- Reentry Updates
- Learning in Quarantine Situations
- Learning Choice Form: Spring and Fall 2021
- Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund III
- Your Child has Tested Positive or Been Exposed to COVID-19. What’s Next?
- Facilities and Operations Health and Safety Protocols
- Return to School Guidelines: Symptoms, Close Contacts, and COVID Diagnosis
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Learning in Quarantine Situations
- Health and Safety Town Hall with Alexandria Health Department
- Health and Safety Town Hall with Alexandria Health Department
- Health & Safety Information
- Alexandria City Public Schools
- Frequently Asked Questions
FAQs: Fall 2021 In-Person Learning at ACPS
At ACPS, we understand that students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction in Fall 2021 is a priority for all students and staff.
The Virginia Department of Education and Virginia Department of Health have published updated guidance for returning students to schools, including health and safety guidance.
Fall 2021 Back to School FAQ
What guidance will ACPS follow for in-person learning in Fall 2021?
ACPS will return to in-person learning in August 2021 for all students, following the Commonwealth of Virginia Statute, which states, “that each local school division in the Commonwealth shall make in-person learning available to all students by choice of the student's parent or guardian.” We will also be following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Will ACPS continue to partner with child care providers in the fall?
No. Although before and after school partner programs are currently being discussed in regards to implementation and program design, there will be no ACPS partner-provided school child care in the fall.
What will in-person learning look like during the 2021-22 school year?
- 5 days per week in school
- Hot breakfasts and lunches will be available every day
- Bus routes and schedules will return to normal
- All activities and athletics will be offered in-person
- All special education services will be offered in-person
- English for Speakers of Other Languages will be offered in-person
- Advanced Placement (AP) and Honors program offerings at Alexandria City High School will be offered in-person
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math will be offered in-person
What changes will ACPS be making?
Review our 2021-22 Health and Safety Guidance.
How will schools be cleaned?
We will continue our enhanced cleaning measures for high-contact surfaces, classrooms, etc.
What measures are in place in ACPS school buses to minimize the spread of COVID-19?
Before students board an ACPS bus, families are asked to complete the Daily Symptom Checklist for their students. All students are required to have their face mask worn properly as they board the bus and are required to wear a face mask for the duration of the ride to their school. Students are loaded and directed to sit at the rear of the bus first. As seats are occupied, coming forward in an effort to help eliminate students passing by one another unnecessarily.
Additionally, all ACPS buses are climate-controlled school buses built to remove humidity with conditioned, filtered, climate-controlled air. Our internal guidance for all drivers is to open a minimum of two windows on each side of the bus to provide a balanced replacement of fresh air into the bus, both conditioned and ambient air intake. On the days where temperatures exceed 90 degrees and humidity exceeds 70%, per the CDC guidance, bus windows should not be open due to the extremely hot and humid days.
All ACPS school buses are wiped down daily between runs by the drivers and are sanitized every evening by our cleaning contractor.
What are students and staff required to do before arriving at an ACPS school or riding on an ACPS bus or vehicle?
Staff and students must complete the Daily Symptom Checklist:
Will students and staff still check in at the temperature check kiosk at the entrance of the school?
Yes. There will be daily online health screenings and temperature screenings in school entrances and procedures to limit the number of visitors in school facilities.
Will students wear masks outside?
If students are truly spread out, masks will not be required. If students are closely interacting during recess or by the nature of a sports activity, then the recommendation would be to wear masks. CDC guidance is that, in general, people do not need to wear masks when outdoors. CDC recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people. Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised.
Will visitors be allowed inside of the schools?
Families are asked to drop off students outside of their school and visitors are limited. All essential approved visitors will be expected to adhere to the established safety mitigation strategies. Essential visitors, volunteers and activities will be limited to:
- Individuals supporting the provision of in-person student supports, to include city and partner programs
- Individuals supporting/performing ACPS operations and maintenance; and
- Individuals picking up students who have become ill during the school day.
Will students be required to be fully vaccinated before attending school in person?
No. Those who have not been vaccinated – including those over 12 who are eligible to receive a vaccine – will not be segregated from any school populations. They will be welcomed by all.
While vaccination is the most effective way to prevent COVID-19 infection, each family must make the decision that is right for them. For more information about vaccines, please visit the CDC website.
To align with recommendations of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the 2020 General Assembly passed House Bill 1090 amending Virginia’s immunization requirements for attending public and private schools, child care centers, nursery schools, family home day care centers, and developmental centers.
The 2020 legislation amended the Code of Virginia to require the following new immunizations and booster shots:
- Two doses of properly spaced human papillomavirus vaccine for all children. The first dose is required before the child enters the seventh grade.
- Two or three properly spaced doses of rotavirus vaccine, depending on the manufacturer, for children up to eight months of age.
- Two properly spaced doses of hepatitis A vaccine. The first dose must be administered at age 12 months or older. The new hepatitis A vaccine requirement is an addition to the existing kindergarten immunization requirements.
- Two properly spaced doses of meningococcal conjugate vaccine. The first is required prior to entry to the seventh grade. The second dose is required prior to entry to the twelfth grade.
How will health and safety updates be communicated?
Updates will be shared as they become available by email and website. Please be sure to update your contact information in PowerSchool Parent Access. The COVD-19 Dashboard provides case data, and will be updated every Monday afternoon by 4 p.m.
