the reduced timeframe be implemented for students only with consistent physical distancing and mask protocols in place at all times, including during meals. Since we cannot maintain distancing consistently, per CDC, APS will maintain 10 days isolation for students with COVID-19.

Requirements to Return After Isolation: Please note the requirements for students to return:

  • Complete 10 days of isolation from symptom onset or since testing positive (day test administered), whichever is first; AND
  • Be fever free for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.

Please view our webpage outlining the quarantine and return guidance for students who are identified as close contacts through school-related exposures.

Keeping Schools Open Amid the Surge – Maintaining safe, consistent in-person learning is our priority. APS will maintain in-person learning except in limited instances to address high transmission in a classroom or school. Switching any class or school to virtual learning—even for a short period of time—will be a last resort. We will make those decisions on a case-by-case basis based on the best available information and the guidance of Arlington County Public Health Division professionals. Factors we consider include the following:

  • The number of students and staff who have tested positive;
  • The number of students in quarantine; the number of staff absent for COVID-related reasons; and
  • The level of transmission of the virus in the classroom or school.

We are ready to pivot, when needed, to deliver instruction remotely in those instances, and have plans to provide instruction to individual students in quarantine or isolation. Those plans are on the website.

Weekly In-School Testing: We are aware there are some transition issues with the new Virginia Department of Health (VDH) vendor for surveillance testing. We have spoken with VDH and the vendor directly as they work to address the issues. We thank everyone who has opted in for this testing and appreciate your understanding during the transition.

We Are in This Together – We, like many school systems, are facing staffing challenges due to COVID. We are working to recruit more subs and are deploying more central office staff to schools to help substitute so our schools can open. Help us spread the word or apply online to support students and schools. Keep your student(s) home from school if they don’t feel well and complete the Qualtrics health screener questions daily.

We are all in this together as a community, and it will take all of us to keep our schools open. Thank you for your support of APS, our students, and our excellent teachers and staff.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Superintendent’s Jan. 5, 2022 Update: COVID-19 Updates

We look forward to having students back in school after an extended break and hope they (and you) were able to enjoy the snow.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

We look forward to having students back in school after an extended break and hope they (and you) were able to enjoy the snow. We are working with the County, doing everything we can to open tomorrow—snow removal crews are working extended shifts amid staffing shortages to clear the neighborhood roads for buses to safely pass.

While this is not the way we planned our first week of the new year, we are committed to ensuring every student has a strong start back in 2022, prioritizing instruction and the health and wellbeing of our community.

I want to remind you that we are committed to keeping schools open for in-person instruction, in accordance with guidance from the Virginia Departments of Education and Health, the CDC, and the Arlington County Public Health Division.

Here are health reminders and other updates:

Layered Mitigation: The emergence of the Omicron variant further underscores the importance of universal masking and layered mitigation to reduce transmission in school:

  • Ensure your student has plenty of well-fitting masks. We will continue to require everyone to wear masks inside our buildings and on buses, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Remind your student to wash hands frequently. Schools have soap and hand sanitizer available.
  • Complete the Qualtrics screener daily and keep your student home if they are sick.
  • Outdoor lunch will continue to the extent possible, weather permitting, so ensure your child comes to school dressed warmly.

Masks and At-Home Test Kit Supplies Ordered: We have ordered a supply of KN95 masks, particulate filters for an APS provided mask, and at-home rapid antigen test kits for every staff member and student. Supplies for these items are limited but we anticipate them soon and will send additional communication when available.

Vaccine Boosters for 12+: If your child has not been vaccinated, take advantage of the clinics across the area to get them vaccinated. The FDA has authorized COVID vaccine boosters for 12-to-15-year-olds; it is now under CDC review. The FDA also shortened to five months the time required between the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and a booster shot and cleared third doses for some younger children with impaired immune systems. We will share details when available.

Opt-In for Weekly COVID Testing: We have transitioned to CIAN Diagnostics to administer free, weekly surveillance testing for students in school – this requires a new consent form. I strongly encourage all families to opt your students in by filling out the consent form online. Have your child’s student ID ready to complete the quick form. This is a free test administered via nasal swab in each school one day per week and helps us detect asymptomatic COVID cases early to reduce disease transmission.

Quarantine and Isolation Guidance: UPDATE: We will hold on implementing the CDC’s revised quarantine and isolation guidance, in consultation with the Arlington County Public Health Division. We will continue to follow the existing guidelines regarding returning to school following exposure. Additional guidance will be provided should your student be identified as a close contact.

Reverting to Distance Learning: It is possible that some individual classrooms may need to revert to distance learning for short periods of time, and those decisions will be made in consultation with Public Health. You will be contacted by your school should this happen. It’s a good practice for devices to be carried home every day.

Instruction During Quarantine: Guidance regarding instruction during quarantine is available online.  I know there are many questions about various circumstances families are encountering following the break.

