Signs and stepped-up enforcement are part of the police plan for bringing Arlington students back to the classrooms safely.
In advance of the first day of school for Arlington Public Schools students on Monday, the Arlington County Police Department is encouraging drivers to be especially cautious on local roads.
“On Monday, August 29, 2022, there will soon be an increase in children walking, bicycling, and riding the bus to schools throughout Arlington,” ACPD said in a press release this week. “Transportation safety is a shared responsibility and it’s up to all of us to keep our students safe by following the rules of the road.”
The police department says it will “conduct a high-visibility transportation safety campaign in and around school zones and bus stops to ensure the trip to class is as safe as possible.” That includes enforcement and electronic signs “placed along roadways in Arlington to raise awareness about the start of the school year and to share important safety messaging.”
Police noted that last fall the Arlington County Board voted to establish 13 “School Slow Zones” around public and private schools in the county. The zones reduce the speed limit to 20 mph on roads within 600 feet of the school.
The department also reminded drivers that the law requires drivers to stop behind a school bus that is loading or unloading passengers, except when traveling in the opposite direction on a divided highway.
An ACPD press release with safety and traffic law reminders, along with a new “Back to School Safety PSA” video starring APS Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán and Arlington police chief Andy Penn video, are below.
The $38 million transformation of the Washington-Liberty annex is nearly complete.
Over the last three years, the nearly six-decade-old Arlington Education Center has undergone a complete overhaul to turn it into classrooms and school space for the burgeoning student body. This is the most significant renovation in the history of the building, which was completed in 1969 and previously used as the Arlington Public Schools headquarters. (The APS administrative offices are now located at Sequoia Plaza.)
We received an exclusive tour yesterday of the newly updated facility that is now updated classrooms, breakout areas, science labs, art studios, weight rooms, offices, and flex space. The project reached substantial completion back in June. With school less than two weeks away, it’s now all touch-ups, paneling, and inspections.
The annex is expected to open to students when the new school year starts later this month.
The goal of the project, APS’s director of design and construction Jeff Chambers told ARLnow while walking through the still-pristine hallways, was to turn an under-used office building into usable, updated school space.
“With this building, it’s set up so that it can be used for any type of classroom or for any grade,” Chambers said. “It’s going to be used by Washington-Liberty students when it opens, but it can be converted to be used for anything. The whole intent is that all of the classrooms can be modified and used for whatever program absolutely needs them.”
The five-floor, 55,000-square-foot facility can accommodate between 500 and 600 students. The building is shaped like a “quarter of a donut,” as described by project manager Robin Hodges, which allows nearly all of the classrooms a view of the outside while also facing inward towards the common areas.
Each level, with the exception of the ground floor, is similar in set-up, with the elevators moved back, large windows, and a common area with seating and furniture. The building’s footprint wasn’t expanded, though it might look that way.
“The ambient light into the classrooms and spaces has really made a huge improvement, opened up the building a lot more,” said Hodges. “Everyone that used to be here before and now walks the halls ask, ‘Did you make it bigger?’ No. We just have more daylight in the building.”
Chambers compared the old building’s lack of sunlight and darkness, particularly in the bathrooms, to walking into a famed Arlington landmark.
“It was like walking into The Broiler on Columbia [Pike] and you’re looking for your steak and cheese,” he said laughing, noting that they did a simulation of the sun’s movement and added window frits to help diffuse sunlight throughout the building.
First Day of School Three Weeks Away –” It seems as if summer just started, but before you know it, the 2022-23 school year in Arlington will be starting. The first day of classes for Arlington Public Schools is Monday, Aug. 29.” [Patch]
Pet Adoptions Down Slightly — “The Animal Welfare League of Arlington reports that 2,444 cats, dogs and small animals were adopted from its shelter during the 12-month period ending June 30. That’s down slightly from the 2,587 in the preceding year, which may be a positive sign that things are calming down in the get-along-with-COVID world that is now being experienced.” [Sun Gazette]
Another Gun Seized at Airport — ” Transportation Security Administration officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington stopped a Charlottesville man on Wednesday from bringing his loaded handgun onto a flight… The man told officials that he was in a rush to fly to Florida to attend a funeral and ‘forgot that he had his loaded gun with him,’ according to TSA.” [Patch]
Arlington Man Charged With Robbery — “The investigation determined the suspect entered into the business, selected a beverage and allegedly attempted to leave without paying. A female employee confronted the suspect, who ignored her and selected additional merchandise. The employee attempted to stop the suspect, during which he struck her before fleeing the scene on foot. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the suspect had stolen merchandise from an additional business.” [ACPD]
West Glebe Bridge Demolition — “After months of being closed, much of West Glebe Road Bridge has finally been torn down ahead of eventual reconstruction. Demolition started earlier this week and is expected to finish by the week of Sept. 5. Demolition work is expected to continue Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.” [ALXnow]
It’s Monday — Humid throughout the day. High of 91 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:17 am and sunset at 8:13 pm. [Weather.gov]
Virginia’s annual back-to-school tax holiday is coming up this weekend and one local shopping center is using the occasion to hold a donation drive.