Will students be required to wear masks during lunch, recess, Phy Ed, and on school buses, regardless of vaccination status?
- Masks are required when not eating.
- Masks are not required during recess, physical education.
- Masks will be required on buses/public transportation, including passengers to and from school and to and from extracurricular activities. This is in accordance with the President’s Executive Order, which regulates all forms of public transportation.
What are the expectations for school attendance?
Regular attendance is an essential component to academic success. The Virginia Department of Education mandates that daily student attendance be recorded. When students are in school, teachers will record daily attendance in PowerSchool.
Will the dual language program be offered during the 2021-22 school year?
How will the needs of students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) be met?
The division must make every effort to provide special education and related services to students in accordance with the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or, for students entitled to free appropriate public education (FAPE) under Section 504, consistent with a plan developed to meet the requirements of Section 504.
Can my child learn remotely?
Yes, students enrolled in Virtual Virginia before the July 15, 2021 deadline will learn remotely for Fall 2021. Virtual Virginia offers online courses taught by Virginia-certified teachers. Instruction incorporates daily synchronous opportunities and asynchronous learning experiences. Part-time and full-time enrollment options are available. However, enrollment for Fall 2021 closed on Friday, July 15, 2021.
In response to family inquiries about virtual learning for this fall, we want to remind families of the information shared in May 2021 when families were asked to select either in-person or virtual learning for their students for the fall 2021 semester:
- ACPS students who selected virtual learning for fall 2021 through the Family Learning Choice Form will be enrolled in the Virtual Virginia program offered by the Virginia Dept. of Education; all other ACPS students are enrolled this fall in five days a week of in-person learning at their assigned schools
- The deadline to enroll an ACPS student in the Virtual Virginia option for the fall semester was May 24, 2021. This allowed us to enroll all students in the Virtual Virginia program by its July 15, 2021 deadline. Virtual Virginia is not able to accept any new enrollments until further notice.
- ACPS families will have the opportunity to select virtual learning for the spring 2022 semester—more information will be available this fall
How can I order School Supplies or receive a filled backpack from a Backpack Drive?
School supply lists can be obtained from your school. For information about Community Backpack Drives, please visit our 2021 Backback Drive webpage.
What if my family still needs access to technology that was available during the 2020-21 school year?
ACPS will continue to issue a Chromebook or tablet for each student in PreK-12 to support and extend learning. For students with no internet access at home, a MiFi device or prepaid service will be available.
Who can I contact if I need technical assistance?
Please email email@example.com or call 703-123-4567.
As we prepare for the start of the school year at ACPS, the Student Helpdesk will be closed. Students need to bring their ACPS issued Chromebooks or tablets to school when they return in August. Device issues will be addressed and/or replaced when school begins.
How do I sign up for free and reduced price meal benefits?
Apply Online for Free and Reduced Price Meals online in SchoolCafé. Also, use SchoolCafé to:
- Make Payments
- Set up Auto Pay
- Set Purchase Restrictions
- Get Low Balance Alerts
- Submit Meal Applications
- View Purchases
- View Menus
Even if you are not eligible for free and reduced meals, applying helps ACPS get a more accurate number of students who are eligible. Eligibility for free and reduced meals may mean additional benefits for you and your family, including academic and athletic scholarship opportunities.
There are no citizenship requirements for participation in free and reduced-price meals programs, and immigration status is not requested or disclosed.
What mental health resources are available for my child and family?
Student Support Staff will be available Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. on email to answer questions or problem solve. Please reach out to your student’s school counselor or school social worker with any questions.
Additionally, students and families can access the supports below if there is a crisis or emergency:
- Crisis Text and Crisis Link (Text the word CONNECT to 85511 or Call 703-527-4077)
- Alexandria Safe Place
- Alexandria City 24-Hour
In addition, the National Association of School Psychologists offers tips for Helping Children Cope With Changes Resulting From COVID-19.
What is the purpose of testing only unvaccinated staff, if both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals are able to contract and spread the virus?
Unvaccinated staff have a greater risk of becoming infected with and transmitting the COVID virus. Staff who have not been vaccinated, are partially vaccinated or did not disclose their vaccination status are required to participate in weekly testing in an effort to keep our schools as safe as possible. If anyone is asymptomatic and carrying the virus, the weekly testing would assist in identifying the virus in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
Work for ACPS!
If you are unable to volunteer, you can get paid to work for ACPS. Visit our Employment Opportunities webpage to learn about openings and job fairs for all positions including teachers, school nutrition, paraprofessional, bus drivers, office staff, and more!
Information about Lunchtime
ACPS is committed to ensuring the health and safety of our staff and students throughout the entire school day, including lunchtime, when students will not be able to wear masks while eating. We are committed to implementing health and safety protocols to ensure that all students and staff are safe during the lunch blocks of time. These protocols for Pre-K-12 schools include:
- Students will be required to wear masks in the cafeteria when not actively eating and drinking.
- Students will need to wear their masks while going to, through, and from the serving line.
- Students will put their masks back on when they finish their meal.
- Cafeteria spaces will be regularly and thoroughly cleaned with a sanitizing solution.
- Students will be assigned tables and/or seats (student podding) in the cafeteria.
- Students will be required to sign in at their assigned table for contact tracing purposes.
- Students will wash their hands before and after lunch.
