(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) An increasingly vocal group of parents and teachers are calling on Arlington Public Schools to scrap plans to have most students return to classrooms twice per week.
The current APS “hybrid” plan calls for two cohorts of students each going into school two days per week, while wearing masks and practicing physical distancing. It also allows parents and students to opt for online-only learning.
Nearly 2,000 people have signed an online petition that instead pushes for a “#OneAPS” model that starts all students with online-only classes in the fall and eventually allows a return to school for teachers and students who opt to do so.
“This will keep APS as one, united school system; protect the health and safety of students, teachers and staff; will not force teachers into options that might precipitate mass resignation; and support our most vulnerable learners,” says the petition, an excerpt of which is below.
Under the #OneAPS model:
- APS will create a robust online learning platform and provide training for how to teach virtually. (See this article and Driver #3.)
- All students begin school online and receive synchronous (live) online instruction four days a week (Tuesday through Friday) after Labor Day. The delayed start allows for intensive teacher training.
- Mondays remain planning days for teachers, intervention days for small groups and asynchronous (independent) learning days for the majority of students.
- When public health officials deem conditions safe to reopen, survey teachers to see who is comfortable returning to school for in-person support. NO teacher will be forced into this option.
- Depending on the number of teachers available for in-person support, calculate the number of seats available. Allot those seats to our most vulnerable students
Other groups of teachers and parents have been organizing in opposition to a return to classrooms in the fall, similarly citing health and safety concerns.
One group — which is”advocating for a full distance learning model until Arlington County sees 14 days with no COVID-19 cases” — is planning a protest of Thursday night’s School Board meeting.
A Twitter account called “APS 14 Days No New Cases,” meanwhile, has been posting what it says are pleas from school staff not to reopen Arlington schools in the fall.
“I worry about the mental health of our students when they know that they, their peers, their teachers, and their families are get infected, sick, and possibly dying.” #14daysnonewcases #RefuseToReturn #ReopeningAPS @APSVirginia @APSVaSchoolBd
— APS 14 Days No New Cases (@14_aps) July 10, 2020
“I just updated my life insurance policy in preparation to return to school in the fall. This is not my typical back to school shopping.” #refusetoreturn #14daysnonewcases #apsisawesome @APSVirginia @APSVaSchoolBd @ARLnowDOTcom @SuptDuran @ArlingtonVA
— APS 14 Days No New Cases (@14_aps) July 9, 2020
On the opposite side of the spectrum from the #OneAPS petition, a new group called “Arlington Parents for Education” has been formed to oppose the hybrid plan and push for five-day-per-week, in-person classes. The group argues that not returning to in-person schooling on a full-time basis disproportionately hurts low-income and single-parent households, and carries “economic and educational performance” risks.
A recent unscientific poll conducted by ARLnow found that a plurality of respondents — just below 40% — support the APS hybrid plan, with the rest nearly split between those favoring five-day-per-week classes and online-only classes.
(The “APS 14 Days” account, mention above, criticized ARLnow for conducting the poll. “Shame on you for farming the reopening crisis for clicks,” the anonymous account tweeted.)
A recent Arlington Public Schools survey found that only 7% of school staff were comfortable, with no reservations, about returning to school on a normal schedule, while 39% were “not comfortable at all” and 54% were either “comfortable with concerns” or “somewhat comfortable.”
The top concern of APS staff, according to the survey, is “public health regulations not being followed.”
Among other major D.C. area school systems, Montgomery County public schools are expected to start the school year fully online, while Fairfax County public schools are planning a hybrid model but facing teacher pushback.
Monday afternoon, after the initial publication of this article, the Arlington Education Association, which represents Arlington teachers, issued a statement calling for remote learning to start the school year.
The Arlington Education Association Executive Board believes re-opening Arlington Public Schools this fall puts students, educators, and staff, at an exponential risk of COVID-19 that can lead to illnesses and death. We believe, this fall, all learning should continue online from home. This is the only way to keep all educators and students safe and healthy.
According to the recommended guidelines from the CDC and plans chosen by Arlington Public Schools the plans will not protect the health and safety of all students and staff. While the plans sound good, they and have not been proven safe and there are too many unknowns.
AEA further urges APS to look at professional development for all educators, to provide a consistent platform for virtual teaching and learning. Professional development is needed immediately, and instructional assistants must be included as it will be their responsibility to reinforce lessons and skills taught by teachers.
APS families have until next Monday, July 20 to select either the hybrid option or the distance learning-only option for the return to school on Aug. 31.
Progressive Voice is a bi-weekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.
By Yassima Hassoun
The good reputation of Arlington Public Schools was mainly why I moved to Arlington about five years ago.
