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The union representing Arlington Public Schools teachers is calling for “drastic and immediate” improvements to the school system’s new remote learning program.

This school year, when most students returned to their brick-and-mortar buildings, others continued online learning through the newly-created APS Virtual Learning Program.

Four weeks in, staff say that the program still has deep problems, in addition to the staffing shortages which ARLnow previously revealed. We’re told by teachers that the issues range from communication to teacher treatment to a lack of needed resources.

“Every day our educators are being forced to go above and beyond the call of duty,” Arlington Education Association President Ingrid Gant said during a press conference yesterday afternoon on the steps of the union’s headquarters along Columbia Pike. “We, the members of AEA insist the School Board members take action regarding the poor state of communications, staffing and support across APS, particularly in Virtual Learning Program.”

She outlined a variety of concerns, including missing textbooks, incomplete schedules, inadequate substitute coverage, and programming for special education students and English learners, as well as abrupt teacher transfers and long work days.

In response, APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said the school system has not yet had a conversation with AEA about these concerns.

“We welcome that dialogue and have been transparent about the challenges with the Virtual Learning Program and the steps we are taking, as well as the timeline for the distribution of summer school bonuses,” he said.

A number of teachers — some speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution — tell ARLnow that they feel abandoned. They say there are no regular faculty meetings, emails to administrators go unanswered, and new teachers do not know where to turn to for instructional support and lesson plan help.

“Everything is falling on the teachers to make it work, with no leadership whatsoever. Where is the leadership? Where is the support? There’s no community, nothing,” said one secondary teacher.

“Communication has been dreadful,” said a special education teacher. “It has gotten better, but it has a long way to go. It’s not just with administration, but with home schools as well.”

Bellavia suggested that VLP staff struggling with internal communication issues use the same paths available to other employees.

“As is the expectation for all APS staff, they should start with their administrator to seek help or express concerns,” he said. “If they continue to have concerns, teachers are welcome to reach out to Office of Academics content supervisors or directors.”

Educators also say they’ve been moved to other positions within the program but have not had instructional support or tools to develop lesson plans. Veteran teachers say they’re grateful to have years of experience and their own resources at their disposal in order to get through the myriad of problems.

In one instance, seven teachers signed up to teach English learners were reassigned to teach whatever else they had certifications in — from elementary classrooms to specific high school subjects — in order to address shortages. Teachers tell us that this hasn’t been good for morale.

“Based on teacher credentials, teachers were placed in classes for which they were certified to teach or reassigned to a brick and mortar school​, as necessary,” Bellavia confirmed.

Up until this week, staff say they did not know who within or outside the VLP to consult for instructional help, absences or problems with students’ schedules. Each physical school has support staff and administrators equipped to handle these problems, but the chain of command in the VLP has not been clear, they say.

In contrast, Bellavia said VLP has support staff, including a math coach, a reading coach, a counselor and an assistant administrator. Teachers have been informed about available resources and can begin picking up items at APS headquarters.

“A counselor? What counselor? I don’t think that’s accurate,” the secondary teacher said in response.

Meanwhile, the special education teacher described her program as “a mess.” Special education teachers’ caseloads have yet to be finalized, and in some cases, students with varying needs and different education plans are placed in one classroom, with the teacher expected to deliver individualized instruction.

Still, she said, “I’m not going to give up. I’ll keep beating my head against the wall until things change.”

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Firefighters are investigating a possible kitchen fire at Dama Pastry and Restaurant on Columbia Pike.

Units arrived on scene at the long-time Ethiopian eatery at 1503 Columbia Pike and found heavy smoke inside, which was billowing out of the building.

Kitchen staff told firefighters that the smoke was caused by a fire on the stove, which they put out using fire extinguishers, according to scanner traffic. No active fire was found by the time firefighters arrived; units are now being put back into service while others work to ventilate remaining smoke from the structure.

Columbia Pike is temporarily blocked between the Sheraton hotel and the Air Force Memorial due to the emergency response.

There’s no word yet on how long Dama might be closed after the fire. Typically, the local health department must approve the reopening after a fire.

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Don’t miss this final opportunity to own a luxurious townhome at Trenton Square at Ballston — with immediate delivery!

This stylish community is just around the corner in the heart of Ballston. Here, the world is your oyster! Over 80 restaurants are waiting to make your tastebuds dance, while boutique shops and essential services are ready to cater to your every need. Parks give you space to stretch your legs, while movie theaters give you an outlet to stretch your imagination.

Each 3 bedroom, 3.5 bath luxury townhome features four finished levels of comfort and elegance, with all the rooms and space you need — including a designer kitchen, spa showers, a standard main-level deck, a fourth-level loft and outdoor terrace, a first floor office, and a two-car garage. Inside and out, Trenton Square homes are pearls of fashionable elegance.

Trenton Square at Ballston takes the peaceful calm of a luxury townhome and wraps it in the excitement of Ballston and the convenience of North Arlington. But don’t delay, only a few townhomes remain. Contact us today to see the coolest new neighborhood around.

