Superintendent’s Jan. 19, 2022 Update: Test to Stay Program Launching

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Dear APS Families,

I hope you had a great holiday weekend. In celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I am pleased to announce the 2022 MLK Visual and Literary Arts Contest student winners, who beautifully depicted King’s vision for unity, peace and community. We will recognize the student winners and highlight their works at the Feb. 17 School Board Meeting.

This week I want to share an important reminder regarding masks, tips to prepare for a possible inclement weather virtual learning day, and clarification on COVID response procedures.

Masks: Masks continue to be required for all students, staff and visitors in our schools and on school buses, so please ensure your student arrives at school with a well-fitting mask. Universal masking is part of our layered approach to health and safety, which has proven effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our schools. Our mask requirement complies with Virginia law, SB1303, and follows U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local health guidance.

APS distributed new KN95 masks for our students and staff during the week of Jan. 10. Thank you to Arlington County Government for providing us with 4,000 additional KN95 masks to assist with supply concerns during this time.

Returning to School After COVID-Related Exclusion: In last week’s message, we outlined documentation required for students to return to school following COVID-related quarantine or isolation. Following my update, we received some questions about how parents/guardians can obtain the “end-of-isolation letter” I referenced. Families needing assistance obtaining clearance for return can reach out to their school’s main office or clinic for support. 

Clarification on Quarantine Exemption: Students who are up to date on their vaccinations per CDC requirements and do not have any symptoms will be exempt from quarantining if identified as a close contact. All students who are considered close contacts will receive an official exclusion letter – even if they meet exemption requirements. This letter informs parents that their child was a close contact. Follow-up contact will be made to verify vaccination status and inform parents of the student’s ability to return to school if they are without symptoms. Please wait to hear from the follow-up contact before calling the school about exemption.

“Test to Stay” Program Launching in APS: In a previous update, I noted that APS was not one of the schools selected to participate in the Virginia Dept. of Health (VDH) Test to Stay (TTS) pilot program. I am pleased to share that APS has received VDH authorization to implement the TTS program in Arlington, using their approved materials and requirements. Once the test kits purchased for staff and students are received, we will use the remaining kits to implement the program in APS. As part of this process, we will be launching a portal for parents to document the vaccination status of their students. More information regarding eligibility and enrollment will be shared in the coming weeks. 

Preparing for An Inclement Weather Virtual Learning Day: This year, APS announced that the first six closures due to inclement weather would be treated as traditional snow days, and after that, we will revert to virtual learning, when possible. Given that APS has used most of the allotted snow days, staff are preparing for how teachers and students can transition to synchronous, virtual learning on future inclement weather days when schools must close and as conditions allow.  If virtual learning is not possible due to widespread power outages or other factors, calendar adjustments may have to be made for the duration of the school year. I will share the full plan in my Jan. 26 message. In the meantime, you can help your child be ready for virtual learning by doing the following:

  • Remind your student(s) to bring their devices and charging cords home daily in preparation for a closure due to inclement weather. Teachers will also remind students.
  • Notify your child’s teacher if your child does not have access to reliable internet so that the school can help connect you to this resource. More information is available online.

 Information on our weather procedures is available on the website. We continue to appreciate your partnership.


Dr. Francisco Durán
Arlington Public Schools