Get Ready for the First Day of School

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This will be our last edition of Express before the start of the 2020-21 academic year — a time in education like no other in history.

Despite the many challenges, ACPS is prepared, confident and excited to launch Virtual PLUS+ next Tuesday. As we step into unchartered territory, it is important to remember that we all play a part in the success of this program. Your feedback and engagement is as important as ever and will continue to be so as the weeks progress. We must try to remain flexible, patient and hopeful knowing that this is not forever and we will look forward to the day when we can get back into our classrooms again. 

I know many of us are feeling apprehensive as we face juggling roles of parent/guardian, teacher and employee. Assistance is at hand whenever you need it and today we will remind you of the multiple resources available to you.

As with last week’s newsletter, there is a lot to take in today. We will try our best not to overload you by sharing only the most important information. Two areas which we have received many questions about is how we are handling attendance and grading. We will be addressing attendance this week and grading next week.

Also today, we are going to recap some of the critical components like technology access and nutrition services. If you have the time on Sunday or Monday, I recommend a quick dry run to make sure you are familiar with schedules and comfortable with the technology, and that those laptops or tablets are fully charged!

Please be sure to check out our Back-to-School guide which contains a host of useful information, and ensure you know about the latest changes allowing all children between the ages of two and 18 access to free meals.

Last week, I was delighted that ACPS and the City of Alexandria were able to announce the provision of free school-day and after-school support for our most vulnerable families whose children attend Title I schools. The closure of school buildings affects everyone. The impact of the pandemic has the potential to be challenging if a parent or guardian is unable to work because there is no one to take care of their children. I am glad we are able to provide some support to families, underlining our commitment to providing an equitable education accessible to all the young people of Alexandria.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay informed, and please enjoy a relaxing Labor Day weekend with your families. We look forward to a great first day of school.


Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools

Get Tech-Ready: Chromebook/Tablet Distribution

This week, we began handing out Chromebooks and tablets to those elementary school families and newly-enrolled students in grades four to 12. Next week we will hand out devices to our pre-K students. We are aware that lines at our school distribution sites have been long at times and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we roll out a program that will ensure every single ACPS student has access to the technology they need to engage with Virtual PLUS+.

See the Chromebook and Tablet Distribution Schedule. Any family that is unable to pick up their device should call their school’s front office to get assistance. 

Have more questions or device issues? Our Tech Services Helpdesk is here for you. Request help through the Chromebook/Tablet Help Request form.

Get Tech-Ready: Tech Training Videos and the Family Helpdesk

Before Tuesday morning, check out the Technology Family Helpdesk for all your Virtual PLUS+ technology needs and to request help.

See the tech training videos we have produced to make sure you and your child are familiar with how to access class and other vital technology information that is key to your child’s success this semester.

ACPS Tech Tutorials Playlist:

Internet Access for ACPS Families

ACPS has partnered with Comcast to provide eligible families with free internet at home for the 2020-21 school year. After the request form has been submitted, ACPS will provide families with a unique promo code to sign up for free home internet through Comcast’s Internet Essentials program.

Families may complete our Internet Access Request Form to request the Comcast promo code, or to request a Kajeet Wi-Fi device.

Attendance Requirements for Virtual PLUS+

If students are missing from class, it is a parent/guardian’s responsibility to inform their school by phone or email, just as if we were physically in our buildings. You can find the contact details by searching “report an absence” on your school’s website. You can report an absence under the “Contact Us” tab of your school’s website.

If a student does not attend and their family does not report the absence, the school will follow up to determine the reason and try to assist if needed. If the student continues to be absent, the school will call a conference to problem-solve and develop a plan to support stronger attendance.

See the full Virtual PLUS+ Attendance Requirements.

Key Points for Attendance:

  • On Mondays at 4 p.m., teachers will check to see who has logged in through the Clever or Canvas app and mark students who have engaged in asynchronous activity as being present for the day. If not, they will be marked absent.
  • On Tuesdays-Fridays, attendance is taken based upon a student’s presence in a synchronous session. Students will be marked absent if they do not attend their synchronous class session. 
  • If a student is marked absent, parents or guardians have three days to contact the school to provide an excuse to the school for the absence, such as technical difficulties or illness. This is the same as during a typical school year. 
  • Robocalls will go out to families starting at 6 p.m. when a student is marked as absent during that day.
  • Attendance is expected for those students enrolled in pre-K, although these students do not have a compulsory attendance component.

