Press Club

APS Preparing for Possibility of Virtual Classes in the Fall

Arlington Public Schools is preparing for the possibility that in-person classes will not, in fact, resume in the fall.

There are new questions about when students will be returning to physical classrooms, following today’s Congressional testimony by Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a Senate panel today it’s unlikely that a vaccine or a highly effective treatment will be ready for use by the time the new school year starts.

APS said last week that is it considering ending the current school year early, in part to make time for staff training that will “focus on planning for the return to physical school with an emphasis on social emotional support for students.” But should coronavirus continue some baseline of local spread over the summer, that might lead to tough questions about whether students should remain at home rather than gathering by the hundreds or thousands in a school setting.

Asked about the possibility of not being able to return to school in the fall, APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said it’s one of the scenarios for which administrators are preparing.

“We are preparing for all possible scenarios for both summer school and the fall, as we await school reopening guidance from state officials and the Virginia Department of Education,” Bellavia. “Teachers and staff are participating in planning and professional development to prepare for the delivery of virtual classroom instruction, in the event schools cannot reopen or if a hybrid in-person and virtual learning model is necessary.”

Though APS has — controversially — punted the last couple months of curricula to the fall, opting instead to reinforce teaching from before schools closed in March, Bellavia said new material will be taught in the fall regardless.

“If classes are held virtually in the fall, new material will be taught,” he told ARLnow.

The new school year is set to start on Aug. 31.

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