Arlington, VA

The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

Thumbs Up to Governor Northam for announcing schools should reopen by March 15. If Arlington meets this deadline, it will be one full year since the schools were shut down on March 13, 2020. But this must mean in-person instruction, not a glorified study hall where kids learn virtually while sitting in a school classroom. States across America and countries around the world have figured out how to do it safely and responsibly. We have the resources to do it, so hopefully the Superintendent and APS School Board will provide the detailed roadmap soon.

Thumbs Down to those saying it cannot or should not be done. Too many of our kids have fallen behind during this lost year. Too many families have been stretched thin trying to make school happen at home. The time for excuses is over. The time to make it work is long overdue.

Thumbs Up to the bipartisan effort in Richmond to provide tax relief to small businesses. In December, the federal government made tax changes to the administration of the Paycheck Protection Program to allow the funds to flow to small businesses completely tax free. Without a conforming change to the Virginia code, these businesses which are just trying to make it through the pandemic will get an unwanted and unexpected tax bill from the Commonwealth. The compromise proposals currently under consideration in Richmond would cap the benefits so that the smallest businesses would benefit most. Hopefully one will be signed into law very soon.

Thumbs Up to former County Board member John Vihstadt for working toward more transparency for the financial disclosure forms that are required to be filed by our elected officials, top staff, and those appointed to boards and commissions. As Mr. Vihstadt suggested, forms should be available online, particularly for our elected officials. There is no reason this cannot happen, and in short order.

Thumbs Up to county officials for scrambling to make the best of a bad situation on the COVID-19 vaccine distribution front. In January, Governor Northam’s administration suddenly pulled the rug out from under the County Board’s partnership with Virginia Hospital Center resulting in thousands of cancelled appointments. While there have been a few bumps in the road since, and we all wish for faster progress, our officials are on the right track.

Mark Kelly is a long-time Arlington resident, former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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