Complete Your Back-to-School Forms

Check your mailboxes! The Virtual PLUS+ Back-to-School Forms packet should arrive no later than Friday. Don’t forget to fill out the forms before September 15. Complete them online in Virtual PLUS+ Parent Access (PowerSchool) or return the paper forms to your child’s registered school

Completion of these forms is critical! The information is needed to keep records up to date and to help us keep you informed throughout the year.

UPDATE! Free Food Access for All to Continue Through December 2020

The United States Department of Agriculture and Virginia Department of Education have just announced that their free meal program will now continue through Dec. 31, 2020. 

All children aged two to 18-years-old and any ACPS student over the age of 18 will have access to meals at the ACPS food distribution sites until the end of the year, regardless of their paying status. Children do not need to be registered ACPS students to qualify for food.

This means that families will not need to use their ACPS Digital Meal Pass until Jan. 1, 2021 at the earliest. If you have already received your Digital Meal Pass, hold onto it and keep it safe! You may need this in January.

ACPS has multiple food distribution sites throughout Alexandria for all ACPS students and children over the age of two. For a full list of sites and times, see the Virtual PLUS+ Food Access webpage.

Back to School Guide

We all know the start to this academic year is going to be very different for us all, so we have compiled a helpful Back to School Guide to provide a quick reference.

This includes the dates of back-to-school nights, the academic calendar, supply lists, tech help, and more. Make sure you are ready for school next week!

Free School-Day & Afterschool Support for Eligible Families

ACPS will expand its Virtual PLUS+ program to include up to 350 full-day spots for vulnerable students in the fall, thanks to new funding from the City of Alexandria.

The Virtual PLUS+ partners will provide free, full-day supervision with the City’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities (RPCA) on-site at either an ACPS school site or RPCA facility with full internet access.

This free, full school-day program will consist of technology access, food access, and supervision of access to online classes, in line with the ‘PLUS’ in the Virtual PLUS+ model that ACPS has adopted for the fall. 

Find out about the eligibility criteria and how to apply for a spot.

Family Helpline is Now Open!

If you have questions or need support on any aspect of Virtual PLUS+, you can now text or call the multilingual Virtual PLUS+ Helpline.

Our team of 15 staff are available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday to help you get answers to your questions about:

  • social, emotional or academic support
  • technology
  • child care options
  • food access

For English: Call 703-844-1763
For Spanish: Call 703-844-3424
For Arabic: Call 703-927-7095
For Amharic: Call 703-927-6866

Note: The hotline will not be available on Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 7).

Have questions? Email

Pre-K Spots Still Available for September

ACPS offers free preschool to qualifying families through the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI). The purpose of VPI is to provide quality early childhood programs for at-risk four year-olds. VPI is a program designed for families who might not otherwise be able to access quality early childhood education opportunities. See more details on the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) webpage.

Support the Virtual PLUS+ Student Supply Drive

It is not too late to help make sure every child in our community has the materials they need to succeed this academic year.

This year, we are not asking for physical items to be donated due for the risk of COVID-19 contamination, but instead are appealing for financial assistance to support the following:

  • Virtual PLUS+ Basic Supply Kits
  • Technology Access
  • Teacher Designated Projects

Find more information and how to donate.

Adult Education Registration

The ACPS Adult Education Program will hold in-person registration at Central Office from Sept. 8 through Sept. 18 for day and evening classes. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment, send an email to 

Walk the Block With Us!

Alexandria Moves and Safe Routes To School have planned Alexandria Walk the Block, a citywide initiative to promote healthy and safe physical activity for Alexandria’s residents during the academic school year. 

On the first day of school, before your student logs in to their first class, take a quick stroll together to get mind and body moving.

T.C. Williams Renaming Process School Board Work Session

On Aug. 27, 2020, a draft of the communications and community engagement plan for the proposed T.C. Williams High School name change was shared with the School Board during its work session. The proposal to consider a change of name for the school is one of the areas of focus for the 2020-21 school year.

Who We Are

Sometimes we all need a reminder about who we are, what we stand for, and where we have come from.

We hope you enjoy this short but inspiring video about ACPS.

Accepting Community Fliers Again

ACPS is now accepting submissions of community fliers to be available on school websites, school newsletters and ACPS Express. Each submission costs $10 per school for one month. All funds go to our contracted vendor, Peachjar, who provides this service on our behalf. 

ACPS offers this service as part of our commitment to our non-profit and not-for-profit community partners. For instructions on posting a community flier, see the Flier Distribution page on the ACPS website. ACPS will not be offering to distribute any paper copies at this time.


