Superintendent’s Update: Jan. 4, 2023

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En Español

Dear APS Families,

Welcome back, and Happy New Year! I hope you had a joyous Winter Break. We are happy to see our students back at school and look forward to supporting their success in the new year.

Updates and Reminders:

Mental Health Support: As we return, I urge everyone to prioritize student mental health. The transition from Winter Break can be challenging, especially for those who suffer from depression or other mental health concerns. All of us can help by modeling healthy behaviors and encouraging self-care. It’s also important to teach students to be aware of the language they use with themselves, practice self-compassion, and recognize it is a sign of strength to reach out for help.Help is available to support our students:

  • Use the ACT (Acknowledge, Care, Tell) process when you see a student in need of help. Acknowledge that you’re seeing mental health concerns or signs of suicide. Show your student that you care. Tell a school counselor or other professional that your student needs help. Review the full ACT infographic (Students in English | Families in English | Families in Spanish).
  • Call your school counselor, school psychologist, or school social worker for guidance as needed.
  • Use the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or text to 741741 for free 24/7 mental health support.
  • Call 911 in a mental health emergency.
  • Visit our In Crisis/Need Help Now Page for a full list of resources

Health and Safety Reminders: Before the break, we distributed free at-home COVID tests for students to take prior to returning to school, and issued reminders about the potential impact of Influenza, RSV and COVID-19. As we return, I ask for your help to maintain healthy learning environments for all. Continue to stay up to date with vaccinations, practice healthy habits to prevent the spread of illness, and stay home if you are sick. I also encourage staff and families to take advantage of weekly COVID-19 opt-in testing available at all schools. Arlington is at the medium community level for COVID-19, so masks remain optional per CDC guidance.

Attendance Notification Changes: Beginning Tue, Jan. 17, we are modifying our attendance notification process. The changes will allow families to receive earlier and more frequent, real-time notice if their student has an unverified absence from school and/or has missed a specific class period.Beginning Jan. 17, we will transition to the following process:

  • Elementary: 11 a.m.: Daily call and text reporting unverified absences based on information reported by schools at 10:30 a.m.
  • Secondary:
    • 11 a.m.: Call and text based on information reported by 10:30 a.m.
    • 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.: Text notification of unverified absences for specific periods, based on information reported at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.
    • 5 p.m.: Call and text to recap unverified absences throughout the day, based on information entered by end of day.

To every one of you in our APS family, I wish you all the best for the new year and the remainder of the school year.

Dr. Francisco Durán
Arlington Public Schools