Depending on local health conditions, Arlington Public Schools students who opt for hybrid instruction could start entering classrooms between the end of October and mid-January.
The staggered return times, along with more details about the school system’s preparations, were announced on Friday during a town hall for parents with Superintendent Francisco Durán and his staff.
Students with disabilities will begin returning on Oct. 29, followed by preschool to fifth-grade students — youngest to oldest — starting in late November and continuing into early December. High-school students taking certain Career and Technical Education courses will also return.
Parents of these students, designated as priority level 2, are being surveyed currently for instruction preferences. All other middle- and high-school students who opt for hybrid instruction comprise Level 3 and are currently expected to return in January.
“We want to be thoughtful of meeting the needs of all of our students who need more support,” Durán said.
During a town hall with teachers earlier last week, Durán told APS staff, including teachers, that balancing their preferences with those of families may mean APS cannot respect the wishes of every family who selects the hybrid option, according to a recording of the meeting, which was provided to ARLnow.
Rather, “with student need as the driver,” those who are falling behind, or have disabilities, those who have difficulty accessing online learning or do not have parents at home will receive the greatest priority in returning to school, he said.
An advocacy group promoting in-person education, Arlington Parents for Education, contends that qualifying for face-to-face education based on need is inconsistent with APS’s mission to provide equal access to public education.
“If APS is going to go down this path of making determinations on behalf of parents which children ‘truly need’ to deserve in-person schooling, then the district should be prepared for and willing to answer questions on the matter,” the group said in a statement. “Based on the volume of questions that were ignored at Friday evening’s town hall, it’s clear Dr. Durán is not being transparent with families, yet again.”
On Friday, parents had a lot of questions, submitted via text, Facebook Live comments and Microsoft Teams chat, ranging from keeping teachers to testing students.
“I recognize how challenging this is for our community, and I know there are many opposing views about how we should proceed,” Durán said.
School officials said parents are concerned with keeping kids with their current teachers, with many wanting to base their survey answers on what their child’s teacher prefers.
“We know there are strong bonds formed, and we will do our very, very best to maintain consistency as best we can with classes and teachers, but we are not going to be able to share what teachers prefer in their survey,” Durán said, asserting that doing so would reveal private health information.
Many others asked about regular COVID-19 testing.
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, K-12 students should not be regularly tested as a condition for students to return, said Zachary Pope, the school system’s emergency manager.
Rather, students will be pre-screened before boarding the bus or outside the classroom when parents drop them off. Guardians need to stay just in case their child is turned away for exhibiting symptoms, Pope said.
Students who experience symptoms at school will be put in seclusion rooms attended by specialized staff until a guardian can come get them. With the pre-screenings, however, Pope said “we hope we won’t have to have them in those rooms at all.”
Other safety measures include improvements to ventilation and social-distancing on buses. Walk zones have been expanded to keep down bus ridership to 11 students per trip and to mitigate car traffic.
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Arlington and its neighbors have become more segregated in the last 10 years while fair housing legislation at the state level faces significant roadblocks. Arlington’s fair housing enforcement, education, and commitment to equity practices in housing policy and programs are beginning to show signs of improvement but much more needs to be done.
Join the NAACP Arlington Branch, HOME of Virginia, and Equal Rights Center for the 2nd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference on April 15th to discuss the threats and opportunities to advancing fair housing policy across the state and within Arlington.
The half-day, in-person event will feature speakers from fair housing advocacy organizations and government agencies including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and focus on fair housing policy trends in Virginia and Arlington County. The conference aims to advance the understanding of issues and policies related to equity and affirmatively further fair housing among local officials, advocates, and members of the public.
2nd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference
Is home ownership a goal of yours in 2023? Now is the time to make it happen! Grab a (virtual) drink with the area’s top Real Estate experts, learn all about the home buying process and on how you can get $1,500 towards your closing costs immediately!
Did you know the average Arlington renter will spend $150K in 5 years of renting? Stop paying down someone else’s mortgage! Join us for a Rent vs. Buy Happy Hour on Wednesday, April 5th at 6 p.m. via Zoom. If this time doesn’t work, we also are offering times convenient for your schedule!
A lot has happened in the local market since the beginning of the pandemic. Sip on your drink of choice and learn from Northern Virginia, Arlington and Washingtonian Magazines top producing agents! We will discuss the latest market updates, the home buying process and rent vs. buy cost savings. Please RSVP by clicking here.
Call/text Manavi at 703-869-6698 with any questions!
Private School Fair
Congressional School to Host MONA Private School Fair Thursday, April 27 at 6:30 PM
Congressional School in Falls Church, VA is delighted to host the MONA (Mothers of North Arlington) at an upcoming Private School Fair. Private schools from around
WHS Spring Festival
Join us at the WHS Spring Festival on April 22, 2023, from 10am- 3pm at Wakefield High School(main parking lot). Come out to shop, play, and eat!
Shop local vendors, arts & crafts, new and used items, food vendors/trucks, and