Dear APS Community,
The new school year begins August 30, and we look forward to welcoming students back to school for in-person learning, five days per week. As we prepare for the start of school, here are important updates on masks, health and safety, and plans for the 2021-22 school year:
- Universal Masks to Start the School Year – To help ensure a safe start to the school year, masks will be required for all students, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, when inside APS buildings and on school buses. This is consistent with our current practices for in-person summer school. Masks will not be required when eating or during outside recess, PE, athletics, or other outdoor activities. 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. Key points:
- 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. As guidance changes, we will keep the community informed of any changes to our practices. Learn more about our masking requirements and health and safety measures.
- Masking helps to reduce the number of students who may be excluded or miss school due to exposures to COVID-19. Per the guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a student who is within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student is not considered a close contact as long as both students are wearing masks and the school has other prevention strategies in place.
- 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.
- The Arlington County Public Health Division, in alignment with other regional health departments, recommends universal masking at the elementary level and in specific situations at the middle and high school level. Read the Northern Virginia Public Health Directors’ Interim Recommendations for School Reopening.
- Get Vaccinated! – The most effective tool for protecting our school community and preventing the spread of COVID-19 is vaccination. Vaccination appointments are widely available in Arlington for anyone age 12 and older. If you and your student are eligible for vaccination and have not yet had your shot, visit a vaccination clinic or make an appointment to be vaccinated as soon as possible. APS will continue to keep our community informed when vaccination opportunities are expanded to students under the age of 12.
- Stay Informed – APS is updating back-to-school information regularly, so visit our 2021-22 school year page for information on calendar dates, registration, health and safety, transportation, immunizations, and back-to-school town halls and events. There will be two virtual town halls for families in English and Spanish on Wed, Aug. 11, to provide information and answer questions about the upcoming school year. More information
Here is a short video message as we look ahead to school starting. Thank you for helping us start the 2021-22 school year safely together, back in the classroom.
Dr. Francisco Durán