- Cafeterias will have limited student capacity by using multiple locations throughout the building including classrooms, recreation spaces, and open spaces as well as outdoor areas when possible.
- Air purifiers will be operational in all school cafeterias.
ACPS Pre-K, Elementary, K-8, and Middle Schools
At the elementary and middle school levels, students will eat during scheduled grade level and/or class times. Students will eat in the traditional cafeteria, though some may eat in their classrooms, open spaces or outdoor settings as weather permits. The physical layout of each cafeteria varies from school to school, depending on size and student enrollment. However, every safety precaution will be taken as outlined above to ensure a safe environment while eating.
Alexandria City High School (ACHS)
At the high school level, students will eat lunch as a whole school during a 74-minute period of time called "Lunch & Learn." During this time, students can decide where to eat lunch throughout the building, alleviating the crowding stress on a traditional cafeteria setting in a high school.
During high school Lunch & Learn, students will also be able to make decisions about the remaining time in that period. Activities may include spending time with teachers, participating in clubs/organizations, and spending quiet time doing school work. No matter what activity they select, safety protocols will have to be followed, and students will have to sign in for potential contact tracing purposes.
At the King Street and Minnie Howard Campuses, students will also access traditionally used outdoor spaces such as outdoor dining areas, roof gardens, and courtyards. Students will be required to sign in either on paper or electronically by QR codes and follow all aforementioned safety protocols.
The impact of the measures will allow all schools to implement health and safety protocols to minimize risk and account for contact tracing. At the same time, students will be provided with a lunchtime setting in the cafeteria or classroom with their classmates in an environment that is safe and important to socialization.
Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. highlighted in his September spotlight message the plan to spread out further into classrooms and other open spaces during lunch. What is being done to ensure that these protocols are followed at all of our schools?
Schools are developing options that provide additional flexibility for using the physical layout of their cafeterias, classrooms, and outdoor spaces, that are best suited for their facility spaces and student capacity. Students are required to maintain physical distancing and in addition, lunch monitors are being hired to assist in these efforts.
How can we provide additional social distancing when eating indoors and how can we use available spaces in our schools?
We know that outdoor lunch is not a daily solution, given weather conditions. We have been out identifying spaces within the school buildings and our principals are working to spread students throughout the building during lunch. There are lots of variables in terms of appropriate outdoor space, layout of our schools, number of staff who work in the cafeteria. We’re looking at every building’s lunch plan and investigating what are the options available at each school for student lunch.
Will students eat lunch in the cafeteria?
Both breakfast and lunch services will be made available in all PreK-12 buildings, in accordance with the requirements of the School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program.
Will students be required to wear masks during lunch, regardless of vaccination status?
Students will be required to wear masks in the cafeteria when not actively eating and drinking.
Will there be a policy regarding outdoor lunches, especially at the elementary school level?
Elementary and middle school students will eat meals in the school cafeteria, classrooms, or open spaces as well as outdoor settings when possible, as weather permits, with mitigating measures such as the use of seating charts, podding, and sign-in sheets. At the high school, sign-in sheets will be used during the lunch period and students can continue to use the traditional outdoor spaces as they have always utilized. Eating outside is not sustainable during times of inclement weather, extreme temperatures, and poor air quality.
Early Childhood & Elementary Guidance for Health & Physical Education Instruction
Guidance has been provided for administrators and teachers in planning and implementing safe instruction for in-person physical education.
Will students and staff be required to wear face masks during physical education classes?
Face masks are required for everyone during indoor physical education instruction. Face coverings are not required for outdoor activity but distancing is recommended due to increased exhalation.
What can be done to help maintain physical distancing during physical education classes indoors where students must wear face masks?
Visual aids can be employed as physical distancing is recommended during indoor physical activity due to increased exhalation.
- Use floor tape or poly spots to mark spots for students.
- If available, use a speaker/microphone system so students can better hear instructions and maintain social distancing.
- More space for instruction may be required due to increased respiration of students and for contact tracing needs.
Can physical education classes be combined?
Classes should not be combined and should remain podded. In the event double or triple classes are assigned to PE in the same block, other spaces should be utilized such as outdoor areas, in an effort to divide classes.
How can distancing be maintained in playing areas outdoors?
PE playing areas should be designated using cones or other visual aids, especially if other classes are outside for instruction or recess. Physical distancing is recommended, to the extent possible, when outdoors during exercise due to increased exhalation when students are not wearing face coverings.
What level of exercise is recommended; especially when students are required to wear a face mask?
- Develop activities that are low to moderate intensity only due to mask wearing that is mandated indoors.
- Provide modifications for physical activities to maintain low intensity.
- Schedule breaks between exercises/activities to allow for students to cool down and maintain a lower intensity.
- Movements indoors that include a cardio exercise can not be longer than 30 seconds, followed by one-minute of recovery to maintain low intensity at all times.
What are some best practices for safety and sanitation during physical activities?
- Encourage students to dress appropriately for PE and bring a second face covering to wear if the original gets sweaty.(Have extra face masks available for students)
- Mandate students wash or sanitize their hands before and after PE. (Adding a hand sanitizer station would be helpful).
- Each student should have an individual water bottle to avoid use of water fountains.
- Teachers are encouraged to use electronic whistles.
What precautions can be taken when using PE equipment?
- Equipment can be used as long as strict handwashing is enforced before and after PE classes.
