Arlington, VA

Monique O’Grady has been selected to serve as Arlington School Board Chair for the 2020-2021 school year.

O’Grady takes over the rotating chairmanship from Tannia Talento, who along with Nancy Van Doren is retiring from the School Board after this year, setting up a three-way race to fill the two empty seats.

Arlington Public Schools is preparing to begin the school year on Aug. 31 in a hybrid learning model, with most students only going to in-person classes twice per week. O’Grady said in a statement that communication and collaboration “will help us serve our students, families, and staff through these challenging times.”

In addition to O’Grady’s selection as chair, the School Board selected Barbara Kanninen as Vice Chair at its organization meeting earlier today.

O’Grady, the mother of actress Brittany O’Grady, has been a member of the School Board since 2018 and an APS parent for 23 years. She is a “longtime community advocate and communications professional,” according to her APS biography. Kanninen has served on the School Board since 2015 and was named one of the Most Powerful Women in Washington by Washingtonian in 2017.

More from an APS press release:

At its July 1 organizational meeting, the Arlington School Board selected Monique O’Grady as School Board Chair for the 2020-21 school year. The School Board selected Dr. Barbara Kanninen as Vice Chair.

“Communication and collaboration are setting an important foundation as we prepare to reenter school this fall. We are stronger together, and these two actions will help us serve our students, families, and staff through these challenging times,” said new School Board Chair Monique O’Grady.

On collaboration, O’Grady had the following message. “We will need to continue to collaborate with the County to maximize success within new fiscal constraints that may get worse before they get better. We will need to lean on our community leaders and partners to support our families in need. We must honor our teachers and staff as they work with students in different ways, and we must be ready to support our students social emotional and learning needs, because they will be on the frontlines of this change.”

“I enter this situation ready to lead because of the support of the school board staff and each of my colleagues, who have all been board chairs before. I have learned a lot from you and will continue to treasure your expertise and guidance. I have special gratitude for Ms. Talento who mentored me through the past year as her vice chair. Her intelligence, kindness, wit and compassion are an inspiration to me.”

She concluded her remarks by thanking the Executive Leadership Team and those who came before her. “Thank you, Executive Leadership Team, as you work overtime to craft and support a reopening plan that serves our students. Thank you to all the women and people of color who have served on this board before me, including Evelyn Syphax, for whom our offices are named. Thank you to my family for their constant support in my effort to serve our community. And thank you to all those who helped me earn the opportunity to be the first black elected woman in Arlington so I can serve our students and families in this important role.”

The next regular School Board meeting is scheduled for the evening of Thursday, July 16.

Photo courtesy Arlington Public Schools

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A lawsuit has been filed against Arlington Public Schools’ controversial elementary school swap.

The swap, which was approved by a 4-1 School Board vote in February, would move Key Elementary students and staff to the current Arlington Traditional School, Arlington Traditional students and staff to the current McKinley Elementary, and McKinley students and staff to a new school being built in Westover.

The suit was filed in March by Louisa Castillo, an Arlington resident and Key Elementary parent, against the School Board. It claims the School Board violated a Virginia law “when it adopted a proposal to relocate thousands of Arlington County elementary school students… rather than engaging in the necessary process to enact a school boundary change.”

Specifically, the suit alleges that the School Board failed to take into account six factors — financial efficiency, student proximity, educational stability, student alignment, school demographics, and and boundary contiguity — when considering the changes.

The swap was done before a planned boundary change process, which is set to start this fall. Like past boundary processes, it is likely to be contentious.

School Board members who voted for the swap said it was a tough decision but agreed with APS staff that it was the option that would impact the smallest number of APS students, at a time when the school system continues to build and expand schools to keep up with rising enrollment growth.

Steven Krieger, who finished a close third in the recent Democratic School Board endorsement caucus, emailed supporters last night to encourage them to support the lawsuit with donations.

Krieger, who was critical of both APS decisionmaking and the caucus process, said the suit will give the School Board “another opportunity to correct a wrong decision.”

“This decision won’t solve our capacity issues, and moving forward with this proposal without a proper review of its impacts is intellectually dishonest,” he wrote. “Despite the current pandemic and corresponding budgetary issues, APS is still planning to spend about $3 million to move these three schools.”

