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Trickling Back Into the Classroom in Alexandria
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Trickling Back Into the Classroom in Alexandria

Students and staff are all smiles and thumbs up behind their masks as English language learners returned to ACPS' T.C. Williams International Academy on March 9, 2021. Students had lots of room to remain socially distant.

Students and staff are all smiles and thumbs up behind their masks as English language learners returned to ACPS' T.C. Williams International Academy on March 9, 2021. Students had lots of room to remain socially distant. Photo contributed

Last week, certain young students arrived for their first day of school in Alexandria Public Schools. This week, some students returned to middle schools and T.C. Williams High School.

"Everyone was so excited to welcome back our students this morning. It has the energy of the first day of school — a mixture of nerves and excitement,” said T.C. Principal Peter Balas. “Seeing students and staff back in our buildings has re-energized all of us. While we may be doing a lot of things differently to ensure safety, it is like the kids had not missed a beat and got right back into the swing of things. I am truly grateful to our staff for their hard work and dedication in ensuring that we reunited with our students in a smooth and successful manner."

Superintendent, Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr., "This morning we welcomed the second group of students back into our middle schools and to T.C. Williams High School. Our schools were prepared and the administration was excited about seeing the students returning. It’s a refreshing feeling to be back in our buildings and to see our vibrant young people again.”

ACPS has implemented certain CDC guidance regarding ventilation to help reduce the risk for exposure to coronavirus. Proper HVAC operation and maintaining acceptable Indoor Air Quality is a collaborative effort between the offices of Educational Facilities and Maintenance and Custodial Services, according to school system documents. Schools are designed to ventilate outdoor air throughout the day to reduce the buildup of pollutants and odors by approximately 35% outside air.

Why not open windows to assist with ventilation?

From www.acps.k12.va.us/Page/3629:

“Some of our schools have older systems and equipment that have to be closely monitored and balanced. It is essential that these systems are balanced to provide clean, filtered air into interior classrooms and other spaces. Any deviation from air volume rates and temperature ranges has an impact across portions of the system and the area that it is serving. Thus, temperatures should be maintained through specific set point ranges to ensure the fans, motors, etc. are keeping up with air flow and outside temperature fluctuations. Based on these noted considerations, we are not recommending opening windows within classrooms/throughout the facility, as this brings in unfiltered air with more particulates, pollens, etc. into the interior spaces and destabilizes the air balance and relative humidity levels. This cross contaminates the filtered and outside air and can elevate moisture levels, increasing the risk of mold growth.”