- Use items that can be sanitized easily and are non-porous.
- Equipment should be sprayed or wiped down with approved cleaning products throughout the day.
What are suggested guidelines for PE instruction?
- Review with students how to safely move in the classroom and maintain social distancing.
- Reinforce mask use and remind students to use a lower intensity during physical activity.
- Let students know they can request a one-minute break during instruction due to mask wearing.
- Consider a gradual increase for physical activity as students learn and master safety procedures.
- Incorporate individual forms of physical activities that can be done in personal space.
- Even outdoors, avoid activities that may result in touching or the reduction of physical distancing, such as contact sports.
Secondary Guidance for Health & Physical Education Instruction
What is the guidance for physical education when carried out in a school gymnasium?
- Masks must be worn at all times as students are indoors.
- Physical distancing is recommended due to increased exhalation during activities even as masks are worn.
- Provide a visual aid for social distancing using floor tape or poly spots to mark spots for students.
- Classes should not be combined or increased for physical education instruction.
- Additional space for instruction may be required due to increased respiration of students and contact tracing needs.
- As multiple classes are assigned to PE in the same block, utilize other space such as outdoor areas and other indoor PE areas to divide classes.
What is the guidance for space utilization and set up in the gymnasium for physical education?
- Use the divider in the gym when multiple classes are scheduled in the space.
- Designate a door for entering and a separate door for exiting, when possible.
- Consider traffic patterns that will most effectively maintain distance between students.
- Use a microphone, if available, to allow for all students to hear instructions while speaking through a mask.
What considerations should be in mind in using Dance Studios and Weight Rooms for physical education instruction?
Dance studios and weight rooms can be used for physical education with the consideration of the following guidelines:
- Masks must be worn at all times as these spaces are indoors.
- Open windows and doors whenever possible.
- Mark personal space with cones or poly spots as visual cues for maintaining physical distancing.
- Equipment should be sprayed or wiped down with approved cleaning products periodically throughout the day.
- Enforce hand washing or sanitizing before and after class.
What is the guidance about using outdoor areas for physical education instruction?
- Physical education classes should be conducted outdoors when possible.
- Masks are not required outdoors but are recommended for students when exhalation increases with exercise intensity and during contact sports.
- Physical distance is recommended when outdoors during exercise due to increased exhalation when students are not wearing masks.
- Designate the PE playing areas using cones or other visual aids, especially when other classes are outside for instruction.
- Cones and poly spots should be used to provide a visual aid for students for distancing requirements.
- PE classes that are typically outdoors may need indoor space during inclement weather. The HPE department head should devise a list of rainy day teaching locations for their specific school.
As locker rooms can be used, what can students do to engage in safe habits?
- Wash or sanitize hands before class begins and after class.
- In accordance with regulation 3210, it is recommended but not required that students change clothing for physical education.
- Students should wear clothing/footwear that is comfortable and safe for activities and appropriate for the weather.
- Bring an extra face mask as it may become sweaty.
- Bring a water bottle as public water fountains will remain closed.
- Instructors should plan alternative activities for students who are not wearing clothing that is safe for participation. These activities must be aligned to the grade level standards being instructed in the class.
Can you outline safe practices for students and instructors to follow for PE instruction?
- Face coverings must be worn by everyone at all times when indoors; advise students to bring a spare should one mask become sweaty..
- Physical distancing is strongly encouraged between students and staff to the extent possible. Use floor tape, cones, poly spots or other visual cues to help students to properly distance.
- Develop activities that are low to medium intensity only due to mask wearing.
- Mandate students wash/sanitize their hands before and after activities.
- Develop a system where equipment can be sprayed or wiped down with approved cleaning products periodically throughout the day.
- Electronic whistles are recommended for teachers
What recommendations should be considered for equipment?
- Equipment can be used and shared among students as long as strict handwashing is enforced before and after PE classes.
- The use of non-porous equipment is suggested in order to be easily sanitized.
- Put a system in place to spray or wipe down equipment with approved cleaning products periodically throughout the day and at least once daily.
- Remind students that they are not permitted to bring equipment from home.
What is the guidance for exercise intensity?
- Only low to medium intensity activities are permitted due to mask wearing requirements when indoors.
- Provide modifications for physical activities to include modifications in intensity.
- Schedule breaks between exercises/activities to allow for students to cool down and maintain a lower intensity zone.
- Let students know they can request a one-minute break during instruction if needed due to mask wearing.
What is the overall guidance for PE instruction?
- Develop lessons that follow quarterly pacing guides that align with the standards.
- Consider a gradual increase for physical activity as students learn and master the safety routines and procedures.
- Provide students with multiple ways to demonstrate learning targets through observation, written or oral response.
- Allow students to move freely if they are aware of their own distancing from other students and their teacher.
- Outdoors, avoid activities that may result in touching or the reduction of physical distancing, such as contact sports when masks are not being worn.
- Consider pre-determining directions students may move; such as everyone moves clockwise.
Learning in Quarantine Situations
Some students will need instructional support if they are not able to attend class because they are quarantined. For more information, visit our Learning in Quarantine Situations page.
Guidance for K-12 Performing Arts in Schools
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has updated its guidance regarding safety measures to be taken for K-12 Performing Arts in Schools (PDF) as provided by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Sept. 22, 2021.