“Louisa Castillo, a Key parent, hired a lawyer and filed a lawsuit against the School Board. Logistically, her son may not be able to move with the program to ATS and does not know what school she will be zoned for because the school moves decision was separate from the boundary decisions,” Krieger continued. “Many other families at Key, ATS, and McKinley are living with similar levels of uncertainty about where their children will attend school when we return to in-person instruction.”

“Instead of doing the right thing and analyzing the school moves in conjunction with the boundary process, the School Board hired a large law firm to fight Louisa’s lawsuit,” wrote Krieger.

So far the GoFundMe campaign has raised just over $300 of a $20,000 goal.

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In a race upended by the coronavirus pandemic, Cristina Diaz-Torres and David Priddy have emerged on top of a five-candidate field for the Democratic school board endorsement.

Diaz-Torres and Priddy will now advance to the general election, as they seek to fill the two Arlington School Board seats being vacated by Nancy Van Dorn and Tannia Talento. In November they are expected to face Symone Walker, who dropped out of contention for the Democratic endorsement and is instead running as an independent.

(School Board races are officially nonpartisan and parties can only endorse candidates, not nominate them as in a primary.)

Due to the pandemic, the Arlington County Democratic Committee conducted voting by mail, which was deemed “the only safe and reliable option for a large-scale caucus.” Steven Krieger, a candidate in the race who placed a close third, last month publicly criticized the format as inequitable.

“This process presented significant equity challenges to disadvantaged citizens including the poor, English language learning voters as well as voters with disabilities,” he wrote in an op-ed published by Blue Virginia. “The vote-by-mail election for the School Board caucus should serve as a clear reminder that if we fail, even for a moment, to be intentional in fighting inequities in our community, the most vulnerable members of our community will bear the consequences.”

Arlington Democrats, however, said the two-month process was the only one that would allow safe voting in a timely manner.

“This was the first all-mail School Board Endorsement Caucus in the history of the Arlington Democrats, and I am proud to say that our team and the community stepped up to make it a success,” ACDC Chair Jill Caiazzo wrote in an email to members tonight. “More than 5,700 ballots were cast, far exceeding the 1,994 ballots cast in the 2019 in-person School Board Caucus.”

In a press release, the party congratulated the two endorsees.

“The Arlington School Board’s thoughtful stewardship of our schools is a big part of what makes Arlington such an attractive place for both families and businesses,” Arlington Democrats School Board Endorsement Caucus Director Jacki Wilson said. “We congratulate Cristina and David, and thank all five candidates who stepped up to serve their community and sought our endorsement.”

More on the endorsees, from the press release:

Cristina Diaz-Torres is an education policy specialist who began her career as a part-time preschool teacher at a Head Start program, and then worked as a high school math teacher in Las Vegas, where she taught geometry and founded an AP statistics program. After leaving the classroom, Diaz-Torres served as a legislative fellow for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, where she worked on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the 2015 federal law that replaced the No Child Left Behind Act governing U.S. K-12 public education policy.

David Priddy is an Arlington native, community activist and former business executive. Priddy attended Arlington Public Schools; he and his wife, Melanie, now have two sons who attend local public schools. Priddy serves on numerous education-related councils and committees, including the: Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Equity and Excellence; County Council of PTAs (CCPTA); and the NAACP Education Committee.

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A new Arlington Public Schools budget passed late last week will increase class sizes by one student at all grade levels, starting in the fall.

The $670 million budget largely follows Interim Superintendent Cintia Johnson’s revised budget proposal, which included $54 million in cuts to her original budget, due to a projected downturn in revenue attributable to the pandemic.

The School Board voted to nix about $3 million in cuts, eliminating a proposed staff furlough day, adding back a few administrative positions, and restoring crew and band transportation, among other things.

More from an APS press release:

At its May 7 meeting, the School Board unanimously approved its Fiscal Year 2021 Arlington Public Schools (APS) Budget to fund operations for the 2020-21 school year. The FY 2021 budget totals $670,274,629.

The School Board’s FY 2021 budget requires an on-going County Transfer of $524,628,986, a beginning balance or carry forward of $3,500,000, and funding from Reserves of $16,476,194.  The School Board previously restored several items that were listed as reductions in the Interim Superintendent’s Revised Proposed Budget when they adopted their FY 2021 Proposed Budget on April 23.

