Arlington Public Schools and Arlington County Government are working together to support families following Governor Ralph Northam’s March 23 announcement that all Virginia public and private schools, K-12, will be closed through the rest of the academic year to protect the health and safety of Virginians and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“These are difficult times for our community, and the Governor’s decision has been devastating to many of our staff, students, and families. However, the safety and well-being of our community is paramount, and APS will continue to find innovative ways to support our students and families during these unprecedented times,” said School Board Chair Tannia Talento. “APS is now developing a plan to continue distance learning for our students beyond April 13. We are in regular communications with the County and are collaborating with County government, particularly on ensuring that students and families in need will have access to food. We are also exploring other ways to jointly support our students and their families through the remainder of the school year and are grateful for the strong partnership we have with the County.”
“The strong partnership between County Government and APS will help us help our Schools families get through this emergency,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said. “Tannia and I are talking daily to make sure our response is as effective and nimble as we can make it, and that we get the help that is needed to the people who need it as quickly as possible. That said, we ask for everyone’s understanding that we are creating new structures and new methods to new problems and will need to make adjustments and improvements as we respond. We appreciate the many volunteer efforts and suggestions we are getting from residents to help us improve.”
APS is providing free grab-n-go breakfast and lunch to kids two-to-18 years old, Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Kenmore Middle School and at Drew, Barrett, Campbell and Randolph elementary schools. Also, on Friday, April 3, APS will provide families who come to one of the sites a week’s worth of meals to ensure they have food during the week of the APS Spring Break (April 6-10). We are currently evaluating plans for food distribution through the remainder of the year.
The Governor also announced the closure of certain non-essential businesses across the Commonwealth and urged all Virginians to avoid non-essential travel outside the home.
“We know that families, businesses, our arts community and our non-profit organizations are all being hit hard. We, and every jurisdiction across the region, are working with the State and Federal governments to make adjustments, to secure resources and support to keep our social safety net intact, and to ensure that when this period passes, Arlington will be able to recover financially. We thank everyone for your support and your patience.” said Garvey.
Garvey noted that County Government continues to provide essential services, even though it has had to take difficult steps, such as shutting down community centers, libraries and most recently, parks, while restricting use of County trails and gardens to groups of fewer than 10 people.
“These steps, although painful, are unavoidable,” Garvey said. “Our only hope of slowing the spread of this virus, our only defense against this pandemic, is everybody’s cooperation and careful, consistent observance of social distancing and personal hygiene. As much as possible, everyone needs to stay home. Staying home is the most important and effective thing everyone can do to slow the spread of the virus.”
To learn more about Arlington Public Schools’ meal services during the closure, as well as a list of community partners providing meals, visit the APS COVID-19 meals webpage.
The Virginia Department of Education also has issued guidance to help school districts continue instruction and ensure that students are served equitably, regardless of income level, access to technology, English learner status or special needs.