Arlington’s superintendent to request virtual start to school year

Arlington Public Schools’ superintendent is planning to propose a postponed, virtual-only start to the school year to the school board on Thursday night.

The proposed start would be Tuesday, Sept. 8, and all students would begin with full-time distance learning, Superintendent Francisco Durán said Tuesday afternoon in a message to families.

“Throughout our planning, the health and safety of our staff and students has been our top priority, and beginning the year with a virtual model allows us to continue to monitor the situation until we are confident it is safe to return,” Durán said in the letter.

As parts of the U.S. have seen increases in COVID-19 cases, he said he took the time to reevaluate school plans, meeting with county leaders and school board members to review health data for Arlington and Virginia as a whole.

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Teachers and staff will still return Aug. 24, he said, in order to better prepare for full-time distance learning in the fall.

Though the start of the school year will be virtual-only for all students, Durán said that it’s possible for in-person classes to happen later in the fall.

“We will continue to monitor health data in September, with the goal of beginning to transition some students to in-person instruction in early October, which is the midpoint in the first quarter of the school year,” he said.

“Our goal is to have hybrid in-person instruction in place for all families that have selected that model by the beginning of the second quarter, based on health data and in consultation with health officials.”

Durán urged families who have not yet selected their students’ preferred instructional model to do so by July 20.

In a message earlier this month, Durán offered a glimpse of what a hybrid learning model could look like for the school system, which included two consecutive days of in-person classes and three days of distance learning. Staff and students would be required to wear face masks inside school buildings, with social distancing measures in place.

More information will come at a virtual town hall for families from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, and Durán’s presentation to the school board on Thursday.

Teta Alim

Teta Alim is a Digital Editor at WTOP. Teta's interest in journalism started in music and moved to digital media.

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