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Security and schedule changes take effect at Alexandria City High School after fatal stabbing

Alexandria City High School (ACHS) will have a modified schedule this week as the school’s community reels from the killing of a student last week at a nearby shopping center.

Principal Peter Balas said in a message to the community that the school will have virtual asynchronous learning and SOL exams. ACHS staff will be in classrooms providing virtual instruction and will be available to proctor exams and be available to any student in need of social-emotional support or socialization.

The changes come after Luis Mejia Hernandez was fatally stabbed outside the Bradlee Shopping Center McDonalds’ during a large brawl. No arrests have been made in connection to the incident.

“With all of this weighing on us, as well as continuing to monitor the ongoing investigation with the Alexandria Police Department (APD), I have made some decisions in collaboration with Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. and ACPS leadership regarding the week of May 31, 2022,” Balas said.

Some students and seniors will be required to attend school in-person:

  • Seniors who need to complete graduation requirements.
  • Seniors who must participate in graduation rehearsal (June 3).
  • Students who must fulfill SOL or other required testing.
  • Students in ACHS city-wide specialized instructional program.

In a separate release, Balas also informed the community of new security measures that will be in place for the rest of the school year. Those include:

  • Additional Alexandria Police Department (APD) Detail Officer support will be deployed to the King Street and Minnie Howard campuses.
  • Additional security officers will be deployed to the King Street and Minnie Howard campuses for interior and exterior supervision.
  • Use of select entry/access points at King Street and Minnie Howard campuses will be restricted.
  • Additional staff coverage will be in place for monitoring entry/exit doors at the King Street and Minnie Howard campuses.

Student IDs will be required to access ACHS campuses starting today (Tuesday), including students arriving by bus. In an effort to reduce hallway traffic volume, classes will be transitioned via school-wide announcements. The lunch sessions are also changed to halve the number of students at lunch at any given time at the King Street campus.

For the rest of the school year, athletic competitions will also be taking place at away fields or non-ACHS fields within the city of Alexandria.

“Finally, we are working in collaboration with the APD, City of Alexandria leadership and representatives from the Bradlee Shopping Center on additional measures that will be considered,” Balas wrote.

The full release regarding the new school schedule from Balas is available below:

Dear ACHS Families,

I would like to thank you all for your continued support of our Titan students and staff. The past week has been unlike any other in my career. Our Titan community has suffered two very personal losses while also reeling from the impact of the national school tragedy in Uvalde, Texas. My heart goes out to all Titan students, staff and families as we traverse this incredibly painful time together. This year has been far from normal. And, it is important that we do not try to normalize it. We must band together to support each other now, next week, and into the future.

With all of this weighing on us, as well as continuing to monitor the ongoing investigation with the Alexandria Police Department (APD), I have made some decisions in collaboration with Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. and ACPS leadership regarding the week of May 31, 2022. I want to inform you that all four campuses of Alexandria City High School (ACHS) will operate on a modified return from Tues., May 31 through Fri., June 3, 2022.

During this modified return, the school will focus on social, emotional and academic learning to help fulfill critical in-person graduation requirements and provide students with the social-emotional support they need. The ACHS staff will be working from their classrooms to provide asynchronous instruction, proctor SOL exams and be available to any student in need of in-person social-emotional support or socialization. In addition, the following students are expected to report in person during regular school hours for the week of May 31, 2022:

  • Seniors who need to complete graduation requirements.
  • Seniors who must participate in graduation rehearsal (June 3).
  • Students who must fulfill SOL or other required testing.
  • Students in ACHS city-wide specialized instructional program.

All other students will participate in asynchronous virtual learning. These students should log in to Canvas to complete any assignments or school work virtually.

Details for Students Expected to Report to ACHS in Person
ACPS will provide the regular bus and meal services for ACHS students, who should plan to arrive at the start of the school day.

Social-Emotional Supports: Any students in need of in-person social-emotional supports may report to their campus in person any day this week. Staff at ACHS and the ACPS Office of Student Services and Equity have planned support and counseling for our students throughout the day. In addition to social-emotional supports, students will have opportunities to complete their asynchronous learning assignments in their classrooms.

Senior Requirement Completion: Any seniors who need to take a test or work with staff to complete any coursework prior to graduation should report to school in person. It is very important for our seniors to complete all requirements prior to commencement on June 4, 2022.

Testing: Any students who need to take an SOL test or another required test should report to their campus in person to complete this testing. Seniors who need tests to graduate will begin testing on Tues., May 31, 2022 as scheduled. Make-up tests and expedited retakes will happen throughout the week as previously scheduled. The math SOL (June 1) and social studies SOL (June 2) will still take place as scheduled at the King Street Campus. All students who need to take the SOL or another test will receive a message via Canvas from the Titan Testing Team.

Athletics & After-school activities: For the remainder of the school year, athletic competitions will be taking place at away fields or on non-ACHS fields within the City of Alexandria. The ACHS administration will review all after-school activities to ensure that student events are fully supported.

As I shared last Friday, we have put in place additional safety and security measures, which will continue to be implemented as part of the modified return. I would also like to update you on a reported threat to the Minnie Howard Campus. After further investigation by the Alexandria Police Department (APD), this threat was deemed not credible. I truly thank and appreciate our students, staff, families and community for reporting this potential threat so that it could be fully investigated.

Thank you again for your patience and flexibility as we continue to support our students, staff and families.

Sincerely,

Peter Balas, Executive Principal

Alexandria City High School

King Street Campus

Minnie Howard Campus

Satellite Campus

Chance for Change Campus

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