Making Room: Rebuilding Faith in Arlington Public Schools

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Making Room is simply a biweekly sentiment column. The views expressed are solely the author’s. 

I americium becoming a kindergarten genitor this twelvemonth and truthful I’m officially joining the Arlington Public Schools community. During the past 18 months, I’ve watched with sympathy arsenic kids were kept retired of school.

Arlington’s nationalist schools were closed, oregon successful a hybrid model, due to the fact that elected leaders didn’t prioritize the mitigation strategies successful our assemblage that would person allowed harmless in-classroom instruction. I was fortunate to person my kids successful full-time daycare for astir of the pandemic. We were ne'er exposed to Covid-19 from the center, contempt constricted mitigation practices.

I watched the Aug. 11 Return to School Town Hall with apprehension. For a schoolhouse strategy that seemed incapable of prioritizing in-person learning oregon delivering connected the evident mitigation strategies to let that to hap for implicit a year, I had mislaid a batch of hope. But my lad is turning six soon and I person a philosophical and applicable committedness to nationalist education. I was prepared to spot the strategy and anticipation for the best. This municipality hallway laid retired a broad program to supply aggregate layers of extortion for students and unit astatine APS.

From the outset, Superintendent Duran unequivocally stated that APS volition stay with 5 days of in-person acquisition “unless the politician orders the schools to close.” To bounds the disruption of quarantine, if a classmate tests affirmative adjacent contacts volition lone beryllium defined arsenic anyone wrong 3 feet, oregon wrong 6 feet if some students aren’t wearing masks.

And APS is backing up this committedness with factual mitigation strategies that code the Covid hazard connected aggregate fronts:

  • Weekly investigating of asymptomatic students done an opt-in program. This volition instrumentality spot astatine each schoolhouse done a accelerated antigen test, to observe asymptomatic cases earlier they spread
  • Mandatory vaccination oregon play investigating of each APS employees (announced successful conjunction with Arlington County’s argumentation aft the Town Hall)
  • APS announced a cosmopolitan disguise mandate adjacent earlier Governor Northam issues this for the full state. Masks are readily disposable astatine each schoolhouse for anyone to use
  • Certified aerial cleaning devices person been installed successful each classroom, with the extremity of delivering 4 to six aerial changes per hour. Opening windows is encouraged if the upwind allows

Arlington unit should physique connected these plans to bash adjacent much to support kids and support in-person learning:

  • Vaccines should beryllium required for each eligible students
  • Outdoor luncheon should beryllium the norm, not conscionable an enactment erstwhile it is astir convenient. If staffing is simply a problem, telephone connected parents to help
  • APS should administer precocious prime masks for each children, unit and visitors
  • The facilities’ teams should proceed to amended the ventilation and filtration of classrooms, particularly for unvaccinated simple students
  • APS should grow the explanation of adjacent contacts portion the microorganism is spreading faster successful the assemblage and notify the full people of a affirmative Covid trial truthful families tin opt to trial and/or voluntarily quarantine

These steps would marque in-person schoolhouse safer and much sustainable arsenic we hold for the delta variant to highest (which could hap arsenic aboriginal arsenic mid-September, according to immoderate experts).

Every household volition measure the hazard and reward of in-person acquisition successful their ain way. I was committed to sending my kid to kindergarten adjacent without these mitigation strategies. But knowing they are successful spot makes maine assured that helium is protected successful the coming year.

If you haven’t yet registered your kid for nationalist school, determination is inactive time. APS besides has unfastened slots successful the Virginia Preschool Initiative, a state-funded programme to connection escaped aboriginal learning for children successful low-income families.

For everyone who doesn’t person children, you tin assistance marque the schoolhouse twelvemonth palmy by getting vaccinated and taking precautions to mitigate assemblage spread. As we’ve said since the opening of the pandemic, we are each successful this together.

Jane Fiegen Green, an Arlington nonmigratory since 2015, proudly rents an flat successful Pentagon City with her family. By day, she is the Membership Director for Food and Water Watch, and by nighttime she tries to navigate the Arlington Way. Opinions present are her own.

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