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Reduced School Bus Capacity Prompts APS to Expand Elementary ‘Walk Zones’

Fewer kids will be able to take the bus when in-person classes resume at Arlington Public Schools.

APS says that it is expanding the “walk zones” for 16 of its 24 elementary schools, as buses will only be able to carry 11 students at a time due to social distancing guidelines.

“As we start to plan for returning to school buildings, we want to make you aware of some changes to bus transportation starting this year,” the school system said in an email to families this morning.

The proposed expansion of the walk zones around schools “will allow transportation to focus our bus service on routes that are farthest from school and allow them to move more quickly between stops and school,” said the email.

“APS is developing route maps to help families find their way and will work with the school to ensure families have access to them,” the email continues. “This year, with the many COVID-related challenges, walking and biking to school will provide more flexibility to your arrival/dismissal time from school, and give your students a little extra activity before and after their modified school day.”

According to the APS website, the changes apply to the following elementary schools: AbingdonAshlawnArlington Traditional SchoolBarcroftBarrettClaremontDiscoveryDrewHoffman BostonJamestownKeyLong BranchMcKinleyScience FocusTaylor, and Tuckahoe.

Barring a deterioration of Arlington’s coronavirus metrics, APS announced last week that it was it tentatively planning to bring students with disabilities back in mid-to-late October; PreK-3, technical education and English learner students back in early-to-mid November; and all other students electing the two-day-per-week, in-person learning model in early December.

As of Tuesday, families of the middle group of students could select, via the online ParentVUE system, whether they want their kids to return to classrooms or stay at home, according to APS.

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