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County, Schools Cancelling or Postponing ‘Non-Essential’ Events

(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) Arlington County government and Arlington Public Schools are cancelling or postponing non-essential gatherings and events.

The county released a statement Thursday morning saying that it is “taking steps to help mitigate and contain the spread of COVID-19,” including re-examining public gatherings during the outbreak.

“While events and public gatherings are hallmarks of our community, they also are opportunities for a virus to spread quickly among event workers and participants,” Arlington County said in a statement. “Moving forward, many events or meetings will be cancelled, postponed, or modified to better protect our residents and County staff.”

Privately-organized events in Arlington, including races, conferences and street festivals, are also being cancelled in droves.

“This is a time for us to be proactive – and take the necessary precautions needed to slow and minimize Coronavirus from spreading across our community,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “We are examining our activities to determine which are essential and which are non-essential. If they are non-essential, they will be cancelled or postponed. If they are essential, they will be modified to minimize physical contact among those attending. This is an important step for the health and well-being of our community.”

Arlington has created a set of guidelines for determining whether a given event is essential, including:

  • Does the gathering meet a statutory requirement? Is the work of the group required for business continuity?
  • Would not having the event cause undue hardship?
  • Is the meeting non-essential or does it pose a risk to likely attendees? Can the gathering be rescheduled, in whole or in part?
  • Can the experience be offered in a virtual format? Does the event’s target population include people in the high-risk categories? Are there accommodations that can effectively reduce risk?

In response to the new county guidelines, Arlington Public Schools says it is immediately cancelling “all non-essential APS sponsored events,” along with overnight field trips. Athletic competitions and fine arts performances with limited audiences will go on for now, APS says.

Per new Arlington County guidance for events and public gatherings, Arlington Public Schools is canceling all non-essential APS-sponsored events effective immediately, until further notice. Essential school events will continue in adjusted formats and participation. Additionally, APS is canceling all overnight field trips until further notice.

This decision is part of a coordinated Countywide response to help mitigate and contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in our community by reducing the number of occasions when people come together. Canceling non-essential events allows us to limit public gatherings, while also maintaining essential instructional activities, which aligns with the current decision to keep schools open. This situation is changing by the minute, and APS will communicate any decision to close or modify operations in any way to the community through our regular channels as soon as a decision is made.

Essential instructional activities may include day trips to the Outdoor Lab, Extended Day, limited-audience athletic competitions and fine arts performances, as well as events required for certifications or standards of learning.

Among schools cancelling or changes events today are Jamestown Elementary and Kenmore Middle School.

Also today, Arlington said its Public Health staff as been “contacting, assessing and monitoring any returning travelers from areas affected by the COVID-19 outbreak since early February 2020 and are continuing to do so.”

“They are also providing guidance to the hospital and healthcare communities, government, community partners to respond to this outbreak,” the county said.

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