A little over two months after School Board members killed off the Arlington Public Schools’ virtual-learning program for the coming school year, the school system is gearing up to appoint a task force to study future moves.
May 6 at 4 p.m. is the deadline for applications from those who wish to serve on the 30-member body, which will include staff, students, family members and the community, school officials said.
(For information on the task force, see the Website at https://apsva.us/engage/vlp-task-force/.)
The looming task-force effort may be of scant comfort to the families of the nearly 600 Arlington students who have been participating in the virtual-learning effort this year. School Board members on Feb. 17 rubber-stamped a staff recommendation that the program be put on hold for the 2022-23 school year.
The decision sparked outrage among some parents whose children are enrolled in the program, a remnant of the virtual-learning environment into which all Arlington public-school students were relegated from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 until nearly a year later.
At that Feb. 17 meeting, School Board member Cristina Diaz-Torres acknowledged that a virtual-learning option was needed, but said the existing program simply was not delivering. She pointed to a cascade of “many mistakes that were made” as the “VLP” initiative, as it is known, began at the start of the 2021-22 school year.
The virtual-only option attracted a small fraction of the school system’s 27,000 students, but they were in some cases the most vulnerable. The program’s chaotic rollout last fall, and subsequent decision to put it on hiatus, drew condemnation from the Arlington branch of the NAACP, which said it was the latest failing of an effort that has been “fundamentally flawed since its inception.”
For the 2022-23 school year, some students will be eligible to participate in a state-run online-learning program, if they meet medical criteria. Other students will either have to come back to class or find alternate educational arrangements.