The updated guidance reiterates several key measures previously shared and also describes additional mitigation strategies for music, choir and performing arts classrooms. The Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) for performing arts programs can be fully covered in performing arts classroom environments that follow mitigation measures through safe performances during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Can performing arts classes be carried out safely as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread?
Performing arts programs can continue to thrive while following mitigation measures designed to promote health and safety of students and staff. Some performing arts classes may need to alter curriculum and classroom experiences in order to reduce COVID-19 transmission. Activities that increase respiration can generate an increased amount of respiratory droplets and aerosols that may contain the COVID-19 virus if a person is infected. When community transmission of COVID-19 is substantial or high, schools may wish to cancel or postpone any non-essential assemblies (including performing arts rehearsals and shows) until transmission levels have declined.
What should daily protocol be for music, choir and performing arts classrooms?
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommends requiring the use of masks at all times, in keeping with the State Health Commissioner’s Public Health Order, except when wearing a mask would inhibit the playing of an instrument (e.g., wind or brass instrument). Maximize physical distance as much as possible. Maintain at least 6 feet of distance during activities when increased exhalation occurs such as when singing, shouting, or playing wind/brass instruments. Consider increasing distance even more (10 feet apart) during these activities if the room size allows for it. For general classroom use (when not singing, shouting, etc), follow Virginia’s Interim Guidance to space students at least 3 feet apart in classrooms.
What can be done to reduce droplet spread while playing certain instruments or when students carry out certain activities while performing?
Covers can be used on wind and brass instruments to reduce droplet spread while playing. Activities that require close contact between performers should be limited, (e.g., lifting a dancer, scenes in a play that require very close contact between actors), especially when indoors.
What should be done in situations where equipment or other items must be shared?
Limiting the use of shared items between persons where feasible is advised. Avoid shared equipment where the mouth may come into contact with it. If equipment must be shared, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to clean thoroughly between uses. For microphones, disposable microphone covers may also be used. In general, cleaning once a day is usually enough to sufficiently remove potential virus particles from most surfaces. Disinfecting (using an EPA-approved disinfectant) kills any remaining germs on surfaces, which further reduces risk of spreading infection. If an indoor classroom or other performing arts space has had a sick person or someone who tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 24 hours, clean and disinfect the space.
Can you provide other ways to help keep students and staff in performing arts classes or activities protected against the spread of COVID-19?
Practice cohorting: students in performing art classes or activities should be conducted in small “pods” of students with the same students always performing or practicing together. Consider screening/testing for students who regularly participate in activities that involve singing, shouting, and band that could lead to increased exhalation. Encourage all students, teachers, and staff in performing arts classrooms to frequently wash their hands.
Should performing outdoors be considered when possible?
When possible, hold performing arts classes in an outdoor environment or under an open tent while ensuring outdoor classes are safe from other hazards, such as extreme heat/cold or air pollution. If the class is held indoors, ensure the ventilation system is optimized with regard to flow rate and filtration. Consider limiting the duration of choir rehearsals (e.g., 30 minute limit if inside).
What recommendations should be followed when it comes to performances?
Encourage all attendees who are eligible to get fully vaccinated prior to attending any performance. Clearly communicate safety expectations (including mask and distancing policies) to all performers and attendees. Hold virtual or outdoor performances instead of indoor performances. If held inside a K-12 school, all individuals should be instructed to wear a mask as required by Order of the State Health Commissioner. Limit the number of students at one time in backstage or storage areas. Limit audience capacity to ensure attendees can remain at least 6 feet apart. Set up hand washing or sanitizer stations at entry/exit points.
Consider cancelling or postponing performances when community transmission is substantial or high. Instruct anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 to stay at home. Refer to CDC guidance on hosting safer gatherings.
FAQs from Health and Safety Town Hall with Alexandria Health Department (September 2021)
What is considered a COVID-19 case?
A “case” is someone who has COVID-19. Cases are identified when a person either tests positive for COVID-19 or develops symptoms of COVID-19 and has a known exposure to COVID-19. If your child is a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and has developed symptoms, they may meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) criteria to count as a COVID-19 case.
If someone is classified as a COVID-19 case, what do they have to do?
Individuals who are classified as a COVID-19 case need to be isolated from other people for at least 10 days from the date of symptom onset or the date that their positive test was collected (if asymptomatic). We ask that people help the effort to track COVID-19 cases affecting the ACPS community by sending a message via email to reportingCOVID@acps.k12.va.us with the name of the individual that has tested positive for COVID-19, contact information, and school or work location.
Who is it that needs to go into isolation?
People who have COVID-19 are asked to isolate for at least 10 days starting from the date of when symptoms began or--if there are no symptoms (asymptomatic infection)--then from the date of a positive test. There are no exceptions or exemptions for isolation. The isolation period is required regardless of age or vaccination status.
What does it mean to be a “close contact” to a COVID-19 case?
Close contacts are people who were within 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for 15 minutes or more in total during a 24-hour period, or people who may have had direct contact with the case’s respiratory secretions (droplets produced when a person coughs or sneezes). ACPS works with the Alexandria Health Department to identify close contacts for contact tracers.
How are close contacts identified?
