Two residents of the Fairlington Arbor condominiums were told by the condo board to dig up their spooky gravestones that seek to lay bigotry to rest.
Katrina Reed and her husband Joe decked out their yard with six decorative gravestones, but they papered over the space for names of the deceased to bury hate, racism, religions discrimination, sexism, homophobia and white supremacy instead.
Both Reeds teach and coach high school basketball. As teachers, Katrina said they strive to create an inclusive environment in their remote and in-person classrooms.
“Our thought process was, ‘Why wouldn’t we want to be inclusive at home?'” she said.
The death-to-discrimination markers received a lot of love from neighbors, but drew the ire of the Fairlington Arbor management. The dispute centers around whether the gravestones are signs, which are not allowed unless the Board of Directors approve them, or seasonal decor, which are allowed if they are “modest and in keeping with community norms.”
A letter from management and addressed to the Reeds on behalf of the Fairlington Arbor Board of Directors asked them to “correct this matter” to “avoid further action by the Board of Directors.”
The letter treats the gravestones as decor, but the messages as signs.
“While the frames on your sign are compliant, the content is not,” the letter said. Joe disputed the application of the bylaw in an email to management.
“The signs displayed are not deemed ‘seasonal’ by the board since they display a message that does not fit the Halloween occasion,” Arbor management said in response.
The letter’s author, Fairlington Arbor’s general manager, declined to comment further. In an automated message, Matt Duncan, the President of the Board of Directors, said he is out of office and referred inquiries to management.
In a private neighborhood Facebook group, Katrina asked her neighbors for advice and to see if others had similar experiences. The response was overwhelming, with more than 175 comments on Katrina’s post so far.
“People went nuts,” she said. “They were ready to light their pitchforks and find the board members.”
One Facebook commenter said of the decorations: “We thought they were awesome. 10/10. Do not take them down.”
“These have made me very happy every time I walk by!” another said.
The couple maintains that stifling free speech causes more division than signs promoting inclusivity.
“If you can let people express First Amendment rights within a time period, I think it solves these issues,” Joe said.
The couple said the bylaws need to be clarified and they plan to speak about it during the next board meeting on Oct. 27. Joe said ironically, he was on the board and helped write the bylaws.
“I don’t envy them,” he said.
On Facebook, some theorized that the condo board was pushed to take action by a handful of complainers.
“Neighbors have been complimentary of our messages of inclusion, but I seem to have offended the racists, homophobes, etc.,” Katrina wrote in her post.
Others guessed that the current political climate might have caused an overreaction by condo management.
“It’s probable that no one is offended by your decorations but management just wants to head off something truly objectionable,” wrote one commenter, who congratulated the couple for speaking up.
This summer, the S. Abingdon Street bridge over I-395 in Fairlington was the site of a showdown between those supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and counter-demonstrators who replaced BLM slogans with pro-Trump messages.
A study by a criminal justice consulting firm recommends that Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church keep the Northern Virginia Detention Center, but with some changes.
Over the last decade, detention rates have decreased at the facility, located at 200 S. Whiting Street in Alexandria. It has 70 beds but on any given day houses 20 to 25 youth detainees — from age 11 to 18 — who have committed anything from parole violations to felony offenses.
Recently, officials have been weighing the future of the center, which is falling apart and costly to run. During a joint work session with representatives from Arlington and Alexandria on Monday, D.C.-based criminal justice consulting firm The Moss Group recommended keeping the center, but making it more efficient by moving more programs to the facility and eliminating some staff.
“It is a complex, aging facility, but it is available for other options when you’re thinking about the future of the compound,” said Reginald Wilkinson, the senior advisor for The Moss Group.
In an email, Arlington County said keeping the center open — as opposed to transferring detainees to a facility elsewhere — would “ensure juveniles remain close to their home communities and services.”
The report recommended placing mental-health treatment, substance-abuse services, youth mentoring and specialized placement programs in underused spaces in the facility, which would help make it more financially feasible to maintain.
It also suggested redesigning the facility to accommodate the new services and create a “home-like” feeling.
