Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Francisco Durán announced return-to-school dates Tuesday afternoon, nearly 11 months since schools first closed at the outset of the pandemic.
Students will start trickling into their buildings by grade level on Tuesday, March 2. By Tuesday, March 16, all students who have chosen to be in-person will be able to go to school twice a week, either Tuesdays and Wednesdays or Thursdays and Fridays.
Teachers and staff, who have been re-entering their classrooms in phases since last week, will return one week before students, Durán said. This month, APS will end or scale back the programs currently providing some students with limited in-classroom instructional supports.
“I am encouraged by recent improvements in the health metrics, with case positivity rates and other indicators currently decreasing in Arlington and neighboring communities,” Durán told APS families via email. “Over the past two weeks, staff have returned to our buildings to prepare for the upcoming transition and to further strengthen our mitigation efforts.”
The superintendent was set to announce these dates during next week’s School Board meeting, but his plan changed last week, in response to a press conference in which Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam urged school systems to reopen by March 15.
More than half of APS staff members have received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to date, according to Durán, with new appointments being added “all the time.” Staff who received the vaccine in mid-January are now scheduling their second dose appointments, he added.
.@OakridgeConnect teacher Rachael Fine, @GeneralsPride principal Tony Hall, @SuptDuran and food service employee Lorena Perez were among the many who received their vaccine on Saturday. Another 900 APS staff will receive theirs today. Thank you @ArlingtonVA pic.twitter.com/oH9dL7sxCA
— Arlington Public Schools (@APSVirginia) January 18, 2021
Durán said families will be receiving further communication from APS regarding in-person days, the instructional model, transportation and any changes to teachers or classroom assignments.
He urged the school community to be “vigilant and work together,” after a year marked by protests and counter-protests over the ongoing closure of Arlington schools. Some APS families and many teachers have opposed the reopening of schools until more vaccinations could be administered.
“Our ability to continue moving ahead depends on all of us wearing masks, staying home when sick, and following all the other mitigation strategies recommended by Public Health to reduce the spread of the virus,” Durán said.
Durán added that he will share more information at the Feb. 18 School Board meeting.
The back-to-school scheduled announced today is below.
- PreK-2nd grade students
- All students enrolled in Countywide Elementary Special Education Programs (PreK-5th grade – mini MIPA, MIPA, Life Skills, Communications and Deaf and Hard of Hearing – in person four days a week, Tues-Fri)
- Elementary students enrolled in Interlude
- 3rd-5th grade students
- 6th and 9th grade students
- All students enrolled in Countywide Secondary Special Education Programs (6th-12th grade – MIPA, Life Skills, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Shriver Program – in person four days a week, Tues-Fri)
- Secondary students enrolled in Interlude and PEP program
- 7th-8th grade students
- 10th-12th grade students
Special programs will end or be scaled back on the following days:
- Friday, Feb. 19: five-day instructional learning supports for identified students at four elementary schools will switch to Mondays only.
- Friday, Feb. 19: the seven meal drop-off locations that are not school-based will cease operating.
- Friday, Feb. 26: the “work space” program for secondary students will stop running.
Image via APS/Twitter