But if we want to maintain that reputation, we have to be more inclusive. We have to do our best to include parents who don’t have the courage to speak up. It might look easy to attend a meeting or speak up for something that negatively affects you and your children, but it is not. Many of us feel helpless to make a change because we don’t have the right tools.
One of the most important tools is to understand “the system” — where to go, who to communicate with, say what we want exactly and how to find what we need. Many newcomers, limited-English speakers, and low-income families don’t have these tools. That makes it harder for them to advocate for their kids. This is where the community should play a bigger role to secure an equal education for all students.
I have not always been brave myself. Several years ago in another city, I went to a meeting at my daughter’s school. My English was not so good then. My daughter was having trouble because she didn’t understand the directions they gave her in class. For instance, if she was supposed to draw so many birthday candles to say how old she was, she would draw flowers on the page or something else, because no one explained.
So that night, I started talking. My voice was, you know, sort of shivering at first. But they listened and they started getting my daughter some help. I realized I could help my daughter and other people, too.
Since I moved to Arlington, I felt kind of lost until I was invited to an event called Roundtable, organized by Arlington County and the Community Progress Network. The purpose was to hear from people who usually are underrepresented. This event was unique because they made everyone feel welcomed and that their voice matters. They had translators for the most often-spoken languages to make sure that everyone could fully participate. They also documented participants’ concerns. For the first time since I moved to Arlington, I finally felt that I belonged and that I was included.
This monthly column comes from the Arlington Community Federal Credit Union as part of their mission to financially empower the community. Credit unions are not-for-profit member-owned cooperatives and anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, goes to school, or does business in Arlington, Falls Church, Alexandria, or Fairfax County is eligible to join ACFCU.*
During this challenging time for our community, many have taken on debt to support themselves and their family. Here are tips for managing and paying down debt:
- Understand your household expenses: Make a list of your fixed expenses such as rent or mortgage, utilities and loan payments. Add the due dates to your calendar to pay on time and set up autopay options when possible.
- Prioritize your debts: Make at least the minimum payments on all of your debts. Use any extra funds to pay down debts with the highest interest rate (usually credit cards). Every little bit makes a difference and will help you save money on interest.
- Set spending limits: It’s easy to overspend when you don’t set boundaries. Once you’re clear on how much is coming in and going out, set spending limits.
- Put your credit cards away: Sometimes, the key to preventing excessive debt is making it difficult to use your credit cards. Consider locking away your highest interest credit cards and moving a debit card or lower interest credit card to the top of your wallet.
- Shop for the best rates: Compare rates both when you are taking on and managing debt. Look for lower interest options and ask your financial institution to match the lower rate offered to you. You can also explore refinancing high interest debt.
- Build up your emergency savings account: Build your emergency savings account with a goal of saving three to six months’ worth of expenses. Having a savings buffer will reduce your need to take on additional debt later.
We are proud to be part of this resilient community. As Arlington’s credit union, we support our members throughout their financial journey and are here to support our neighbors as they explore options for financial success.
*Membership eligibility requirements apply. Federally insured by NCUA.
Have you found your quarantine oasis? Are you tired of paying down someone else’s mortgage? Please join us for a Rent vs. Buy Happy Hour on Wednesday, July 15 at 6 p.m. via zoom (link to be provided upon RSVP).
Sip on your drink of choice and learn how you can get $1,500 towards your closing costs immediately! We will discuss the Home Buying Process and Rent vs. Buy cost savings. Please RSVP by clicking on the link by July 14. Call/text Manavi at 703-869-6698 with any questions!
The indoor public pools at Washington-Liberty and Yorktown high schools reopened on Saturday.
Arlington Public Schools announced Friday afternoon that the pools would be reopening under the state’s Phase 3 guidelines. The Wakefield High School pool “will remain closed for a few more weeks” due to major maintenance work, APS said.
Those who want to use the pools are required to make a reservation for a 45-minute window.
More from an APS email to parents:
The two pools will open under the Virginia Forward Phase III guidelines, which include diminished capacity, physical distancing of 10 feet and the requirement of a health and temperature screening for all staff and patrons. We have posted many of the details on our website and will continue to do so over the next 24 hours. Use this link to learn more and stay informed.