These changes, totaling $3,047,119, include:

  • Eliminating a one-day furlough for all staff, resulting in no furlough days for staff during FY21
  • Restoring crew transportation;
  • Restoring the Adobe Creative Suite license renewal (for Career and Technical Education (CTE) students as well as staff use);
  • Restoring band transportation;
  • Restoring Humanities Project funding;
  • Restoring half of the proposed cut for the non-renewal Communities in Schools contract;
  • Restoring the 3.4 Attendance Specialist positions; and
  • Restoring the 1.0 administrative assistant for the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office.

“From the start, this has been a difficult budget year and has become even more so because of the current economic crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic,” said School Board Chair Tannia Talento. “This budget balances a revised gap of $53 million with increased class sizes of one student at every level, budget cuts to our operating budget, and cuts to baseline additions that were meant to support our growth. We worked hard to prioritize restoring some items that directly support our teachers and staff, items that sustain funding for after-school activities and other student services, and items that continue our focus and commitment to eliminating opportunity gaps.”

During budget deliberation, the Interim Superintendent shared that APS will work with the vendor to ensure Smart Notebook access for teachers for the FY 2021 budget.  In addition, the School Board directed the Interim Superintendent to establish user fees to recover operations and maintenance costs for community use of APS-owned aquatics facilities, increasing user fees by 5% for FY 2021, and continue to discount and reduce user fees according to current practice.

The Board also directed the Superintendent to prepare a fee bracket structure similar to that for the Montessori program for Extended Day fees that would take effect in FY 2022.

APS also recently announced that it would be adding two new grab-and-go meal distribution sites to its existing seven, starting this past Monday: Glebe Elementary (1770 N. Glebe Road) and Barcroft Elementary (625 S. Wakefield Street).

File photo

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Morning Notes

Small Biz Grant Application Now Open — “The Arlington Small Business Emergency GRANT (Giving Resiliency Assets Near Term) Program, designed to provide immediate financial assistance to Arlington’s small businesses and nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, is now open for applications.” [Arlington County]

Why Your Pizza Is Not Going Ham — The national meat shortage has led Domino’s Pizza to cut down on the availability of some toppings, including in Arlington. “Due to the current uncertainty in the market for meats, we are limiting the amount of ham we are delivering to our stores,” the company told one local resident. [@craigcolgan/Twitter]

Kids Don Costumes in Support of Masks — “Kids roaming my neighborhood dressed as a hotdog and a bun, with a placard: ‘DON’T BE A WEENIE, WEAR A MASK.’ Lots of people in the D.C. area I’ve observed this week going in and out of stores, playing basketball and mingling on the National Mall are not masking up.” [@meekwire/Twitter]

Police Investigate Robbery in Rosslyn — “Two suspects entered a business and began selecting merchandise. An employee of the business recognized one of the suspects and confronted him as he attempted to exit the business in possession of merchandise that had not been paid for. The suspect shoved the victim, causing her to fall, and both suspects fled in a vehicle driven by a third subject prior to police arrival.” [Arlington County]

Teachers Endorse Diaz-Torres — “The Arlington Education Association Political Action Committee (AEA-PAC) recently announced its endorsement of Cristina Diaz-Torres, a teacher and education policy specialist, in the Arlington Public School Board Democratic Caucus.” [Press Release]

Police Looking for W&OD Trail Creeper — “City of Falls Church Police received a report about a man following a woman in a suspicious manner on Monday, May 4, at about 3:10 p.m. He followed the woman on the W&OD trail then continued to follow her into a neighborhood. The woman was not harmed.” [City of Falls Church]

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Arlington Public Schools is considering ending the school year a week early.

The proposal was announced at the School Board meeting Thursday night, in which APS also announced its new superintendent.

The plan, if approved at a May 21 School Board meeting, would set June 12 as the last day for all grade levels. The current 2019-2020 school calendar lists June 17 as the last day for high schools and June 19 as the last day for middle and elementary schools.

The plan also proposes virtual graduations for Arlington’s comprehensive high schools on Thursday, June 18.

APS has refrained from teaching new material since schools closed in mid-March and were later ordered closed through the end of the academic year. The use of online learning to reinforce existing material, rather than teach new material, has proven controversial.

In a press release, below, APS said the extra week of staff time would be used to prepare for an assumed resumption of in-person schooling in the fall. The press release also addresses the possibility of summer school classes being held online.

At last night’s School Board meeting, APS announced a proposed modification to the end of year calendar for 2019-20. The proposed last date is June 12. The School Board is expected to take action on May 21.