Close contacts are identified by using seating charts; without seating charts, AHD may have to quarantine the entire classroom. Contacts are also identified using input from teachers and staff. Situations that public health officials consider, for example, include: Were the students wearing their masks consistently and correctly? Did the students get out of their seats for any activities? If exposure occurred in gym class, what activities were on the agenda that day? Was class held outside? Were students in pods or cohorts? Input from the individual with COVID-19 is also considered, for example: who did you eat lunch with and who did you play with at recess? Also, risk classification is taken into consideration for youth sports and extracurricular activities; contact sports often have several close contacts.
Is there any exception for who is considered a close contact in the school setting?
Per the CDC, people who are within 3 to 6 feet of an infected person in a K-12 indoor classroom setting are not considered close contacts if all people involved consistently and correctly wore well-fitting masks the entire time.
How does someone know if they are considered a close contact?
ACPS works closely with the Alexandria Health Department. When there is a case in a school, ACPS sends a general notification letter.The school may “pause” in-person learning or temporarily close classroom(s) to allow for contact tracing. Families will receive a call or email message if their student is identified as a close contact. We ask families to please make sure your child’s school has the best contact information to reach you as soon as possible.
If someone is considered a close contact, what do they have to do?
For people identified as close contacts of someone who has COVID-19, quarantine is required for 14 days from the date of last exposure to that individual. Monitor your child’s symptoms and get them tested for COVID-19 at least twice; (1) As soon as possible (2) 5-7 days after their exposure, and (3) Immediately, if they develop symptoms of COVID-19. Know where to get tested; the Alexandria Health Department offers information resources for testing.
If a close contact is unvaccinated, what should they do?
Close contacts who are unvaccinated need to quarantine for 14 days. This time period is in accordance with CDC guidelines and allows sufficient time to determine whether a close contact will develop a COVID-19 infection or not.
Can you explain how to quarantine safely?
The quarantine period is for 14 days. Have your child stay away from others (including people who live in your home) as much as possible. Designate one caretaker, if possible. The primary caretaker should be fully-vaccinated. Have your child stay in a separate bedroom, use a separate bathroom, and avoid shared spaces like your living room and kitchen. Do not share objects like towels, blankets, utensils, or electronics that have not been disinfected. If your child must enter a shared space, please protect others in your home by having everyone wearing a mask. Options to reduce quarantine are not recommended for K-12 students and staff.
What recommendations have been made for schools to layer prevention strategies?
The CDC and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommend nine prevention strategies for K-12 schools. The “Swiss Cheese” model states that schools should layer prevention strategies based on their population characteristics and community transmission. No single layer is perfect, but layered together, they form a protective barrier.
What are some tips that families can share with their children for staying safe this fall?
Encourage your child to wear their mask consistently and correctly throughout the school day. Teach your child to remove their mask without touching the front of the mask.. Practice removing your mask safely at home with your child. Find a mask that fits your child well. Send your child to school with a paper bag for them to store their clean mask in during lunchtime and an extra mask in case their mask gets wet or dirty. Practice good hand hygiene at home. Send your child to school with hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol).
What should families keep in mind to stay safe as there is a surge from COVID-19 variants?
Be vigilant. Any new symptoms, however mild, need to be evaluated. Do not assume it is “just a cold” or “just allergies.” Use the ACPS daily symptom screener before your child leaves in the morning. If your child has symptoms and a negative antigen test, they need a PCR test and should stay home until it is safe to return to school, per health guidelines.
Recordings of Health and Safety Town Hall with Alexandria Health Department
Scheduling and Calendar
Will in-person school bell schedules remain the same as in previous years?
Yes, the schedules will be:
- Elementary School - 8:00 a.m. - 2:35 p.m. (Patrick Henry and Jefferson-Houston included)
- Middle School - 8:30 a.m. - 3:15 p.m.
- High School - 8:35 a.m. - 3:15 p.m.
Will students be expected to attend school in-person five days a week?
What is the requirement for parents/guardians who opt their child(ren) into the in-person learning model?
Parents/guardians who opt into the traditional in-person school will make a commitment to remain in the program of choice for a semester at which point they may choose to transition to either the in-person or virtual environment, if desired.
Note: If parents/guardians decide to return to in-person instruction during the quarter, it could mean that their student(s) will be assigned to a different teacher or a different school depending on available openings. Transportation offerings may also be limited.
Will in-person students follow the ACPS calendar?
Will there be requirements related to in-person teacher office hours and check-ins?
No. Although time-specific office hours are not a formal part of the master schedule, communication with families is an expectation for teachers as they resume their regular planning time duties. Teacher expectations for planning time include lesson planning, professional learning community participation, and communicating with parents and guardians.
When in-person teachers are out, will there be substitutes available to support instruction?
Do we need to commit to an entire school year with Virtual Virginia?
Students and families need to commit to a full semester. ACPS will pay tuition in advance for each semester and refunds are not available.
What happens if we decide to move our student from VVA back to our zoned (home) school after a semester?
Students who transition from Virtual Virginia to in-person learning will return to their zoned (home) school.
Can my student participate in extracurriculars and sports at their zoned (home) school?
Students enrolled at VVA can participate in extracurricular activities and/or athletics at their zoned (home) school.
How are communications handled between VVA, ACPS, students, and parents or guardians?
Each student will be assigned a mentor by ACPS, who will serve as a liaison between the student, the school counselor, Virtual Virginia instructors, and the student’s parent(s) or guardian(s).
How are my student’s records maintained at VVA? Do I have access? Does my zoned (home) school have access?
