Breaking News
More () »

'Virtual school is no substitute' | Parents frustrated over HVAC issues closing Taylor Elementary School

Taylor Elementary School closed Monday and Tuesday and went to virtual learning Wednesday due to a lack of power/heat at the school.

ARLINGTON, Va. — After three days of closures and virtual learning due to an HVAC issue, parents at an Arlington County elementary school are expressing frustrations. 

Taylor Elementary School, which serves 527 students in pre-K through fifth grade, was forced to close Monday and Tuesday due to there being no power or heat in the building stemming from the HVAC issue. On Tuesday, the school notified the community that if the issue could not be resolved, virtual learning would be conducted Wednesday, which was indeed what happened. The school system followed up with instructions on how to "prepare for virtual instruction." 

"In the past three years in education, we have truly learned the importance of flexibility," Taylor Elementary Principal Katie Madigan wrote in an email to the community. "By participating in online learning [Wednesday] we can ensure that our students continue to be connected to school and engaged in some learning activities aligned to grade level standards." 

A notification from APS was sent out to the community around 3:15 p.m. Wednesday saying Taylor Elementary School would open on time Thursday for in-person learning after the HVAC issues were remedied. Officials thanked parents for their patience and flexibility, but many still urged the school district to develop better plans for the future. 

"Virtual is not a viable substitute for elementary instruction and should never be used to satisfy state-required instruction time," a parent advocacy group, Arlington Parents for Education, said. "APS assessment data show DIBELS reading scores declined for ALL grades at Taylor last year and the math achievement gap for students of color and students with special needs persists. Every minute of in-person instruction is critical to addressing learning loss and gaps. Taylor students deserve better."

APS, however, doubled down saying they had done everything they could to communicate effectively. 

"We have been very open in communicating with parents since the time that we realized there was an issue with the heat and have sent daily communication throughout the week as soon as new information is available," APS spokesperson Frank Bellavia said in an email to WUSA9. "This is the only power outage the school has experienced this school year and there have been no other electrical issues at the school. Over the last 10 years, APS has performed a number of preventative maintenance such as a major HVAC upgrade in 2012, lighting, grounds and ventilation." 

WUSA9 is now on Roku and Amazon Fire TVs. Download the apps today for live newscasts and video on demand.

Download the WUSA9 app to get breaking news, weather and important stories at your fingertips.

Sign up for the Get Up DC newsletter: Your forecast. Your commute. Your news.
Sign up for the Capitol Breach email newsletter, delivering the latest breaking news and a roundup of the investigation into the Capitol Riots on January 6, 2021.

Before You Leave, Check This Out