Superintendent’s April 27 Return-to-School Update

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Dear APS Families,

With fewer than eight weeks left in this school year, we are fully focused on ensuring all students have a strong finish. We are also actively planning for next school year, which includes the family selection process open now, and space and capacity planning for each school and classroom. Based on that work, here are important updates on in-person instruction for the 2021-22 school year, as well as graduation, promotions and other events:

Important Update on the Family Selection Process – Based on preliminary results from the family selection process, an overwhelming number of families are choosing to return in person in the fall. This signals a major shift in families’ comfort returning to the classroom, as vaccinations and health metrics progress. Previous communications stated that we are planning for both normal capacities as well as developing contingency plans should 3-foot distancing be recommended; however, we want to be transparent that 3-foot distancing is not feasible with the enrollment we are anticipating. This update is based on the varying size of classrooms across schools and the results of the space and capacity planning just completed by Facilities.We are committed to serving all students who want to be back in the classroom five days a week as safely as possible.

To accommodate all students who want to attend in-person school in the fall:

  • APS will implement safety measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools, including mask requirements for students and staff, air quality measures, health screening, and COVID-19 response procedures. Distancing will not be possible.
  • We are extending the Family Selection deadline to Mon, May 3, in case families want to change their selection based on this new information. Families are able to change their selections in ParentVUE while the selection window is still open, once they have been accepted by the school. We ask that you please complete the survey by 11:59 p.m. on Mon, May 3. Completing this process ensures that we have the staffing and resources in place for the start of the 2021-22 school year.
  • We have posted updated FAQ that include this new information, as well as responses to questions about the K-12 Distance Learning Program, how the program is being developed, and how specialized services will be provided to students with disabilities. Please take a moment to review the information and send any additional questions you may have to Engage with APS, at

Graduation Ceremonies – We could not be any prouder of the perseverance our seniors have shown this year. To honor them, we will hold in-person, outdoor events for the graduates of comprehensive high schools and programs, June 11 – June 18, on school grounds. We are finalizing plans to safely accommodate two guests per student in person, in accordance with the Governor’s order. Events will be livestreamed. The latest information is reflected on our website and each school will communicate details with families as they are finalized.

Elementary and Middle School Promotions – VDOE guidance states that in-person ceremonies should be held for institutions where diploma is awarded, so I have stated that promotions will remain virtual. With that said, I fully support the efforts of schools to plan outside drive-by parades, smaller events, and other creative ways to safely celebrate their 5th and 8th grade students, that do not require large gatherings. We will be flexible and support schools’ plans that follow current guidance.

Next week, we kick-off APS Employee Appreciation Month by celebrating our teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. All staff are heroes who have done so much to support students in this pandemic year, and I invite you to join us in celebrating them all throughout the month.


Dr. Francisco Durán
Arlington Public Schools