To ensure a safe start to the school year, layered prevention strategies will be in place in all schools, including wearing a mask while indoors. APS encourages everyone to get vaccinated when eligible. APS will continue to review and adjust our policies in accordance with guidance from the CDC, VDH and VDOE.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all members of the school community participate in strategies to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. APS has committed to the following prevention strategies as outlined by the CDC:
We encourage all families who have eligible members including students to obtain an approved COVID-19 vaccine through a healthcare provider or Arlington County Public Health. For more information on how to get vaccinated visit Arlington County Public Health website.
Consistent and Correct Mask Use
All Arlington Public Schools facilities have a mandatory mask requirement for individuals aged 2 years and older. Outdoor property (e.g., recess and playgrounds) are not required for fully vaccinated individuals and when able to maintain physical distancing.
Arlington Public Schools provides symptomatic and exposure related testing via appointment and asymptomatic based testing through a strategized surveillance program. Trained staff provide a mid-nasal swab testing using a PCR pooled test strategy.
A daily health screener is sent to all families and employees every morning to encourage students and employees to remain at home when sick. This daily health screener provides direct guidance to students and employees on how to respond when they may have symptoms, an exposure, or tested positive. MORE INFORMATION
The school division in conjunction with Arlington County Public Health conduct contact tracing for positive cases within the schools. Individuals may be required to quarantine if they are exposed to a confirmed positive case of COVID-19.
If more than half a class is in quarantine or isolation because of an exposure or positive/probable diagnosis, the entire class will transition to remote learning. For middle and high school, that particular course will be taught remotely and the remainder of a student’s courses would be provided as asynchronous work.
Schools will implement distancing to the extent possible in schools; however, distancing consistently will not be possible. Masking and other strategies will help protect the school community in classrooms and spaces where distancing is not possible.
The school division adopted the ASHREA COVID-19 guidelines last year which include:
- Targeting 4-6 ACH (air changes per hour) for classroom spaces
- Continuing operations of CACDs (Certified Air Cleaning Devices) in classroom spaces
- Maximizing outside air ventilation to the greatest extent possible
- Operating ventilation systems pre and post occupancy for 2 hours
- Allowing windows to be open when outside conditions allow
- Increasing air filtration to the highest level possible (MERV-13)
Cleaning and Disinfecting
APS custodial staff will clean and sanitize the school building regularly. Custodians use hospital grade disinfectant and sanitizing products every day. The following steps are performed to maximize our sanitizing efforts:
- Increased cleaning or restrooms and high-touch surfaces/points such as door handles
- Cleaning chairs and tables in between cafeteria shifts where relevant
- Daytime custodians have been instructed to continuously disinfect and sanitize all touch points throughout the day.
Handwashing and Respiratory Etiquette
Schools continue to provide ample opportunity for students to wash their hands during keys times of the day (e.g., before meals, after recess, after bathroom breaks, etc.) while teaching and reinforcing appropriate respiratory etiquette.
Visitors, Volunteers, and Events
Visitors are allowed inside APS buildings with masks. Parents/guardians are permitted to visit schools prior to school opening for scheduled orientations, tours and open houses, and registration. Once classes begin on August 30, APS will strictly limit daily access to our school buildings when students are present to protect the health and safety of our students.
APS will continue to hold several events during the school year virtually, such as back to school nights in September, given positive feedback and greater participation and access to these events. Volunteers supporting students are considered essential visitors in schools. All volunteers must comply with school visitor polices. This includes wearing a mask while indoors and completing a daily health screening prior to entering the building.
All visitors are required to sign in and out of the school building using the Visitor Management System. Face coverings are not required for visitors when outdoors on APS school property.
Athletics and Band
All students participating in High School athletics are required to be vaccinated by November 8. (More Information) Outdoor athletics/activities do not require masks, but testing is strongly encouraged especially for non-vaccinated students. Indoor athletics/activities require masks, but teams will be tested daily and mask requirement may be lifted if testing is negative based on transmission levels.
Playground, Recess, Physical Education
Face masks are not required outside on the playground. APS will continue to require frequent hand sanitizing before going to playground areas and immediately following with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Students may share equipment during recess, which will be sanitized to the extent possible by staff and may access playground swings and other available play areas. During PE, face masks must be worn indoors but may be removed outdoors. Physical distancing will be maintained to the extent possible.
Breakfast, Lunch, Snack
APS is committed to ensuring the health and safety of our staff and students throughout the entire school day. This includes during lunch, when students will not be able to wear masks while actively eating or drinking. We have developed a plan to protect student health and safety during meals, in accordance with CDC and VDH guidelines for schools. Every school has either a partial or full outdoor lunch plan, and every school will consistently implement the following health and safety measures during lunch:
- Masks are required in the cafeteria or other designated dining space when students are not actively eating or drinking.
- Masks must be worn, regardless of vaccination status, during arrival to the lunch area, as well as in the serving line and when finished eating or when departing or traveling within the dining space.
- Cafeteria or other dining spaces and frequently touched surfaces will be regularly and thoroughly cleaned by custodial staff between mealtimes.
- Students will be required to wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer before and after eating. Time will be provided for handwashing and sanitizer will be readily available for student use.
- Mealtime will be monitored to ensure adherence to the safety measures in place and to enforce distancing to the extent possible.
APS will resume normal bus capacities. Windows will remain cracked on all buses to allow for outside air circulation. Masks will be required on all buses by riders and drivers.
The CDC federal order requiring masks be worn on public transportation remains in effect and applies to buses operated by Virginia public schools.