Support #OneAPS, a Return to School model that prioritizes teachers AND students!

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July 18 clarification: Arlington Public Schools should be applauded for making an important, values-based decision to adjust the start of the school year. This OneAPS petition, however, is still relevant and important. 

Parents and teachers have to indicate a HybridAPS or VirtualAPS selection on Monday, July 20. Please be educated consumers and fully understand what the options are; some clarifications are below. By supporting OneAPS, you are sending a strong message that we need an alternative option that is pro-unity, pro-science and pro-equity. 

APS has not addressed the bifurcation of our school system. We don't need HybridAPS and VirtualAPS. We need OneAPS. And right now we still have two separate systems. The only difference is that HybridAPS will start the year online.

Student selections will still determine who returns to in-person school -- not teacher preferences -- which means that teachers may still be forced to return to school. Teachers who do not comply will have to take leave without pay, retire or quit.

  • HybridAPS students will not be guaranteed their own teachers.
  • HybridAPS teachers will not necessarily return to their own schools.
  • HybridAPS teachers may be required to teach classes they've never taught before. Do we really want a 6th grade English teacher teaching 11th grade English? Do we want a 5th grade teacher teaching 2nd grade?
  • VirtualAPS students have even fewer guarantees. It's possible they won't get APS teachers at all and may be enrolled in classes run by third party vendors.
  • Neither HybridAPS nor VirtualAPS students in high school will be guaranteed the courses they registered for. 

Individaul schools have no say in the above. All scheduling decisions for both teachers and students will be made by APS Central Office.

VirtualAPS schedules, which mirror in-person schedules and which include long class periods and full days of online learning, clearly indicate that APS is not considering brain research or following best practices for online instruction.

Guidance about masks shifted from "required" to "required only when 6 feet of physical distance can't be maintained," raising deep concerns about the commitment to safety protocols, which is also core to OneAPS. Language that parents WILL have a later opportunity to change their minds about Hybrid vs. Virtual appeared as MAY in the online FAQ, raising deep concerns about transparency and whether promises will be kept. Both of these have been fixed, thanks to eagle eyes and tireless advocacy from parents in the community. But concerns still remain. What will be the next mask or language issue?

APS made the right decision about protecting the health and safety of students, teachers and staff by taking a pause and starting online; they should be commended. But there is still much more work to do if we hope to achieve OneAPS. Please keep signing and sharing this petition.

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We urge Arlington Public Schools (APS) to abandon the two-tiered Return to School model in which the school system would be split between the hybrid track and the full time virtual track.

APS should instead implement the #OneAPS model. This will keep APS as one, united school system; protect the health and safety of students, teachers and staff; will not force teachers into options that might precipitate mass resignation; and support our most vulnerable learners.

Under the #OneAPS model:

  • APS will create a robust online learning platform and provide training for how to teach virtually. (See this article and Driver #3.) 
  • All students begin school online and receive synchronous (live) online instruction four days a week (Tuesday through Friday) after Labor Day. The delayed start allows for intensive teacher training.
  • Mondays remain planning days for teachers, intervention days for small groups and asynchronous (independent) learning days for the majority of students.
  • When public health officials deem conditions safe to reopen, survey teachers to see who is comfortable returning to school for in-person support. NO teacher will be forced into this option.
  • Depending on the number of teachers available for in-person support, calculate the number of seats available. Allot those seats to our most vulnerable students:
    • Students with Disabilities (IEPs and 504s)
    • English Learners (ELLs)
    • Our youngest students (PreK-3rd grade) who cannot be left home alone nor are they able to learn independently
    • Students who rely on APS for social services and meals
    • Children of APS teachers who return to in-person service
  • Conduct a double-blind lottery for the remaining seats, should there be any additional capacity.
  • Assign returning students to pods of no more than 20, and pair each pod with a teacher (immersion pods may require a slightly different structure) who will provide support to those students. Pods will remain with their assigned teacher all day long and won't interact with other pods.
    • If someone from a pod gets sick or is exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID, contract tracing will be much more efficient and fewer students and teachers may be required to quarantine.
  • Instruction will remain ONLINE for ALL APS students. Students who attend in person -- conceivably 4 days per week -- will receive the same online instruction as those at home, but the teachers present will be there to provide clarification, support and, as indicated, interventions.
  • Re-open school buildings with strict health protocols including:
    • Masks required and worn by everyone except those who are unable to due to medical conditions or disabilities
    • Social distancing of at least 6 feet
    • Consider plexiglass dividers, as feasible
    • Enhanced HVAC systems
    • Robust and clearly-defined protocols for a response to a COVID case in the school
    • Cleaning shared surfaces between use by different students, teachers and/or staff
  • Throughout the year, robust online instruction, social/emotional learning AND community building activities will be ongoing for ALL APS students. #OneAPS
    • Students remain in their home schools, taught by their teachers and grouped with their classmates
    • All students receive the same amount of instructional and TA (homeroom) time
    • Students who have returned to in-person learning will join in, virtually, from the various school buildings they're in
  • If COVID19 numbers spike and buildings need to close, the robust online learning will already be in place and can continue, without disruption. Everyone will go back home for 100% online school, conducted virtually.
  • Survey teachers regularly. If the public health situation gets to a place where more teachers feel comfortable returning to in-person service, increase in-person capacity and conduct another double-blind lottery to fill the seats.

By protecting our community and opening slowly and strategically, we should be able to reopen all APS schools fully, much sooner, which we know is a goal shared by everyone. 

By investing in a creative and robust online learning model and empowering our teachers through evidence-based training in how to teach online, we will be setting APS up for success well into the future. No more snow days! No more worries about future pandemics... or spikes from the current one. To achieve this, though, APS will need to think creatively and come up with ways that students can get their educational and social/emotional needs met, ONLINE. There are some interesting models emerging around the world. Let’s take some of the best ideas for disrupting education and bring them here to Arlington, Virginia. Please.

By adopting the #OneAPS model:

  • We avoid making teachers choose between their love for their students and their own health and well-being.
  • We avoid disadvantaging our students with disabilities, many of whom cannot choose the current hybrid model because of health concerns.
  • We avoid setting our most vulnerable learners up for what we know will be a period of significant regression.
  • We avoid pitting members of our community against each other as they take sides and spew vitriol.

These are unprecedented times that require new and creative thinking and thoughtful ideas.

We recognize that the 2020-2021 school year will be an uncharted one that will require tremendous flexibility from our teachers, students and administrators... and kindness from our entire community for our entire community.

We need to invent an entirely new model for delivering instruction, services, and social/emotional support. We need leadership.

We call on Superintendent Duran and members of the Arlington Public School Board to consider the needs of our most vulnerable students and our teachers, rethink the divisive and inadequate models that have been presented, and choose instead to unite Arlington with the #OneAPS model. 

This is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that APS is a true leader in education. It will not be easy, but we believe that our community, our new Superintendent, our School Board, our educators and our students are up to the challenge.

(A letter with full details for this model was delivered via email to Dr. Duran, each member of the APS School Board -- Chairperson Monique O'Grady, Vice Chairperson Barbara Kanninen, and members Reid Goldstein, Tannia Talento and Nancy Van Doren -- and APS staff via engage@apsva.us on July 9, 2020. Confirmation of receipt was emailed back.) 



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