Arlington, VA

A 61% majority of Arlington Public Schools teachers prefer to continue distance teaching or telework, according to a survey recently conducted by APS.

Almost 4,300 employees, or 63% of APS staff, completed the survey. Teachers and assistants had the highest participation rates, 87% and 86% respectively, and while teachers had a stronger preference for distance learning over in-person teaching, assistants were split 50-50.

Those results were compiled and presented to the Arlington School Board by Superintendent Francisco Durán during the school board meeting on Thursday night.

Administrators say the information will be used to match teaching and learning preferences as the school system slowly brings back students, prioritizing students with disabilities and younger students who struggle more often with distance learning. Overall, 55% of all APS staff prefer telework to in-person work due to ongoing concerns of contracting the coronavirus.

During the meeting, Arlington School Board Vice Chair Barbara Kanninen asked Durán what will be done with the results, as there will potentially be more in-person students than staff to teach them.

“It continues to be that teacher preferences are not a match to family preferences,” Kanninen said. “More families are wanting to return to hybrid than there are teachers. What happens with that mismatch?”

Durán said staff in the human resources department, as well as supervisors and principals, will be talking to those who prefer not to return, but do not qualify for accommodations that would keep them fully remote.

“We’ll be working with those staff around what are their needs to make sure they feel safe,” Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Staff Dan Redding said.

Durán told board members that the figures in the presentation will not correspond to the final number of staff inside school buildings as APS continues to reopen.

Among other employee categories, those in food service, transportation and maintenance said they would prefer to report for work in-person.

Surveys were also sent out to select families who could be coming back this November, and those surveys were extended through Friday due to the APS internet outage on Wednesday. The school system will rely on this information to map out bus routes, since there is not much available room on reduced-capacity buses, Durán said.

The Arlington Education Association, which represents Arlington teachers, was not available to comment.

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