Cutting some staff and making the program changes could save nearly $600,000 annually, The Moss Group found. That would mean a savings of about $300,000 from Arlington’s current $1.8 million annual commitment.
NVJDC is the second most expensive detention center among Virginia’s 24 facilities, and was allocated $5.8 million to run in Fiscal Year 2020. Of that, about $3.6 million came from localities and $2.2 million from state and federal funding.
A possible alternative would be moving kids to the Fairfax County detention center, but Justin Wilson, the mayor of Alexandria, said Fairfax likely will not take the teens. The mayor said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay told him “the door is not closed, but that the hill is steep.”
The right political movement could change that, Wilson added.
“I think there is some logic to working together again, given [extra] capacity” at the Fairfax County facility, he said. Fairfax County operated the NVJDC with Arlington and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church before opening its own center in 1994.
Consultants conducted focus groups, interviews and community meetings, and hosted an online survey to gauge support for the center. Although some people want to see it closed, the group concluded there is widespread community support for the center.
The finding raised eyebrows among some political officials. Others asked about opportunities to eliminate juvenile detentions altogether.
“I think there might be a desire to move toward zero detention by closing down that facility,” Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol said. “Certainly I… am interested in pursuing that vision of zero youth detention.”
Arlington’s Director of Court Services Earl Conklin said that without a detention center a judge could still order detention but the youth would have no place to go.
The Moss Group told the municipalities to consider a formal relationship with the Annie E. Casey Foundation and participate in its Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative to reduce reliance on detention.
County Board Chair Libby Garvey applauded the decline in detention rates but said reforms are essential. About 57% kids in the system are Black, while 39% are white. In terms of ethnicity, just over 30% are identified as Hispanic.
“It is our young people of color who are most impacted by this detention facility,” she said. “We would like to do away with [this] disproportionality and continue to lower the number of people there, but there will always be a need for this facility or something like it, and that’s why we’re here.”
The study will be presented at a virtual community meeting on Thursday, Nov. 5 from 7-8:30 p.m. The meeting link will be available on the study webpage.
This Saturday, local residents can drop off their expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs in Arlington for safe disposal.
The Arlington County Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration is offering contactless, drive-thru disposal of pills and patches from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at police department headquarters (1425 N. Courthouse Road) and Fire Station No. 5 (1750 S. Hayes Street). It’s part of a nationwide effort by the DEA.
“This disposal service is free and anonymous, no questions asked,” ACPD said in a news release. “This is the DEA’s 19th nationwide event since its inception 10 years ago.”
The program comes as the number of police-investigated opioid incidents in 2020 has surpassed those in 2019, with 16 fatal overdoses so far this year — nearly equal to that of the past two years combined.
First responders have been working to counter the overdose trend. In the first seven months of 2020, officers using Narcan helped nine people recover from opioid overdoses.
“Based upon the preliminary investigations into these incidents, police suspect the deaths are linked to heroin and prescription painkillers mixed with fentanyl,” said ACPD spokeswoman Kirby Clark. “While the investigation into these incidents has revealed no direct evidence that the increase is fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely a factor given timing, the loss of income and jobs and the isolation of stay-at-home orders.”
The pandemic forced the police department to cancel the spring iteration of the drug take-back event, which is normally held twice annually. This Saturday, all participants are expected to practice physical distancing and wear a face covering while dropping off items for disposal.
Upon arrival, participants should stay in their vehicle until they reach the unloading areas, where officers will be on hand to take items for disposal. A separate area will be available for those arriving by bike or foot.
The event does not accept liquids, nor needles and syringes, collectively known as “sharps.”
“For those looking to dispose of sharps, Arlington County recommends placing the item in hard plastic container such as detergent bottle, cap securely and place in trash cart,” the news release said. “Do not put this container in your recycling.”
During the take-back event in October 2019, 211 pounds of medications were collected, Clark said.
Arlington County has four permanent drug take-back boxes available. To date, these boxes have collected 1,572 pounds of medications in 2020, and nearly 5,068 pounds of prescription drugs since they were installed in June 2018.