ACPS school staff will use the Virtual Virginia student information system (SIS) to enroll students in Virtual Virginia courses and otherwise track their progress. Parents and guardians can request an Auditor Account through their zoned (home) school. This enables parents/guardians to access teacher contact information, monitor student login activity, and view course grades, all within the VVA student information system.
How will my student meet the technology requirements of VVA?
ACPS will provide access to devices and the Internet (if needed) to participate in the virtual learning environment.
Virtual Virginia Parameters
What is Virtual Virginia (VVA)?
As a program of the Virginia Department of Education, Virtual Virginia (VVA) offers online Advanced Placement (AP), world language, core academic courses, and elective courses to students throughout the Commonwealth and nation.
What are the academic credentials of instructors for Virtual Virginia?
All teachers at Virtual Virginia are certified teachers with a Virginia endorsement. VVA trains teachers to best prepare them for online instruction aligned to the National Standards for Quality Online Teaching. Furthermore, VVA provides ongoing professional development throughout the year.
What is the Virtual Virginia website?
What is the mission of Virtual Virginia?
Virtual Virginia is a program of the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) serving students in Virginia schools by providing flexible options for meeting the diverse educational needs of students and their families. As a partner of Virginia public school divisions, the Virtual Virginia program offers access to a variety of online courses for students.
Is there a fee for ACPS students to attend Virtual Virginia?
The students enrolled in Virtual Virginia count towards the ACPS official Average Daily Membership (ADM), and this means that there is no loss of per-pupil funding. However, there is an enrollment fee for the semester or year-long courses, which ACPS will pay. Middle school students will take up to 7 classes per year. High school students will take up to 8 classes per year.
What are Virtual Virginia’s course offerings?
Virtual Virginia offers elementary, middle, and high school courses. Not all ACPS course offerings may be available via Virtual Virginia. Virtual Virginia offers online Advanced Placement (AP), World Languages, core academic, and elective courses.
What grade levels can participate in VIrtual Virginia?
Virtual Virginia is for grades K-12
How many days a week is Virtual Virginia offered?
Virtual Virginia provides synchronous and asynchronous instruction five days a week. Classes for students in grades K-5 take place five (5) days a week, Monday-Friday, with Wednesdays being a shortened day to allow for 1:1 and small group work. Classes for students in grades 6-12 take place four days a week, Monday-Thursday. Fridays are designed for 1:1 and small group work.
What are the instructional plans for elementary, middle school, and high school students? Can you provide example schedules?
The VVA teacher will facilitate daily synchronous instruction, Q+A sessions, 1:1, and small-group instructional time for learners during the week. VVA teachers hold posted office hours for regular student and parent communication, create weekly instructional videos and content as needed, and facilitate course pacing with opportunities for remediation and enrichment. Synchronous session absences will be reported to ACPS for record-keeping.
How does Virtual Virginia administer state and local (ACPS) testing requirements?
- In-person testing is required and arranged by ACPS staff
- VVA supports VDOE-required SOLs; all synchronous and asynchronous instruction is aligned to Virginia standards
- ACPS must arrange for ACPS-required assessments
What are the class requirements?
- Students must attend class at the times when courses are offered.
- Students must complete course requirements within the standards and timelines provided by their teachers.
How does the Virtual Virginia curriculum compare with ACPS’s curriculum?
The VVA curriculum:
- Consists of core courses + limited electives
- Is aligned with VDOE standards for core and elective courses, and national College Board standards for Advanced Placement courses
- Is not aligned with the ACPS curriculum for pacing + sequencing
What time of day are VVA classes offered? Is the instruction synchronous (that is, students and teachers are in the same place at the same time)?
- VVA classes are mostly synchronous instruction with daily asynchronous work to be completed each day
- Some secondary courses are offered between 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
What is the policy about cameras?
VVA requires K-5 students to have their cameras turned on during class. Students in grades 6-12 are encouraged to keep their cameras turned on, but are not required to.
Will students from other school districts be in my student’s VVA classes?
Yes, ACPS students will attend VVA classes with students from all over Virginia.
Is the VVA SEL curriculum aligned with a specific program or is it something VVA developed specifically for K-5? Does data drive your lesson selection? What data is being collected?
VVA content is developed in-house by Virginia educators. VVA uses Canvas data and other data from teachers and formative assessments for groupings to track progress and learning mastery.
Is Family Life Education offered at the elementary level? Is FLE part of Health and PE at the secondary level?
This curriculum is not included at the elementary or secondary level.
With classes five (5) days a week with most requiring attendance between 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., how do we meet 990 hours for Elementary School?
VVA is expecting guidance on this subject from the VDOE in the June/July timeframe. Dr. Brian Mott, Executive Director of Virtual Virginia, indicated the class schedule for VVA has been approved by VDOE in the past.
PE/Recess of 150 minutes - how is this done at the elementary level?
Per VVA, this is up to the local school division/base school. There are 70 minutes of breaks during the Virtual Virginia K-5 schedule, which can be used for movement breaks as needed. Virtual Virginia will also be offering supplemental classes in physical activity/wellness and dance during the week.
Is the expectation that students in grades 6-12 attend class and not just watch recorded lessons?
Students in grades 6-12 should attend their synchronous classes and only use recordings when they need to miss any classes. Students and families should always communicate if they need to miss a synchronous session.
How is attendance taken?
