Superintendent’s Oct. 6 Update: Highlights from Recent School Visits

Here are some of the highlights of my visits to schools in the first month of the school year. Most schools are captured here but there were not photos from every visit, including Abingdon. I will be visiting schools throughout the year and will highlight all schools.


Dear APS Families,

I want to provide an update on this morning’s incident at Washington-Liberty High School (W-L). Fortunately, everyone is safe, and the police did not find any evidence of a real threat. Students and staff were immediately placed in a secure location while the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) conducted its investigation and were later dismissed from school as a safety precaution.

This was frightening for everyone involved, and we are grateful for the quick response by Washington-Liberty Principal Tony Hall, his staff, and the ACPD to keep our staff and students safe. ACPD has given the all-clear for school to resume on its normal schedule tomorrow, with increased police presence. We will continue to provide updates as we receive new information. Additional APS counselors and Employee Assistance Program staff will be at W-L tomorrow to help students and staff who need support processing the event. Today, I am also sharing calendar reminders, highlights of my recent school visits, an important message about the TikTok Challenge trend affecting our schools.

Monday is a Day of Learning for Staff, No School for Students – There is no school for students on Monday, Oct. 11, for Indigenous Peoples Day. Monday is a professional learning day for our staff, with many participating remotely, so please be aware that responses to inquiries may be delayed.

Highlights from Recent School Visits: During the first month of school, I made it a priority to visit every school across the division to observe academic and Social Emotional Learning supports for students, as well as health and safety measures. I had the opportunity to see innovative literacy and math strategies in practice, teams strategizing about interventions, and many other highlights. It was uplifting to see so many excited and engaged students and the great work happening in the classroom. I look forward to visiting schools throughout the school year. I shared photos from many visits on Twitter and you can view photo highlights online.

Spotlight on Ashlawn’s Global Citizens Project: During my visits, I had the opportunity to participate in Ashlawn’s Global Citizens Project with an amazing group of students. This is a multi-year initiative that helps students develop skills in respecting different cultures, the environment, social justice and leadership. Watch the video spotlighting the project and its impact on students. This is the first in a series of videos to come, highlighting academics, mental health and SEL, and health and safety.

TikTok Challenges: I shared a message on Friday informing families about TikTok Challenges, which can lead to destructive and harmful acts at school. September’s challenge affected APS schools at every level – elementary through high school – so we are seeking your help in reminding students of the consequences and serious nature of these challenges. Read more here.

Upcoming Dates: Mark your calendar for these dates:

  • Oct. 11 – Indigenous Peoples Day (no school for students – professional learning for staff)
  • Oct. 14 – School Board Meeting – Hispanic Heritage Month Recognition of High School Student Leaders
  • Oct. 16 – Hispanic Heritage Month event (2-5 pm): Reencuentro – Latinos in Arlington. Register here.
  • Oct. 21 – Elementary Parent Teacher Conferences (Early Dismissal)
  • Oct. 22 – Elementary and Middle School Parent Teacher Conferences (No School for Elementary and Middle Schools)
  • Oct. 25 – Middle School Information Night
  • Nov. 1 – End of First Quarter
  • Nov. 1 – High School Information Night
  • Nov. 9 – Report Cards (Grades 6-12)
  • Nov. 20 – Report Cards (Grades 1-5)

Thank you for your engagement and partnership.


Dr. Francisco Durán
Arlington Public Schools