This year’s statewide sales tax holiday is taking place from Friday through Sunday (Aug. 5-7). Those shopping in Virginia can rack up tax savings on eligible products, including back-to-school clothing and supplies, emergency preparedness items, and certain energy- and water-efficient home appliances and fixtures.
More from the state’s website:
What items are eligible?
- School supplies, clothing, and footwear
- Qualified school supplies – $20 or less per item
- Qualified clothing and footwear – $100 or less per item
- Hurricane and emergency preparedness products
- Portable generators – $1,000 or less per item
- Gas-powered chainsaws – $350 or less per item
- Chainsaw accessories – $60 or less per item
- Other specified hurricane preparedness items – $60 or less per item
- Energy Star™ and WaterSense™ products
- Qualifying Energy Star™ or WaterSense™ products purchased for noncommercial home or personal use – $2,500 or less per item
Detailed lists of qualifying items and more information for retailers can be found in the Sales Tax Holiday Guidelines.
“During a time of high inflation and gas prices, Virginians will receive some needed tax relief this weekend as they support local businesses across the Commonwealth,” Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) said this afternoon in a statement. “Lowering the cost of living remains a top priority for my administration as we work together to make Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”
Locals taking advantage of tax-free shopping at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, meanwhile, are being asked to bring their used denim with them. Denim clothing can be donated at the mall between Aug. 5-14.
“Fashion Centre at Pentagon City encourages shoppers to bring any type of denim apparel items to the Do Good With Denim drive,” mall operator Simon said in a press release. “Shoppers can recycle their used denim at various bins throughout the center. Stations will be located throughout the center for shoppers to custom embroider their denim. Donations will be given to the Salvation Army.”
For the first time since March 2020, most Arlington Public Schools students will be in their classrooms for five days of in-person learning, starting Monday.
Some students will continue at a distance, but overall, the school system says it is focused on three areas this year: accelerated learning, health and safety, and social-emotional learning, according to last night (Thursday’s) School Board meeting.
Parent groups meanwhile, tell ARLnow they are keen to see how these plans to close learning gaps and mitigate the virus’s spread are implemented at local schools.
“Accelerated learning is a key focus for us,” Superintendent Francisco Durán told the School Board during the meeting last night. “What that really means is helping teachers help students focus on grade-level material, while reinforcing what they know from the previous year and what gaps they may have to help them move forward.”
Students will be taught grade-level material with any supports needed to make the content accessible, he said. Teachers will build social-emotional learning into the school day.
Administrators pointed to performance this spring on state standardized tests to illustrate the impact of distance learning. But the data, which contrasted performance in the 2020-21 year with those of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years, came with a number of caveats from the Virginia Department of Education.
Participation in VDOE’s Standards of Learning (SOL) testing during the 2020-21 school year was down “significantly” in all subject areas compared with pre-pandemic participation, according to a presentation. For example, only 75.5% of students in tested grades took reading tests in last year, and just under 79% took math tests, compared with 99% in both subjects in 2018-19.
“The major takeaway is that districts should not use 2021 SOL results to compare to previous years,” according to a presentation slide. “Given the wide variability in participation and modalities, comparison of APS students’ scores with neighboring divisions scores is discouraged.”
A few drops were particularly stark, especially in math. Performance rates dropped 20-40 percentage points for students in grades 3-8, for low-income students, for Black, Hispanic and Asian students and for emerging English-language learners.
“Virtual learning had a tremendous impact on mathematics progress,” Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Bridget Loft said last night.
In a statement, Arlington Parents for Education — which advocated for full-time in-person learning while APS was offering remote and then two-day-per-week in-school learning — said the results should surprise no one.
