(Updated at 7 p.m.) Alexandria City Public Schools will be closing Monday until April 14 — after spring break — due to the coronavirus outbreak, Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. announced in an email at noon on Friday.
“Although the Alexandria Health Department is not recommending schools to close at this time, multiple issues are impacting the ability for our schools to function effectively and efficiently,” Hutchings wrote. “Therefore, all ACPS schools will be closed as of Monday, March 16, 2020. We are currently planning to close until after spring break (April 6-13, 2020) and will continue to monitor the situation throughout this period of time.”
ACPS has a plan to feed students on free and reduced lunch. Starting Monday, the school system will provide free emergency meals for “any child under 18 and any family who needs it.”
According to the school system, there are two ways to access food while schools are closed:
- Individual Meals to Go: Any child between the ages of 2 and 18 – whether or not they are eligible for Free or Reduced Price Meals – can pick up a meal to go in a bag. Stop by the Chinquapin Drive side of T.C. Williams High School (door 14) between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. to pick up a meal-to-go. You do not need to fill out any forms to pick up a meal-to-go.
- Family Meal Packs: You can order a family meal pack online and pick it up at the drive through pick-up point outside Chinquapin Recreation Center (Chinquapin Drive side of T.C. Williams High School, door 14) between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m the following day. If transportation is an issue, please remember to check the box to request meal delivery. Fill out the form to request a family meal pack: https://www.acps.k12.va.us/emergency-mealform
ALXnow was the first to report the closure on Friday morning, and the news comes a day after Hutchings appeared in a web conference with city and health officials, saying that the school system was not closing and was closely monitoring the pandemic.
Fairfax County closed schools Friday and cancelled all school trips and extracurricular activities. Loudoun County closed its schools from Thursday until March 20. Arlington Public Schools have cancelled or postponed non-essential events, schools in the District will be closed the remainder of the month starting March 16, and all public schools in Maryland are closing from March 16 through March 27.
Additionally, Bishop Ireton High School announced that it would be closed on Friday.
A message from Head of School Kathleen McNutt on Bishop Ireton’s closure on Friday, March 13, 2020. pic.twitter.com/rBwd7gOS20
— Bishop Ireton High School (@bishopiretonhs) March 13, 2020
The city reported its first presumptive positive case of coronavirus on Wednesday night, and earlier this week Hutchings reported that some students and staff at five schools were self-isolating in their respective homes.
The full message to parents is below.
Dear ACPS Families,
During the past several days we have heard concerns from parents and staff about keeping our schools open while the coronavirus response escalates in our region and around the country. Please know the safety and well being of our young people is always the top priority in ACPS. The mental, physical and emotional health of our students is at the forefront of our decision-making during this coronavirus situation.
At this time, we have no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in our schools, and the Alexandria Health Department has not determined community-spread of the coronavirus in the City of Alexandria. We have a number of staff and students who are self-quarantining and will be out for several weeks. Closures in our region are also impacting our ability to fully staff our schools.
Although the Alexandria Health Department is not recommending schools to close at this time, multiple issues are impacting the ability for our schools to function effectively and efficiently.
Therefore, all ACPS schools will be closed as of Monday, March 16, 2020. We are currently planning to close until after spring break (April 13, 2020) and will continue to monitor the situation throughout this period of time.
Our food services team is making arrangements for students to be provided meals while schools remain closed. Additional details will be sent later today.
During our closure, a daily update will be sent out via ACPS Express around 1 p.m to all families and community members who are signed up to receive these updates. Sign up for ACPS Express now. There will be a webinar at 3 p.m. every day to answer questions from families. We will send more information with specific details about this on Monday, March 16, 2020.
Please make sure your contact information is current in our system so that you can receive all correspondence from the school division during this time. Please contact your registrar today if you need to update your contact information in our system. For more details, see the FAQ on the ACPS website, information below or visit our coronavirus webpage at www.acps.k12.va.us/coronavirus
We thank you for your support during this difficult time and appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve our students and staff throughout this closure. More details about operations during closure will be provided later today. Daily updates will begin on Monday, March 16, 2020.
Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools
What work will be happening in our school facilities while schools are closed?
Every building will be deep cleaned while schools are closed. Other contracted work will continue as planned.
How can I get internet access at home?
Sign up for Comcast Internet Essentials. Visit www.internetessentials.com.
- Comcast is offering a FREE 60 day service and then $9.95/month
- New customers receive a free self-install kit that includes a cable modem with a Wi-Fi router. There will be no term contract or credit check and no shipping fee.
- For assistance call 1-855-846-8376 for English and 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.
How do I continue to get updates?
Make sure your contact information is up to date and you are able to receive information at this critical time.
Any member of the community can sign up to receive updates via ACPS Express. Sign up for ACPS Express now. An update will be shared via ACPS Express daily at 1 p.m.
An outline of emergency communication methods can be found on the ACPS website.
How will my child learn while schools are closed?
Instructional packets are going home today for elementary school students. Those students who have access to Chromebooks will be taking them home today. Instructional packets will be posted on the ACPS website for easy access.
Will there be other instructional supports?
ACPS-TV will be running educational content from 9 a.m. through noon each day. More information will be sent out on Monday.
Will there be continued access to food?
ACPS School Nutrition Services is continuing to develop a plan for providing food for students in need. Further information about meal availability will be communicated in the near future.
Families in need may also contact our local food pantry at https://www.alive-inc.org/ or 703-837-9300.
What should I do if someone in our family experiences coronavirus-like symptoms?
Individuals who need medical care should contact their primary care physician to report their illness or contact Neighborhood Health.