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ACPS to open five days a week this fall as CDC school distancing guidelines reduced to 3 feet

Alexandria City Public Schools plan on opening for five-day instruction this fall, Superintendent gregory Hutchings, Jr. reported to the School Board on Thursday night.

Hutchings said that the transition back to in-person hybrid instruction on March 2, March 9 and March 16, has been “seamless,” and that the Board will receive a logistical update in April.

“We’re planning to come back to five days a week,” Hutchings told the Board. “We’re looking at the CDC guidelines that, hopefully, will allow us to do that with no guidelines. We’re also working to plan for five days a week, if we have three-foot social distancing and if we have six feet social distancing (as well as no restrictions).”

Today (Friday), the CDC shortened its distancing guidelines for kids in schools with face masks to three feet, a move that the school system anticipated.

Hutchings said that the school system will continue hybrid instruction next fall.

“We also understand that some of our families are still going to want in the fall their children to be a part of some type of virtual experience,” he said. “They still may not be comfortable, or may not be able for their children to return back into an in-person learning setting, and we are planning to develop our virtual curriculumvery different from the curriculum that we currently have in place, but a true virtual curriculum for students who may not return into our school buildings so that we can still provide a rigorous and engaging virtual learning experience.”

Some parents want in-person instruction five days a week starting now.

“We are thrilled our kinder student us back in school, even though it is only two days a week,” said Bill Blackburn, whose son attends Mount Vernon Community School in Del Ray. “My son’s only complaint was not being able to talk while eating lunch. All things considered, things went well for us and we hope to see more kids and more teachers back in person sooner rather than later.”

Governor Ralph Northam was in Alexandria in January to see some ACPS staff get their first round of inoculations. As previously reported, around half of the school staff were uncomfortable returning to work when surveyed last fall, and Hutchings has been concerned with capacity and staffing issues.

ACPS will also open a poll on March 22 to see how many staffers have been vaccinated. The employees will have the following choices:

  • Choose not to disclose vaccination status
  • Declining vaccination
  • Waiting for first vaccination appointment
  • Received first dose, waiting to receive second dose
  • Completely vaccinated

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