New homes with immediate delivery:
4 levels, 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, 2-car garage — priced from just over $1M.
Built by award-winning Madison Homes. Sales by Smith|Schnider

New Covid cases in Arlington as of Sept. 23, 2021 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

There’s a bit of good news for Arlington on the Covid front.

The county has seen a more than week-long decline in its seven-day moving average of new Covid cases. The average currently stands at 33 cases per day, down from a seasonal peak of 48 cases per day on Sept. 14.

The daily case average was last below 30 in early August, as the delta-variant-fueled wave of cases was on the rise in Arlington.

The county’s test positivity rate has also been dropping, but more modestly. The rate currently stands at 3.1%, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

Serious health complications from Covid remain at a relatively low level in Arlington. Nine Covid-related hospitalizations and one death have been reported in the county since the start of September.

As of this morning, VDH reports that 76.3% of Arlington’s adult population has received at least one vaccine dose.

Covid cases have been falling both statewide and nationally, suggesting that the delta wave has crested. One influential mathematical model is predicting a steady decrease in both new infections and deaths nationally through March, barring a new, even more infectious variant or an unexpected winter surge.

New Covid cases in Virginia as of Sept. 23, 2021 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)
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(This Community Post was written by the Arlington Concert Band and underwritten by Embracing Arlington Arts.)

After a hiatus due to the pandemic, the Arlington Concert Band (ACB) is resuming with an exciting fall season. Mark your calendars for the ACB’s next concert on Thursday, December 2. Join for a fun evening of band music, including both classic and contemporary tunes.

A wind ensemble made up of more than 50 professional music educators and dedicated amateur musicians, the ACB performs regularly throughout the community and plays an assortment of music including marches, show tunes and classical arrangements. The ACB’s musicians come from a variety of backgrounds — from lawyers to IT professionals to retirees — but all are united around a shared mission to bring a mix of family friendly, professional music to the community for all to enjoy and to provide an outlet for making music performance a lifelong activity. The ACB is led by Director James Kirchenbauer.

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Submit your own Community Post here.

Native plant sale on Sat. 10/2 from 9am to 2pm

Northern Alexandria Native Plant Sale. Saturday, Oct. 2, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot of The Church of St. Clement at 1701 N. Quaker Lane, Alexandria, VA 22302. Please wear a mask. (Masks will be provided

Fugitive Theodore Li (photo courtesy ACPD)

Arlington police are asking for the public’s help in locating a fugitive accused of a violent crime.

Theodore Li, 35, is accused of stabbing someone multiple times with a knife early on a Sunday morning in Clarendon’s nightlife district. He was arrested without incident by officers patrolling the nightlife district that night in December 2019, but was eventually released pending trial.

The Alexandria resident later failed to appear in court and a bench warrant was issued on April 6, 2020. The police department said it asked for public assistance yesterday, after more than a year of Li on the lam, because it has “exhausted all leads.”

“ACPD’s Warrant Unit… has exhausted all leads related to the whereabouts of Li and is seeking the public’s assistance in locating him,” department spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow. “Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Warrant Unit at [email protected] and reference case number 2019-12150013. Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).”

Savage said that Li’s release was “handled by the courts” and deferred to the court system for further comment on the circumstances surrounding his release.

The victim in the case suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

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Morning Notes

Police Make Numerous DUI Arrests — From the Arlington County Police Department: “ACPD Officers are committed to making our roadways safer by identifying, stopping, and apprehending impaired drivers. Last week (September 12 – 18), officers made 16 arrests for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Motorists are reminded that it is never okay to drink and drive.” [Twitter]

ACPD Warning of Tainted Cocaine — “Please take steps to protect yourself and others who may be in possession of cocaine purchased in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The nasal spray Narcan (also known as Naloxone) can save the life of someone who is overdosing from substances containing opioids, if given in time, and test strips can detect dangerous fentanyl-laced drugs before they are used.” [Arlington County]

Man Stabbed Near Columbia Pike — ” The investigation revealed that at approximately 1:15 a.m., the victim was walking in the area when he was pushed from behind by the unknown suspect and fell to the ground. The suspect then brandished a knife and demanded money from the victim before stabbing him and stealing his wallet. The suspect fled the scene on foot and the victim returned to his residence before determining he was in need of medical services.” [ACPD]

Gusty Storm Yesterday Afternoon — “A 39 mph wind gust was recorded at National Airport with the storm that passed through Arlington earlier this afternoon, per the National Weather Service.” [Twitter]

Power Outages After Wednesday’s Storm — “More than 1,000 homes and businesses are currently without power in Arlington. The largest outage is affecting the area around Kenmore Middle School.” [Twitter]

School Bond Funds New ‘Heights’ Entrance — “A new entrance to the Shriver Program, which is collocated with H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program in Rosslyn, is needed to make it easier for those with disabilities to access the building and the parking lot… More funds are need to permit ‘the completion of a design that we had intended in the first place – complete it the right way,’ Kanninen said. The $11.39 million project accounts for nearly half the proposed $23 million school bond that goes to voters on Nov. 2.” [Sun Gazette]

Klobuchar to Canvass in Arlington Sunday — “Join us for a Weekend of Action canvass in Arlington with Senator Amy Klobuchar & Governor Terry McAuliffe! We’ll be talking with our neighbors about the issues that are important to them — and why Terry McAuliffe, Hala Ayala, Mark Herring, and Alfonso Lopez are the right people to move Virginia forward in 2021.” [Mobilize]

Update to Metro Story — A report from the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission suggests that the person who fell from a train while walking between railcars near the Clarendon station was the son of a WMATA employee. He was able to continue on to Tysons but suffered significant injuries, was bleeding heavily and was later hospitalized. [ARLnow]

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Update at 10:30 a.m. — The Flood Warning expired and the Flash Flood Watch, originally in effect until this afternoon, has been cancelled as the rain moves out.