Here are a few reminders:

  • Please complete the Qualtrics health screener daily and keep your student home from school if they are not feeling well, regardless of vaccination status. I cannot stress this enough.
  • If your student is symptomatic and awaiting test results, please have your student stay home until they receive their results.
  • If your student has been in contact with someone who has tested positive but is asymptomatic, please stay home until you have received a negative test result.
  • Anyone who is asymptomatic and was not exposed to anyone with COVID but chooses to take a COVID test, does not need to wait for test results to come to school.

As always, please follow the parent guide and process outlined on the website should your child test positive. If your child tested positive for COVID during the holidays and has been cleared by a medical professional or the Health Department, you do not need to notify your school. These continue to be challenging times for our schools and community, and I appreciate your cooperation and partnership as we move forward.

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent

Superintendent’s Dec. 8, 2021 Update: After-School Vaccination Clinics

My updates this week are related to COVID-19 health and safety measures, including weekly in-school testing. Health and safety remain priorities for APS, especially during flu and holiday travel season, as we work to keep schools open and safe.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

My updates this week are related to COVID-19 health and safety measures, including weekly in-school testing. Health and safety remain priorities for APS, especially during flu and holiday travel season, as we work to keep schools open and safe.

Also, a reminder that today is Early Release, and Extended Day will operate on the normal schedule.

  • NEXT WEEK: After-School Vaccination Clinics for 5-11-Year-Olds – We are partnering with the Arlington County Public Health Division to hold walk-in, COVID-19 vaccine clinics specifically for 5-11-year-olds at Kenmore, Gunston, Hoffman-Boston and Montessori, Dec. 14-17. The Pfizer vaccine is FREE and has been rigorously tested for safety. These clinics are open to all 5-11-year-olds regardless of APS enrollment status. The full schedule is online.
  • Quarantine Exemptions – Vaccination is one way to help keep students safe and in school. Children who have been fully vaccinated do not have to quarantine if they are identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case, unless they develop COVID-like symptoms within 14 days of exposure. We do not ask about student vaccination status; this will be confirmed only if your student is identified as a close contact.
  • New Weekly, In-School Testing Provider – Starting in January, the weekly in-school COVID testing will be provided by CIAN Diagnostics, through a CDC grant. All families wishing to participate, including those currently enrolled in weekly testing, will need to complete new consent forms with CIAN, available online. Opt-in now so your child can participate when this takes effect. Our current provider, ResourcePath, will continue to provide symptomatic testing at Kenmore and testing for athletics and extracurricular activities through March 2022
  • Weather Procedures: This video explains APS inclement weather procedures in the event we need to close, delay or dismiss school early. Additional information is online.
  • Program of Studies and Gifted Services Update: Next Tue, Dec. 14, we are holding a work session on the Program of Studies and Gifted Services, as part of our commitment to equity and ensuring we are serving the needs of all students. I encourage families interested in these topics to tune in.

Thank you for your ongoing partnership. Looking ahead to Winter Break (Dec. 20-31)—I will send my final update of the calendar year next Wed, Dec. 15. The updates will resume on Jan. 5, 2022.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Superintendent’s Dec. 1, 2021 Update: SEL Remains a Priority

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I want to again express how grateful all of us are for our APS families as we work together to help students succeed. I want to share a few updates and highlight the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) students received in the first quarter.

Superintendent's Updates logo

En Español

Dear APS Families,

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I want to again express how grateful all of us are for our APS families as we work together to help students succeed. I want to share a few updates and highlight the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) students received in the first quarter.

  • Social Emotional Learning (SEL) remains a priority as we see many students experiencing social and emotional challenges this school year, due to the pandemic. APS students are receiving support and learning healthy coping strategies and relationship skills through focused SEL lessons, small group work and individual support. Read this SEL update highlighting the depression awareness and suicide prevention training delivered to 8th and 10th grade students, along with other parent resources.
  • APS is accepting nominations for Teacher and Principal of the Year through Dec. 8: Help us spread the word to your friends and neighbors to nominate a teacher or principal who meets the criteria for this award (details online). This is a chance to help highlight some of the heroes who make a huge difference in the lives of students in Arlington.
  • Next Wed, Dec. 8 is an Early Release Day for students and staff. Check the 2021-22 calendar for other important dates like Winter Break (Dec. 20-Jan.2) and subscribe to your school’s online calendar (from the homepage of the school website) to get updates. The proposed calendar for the 2022-23 school year will be presented at this Thursday’s School Board meeting as an Information Item.

While this is a short month, it is also a busy holiday season that can cause added stress and anxiety for students. APS offers resources to help families concerned about depression and other issues. The Cigna School Support Line is available to provide free, confidential mental health support for our students and families 24/7 at 833-MeCigna (833-632-4462). Thank you and have a great week.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Español

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.