Attendance is based on when a student logs into Canvas. Home schools and parents/guardians are contacted when a student has not logged in for a certain number of days.
How will my student’s IEP be handled by VVA?
If a student has a 504, IEP, or TAG Plan, the School Administration and Student Support Team (SST) will meet to ensure the implementation of the plan. ACPS staff will provide direct special services during the student’s asynchronous time.
What type of work is in place to promote collaboration around SPED?
Case managers can get an Observer Account to see what the student sees (student view) and the student’s grades.
Could you please speak to EL/SPED/TAG services through VVA? Specifically, the collaboration with school staff if not offered by VVA?
VVA teachers look at the listed accommodations and connect with the listed mentor as determined by the school. This person can have the Canvas Observer account. The schedule has flexibility built in so any direct in-person instruction can also happen based on the local schedule.
Is it possible for ACPS teachers of Students With Disabilities (SWD) to co-teach with Virtual Virginia teachers or will ACPS be required to provide all special education service minutes during the asynchronous time?
Special Education services are provided separately from the synchronous session since there are students from other divisions attending at the same time. The EL or SPED services can be provided after synchronous and collaborative time.
Does VVA have SPED contacts in other current VVA divisions?
ACPS Office of Specialized Instruction is collaborating and consulting with Region 4 colleagues to develop programming for students with disabilities.
Please describe data collection for IEP goals?
Ideally, this would be done by both the VVA teacher and the ACPS support staff. VVA can share what they are finding via the student information system for specific forms that need to be filled out for IEPs/504 plans.
For special education students, ACPS collects data on the IEPs to determine if goals need to be modified, removed from IEPs, etc. Who is responsible for monitoring the goals to determine if progress is being made?
If a student has a 504, IEP, or TAG Plan, the School Administration + Student Support Team (SST) will meet to ensure the implementation of the plan. ACPS will develop a plan to gather and analyze student data and monitor student progress toward student goals.
Does VVA provide opportunities to support families' technical skills with navigating the Auditor account?
Communication from VVA begins in mid-June so families will know how to access and utilize the Auditor account.
Where can VVA-home communication be found in different languages?
Parents and students are invited to VVA Open Houses (in English) but the content will need to be translated. ACPS will work with VVA to help meet the needs of our families.
Is VVA able to differentiate parent support based on the amount of computer literacy, language proficiency, and/or other factors?
Per VVA, it is best for the local school district to partner with VVA to see what the needs are, such as translators. VVA conducts parent orientations and offers webinars to help provide a basic understanding of how to navigate the Auditor account. VVA also has a help desk available to provide assistance.
ACPS Virtual Virginia Meal Service
Will free meals be available for ACPS Virtual Virginia Students?
Yes, student meal services will be available for ACPS Virtual Virginia students but families must sign up using this link. Once you open the link you will have the option to select, pick up meals in person, or you may sign up to have meals delivered to you.
Where can the ACPS Virtual Virginia student meals be picked up and when?
Virtual Virginia student meals for ACPS can be picked up at the Minnie Howard Campus from 9:00-10:00 a.m. on Mondays (for Monday/Tuesday meals) and on Wednesdays (for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday meals).
What if I choose the ACPS Virtual Virginia meal delivery option?
At this time, only a limited number of meal deliveries are available to ACPS Virtual Virginia families, so they are being carried out on a first-come, first-serve basis. Meal deliveries will begin Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.
What happens if the meal delivery option is not available when I sign up?
Once we reach capacity for home deliveries, you will be redirected back to the link to sign up to pick up meals in person at the Minnie Howard Campus on the scheduled days and hours noted above.
Why do ACPS Virtual Virginia families need to sign up for this service?
Families need to sign up their ACPS Virtual Virginia student/students so we can add their names to our list. All ACPS Virtual Virginia students requesting meals will be verified, so preauthorization and sign-up must be completed first, in order for the meals to be released.
Additional Virtual Virginia Questions
What kinds of support will be available for English Learners who select Virtual Virginia as their Fall semester learning choice?
Per VVA, their teachers will look at the listed accommodations and connect with the listed mentor as determined by the school. This person can have the Canvas Observer account. The schedule has flexibility built in so any direct in-person instruction can also happen based on the local schedule.
What happens if I choose virtual but we move out of Alexandria during the school year? Can my child continue in Virtual Virginia?
Situations where a student who is enrolled in VVA through ACPS then transfers out of ACPS during the school year will be addressed on a case-by-case basis
If I choose Virtual Virginia and my student is not thriving, are they really stuck in that program until January?
Families are asked to commit to a semester because ACPS will pay in advance and not receive a refund if a student leaves during the semester. Families should consult with the assigned mentor at their zoned (home) school if they feel their student is not succeeding.
Can ACPS please provide exact dates as it relates to next year's virtual learning options? ACPS mentions both quarters and semesters in terms of the commitment.
Students and families need to commit to a full semester for Virtual Virginia. ACPS will pay tuition in advance for each semester and refunds are not available. ACPS will follow FY2/FB2/SB2 in the VVA Calendar (PDF). (These are categories for Full Year, Fall Block, and Spring Block in the calendar’s legend.)
- SY21-22 1st Semester Start: August 24, 2021
- SY21-22 1st Semester End: January 18, 2022
- SY21-22 2nd Semester Start: January 19, 2022
- SY21-22 2nd Semester End: May 27, 2022