Arlington, VA

(Updated at 5 p.m.) Under a new Arlington Public Schools proposal, set to be presented Thursday night, most students would start the new school year in a hybrid instructional model that involves only two days in classrooms per week.

Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán, who told APS families in an email earlier this week that the school system was “reviewing hybrid instructional models that blend in-person and distance learning for students,” is set to make the presentation to the School Board tonight.

The proposal would divide students into three groups: one that would attend in-person classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, another would attend classes in person on Thursdays and Fridays, while a third group would consist of students whose families opt for distance learning only.

According to the presentation, Monday would be a planning day for teachers and a distance learning day for all students.

That is similar to the model announced by Fairfax County Public Schools earlier this week.

The goal is to reduce the potential for a wide-scale coronavirus outbreak in a school, while also keeping students engaged and interacting with one another.

In the presentation, APS says it is planning a number of other safety measures, including:

  • Staff and student health screening
  • Personal protective equipment and face covering requirements
  • Increased disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces
  • Public health signage
  • Physical distance floor markings

The presentation details the results of surveys of APS staff, students and families. Notable findings include:

  • 39% of staff say they’re “not comfortable at all” returning to physical schools
  • 70% of staff say they would return to school in the fall if asked, while 10% would “request work-from-home accommodations for health reasons,” 1% would not return, and 19% are uncertain
  • 75% of staff support mask requirements for APS staff
  • 42% of families prefer only in-person instruction in the fall, while 37% prefer a hybrid model
  • 99% of students say they “have access to the technology I need” for distance learning, compared to 81% of staff members

Families are expected to be sent an enrollment notice in early July that will allow them to opt in to a distance learning-only model in the fall.

For remote-only elementary students, daily APS teacher-led instruction will be provided, “in combination with asynchronous instruction.” For high school students, distance learning will be provided “in partnership with online virtual course providers.”

“While [high school] students enrolled in virtual courses may receive their instruction from a teacher outside of APS, they will be closely monitored by a faculty member from the school of attendance,” the presentation notes.

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