Arlington schools move to pause virtual learning program

Arlington County, Virginia, will pause its virtual learning program to allow the school board to create a comprehensive plan for how to operate moving forward.

Members speaking for the school board said the current program does not meet the academic or “social-emotional” needs of students.

The Thursday night meeting saw comments from teachers and parents in favor of, and opposed to, the removal of the Virtual Virginia Outreach Program.

One parent pushed for the virtual education option and to avoid pausing the initiative — something that Andrea Alvarez called a necessary and effective program for English language learners and other marginalized student groups.

“You’re being presented today with the opportunity to be leaders in the education of the future,” Alvarez said. “I hope that you will be recalled as pioneers and futurists, and not as the people responsible for taking away a flexible … education opportunity for families like mine.”

Arlyn Elizee with the VLP Parents Coalition questioned whether they could imagine making the same decision for a brick-and-mortar education, as opposed to virtual education options.

“Can you imagine APS proposing this and voting for it two weeks later?” she asked.

The proposal, which places the Virtual Learning Program on pause, was intended to give the board time to create a comprehensive framework for a virtual education opportunity and provide exemptions for those with medical conditions to continue virtual instruction.

Virginia’s virtual learning program reported several staffing issues and falling test scores for those participating in the program.

As of this moment, the timeline from Arlington Public Schools would stretch from Feb. 18 to Aug. 29. Starting on Friday, Feb. 18, families will be able to apply for medical exemption from in-person instruction and receive virtual instruction services. This window will remain open until March 7.

Courses for Virtual Virginia will open up Aug. 22, seven days before the 2022-2023 school year starts.

The current program serves nearly 600 students and was primarily funded using one-time American Rescue Plan funding. Funding for distance learning made up 60% of funding used by the school system.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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