“Superintendent Durán and the school board made a choice to keep Arlington public students from receiving a full day of instruction for over a year. That choice had many consequences — none so obvious now as the staggering drop in academic decline illustrated in this data,” APE said. “[It’s] the students who didn’t have access to outside tutors, at-home support from parents or pod coaches who were set even further behind their peers.”
The group said APS must tackle educational disparities with research-based best practices and increased instructional time.
This weekend, locals can stock up on virtually everything needed to batten down the hatches in the event of a natural disaster, or to go back to school, without paying Virginia sales tax.
Hurricane season, which will last through Nov. 30, is about to reach its peak, with 15-21 tropical systems potentially forming this year. People can get a host of hurricane readiness products sales tax-free through Sunday.
The tax exemption is part of Virginia’s Sales Tax Holiday, when folks can buy certain emergency and school supplies, as well as energy-saving devices, sales tax-free. The holiday started this morning (Friday) and will last until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. People can save between 3.5-7% this weekend, according to a video about the holiday produced last year.
In addition to hurricanes, over the years, Arlingtonians have had to be prepared for massive floods, hurricanes, earthquakes big and small, and even tornadoes, as well as the local power outages caused by high winds and rainstorms over the last year.
The list of hurricane-preparedness essentials includes some larger items, if they’re less than $1,000:
- Portable generators and generator power cords
- Inverters and inverter power cables
- Photovoltaic devices that generate electricity
Gas-powered chain saws qualify if they’re less than $350, and chain saw accessories less than $60 are also exempt.
The list includes smaller items useful for most emergencies:
- First aid kits
- Storm shutter devices
- Batteries and chargers for cell phones and all batteries except those for cars and boats
- Portable, battery-operated or self-powered radios and light sources
- Bungee cords and rope
- Tie down kits
- Duct tape
- Gas or diesel fuel tanks
- Ice packs and reusable ice
- Water storage containers
- Non-electric food storage coolers
- Bottled water
- Manual can openers
Other home safety products include:
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Smoke detectors
- Fire extinguishers
Qualifying school supplies must cost $20 or less per item and qualified clothing and footwear must cost less than $100.
With back to school around the corner, folks can buy anything from scissors, tape and glue to socks, shoes and uniforms, as well as hand sanitizing soap and disinfecting wipes. Other cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment, such as masks, however, are exempt.
Energy Star or WaterSense products, such as toilets, faucets and refrigerators, are eligible of they cost less than $2,500 per item and are purchased for noncommercial home or personal use only.
Thursday night was not a typical Arlington School Board meeting.
A contentious public comment period, during which Board Chair Monique O’Grady called for order multiple times, preceded news that Arlington Public Schools has launched school-based COVID-19 testing and preschoolers will gain access to four days of in-person instruction.
Six times, O’Grady addressed violations of the comment period, which included clapping, direct appeals to school board members, and an unseen man shouting down a speaker. She even threatened to “take other measures” if people kept disrupting the proceedings.
“We do appreciate hearing from all families, whether you’re happy or not, but we ask you that when you come into our board room that you please respect our rules and one another,” she said later in the meeting, which was preceded by a rally pushing for schools to add more in-person learning days this spring.
Tensions came to a head last night among parents who are asking APS to open schools fully, school board members and administrators, and other parents and advocates who want the school system to retain a virtual option.
Last night, administrators announced some new developments.
APS is rolling out on-site COVID-19 testing, which could allow some students exposed to COVID-19 in class to return sooner, said Zachary Pope, the director of emergency planning for APS. This new approach will be tested in the summer and could be implemented this fall.
Additionally, Superintendent Francisco Durán said preschool students can be in-person four days a week starting Monday, May 3 due to the federal guidance shortening social distancing from six feet to three feet. Students in certain special education programs are the only ones currently in person four days a week.
But many parents want to see four-day schedules for all students, not just those enrolled in specialized programs. They call for APS to follow the lead of Fairfax County Public Schools.
In Northern Virginia, the superintendents of Arlington Public Schools and Alexandria City Public Schools are sticking with two days a week of in-person students for the remainder of the semester, while Fairfax and Loudoun County public schools have allowed some students to access in-person education four days a week.