Ending instruction on June 12 will allow APS teachers and staff to engage in professional development during the week of June 15 to prepare for a strong re-entry to school in fall 2020. Required virtual staff training will focus on planning for the return to physical school with an emphasis on social emotional support for students; distance learning best practices; preparing to teach 4th quarter content and pacing the rest of the school year; and planning for the possible expansion of continuous learning in the event that schools cannot reopen.

Key dates for students and families:

  • Friday, June 5 – Last day for Seniors (no change)
  • Thursday, June 11 – Virtual Graduation for Arlington Career Center
  • Friday, June 12 – Last day for Elementary, Middle and High School; Virtual Shriver Graduation
  • Wednesday, June 17 – Virtual Middle School Promotions; H-B Woodlawn Virtual Graduation
  • Thursday, June 18 – Virtual Graduation for Washington-Liberty, Wakefield and Yorktown
  • Friday, June 19 – Virtual Graduation for Arlington Community High School and Langston High School Continuation

In June, staff and families will be given time to retrieve items from schools, and 5th, 8th and 12th grade students will be able to return devices. Additional end-of-year guidance for families will be shared soon.

Summer School Plans
APS is also currently developing contingency plans for Summer School based on multiple factors, including guidance from state officials. Plans under consideration include:

  • In-person Summer School in August, if social distancing requirements have been lifted and schools can safely open; or
  • Hybrid in-person and online Summer School in August, if schools can safely open with multiple contingencies to maintain social distancing (e.g. rotating live and online instruction, offering staggered morning and afternoon sessions, doubling sites to allow for social distancing); or
  • Online Summer School in July, if stay-at-home orders persist or if conditions are still unclear in early June, when the decision needs to be made.

“We are committed to offering a modified summer school program for students who need it most, either in person or online,” said Bridget Loft, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning.

At the elementary level, summer school would be available for students who are below grade level in reading or math. At the secondary level, summer school would available be for students who have a final grade of D or E in any class and a documented reason for not being able to access Canvas during the final quarter of the school year. Additionally, New Work for Credit courses would be offered for high school students.

Summer School would be free to those students who are recommended to take a course. Students taking New Work for Credit would pay for the class they enroll in.The School Board will take action on the school year calendar change at the May 21 School Board meeting. APS expects to make a final decision on Summer School in early June, based on guidance from state officials and the best available information at that time. Community members can submit questions regarding the calendar changes through APS Engage at [email protected].

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Arlington Public Schools has a new superintendent.

At its meeting Thursday night, the School Board announced that it has hired Dr. Francisco Durán for the school system’s top job, following a national search. Durán comes from Fairfax County Public Schools, where he has served as Chief Academic and Equity Officer since 2015.

The announcement of Durán’s appointment follows a letter to families from interim superintendent Cintia Johnson on Monday, in which she said she decided not to apply for the permanent position.

“I have been pleased and honored to serve Arlington in the interim superintendent role during the 2019-20 school year,” Johnson said. “While I gladly accepted this challenge, it was never my intent to seek the permanent superintendent position. I look forward to the possibilities to come for our school division and will give my full support to the new superintendent.”

Durán will take over at Superintendent on June 1.

The full press release from Arlington Public Schools is below.

At tonight’s School Board meeting, the Arlington School Board named Dr. Francisco Durán as the new Superintendent of Arlington Public Schools (APS). The School Board unanimously approved the appointment following a five-month nationwide search that included 39 applicants and a strong pool of candidates. The selection was informed by community feedback collected in focus groups, community forums and an online survey.

Dr. Durán will formally assume the role of Superintendent on June 1, 2020.

Dr. Durán joins APS from Fairfax County Public Schools where he has served as Chief Academic and Equity Officer since 2015. He has a diverse background in education spanning 26 years, including top-level leadership and superintendent experience in a variety of large urban school divisions with culturally diverse populations. He has served in various roles as a teacher, director, principal, administrator and superintendent. In 2018, Dr. Durán was appointed to the Virginia State Board of Education where he played a key role in the adoption of the new Standards of Quality for Virginia.

Dr. Durán has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of New Mexico, a master’s degree in educational administration from San Francisco State University, and a master’s degree and doctorate in organization and leadership from Columbia University.

