Superintendent’s Sept. 1 Update: Welcome Back

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En Español

Dear APS Community:

We’re off to a great start! Thank you to everyone – students, families and staff – for pulling together to make it a successful start to the new school year. There were many great moments on the first day of school, and it was clear to see the emotions, hope and excitement. Let’s continue working together to make sure we’re adhering to safety protocols and doing everything possible to support student learning and growth this school year. Here are some reminders as we head into the long weekend for Labor Day:

  • First Day Photo Gallery: Here is a collection of photos from the opening day submitted by students, staff and families. We will be sharing a video capturing some first day moments at next Thursday’s School Board meeting when I present the first day report, which will also include initial enrollment statistics and other updates from our first day of school. The agenda for the Board meeting is available online.
  • COVID Testing Starts in All Schools the Week of Sept. 13—Opt In Now: Our asymptomatic/symptomatic COVID testing program is set to begin at all school locations the week of Sept. 13. We are working with our partner, ResourcePath, to finalize the schedule for each location. This testing will be available to students whose parents/guardians complete the consent form online. If you completed the form this summer or last school year, you do not need to complete it again. This testing is offered at no cost on a weekly basis and is one way we are working to keep our schools safe and open. Testing is already underway after school hours for those with symptoms at Kenmore Middle School. The latest information is available online—parent/guardian consent is required for students to participate.
  • Daily Health Symptom Screener: Thank you to all the families that consistently completed the Qualtrics symptom screener on the honor system this week—we had a great response rate on the first two days of school. We kept the tool in place with a daily reminder to reinforce the importance of checking your student’s health and keeping students who are ill at home. There are symptoms to look for posted on our website.
  • Transportation Updates: We have received questions about transportation through email and the call center, mostly related to reports of late buses, the hub stops for option schools, and requests to change stops. There are some schedules being updated and other route adjustments to be made, as there always are at the start of the year.
    • Our transportation team is working very hard to respond to a high volume of calls and will get back to all callers in the order they were received.
    • Thank you to every family for planning ahead to arrive 10 minutes early and stay at least 10 minutes after the set time, as drivers get used to the new routes. Please continue to remind your students to wear their masks on the bus.
    • In response to questions about our windows open policy – every bus driver is instructed to put all windows down at least to the midpoint when students are on board to help increase outside air circulation. We will conduct regular monitoring to ensure this is happening consistently.
  • Vaccination Requirements for Student Athletes: APS is currently exploring mandatory vaccinations for high school student athletes who are eligible to be vaccinated, starting with the winter sports season. We are reviewing this and will follow up when more information is available.
  • Upcoming Holidays: APS is closed Sept. 3 – Sept. 7 for the Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah holidays. Per APS policy, no school-based activities will be scheduled on staff and student holidays, including religious observances. View the full calendar for the school year online.

Thank you for your continued partnership in keeping our students safe and in school. Have a wonderful rest of the week, and a great long weekend.

Sincerely, Dr. Francisco Durán
Arlington Public Schools