A spokeswoman for FCPS tells ARLnow the first students to get four days of in-person learning were those in most need of it, who may or may not have been in-person before. After they returned on April 6, wherever additional spots remained, school personnel reached out to students attending school in person twice a week and gave them the option of four-day, in-person schedules, depending on the number of staff and the size of each classroom.
APS is taking a different approach, Durán said. Rather than expand schedules to four days of in-person school for a limited number of students, he decided to expand access to two days of in-person education. Over the last month, nearly 1,800 students who were virtual started attending school two days a week where space allows.
Last night, parents calling for fully in-person schedules picked up where they left off earlier this month, calling for more days as well as the resignation of APS leaders.
Standing with her daughter, Sheila Leonard pleaded with the school board to allow hands-on arts, music and physical education experiences on in-person school days, and to open schools fully.
“Since July, Gov. Ralph Northam and the American College of Pediatrics have prioritized [special-education, English-language learners and K-2 students] but not APS. When will you stand up for our neediest children?” she said.
Next, Brittany Kitchen wondered whom the school board members are protecting in avoiding a full return.
“It’s not for the kids. It’s not for the teachers — they’re vaccinated. Who is it for, then? You, so you can sleep at night knowing you didn’t make a decision, so if something goes wrong, it’s not on you?” Kitchen said. “That’s not leadership, it’s cowardice.”
People clapped. O’Grady instructed attendees to wave their hands silently. Two more parents’ speeches are met with applause and O’Grady reiterated the rules.
Next, Aaron Asimakopoulos called for the removal of school board members and administrators.
“Who among you can honestly say you have fought to get our children back in school?” he said. “Your departure from APS would have absolutely zero effect on the outcome of a student’s outcome, except to remove a barrier.”
After O’Grady rebuked him for addressing her specifically, he told other board members to “show some spine.”
Eventually, Latina advocates Gabriela Uro and former school board member Tannia Talento came forward. They said the immigrant and Latino families they work with are more cautious about school since they have experienced disproportionate rates of financial burden, sickness and death during the pandemic.
Arlington Public Schools families will have two prospects for school in the fall: five days a week of in-person learning or a fully remote K-12 learning program.
This week, APS opened up a two-week window during which families can choose how their children will attend school. Families have until Friday, April 30 to make their choice.
Over the last few months, students have returned to school in phases, with most returning in March for two days of in-person instruction a week across all grade levels. Although APS is sticking to the “hybrid” model for the rest of this semester, the school system said it will provide a full five-day in-person option this fall, in addition to in-person summer school.
Superintendent Francisco Durán reiterated this commitment two weeks ago.
“We are absolutely doing that in the fall,” Durán assured Arlington School Board members during a recent meeting. “We are headed to five days in-person in the fall. All of our planning now until then will be dedicated to that. That will be the sole plan we are working on.”
The push coincides with a Virginia law that Gov. Ralph Northam signed on April 1 requiring school systems to provide a full five days of in-person learning, with a virtual option. The new law will take effect July 1.
APS is encouraging in-person learning in the fall, but providing a remote option for those with health and other concerns.
“We encourage all students to return for in-person instruction and remain committed to providing safe learning environments in all schools; however, we know there are a variety of reasons why some families and students may need to continue learning remotely,” the APS website says.
If parents and guardians miss the Friday, April 30 deadline, APS will automatically place children in the in-person instructional model.
“Elementary school families will be able to change their decision after the first, second and third quarters of the school year,” the website said. “Middle and high school families will be able to change their decision after the first semester in January.”
A group of administrators, teachers and staff are developing a separate K-12 Distance Learning Program and APS will hire an administrator for the developing program this May. Eventually, this temporary option could become a permanent program for students who prefer learning at home.
Families and students who choose to continue in distance learning will be asked to provide reasons for their choice, according to the website.
“It is important to understand if students are not returning due to health and safety concerns, preference for the model, or if they will not return until their student and/or immediate family is vaccinated,” the school system says. “APS is committed to providing safe school environments so that all students feel comfortable and confident returning in person in the fall; however, we know there are a variety of reasons why families choose distance. We hope to gain more insight from those families.”
Data compiled by APS, below, shows that white students are most likely to have opted for hybrid in-person learning this semester, on average, while students of color, English learners, and economically disadvantaged students are more likely to have opted for distance learning.
During the April 8 School Board meeting, Vice Chair Barbara Kanninen called on APS to “be more proactive” reaching out to families about the school system’s mitigation measures and the safety of in-person education.
