(Updated at 9:20 p.m.) At long last, some children in Arlington Public Schools were able to walk the halls and see their teachers.
Wednesday was the first day of in-person school for about 230 children with disabilities in 33 APS buildings and programs, and administrators were happy to see them back. The day went smoothly, from health and safety protocols to transportation and technology operating as planned, said Superintendent Francisco Durán.
“We were very excited to welcome our first group of students back for in-person learning,” Durán said. “Principals and staff at each school enthusiastically welcomed our students as they arrived and helped ensure a safe and successful transition.”
But the scene may be bittersweet for some of the PreK, early elementary, and career and technical education students — and parents. Those students were initially slated to return next Thursday, but APS decided return dates set for 2020 would be delayed until 2021 due to rising cases.
The news was announced in an email from Durán on Monday, but he informed parents last Tuesday that delays should be expected.
“We continue to see the case incidence rate in our area increasing, not decreasing,” Durán wrote. “Level 2 comprises significantly larger numbers of students and staff. Moving too quickly to Level 2, while case levels are still rising, represents a safety risk and could cause further disruption to schedules.”
But on Wednesday morning, some smiles were evident through the masks.
We loved welcoming back some of our students. ❤️@JamestownAPS @monicaroache https://t.co/DDhhJwXGeW
— michelle mccarthy (@McCarthyM_JES) November 4, 2020
On social media, scenes of students at schools prompted a response from a local group advocating for a return to in-person education.
“Can’t imagine how happy they are to be back,” tweeted Arlington Parents for Education. “Now onto the rest!”
Durán said pausing the plans allows APS to see if its mitigation measures are successful with the first group of students, and gives the school system more time to solidify staffing plans.
In a statement, Arlington Parents for Education said it will continue to advocate for students to return.
“At some point, we have to learn to live in a world where COVID-19 exists and children are allowed to attend school. There is no such thing as a zero-risk environment for anything,” the organization said. “Arlington’s children will feel the effects of this decision for years to come.”
In June, before a rise in cases later in the summer, only 10% of families that responded to an APS survey said they preferred an online-only start to the 2020-2021 school year.
The clamor from some parents for kids to return spilled over during a COVID-19 virtual update with County Board members last Friday. About 95% of questions from the public during the Q&A portion of the call concerned schools reopening, County Board member Katie Cristol said during the meeting.
“To the members of our community who are looking to the County Board to provide a different answer on school reopening than the one they’ve gotten from APS to date, we can resonate with that frustration,” Cristol said. “But I’m sorry, we’re not here to give you different answers than the ones you’ve gotten from Superintendent Francisco Durán and the School Board.”
She affirmed the school board’s jurisdiction over managing public schools.
“It keeps accountability with those who can make decision, and keeps decisions in partnership with the superintendent that have to do with students and workforce, groups of people that the County Board does not have as much insight into,” Cristol said.
Arlington County sent $10.15 million of its CARES Act funding to APS, including a $500,000 grant for providing home internet access to low-income households. Another $1.65 million went toward wireless network deployment and $340,000 went to food programs. The food programs also received $1.125 million from other sources of state and federal funding.
Photos courtesy APS
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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!
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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