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JUST IN: APS Announces Universal Mask Mandate for Return to School

Arlington Public Schools will require universal masking at the start of the school year, regardless of vaccination status, according to an email to families this morning.

The order applies to all students, staff and visitors inside APS buildings and on school buses, Superintendent Francisco Durán said in the announcement. Masks will not be required when eating or during outside recess, P.E. class, athletics and other outdoor activities.

The new school year begins Monday, Aug. 30.

“Universal masks are part of a layered approach to help our schools stay open and safe, and to ensure all students can safely return to our buildings, especially when physical distancing is not possible at all times and not all our students are eligible yet for vaccinations,” Durán wrote.

APS’s new mandate mirrors the rules for in-person summer school. It comes amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in Arlington County, fueled by the more contagious Delta variant. The announcement comes on the heels of similar universal mask mandates announced this week by Fairfax County and Montgomery County public schools.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance to recommend that even vaccinated people wear masks in indoor, public settings where prevalence of the virus is elevated.

“Universal masking for the start of the school year aligns with the latest CDC guidance, and the recommendations of local and state public health authorities, to help ensure all students can safely return to school buildings,” Durán said.

Citing CDC guidance, Durán said a student who is within three to six feet of an infected student will not be considered a close contact as long as both students are wearing masks and the school takes other precautions.

“We will continue to regularly review our masking practices and other health and safety measures to keep them in line with national, state and local health recommendations,” Durán said. “As guidance changes, we will keep the community informed of any changes to our practices.”

Durán encouraged families to vaccinate children ages 12 and older.

“The most effective tool for protecting our school community and preventing the spread of COVID-19 is vaccination,” he said. “We look forward to welcoming students back to school for in-person learning, five days per week.”

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The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.

Former participants have this to say:

_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._

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Learn about the new assessment of Arlington’s urban tree canopy and the many ecological and social benefits trees provide. Staff from the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) will share study results and compare canopy cover for different areas of Arlington.The webinar will include assessments of ecosystem services such as stormwater mitigation, air quality, carbon uptake, and urban heat islands. For background on Arlington trees see the “Tree Benefits: Growing Arlington’s Urban Forest” presentation at http://www.gicinc.org/PDFs/Presentation_TreeBenefits_Arlington.pdf.

Please register in advance to assure your place at the webinar, https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/29543206508863839.

About the Arlington County Civic Federation: The Arlington County Civic Federation (“ACCF”) is a not-for-profit corporation which provides a forum for civic groups to discuss, debate, inform, advocate and provide oversight on important community issues, on a non-partisan basis. Its members include over ninety civic groups representing a broad cross-section of the community. Communications, resolutions and feedback are regularly provided to the Arlington County Government.

The next meeting is on Tuesday, February 21,2023 at 7 pm. This meeting is open to the public and will be hybrid, in-person and virtually through Zoom. Part of the agenda will be a discussion and vote on a resolution “To Restore Public Confidence in Arlington County’s Governance”. For more information on ACCF and this meeting, go to https://www.civfed.org/.

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Submit your own Announcement here.

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