“I’m very worried about how we’re going to get them either to opt-in by the summer or fall, and how we’re going to encourage them,” Kanninen said.
Durán told the board that preferences may change now that the vaccine is more widely available.
Photos via APS
Arlington Public Schools administrators are reiterating their commitment to getting more students into hybrid instruction this semester and five-day in-person instruction this summer and fall.
That’s unlikely to appease parents who want a quicker return to full-time in-school learning, however.
As announced last week, APS will be inviting more children — whose families initially opted out of in-person school in the fall and now want to return — to come to school twice a week in the hybrid model of instruction, as space allows on a school-by-school basis.
The push to incorporate more students responds to a change in social-distancing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which now allows for three feet of distance between students in classrooms, though six feet is still recommended between adults and adults and students.
Nearby school systems are using the new guidance to add days of face-to-face instruction to the school week. Next Tuesday, Loudoun County and Fairfax County public schools will offer four days of in-person learning. This applies to all students in hybrid learning in LCPS and to identified students experiencing the greatest learning challenges in FCPS. (The Fairfax County plan has faced some criticism.)
Most Falls Church students, meanwhile, are now back in classrooms full time.
“We are absolutely doing that in the fall,” Superintendent Francisco Durán assured Arlington School Board members during their meeting last week. “We are headed to five days in-person in the fall. All of our planning now until then will be dedicated to that. That will be the sole plan we are working on.”
A number of parents who spoke at last week’s School Board meeting called for more days of in-person instruction this spring. In some cases, they also called for the resignation of Durán and certain School Board members.
“COVID-19 shows that the problem in Arlington is leadership is lacking,” said Paul Brickley. “The board must pursue the removal of the superintendent and the chief of staff for cause… Should the board not act, Arlington parents who care about the state of public education should immediately pursue a recall petition for [the board members] here since the start of the pandemic began. Should either course prove unworkable, parents should take to the streets using available peaceful means.”
While many Arlington students are in two day per week in-person learning, those in countywide special education programs report to schools four days a week. Between 41% and 51% of students, on the other hand, are still fully virtual.
The rates of opting for distance learning are higher among Arlington’s more vulnerable populations, Durán noted.
“I’ve heard from some principals as they’ve reached out to families that they still want to remain in distance learning,” he said. “We know that our English-learner population — particularly our Latino population — has had more exposure to the coronavirus and that particular community does not feel safe coming back to school.”
Overall, English learners and economically disadvantaged students are more likely to be in full distance learning than the overall APS student population, according to a snapshot of enrollment by instructional model, shown below.
At one school — Carlin Springs Elementary School — Durán said 80% of families are choosing to remain in distance learning.
“It’s really important to understand the nuance that there are significant variances among zip codes in comfort with coming back into in-person learning,” School Board Member Cristina Diaz-Torres said. “A lot of students are working to support their families or are taking care of younger siblings during the day and are just experiencing a different reality than some of our other students are experiencing.”
Gabriela Uro, who is part of an association of Latino APS parents, said the network of 600 Latino families she speaks with are very concerned about returning to school. Many parents worry their children could bring home the virus and infect a working family member, making it harder to put food on the table and pay rent.
More than 80% of people who responded to a Spanish-language survey her group sent out said their No. 1 concern with return-to-school is getting sick, with a number concerned about whether staff and students would comply with safety strategies.
“The level of anxiety was palpable,” she said.
Some Arlington School Board members are putting pressure on administrators to get more students inside school buildings more often.
Arlington Public Schools has finished a month-long process of phasing students into school buildings for a hybrid, two-day-per-week model of in-person learning. Currently, about 35% of students are still fully virtual, and some of them are on waitlists for in-school instruction.
Some School Board members told Superintendent Francisco Durán on Thursday that they want more students in classrooms, as well as more than two days a week of in-person instruction, in light of new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC halved its social-distancing guidelines from six feet to three feet among students in classrooms.
Durán previously said that APS would conclude the spring semester in the hybrid model.
In response to the new guidance, Durán told School Board members that APS will admit some waitlisted students into buildings, prioritizing those learning English, receiving special education services, or at risk of failing grades 8 and 12.
Citing logistical and instructional hurdles, however, APS will not be increasing the number of days students can be in-person based on the new guidance, he said. It will use the guidance to work toward five days of in-person instruction for summer school and the fall, he said.