The food distribution below will continue until Sept. 4. Starting Sept. 9, food distribution at school locations will be available an additional hour, from 8 a.m. to noon.


Grab and Go breakfast and lunch meals are available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. at the following locations:

  • William Ramsay Elementary School
    5700 Sanger Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22311
  • Francis C. Hammond Middle School
    4646 Seminary Road, Alexandria, VA 22304
  • Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology
    3600 Commonwealth Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305
  • Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School
    1501 Cameron Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
  • T.C. Williams High School
    3330 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22304

And available at our “Pop-Up” sites located at:

  • Mason Apartments at South Reynolds Street, Alexandria, VA 22304
    10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Brent Place Apartments at 375 South Reynolds Street, Alexandria, VA 22304
    11:20 to 11:50 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Ruby Tucker Family Center at 322 Tancil Court, Alexandria, VA 22314
    10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Community Lodgings at 607 Notabene Drive, Alexandria, VA 22305
    10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Old Towne West Apartments (parking lot) at 500 South Alfred Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
    11:20 to 11:50 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Corner of Florence Drive and Four Mile Road, Alexandria, VA 22305
    10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • The Fields at 4309 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22304
    10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Bennington Crossing Apartments at 441 North Armistead Street, Alexandria, VA 22312
    11:30 a.m. to noon, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

NO SIGN UP OR REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED TO RECEIVE MEALS. Meals consist of breakfast and lunch, and include, for example, fresh fruits and vegetables and sandwiches for multiple days.

NOTE: No food distribution will occur on Tuesdays or Thursdays. The limited days for distribution is to support the practice of social distancing and to limit social gatherings. Meals for two days will be provided on Mondays and Wednesdays, and meals for three days will be provided on Fridays.

Other Food Resources in the City of Alexandria

For food pantry locations and schedules in Alexandria, visit or call ‪703-662-1067.

Questions? Or Need Translation?

Send us your question in Spanish, Arabic or Amharic:

  • Text ACPSMEALS to 797979 (English and Spanish)
  • Call or text 703-927-6866 (Amharic)
  • Call or text 703-927-7095 (Arabic)


Call the FACE Center’s Bilingual Parent Information Lines, available Monday-Friday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.:

  • For Spanish/English, call 571-775-9719
  • For Amharic/English, call 703-927-6866
  • For Arabic/English, call 703-927-7095

SAFETY REMINDER: Please remember to observe social distancing practices while at the food distribution site by maintaining six feet of personal space between you and other families or individuals.

Anyone exhibiting symptoms of a respiratory illness like fever, runny nose, sore throat, coughing or difficulty breathing on the day of food distribution or in the previous 24 hours should not visit a food distribution site but call a health care provider instead. If you do not have a primary care physician and are not enrolled in a clinic, you may CALL an urgent care center or emergency room.


The Teen Wellness Center at T.C. Williams is open regular hours Monday through Friday for all Alexandrians ages 12-19. All services are provided in the clinic and if the teen is ill with an elevated temperature (100.0 or more) we will see them through our telehealth video format. Make an appointment over the phone by calling 703-746-4776.


The City of Alexandria and the Alexandria Health Department strongly urge everyone to follow state orders to STAY HOME except for essential trips such as food purchases and medical care, and keep 6 feet apart from others when in public. Your neighbors and loved ones are counting on you to stop the spread of COVID-19. For other questions about COVID-19, call the Alexandria COVID-19 Hotline at 703-746-4988, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Additional updates can be found at

Coping with COVID-19 Fear and Uncertainty

Check out the City of Alexandria webpage Coping with COVID-19 Fear and Uncertainty which includes the COVID-19 Wellness Resource Guide.


Continuity of School Support and Academic Advisement

School Student Support Team staff, including school counselors, school nurses, school psychologists, and school social workers will be available during school hours throughout the closure. Monday — Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. staff will be connecting with students and their families. The Department of Student Services, Alternative Programs and Equity staff members are also available during this time and can be contacted by voicemail and at

Emergency Supports

If there is a crisis or emergency during the time of the closure, students and families can access the supports below:

We know that this is a challenging time. ACPS will continue to share information through the ACPS website, social media, and email. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your student’s school counselor or school social worker with any questions.


Don’t Feel Well?
Contact your primary health care physician. Don’t have insurance? Contact Neighborhood Health at 703-535-5568.


Have questions, concerns or feedback? Contact us.

Stay Healthy!
Wash your hands regularly. Regular soap is OK.

ACPS, Coronavirus, School Board, Video