ACPS plans to stay mostly virtual through December

ACPS plans to stay mostly virtual through December

By Missy Schrott |

Early Wednesday morning, Alexandria City Public Schools announced plans for all students, with the exception of those with disabilities, to continue virtual learning at least until January.

ACPS Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings, Ed.D., will present the plans for the second quarter of the school year, which runs Nov. 4 through Jan. 28, to the school board at 4 p.m. today.

Specifically, the plan calls for phased re-entry of students with disabilities beginning on Nov. 5. Phased re-entry for all students is proposed to begin in January 2021. However, ACPS has not released details about these quarter three plans yet.

The phased re-entry for students with disabilities is slated to begin Nov. 5 with 60 kindergarten through second grade students. The plan adds an additional 55 third through fifth grade students on Nov. 17 and another 300 pre-K through fifth grade students on Nov. 30. The plan proposes that the students with disabilities be taught at Jefferson-Houston School.

It is unclear how many students ACPS plans to return to an in-person or hybrid learning model in quarter three. Hutchings’ proposal to the school board recommends that staff plan for English learner students to return to in-person classes in January 2021. It also proposes establishing “teaching and learning centers” for kindergarten through fifth grade students that would open in quarter three “to accommodate childcare and other services.”

The public school systems in neighboring Arlington and Fairfax counties have outlined more expedited approaches to getting students back in classrooms during quarter two.

Arlington Public Schools plans to make in-person learning available to students with disabilities in October, pre-K through second grade students on Nov. 10, third through fifth grade students on Dec. 1 and all other secondary students who wish to return in January.

Fairfax County Public Schools has already begun its phased return to in-person learning with students involved in certain career preparatory programs, such as firefighting classes. Throughout October, FCPS plans to make in-person learning available to students in additional career preparatory programs, as well as certain English learners and elementary school students.

The majority of private schools in Alexandria began the school year with either hybrid or completely in-person learning models.

Last week, Theogony, the T.C. Williams High School student newspaper, reported that Hutchings enrolled his daughter, a former ACPS student, at Bishop Ireton High School this year. B.I. is a private high school that began the school year with a hybrid in-person and virtual learning program.

“I can confirm that our family made a decision to change my daughter’s school this school year,” Hutchings said in a statement. “Decisions like these are very personal family decisions and are not taken lightly. This in no way impacts my absolute lifelong commitment to public education, to which I remain as personally dedicated as ever.”

Hutchings told the Washington Post that the decision “absolutely has no relationship to virtual learning.”