“I have received many calls over the past week — since the beginning of the guidance we received — asking us to revise our model and provide four to five days of in-person instruction,” Durán said. “I certainly understand those calls and the disappointment many people are feeling in wanting to get back more days in-person.”
Under the new guidance, buses could transport up to 22 students, or one in every row, where it currently seats 11 students, one every other row. Inside classrooms, every classroom could theoretically increase the size from 12 to 14 students. Staff said such changes would require redrawing bus routes for the entire school system and true capacity would vary by classroom and school building.
Doing so would take staff away from the task of carrying out the hybrid model that APS just finished rolling out, he said.
“This change is not a simple change that can just happen quickly when you think of all the things that need to happen,” he said. “Planning for five days in the summer and fall is something is something that we will be doing.”
Board Vice-Chair Barbara Kanninen said Thursday’s presentation tells the community that APS is coming up with excuses not to do something hard.
“When we let students into school, we certainly don’t let them say, ‘This is hard,'” she said. “We start asking them to get started with something — to try something. I believe that our staff does have a can-do spirit but I’m not hearing it this evening.”
She and Reid Goldstein said by the next meeting, they want to see a new plan that gets more students in-person for more days.
(Updated 4/5/21) Arlington Public Schools is preparing to release more information on its plans for getting students into classrooms during the current semester.
During the School Board meeting this Thursday, Superintendent Francisco Durán is slated to address updated K-12 school guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was released on Friday.
“APS is reviewing the guidance to determine how the changes may impact our ability to serve additional students in person and improve transportation in the current school year,” Durán said in a School Talk email on Friday. “An update will be provided at the March 25 School Board meeting.”
The CDC now recommends that, with universal masking, students should maintain a distance of at least 3 feet in classrooms, down from the previous guidance of 6 feet. The change reflects “the latest science on physical distance between students in classrooms,” according to the CDC.
There are some exceptions: Adults should remain 6 feet apart from each other and students, and 6 feet should be enforced in common areas such as auditoriums, lobbies, the cafeteria during meals, and any time masking would hamper breathing, such as choir or band practice, sports practices and P.E. classes.
APS is currently enforcing 6 feet for children and adults who are learning in-person twice a week in a hybrid model. As of March 11, Durán said about 64% of students are in-person. The rest have either opted to stay virtual or are on waitlists pending more space. APS recently said it would finish the semester in the hybrid model current, before returning to five-day-per-week in-person learning in the fall.
If APS shortened the social-distancing minimum to 3 feet, waitlisted students should be able to get back into classrooms, School Board candidates Mary Kadera and Miranda Turner tell ARLnow.
“I am encouraged that the CDC’s updated guidelines may provide the opportunity for students who are currently on wait lists to return to school,” Kadera said.
Turner agreed, saying that the new guidance “hopefully will be an impetus for APS to try and get more students in buildings this school year.”
Both candidates, who are seeking the Democratic endorsement in the School Board race, are awaiting more information from APS this Thursday.
“While we want to open our schools to all students who wish to return, we also have to remember what CDC guidance hasn’t yet changed, such as the requirement of 6 feet of distance between adults and students and 6 feet of distance in common areas, so I am interested to learn the details from Dr. Duran at this Thursday’s School Board meeting,” Kadera said.
Meanwhile, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has joined the chorus of people calling for returning more students to in-person learning this semester, which ends in June.
“I respectfully request that APS continuously review CDC revised guidance, and apply it to APS’s operational implementation for the current school year,” he said in a letter to Durán last week.
Beyer added that APS will receive $19.4 million from the recently passed American Rescue Plan Act to put toward reopening. The money is earmarked for items such as funding additional staff, implementing new testing protocols and supporting special-education programs as well as programs targeting unfinished instruction and social-emotional needs, he said.
On Friday, the pro-reopening group Arlington Parents for Education called on Durán to immediately apply the revised CDC recommendations. The group said the change would expand the current 11-student cap for buses, which it called “a misguided decision directly responsible for keeping kids out of school who want to be there.”
Relying on 6 feet of distance, it said, will “prevent Arlington’s students from receiving more than just two days of in-person instruction a week and from beginning the process of recovering academically, mentally, and socially, for the rest of the school year.:
Not everyone thinks a further reopening is the right move at the moment, however.