Patrons will need to purchase admission and make a reservation for a 45-min swim or water exercise/jog session. You will need to set up an account on our Self-Service Portal. You will receive a separate email this evening inviting you to join the APS Aquatics Self-Service Portal. Follow the instructions on the email to set up your account. […]
The reservations will open at 8 a.m. on the previous day (On Friday at 8 a.m. you will be able to register for Saturday sessions). They will first go live tomorrow morning. Instruction on registering are available at Making a Reservation. This section also includes information about what to expect when you get to the pool, while you swim and after you are done. Patrons will be checked in, directed to the locker rooms to shower before swimming and out to the deck to a designated Blue or Red lanes. After you swim, you may choose to exit directly off the deck or enter the Unisex Room to change out of your swimming gear and shower. If you have any questions or need assistance navigating the portal or the registration page, please call 703-228-6264 or 703-228-6263. […]
Regretfully, The Wakefield pool will remain closed for a few more weeks. APS is performing major maintenance in the entire building ahead of the start of the school year. We recognize this is disappointing to our Wakefield patrons, but it is imperative that this work be completed. We anticipate opening around August 24. […]
The APS Aquatics team is excited to be back at the pools and ready to welcome you back. Staff will be learning how to navigate this new way of serving you and the success of our re-opening depends greatly on your willingness to follow the guidelines and on your patience. Our primary concern remains your safety both in the water and in the building.
We very much look forward to seeing you on Saturday at Washington-Liberty and Yorktown Pools. It has been a long 4-months on dry land.
Arlington County does not have outdoor public pools, but is home to several private swim clubs. The county government itself does not currently operate any public pools, but that will change when the Long Bridge Park Aquatics and Fitness Center opens. The opening of the aquatics center, however, has been delayed at least a year due to the pandemic and budget issues.
Nova Archery Club classes start with the Explore Archery program. This is a six week course, with 60 minute classes for ages 8-20.
Explore Archery is an innovative education program focused on introducing beginners to the lifelong sport of archery
This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.
By John V. Berry, Esq.
Employers have started to see the first lawsuits by employees and customers related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The numbers of these types of cases will only continue to increase, given the lack of a cohesive strategy by federal and state governments in dealing with the reopening of businesses and the potential for liability. Hopefully, Congress will deal with this problem quickly and compromise. As of June 12, 2020, according to a tracker of COVID-19 cases, approximately 2,700 COVID-19 lawsuits have been filed.
The First Lawsuits Have Started
The first COVID-19 related lawsuits seen thus far include a class action by McDonald’s workers and a wrongful death action filed by a Safeway employee’s family. Many other lawsuits have been filed, both small and large, and we are starting to see employers require employees to sign waivers in order to return to work, and other businesses and events requiring individuals to sign waivers before entering.
For instance, some businesses have required individuals to sign waivers of legal rights to enter gyms or salons or to attend other events. For example, at the President’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma attendees were required to waive their right to sue the campaign in the event they contracted COVID-19 at the President’s campaign rally.
Employers are Seeking Liability Protections
The question of whether a business is liable if their employees or customers catch COVID-19 has become a critical issue as many states reopen retail, foodservice and other businesses. Businesses contend that they are subject to numerous lawsuits without any liability protections and are seeking legal protections from Congress, or even individual states, as the pandemic subsides. On the other side, opponents of liability protections argue that limiting liability for businesses could cause them to ignore safety rules, endangering both employees and customers.
A Compromise is Very Likely
It is likely that a compromise will be found, through congressional action, or worst case, on a state-by-state basis. There will need to be a balance between the protection of employees and customers and in ensuring that businesses do not go bankrupt through needless and often frivolous litigation. It is likely that these liability protections may find themselves in pending congressional bills which provide additional financial relief to individuals and businesses affected by the pandemic. In the end, businesses and employers that act reasonably will likely be mostly safe from litigation.
If you are in need of legal representation or advice, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties remains firmly committed to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, tenants and community. This week, Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1000 and 1100 Wilson (The Rosslyn Tower).
Crystal City-based Second Front Systems, a startup that helps connect government agencies to commercially-developed technologies, recently received $6 million in seed funding to boost its startup technology assessment program.
Atlas Fulcrum is Second Front Systems’ platform that helps to catalog and organize venture capital-backed technologies and track market trends. The goal is to make it easier for the national security organizations to identify the latest new technological advances from startups in the private sector rather than relying on sometimes outdated technology from larger companies.
“I came back from combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan where my men and I were hamstrung by outdated technology that negated what should have been an advantage against insurgent adversaries,” said Second Front CEO Peter Dixon in a statement. “Subsequently, at the Pentagon, I watched as billions of dollars were awarded to traditional defense companies, many of whom were unable to deliver usable technology to front-line troops.”
“This venture financing and initial partnerships gives Second Front the velocity to build a new type of ‘lean systems integrator’ that can harness the innovations of the American entrepreneurial ecosystem where the traditional defense firms have failed,” Dixon said of the new round of investment.