Earlier: Arlington County is under a Flood Warning this morning.

The warning was issued shortly after 5 a.m. Already areas of minor flooding have been reported, including high standing water along I-66 between East Falls Church and Ballston, which closed all but one eastbound lane, according to the National Weather Service.

The warning is in effect until 7:45 a.m.

More from NWS:

509 AM EDT THU SEP 23 2021

…FLOOD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 745 AM EDT THIS MORNING FOR SOUTHEASTERN MONTGOMERY, ARLINGTON AND EASTERN FAIRFAX COUNTIES AND THE NORTHWESTERN DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA AND THE CITY OF FALLS CHURCH…

AT 509 AM EDT, DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED THE FIRST AREA OF HEAVY RAIN HAS EXITED THE WARNED AREA. BETWEEN 0.5 AND 1.5 INCHES OF RAIN HAVE FALLEN, WHICH RESULTED IN SOME MINOR URBAN AND POOR DRAINAGE FLOODING. ADDITIONAL MODERATE TO HEAVY RAIN IS EXPECTED TO MOVE ACROSS THE AREA OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL HOURS, WHICH COULD LEAD TO ADDITIONAL FLOODING.

SOME LOCATIONS THAT WILL EXPERIENCE FLOODING INCLUDE… ARLINGTON… ALEXANDRIA… GERMANTOWN… ROCKVILLE… BETHESDA… GAITHERSBURG… ANNANDALE… OLNEY… SPRINGFIELD… FORT HUNT… VIENNA… GROVETON… FALLS CHURCH… HUNTINGTON… FORT BELVOIR… PIMMIT HILLS… MCLEAN… AMERICAN LEGION BRIDGE… ROSSLYN… CRYSTAL CITY…

ADDITIONAL RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 0.5 TO 1.5 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE IN THE WARNED AREA.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN WHEN ENCOUNTERING FLOODED ROADS. MOST FLOOD DEATHS OCCUR IN VEHICLES.

BE ESPECIALLY CAUTIOUS AT NIGHT WHEN IT IS HARDER TO RECOGNIZE THE DANGERS OF FLOODING.

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3347 S. Wakefield Street #B1 (via Google Maps)

In the past couple of months, we’ve highlighted what $1 million and $750,000 can afford you in real estate around Northern Virginia. For each roundup, we showcased recently sold single-family homes.

This month, we’re taking a look at what $500,000 can get you. However, as you may have guessed, finding a single-family home that’s sold for $500,000 in Arlington is a bit unrealistic these days. Instead, we’ll focus on condos sold in the past three months. It’s worth noting these prices do not include condo fees.

We’ll start here in Arlington and work our way to other parts of the area.

Arlington

3347 S. Wakefield Street #B1

Specs:

  • Built: 1940
  • 3 BD/2 BA condo
  • 1,290 square feet
  • Features: Recent renovations, open floor plan, nearby community pool and tennis courts

Sold: $500,000

Alexandria

5112 Donovan Drive #405

5112 Donovan Drive #405 (via Google Maps)

Specs:

  • Built: 2001
  • 2 BD/2 BA condo
  • 1,349 square feet
  • Features: Private balcony, underground parking, two-level vaulted ceiling, community pool and basketball court

Sold: $505,000

McLean

1641 International Drive #315

Specs:

  • Built: 1998
  • 2 BD/2 BA condo
  • 1,114 square feet
  • Features: Corner unit, recent updates, near Metro

Sold: $495,000

Reston

12001 Market Street #419

12001 Market Street #419 (via Google Maps)

Specs:

  • Built: 2003
  • 2 BD/2 BA condo
  • 1,224 square feet
  • Features: Two-level penthouse, balcony overlooking pool, two assigned underground parking spaces

Sold: $497,500

Sterling

45141 Kincora Drive

Specs:

  • Built: 2019
  • 3 BD/2.5 BA condo
  • 1,608 square feet
  • Features: Gourmet kitchen with stainless steel appliances, wood floors

Sold: $500,000

Woodbridge

500 Belmont Bay Drive #301

500 Belmont Bay Drive #301 (via Google Maps)

Specs:

  • Built: 2004
  • 2 BD/2 BA condo
  • 1,786 square feet
  • Features: Waterfront views, den, community exercise room and walking paths

Sold: $510,000

Want to see more in Arlington real estate? Check out Just Listed and Just Reduced properties.

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