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Morning Notes

Social Distancing Decline in Arlington? — “On April 20 in Arlington County, Va., nearly half of cellphones that SafeGraph provided data for were staying at home. Over the next couple days in that suburb of Washington, D.C., the number declined to one-third — as low as it was during the middle of March. It has since increased but is still down from its peak.” [NPR]

Masks Now Required at Costco — “Costco has announced new guidelines for its stores and is requiring all customers — age 3 and older — to wear masks before entering stores beginning Monday, May 4.” [MSN]

MU Launches Program for New Economy — “Marymount has launched ‘Upskilling for the What’s Next Economy,’ a unique and comprehensive range of modular graduate certificates and degree qualifications that will provide students with technical, management, entrepreneurial and leadership skills and get them back to work.” [Marymount University]

Most of Foundation’s COVID Funds Exhausted — “Sixty-five Arlington nonprofits have received a total of nearly $800,000 in emergency response support from the Arlington Community Foundation COVID-19 Prompt Response Fund. On Giving Tuesday Now and throughout the week of May 4, the Community Foundation hopes Arlington residents and businesses will help replenish the fund to meet continuing urgent, crisis-related needs.” [Press Release]

Progress on I-66 Sound Walls — “Glad to see @VaDOT making progress on the installation of new noise barrier walls along I-66E in Arlington and Falls Church.” [@HopeforVirginia/Twitter]

School Board Candidates Worry About Accessibility — “Arlington Public Schools needs to do a better job of designing facilities that provide improved accessibility, candidates for School Board say, and should go well beyond consideration of physical disabilities in its design process.” [InsideNova]

Sims Scores Second Sitting Senator’s Support — “U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Cory Booker have announced their official endorsements for Arlington Virginia School Board candidate Terron Sims II.” [Press Release]

Campbell Elementary Teacher Featured on TV — “An Arlington County teacher is coming up with creative ways to keep her students engaged during distance learning. News4’s Leon Harris introduces Nicole Croce.” [NBC 4]

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Morning Notes

More Arlingtonians Getting Out of the House — “The District and its suburbs all saw an increase in travel and a 1 percent to 5 percent drop in people staying home by April 17. The biggest drop occurred in Arlington County, where 50 percent of residents stayed home, down from 55 percent the previous Friday.” [Washington Post, @Matt4Arlington/Twitter]

County Launches Homeless Outreach Effort — “Last week, Arlington launched a homeless outreach coalition to help identify unsheltered individuals at high risk for COVID-19 and connect them with available resources and services. The coalition is comprised of stakeholders from the Police Department, Department of Human Services, and Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN).” [Arlington County]

YHS Senior Photos on CBS Evening News — “For America’s nearly four million high school seniors, the end of this school year is not what they imagined would be. But as Chip Reid reports, one photographer is making sure some members of the class of 2020 are not forgotten.” [CBS News]

Dem Primary May Be Called Off — “Chanda Choun, who was slated to face off against incumbent Libby Garvey in the June 23 Democratic County Board primary, anticipates pulling out of that race to seek the Democratic nomination for the July 7 special election to fill the seat left open by the death of Erik Gutshall… if Choun does drop out, the Democratic primary will be nixed.” [InsideNova]

Video: School Board Candidates Forum — “The questions covered a wide range of topics – whether/how much new curriculum should be taught during the COVID-19 crisis; how best to feed families during the pandemic; distance learning access during and after the pandemic; equity initiatives; equality in the classroom; encouraging integrated classrooms; AP and IB classes; community engagement; boundaries; sex education; and the superintendent’s contract.” [Blue Virginia]

School Board Rejects Furlough Day Proposal — “Arlington School Board members on April 23 rejected a budget-cutting proposal from Superintendent Cintia Johnson that would have had every school-system employee take an unpaid ‘furlough’ day in the coming school year. Instead, the school system will use about $3 million in reserve funds to pay staff that day and fund several other initiatives that Johnson had recommended reducing or eliminating.” [InsideNova]

Amazon Donates to Va. Comp Sci Education — ” Amazon will donate $3.9 million to CodeVA through 2022 to support their long-term plan to offer computer science education and training to every high needs school across Virginia – more than 700 schools… The donation will support more than 500,000 students and more than 12,000 teachers.” [BusinessWire]

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While they can’t meet in person, the five candidates vying for the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s School Board endorsement will meet virtually tomorrow (Tuesday) for a debate.

There are two spots opening on the School Board, with incumbents Tannia Talento and Nancy Van Doren not running for reelection. The candidates seeking the Democratic endorsement are Steven KriegerCristina Diaz-TorresDavid PriddySandy Munnell, and Terron Sims. A sixth candidate, Symone Walker, is no longer seeking the Democratic endorsement and is instead running as an independent.