The new funding was led by Artis Ventures, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm that invested in YouTube in 2006 and has partnered with controversial defense contractor Palantir since 2014.
“The venture funding will be used to expand the capabilities of Second Front’s software platform, Atlas Fulcrum, which has recently received a major contract award from the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Air Force’s AFWERX,” the company said in a press release. “The U.S. military recognizes that commercially driven tech, such as autonomy, cyber, biotech, and AI, has surpassed the defense base in relevance to national security in the 21st century.”
Image via Second Front Systems
Arlington’s residential trash collection has hit a snag due to problems at the waste processing facility in Alexandria.
In an email to residents this morning, Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services says that an electrical problem at the facility is forcing county trash crews to drop off their loads at a more distant facility. That, in turn, is causing delays.
Anyone whose trash is not collected on the scheduled day this week is being told to keep it out for collection the next day.
More from DES:
Potential Service Disruptions: Due to an electrical problem at the trash waste-to-energy processing facility used by the County, residential solid waste will continue to be collected but will have to be transported to a separate facility farther away. This may impact our collection schedules and efficiency.
If your trash cart is not collected on its assigned day, please leave it out for the following day. If it has not been collected by the end of the following day, please submit a missed collection ticket online or call us at 703-228-5000. Visit recycle.arlingtonva.us for updates.
Thank you for your understanding.
Arlington’s municipal trash collection service primarily serves single-family homes in the county, while those who live in apartments and condos have their trash collected by private firms that contract with the property owner or homeowners association.
The county’s yard waste collection service remains suspended due to staffing and trash volume issues caused by the pandemic.
(Updated at 10:20 a.m.) President Donald Trump’s campaign headquarters in Rosslyn temporarily shut down last week after a campaign official tested positive for coronavirus, Politico reported Friday afternoon.
The campaign was chided by local officials last month after Vice President Mike Pence visited and was photographed with a sea staffers, all without masks. Now comes word that the office was recently deep cleaned due to a positive COVID-19 test and worries about the virus spreading in the open floor plan office.
More from Politico:
Inside the Trump campaign’s headquarters this week, a team of cleaners scrubbed down surfaces and disinfected equipment — a recognition that coronavirus has found its way into the heart of the president’s reelection bid, regardless of Donald Trump’s public dismissals of recent risk.
The campaign’s headquarters — located on the 14th floor of an Arlington, Va., office building that shares space with multiple businesses — is normally packed with dozens of staffers, often sitting in close proximity to conduct phone calls and other urgent campaign business, said three people with knowledge of its operations.
But the office was shut down for its first deep cleaning in weeks after a senior campaign official tested positive for the virus. The decision to conduct the cleaning came after two months of flouting the Trump administration’s own public health guidance: There are no face coverings or temporary barriers between desks at headquarters, and leaders have limited efforts to implement social distancing.
The article goes on to note that masks are encouraged for staffers outside of the office — “in case they’re spotted by reporters” — but not inside.
“You get made fun of, if you wear a mask,” one unnamed person told Politico, which is also based in Rosslyn. “There’s social pressure not to do it.”
The article then quotes Arlington and Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, who said last month — in response to the Pence photo — that violations of coronavirus-related safety orders are to be enforced by the state Dept. of Health, not local law enforcement.
Dehghani-Tafti told POLITICO this week that she wasn’t aware of any efforts by Virginia officials to enforce safety protections at the Trump campaign’s Arlington headquarters.
“I remain focused on the health and safety of all Arlingtonians and continue to encourage all to social distance, wear face masks, avoid large gatherings and maintain a rigorous regimen of hand washing,” Dehghani-Tafti added.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), a fierce Trump critic who represents Arlington in Congress, criticized the campaign again for its reported lax stance toward a pandemic that keeps getting worse in the U.S.
A month after Pence deleted a tweet showing the Trump campaign violating public health regulations in Arlington they are still doing it, even after staffers got sick.
Trump's own campaign flouting the law and ignoring medical guidance is a potent symbol of his failed leadership. https://t.co/YSHPGRXvIn
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) July 10, 2020
An additional 44 coronavirus cases were reported over the weekend in Arlington, according to the Virginia Dept. of Health, bringing the seven-day trailing rate of new cases to 93 — the highest point since June 14.
File photo via Twitter
This summer have fun at Nova Fencing Club’s Dragonslayer: D&D plus Fencing Camp or our Explore Archery Camp. Learn to play D&D from our experienced Dungeon Masters! and finish the day with an introduction to fencing.
Or learn to shoot a bow and arrow while playing games like Candy Shoot and Knock, Tac, Toe. Most Half Day camps can be linked for a Full Day. Space is limited, social distancing, masks required. Ages 8 to 14.