APS News Release

Superintendent Provides Update on Return-to-School Plan

School Board Welcomes New Members Cristina Diaz-Torres and David Priddy

Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán provided an update on the return-to-school plan at the Jan. 7 School Board meeting. New details included the schedule for additional teachers and staff to return to school buildings and offices beginning the week of Jan. 25, prior to Level 2 and Level 3 students.

Return dates for students, including Level 2 (elementary and Career & Technical Education students) and Level 3 (secondary students), will be announced at a later date. Level 1 (students with disabilities) has been underway since November 2020, along with in-person learning support for identified elementary and secondary students.

Dr. Durán emphasized the importance of allowing staff time to adapt to new health and safety procedures and teaching from classrooms, prior to Level 2 and Level 3, students returning to buildings, and reviewed the mitigation measures that have been put in place to protect to date.

Staff return dates are as follows:

Week of January 25 – Level 2, Phase 1 and 2, PreK-2nd Grade Teachers, All Countywide Elementary Special Ed Programs Teachers and Staff:

  • Classroom-based and non-classroom-based teachers and staff supporting Level 2 & all elementary special ed countywide program teachers will report in person and teach from their classrooms on their in-person assigned days.

Weeks of January 25 and February 1 – Central Office Staff:

  • Central Office staff begin reporting in person on a rotating basis beginning the week of Jan. 25.

Week of February 1 – Level 3, Secondary Teachers and Staff and All Countywide Secondary Special Ed Programs Teachers and Staff:

  • Teachers and staff supporting Level 3 students, which includes all middle and high school students selecting hybrid/in-person learning, will report back beginning on Tues, February 2.
  • Professional learning for Level 3 will be provided Feb. 4-5.

Thursday, February 4 – In-Person School Board Meetings:

  • In-person School Board meetings will resume in February, with modifications. Details will be communicated during the Jan. 21 School Board meeting

The Superintendent provided an update on factors informing decisions regarding return dates. The school division’s approach to return-to-school planning has evolved based on:

  • A deeper understanding of COVID-19, and how to mitigate its spread, with effective mitigation measures in place and steps taken to ensure APS measures meet or exceed public health guidance for safely reopening schools.
  • Distance learning experience and improvements, along with academic data showing the significant challenges for many students in this pandemic and the need for in-person support.
  • Level 1 in person learning support experience allowing APS to monitor, test and improve mitigation measures in all buildings.
  • Mask usage, physical distancing, enhanced cleaning, and other measures in place, which have proven to be effective in reducing the spread of the virus in school.
  • Recent research and studies showing that in-school transmission is negligible when schools effectively implement health and safety mitigations consistently.

The Superintendent’s presentation also included he latest COVID-19 health and safety metrics, a recap of all mitigation steps taken to date, testing availability, vaccinations, a new COVID-19 screening app rolling out later in January, and instruction. With the announcement that K-12 employees will be included in distribution for Phase 1b of the vaccine on January 6, APS and Arlington County Government are planning for distribution and will communicate information to employees as soon as it is available on how to schedule appointments.

The instructional update provided data on math results from the first quarter will remediation steps, as well as an overview of the Distance Learning Task Force which held the first meeting on January 6 and will work towards strategies to strengthen distance learning over the next six weeks. The presentation concluded with information about air quality, transportation and financial projections.

The full Monitoring Report is available online and you can watch the presentation here.

Monitoring Items
The School Board was provided updates on the following items.

  • Graduation Taskforce Update – Staff provided an update on the progress of the Graduation Taskforce. The report included graduation rates, lessons learned and bright spots. The presentation is available online.
  • Compensation Study Report – The Board was provided results of the Compensation Study Report. The study evaluated base pay ranges; compensation practices and policies; paid time off (vacation, sick leave, personal days); health benefits (medical, dental, and vision plans) as well as retirement savings plans. To read the report and presentation on the findings, go to BoardDocs.

Information Items
The School Board discussed the following items:

  • Middle School and High School Program of Studies – The report included key additions and deletions to both middle and high school classes for the 2021-22 school year. Read the report here.
  • Summer School Report and Fees – Staff provided a recap on summer school 2020 which included enrollment, challenges and bright spots. The report also included fees for summer school 2021. To read the report and see the fees for strengthening courses, middle school enrichment courses, the Outdoor Lab, high school new work for credit W-L intro to advanced courses and the Wakefield AP Summer Bridge, visit BoardDocs.
  • FY 2022 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) Direction – The Board discussed its FY22 CIP direction which directs the Superintendent on projects to include in the Proposed CIP and gather costs and evaluate priorities among identified projects. the Superintendent Proposed FY 2022 Four-to-Six-Year CIP will include some combination of the identified projects and address: Project costs; Timeframes; as well as the effect of proposed CIP costs on future CIP budgets. The full presentation is available on BoardDocs.
  • Revisions to School Board Policy L-9 Accreditation of Schools – Staff presented proposed revisions to SBP L-9. More information is available online.

The School Board welcomed new board members Christina Diaz-Torres and David Priddy to their first meeting, and recognized Dr. Shantha Smith who received the VDOE Mary Peake Award for Excellence in Education Equity.

For More Information:
Citizens who want to comment on any items discussed at the School Board meeting should email the Board at school.board@apsva.us or call 703-228-6015. Citizens may call 703-228-2400 on the Monday after the School Board meetings to listen to a meeting summary.

School Board meetings are also broadcast live on Comcast Cable Channel 70 and Verizon FiOS Channel 41; live-streamed on the APS website, and re-broadcast on Fridays at 9 p.m. and Mondays at 7:30 p.m. immediately following the meeting. All materials and minutes will be posted to the website at aps2016.apsva.us/schoolboard upon School Board approval at a subsequent meeting.