The debate will be streamed on Facebook Live on the Arlington Young Democrats page starting at 7 p.m., according to the event listing.

Questions for the forum should be sent in advance online.

“We are excited to be hosting a forum along with Arlington Dems before the deadline to request a School Board caucus ballot,” Arlington Young Democrats said on the event page. “Arlington registered voters may request a ballot by (a) completing and submitting an online ballot request form or (b) downloading and mailing a PDF version of the ballot request form. (We also are happy to provide a hard copy printout of the ballot request form to anyone who needs one.)”

To vote in the caucus, ballots must be received by May 7.

Image via Arlington Young Democrats/Facebook

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Arlington Public Schools is holding off on teaching new material until the fall, a decision that has raised the ire of some parents — and now one candidate for School Board.

APS made the announcement over spring break that fourth quarter material would be held until September, “as part of our commitment to ensuring equity of access to new learning for all students.” Instead, following the closure of all Virginia schools for the remainder of the academic year, students are engaging in distance learning that reinforces existing concepts.

In an email to supporters, School Board candidate Steven Krieger said that’s the wrong move.

The APS decision to stop teaching new content for most courses for the remainder of the school year and propose a vastly diminished schedule for younger students was provided without adequate justification.

APS rationalized this decision by claiming it will ensure equitable learning outcomes. Why does APS believe that “equitable” means settling for no new instructional content? Our schools should be focused on finding opportunities and solutions for ALL of our students to excel through distance learning — including students with disabilities and English Language Learners. Teaching nothing new to all students is equal, but not equitable.

Instead of following the guidance of the Virginia Department of Education and exploring every possible innovation and solution to offer an equitable learning experience to all students, regardless of their needs, the school district decided not to introduce any new material.

I wholeheartedly commend our dedicated teachers who are ready to teach our children new material. We shouldn’t punish their hard work by forcing them to spend valuable time next school year making up for lost time now. We shouldn’t add to student stress by forcing them to learn more content in less time next year.

Schools across the country are teaching new material. Arlington should be more transparent about why we cannot do the same or find a way to provide equitable education to all students instead of using equity as an excuse to avoid introducing new material.

Among nearby school systems, Alexandria worked to ensure that all secondary students have laptops and school-provided wireless internet access, if they didn’t already have internet access at home, to make sure they could participate in online classes.

Fairfax County attempted a more robust distance learning curriculum, but major technical and security problems resulted in a fiasco and yesterday’s resignation of a top school official.

Contacted by ARLnow, the four other candidates for the Democratic School Board endorsement, now being conducted via mail, were more understanding of the APS decision.

“Arlington Public Schools’ decision to not introduce new material this quarter aligns with recommended best practice and is what most districts are doing across the country,” wrote Cristina Diaz-Torres. “This choice allows teachers and staff time to build the foundational skills necessary for students to recover and thrive next year while avoiding placing additional stress on students and families.”

“That said, I believe now is the best time to build the district’s capacity to deliver quality distance instruction that is equitable and at scale for the fall,” she added, hinting at worries that students may not be able to return to classrooms in the fall should a second wave of infections happen.

“As we can observe from the experiences in Fairfax County, this isn’t easy,” said another candidate, Sandy Munnell, a long-time APS teacher. “Teachers, students and families each need training, practice and facilities to make distance learning on this scale successful. Presentation of content is different than in a classroom, pacing of instruction is different, feedback and interaction is different — everything is at least a little unfamiliar for everyone. So there is a certain logic to starting with the familiar.”

“I know that APS’ decision to not teach new material via its distance learning program was not an easy one,” said Terron Sims, adding that he believes technological access played a role in the decision. “There was no plan for a crisis of this magnitude, and to be fair, how could there have been.”

“Keep in mind that students in our community have different access, learn in different ways, and have different levels of parent involvement depending upon their work situation,” echoed David Priddy. “As a parent, I also understand our collective desire to keep our children’s education moving forward. However, it is important that we are flexible, patient and continue to communicate as we figure out our ‘new normal.'”

Krieger, meanwhile, said that the APS decision is emblematic of what he wants to change in the school system.

“It is decisions like this and the lack of transparency which motivated me to run for School Board,” he said. “APS routinely makes decisions which neither prioritize our most vulnerable students nor serve as pragmatic solutions for the school system.”

The full responses from the other School Board candidates are below, after the jump.

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