The public can safely dispose of prescription medications, ointments and patches, pet medications, vitamins and over-the-counter medications 24/7, “no questions asked,” at the following locations:
- Fire Station #2 (4805 Wilson Blvd.)
- Fire Station #5 (1750 S. Hayes Street)
- Fire Station #9 (1900 S. Walter Reed Drive)
- Arlington County Police Department (1425 N. Courthouse Road)
Members of the Arlington County Board say that before they enact a local tax on plastic bags, they need time to identify and avoid the unintended consequences of one.
“The most vulnerable suffer the most from pollution and will suffer the most when we try to clean it up,” Board Chair Libby Garvey said during the County Board recessed meeting on Tuesday afternoon. “We’re going to try and do it right and be aware of the pitfalls, and there are a lot.”
In March, the Virginia General Assembly passed SB11, a bill that allows municipalities to collect a tax of five cents on disposable bags. Gov. Ralph Northam signed the bill into law on April 10. The proceeds of the tax would be used for environmental purposes.
“Based upon revenue generated from similar taxes in the District of Columbia and Montgomery, Maryland, the tax proposed in this bill could potentially generate aggregate local revenues between $20.8 million and $24.9 million annually” statewide, the bill’s impact statement said.
The 5-cent tax has the support of EcoAction Arlington, an environmental advocacy group, which launched a petition this fall. The group aims to have 1,500 signatures by the November Arlington County Board meeting.
“Presently, 471 local ordinances have been adopted in cities and counties across 28 states,” the petition said. “We believe Arlington should be the next county to take this important step forward.”
Staff have been and are working through policy issues and how to engage Arlingtonians, with a specific focus on how this would work during the pandemic, said Deputy County Manager Michelle Cowan.
A proposed timeline would start with a “robust” engagement of stakeholders in January, she said. An ordinance could be drafted in February. The law requires it be adopted by April 1 to be effective on July 1, Cowan said.
County Board Member Christian Dorsey said April may be too early, and wants to hold off until the community is optimistic that the pandemic is over. He said he worries that the tax would hurt the vulnerable and low-income residents of Arlington, “during a time when we are all hoping to prioritize getting them safely and healthily through the pandemic.”
Board Member Takis Karantonis encouraged county staff to include the most vulnerable in the county’s outreach efforts.
“It’s a very good point to think about how to introduce multi-use bags and create a culture that helps those who are the most vulnerable,” he said.
Members Matt de Ferranti and Katie Cristol also wanted to pump the brakes and review the potential tax in February or March when they have more information.
“I know there is a strong desire to see this plastic bag tax in effect on Jan. 1, and I associate myself with that impatience to make these big strides on environmental protection,” Cristol said, before adding that additional time is needed for a more thoughtful and equitable approach.
In the same meeting, Dorsey told members about new goals to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, set by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. The association adopted a plan in 2008 to reduce greenhouse emissions by 80% from the baseline in 2005 by 2050, Dorsey said.
“There was a significant decrease at the start, but that has resulted in a plateau over the last several years,” he said.
Pushing through the plateau will require retrofitting homes, ensuring new home construction is energy efficient and moving buses and passenger vehicles toward zero-emissions, he said.
After an eventful week of roaming North Arlington, Hannah the Australian Cattle Dog mix was recently returned to her foster human.
It took dozens of neighbors, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue and the Animal Welfare League of Arlington to bring her home. The two organizations canvassed neighborhoods, put up fliers and relied on sightings from community members to set humane traps.
Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Deputy Director Rebecca Goodhart credits Hannah’s safe return to vigilant neighbors and the hard work of animal control officers. The Aussie mix occupied the forefront of many neighbors’ minds, with Arlingtonians talking about Hannah everywhere Goodhart looked for her.
“The community was tremendous reporting sightings and asking how they could help, and spreading the word to friends,” Goodhart said. “It was awesome.”
A nervous dog, Hannah was likely stressed and scared after transitioning to living in a house in Arlington, Goodhart said.
Hannah had squeezed past her foster owner and bolted on Oct. 6, just a few days after she was placed in her new foster home, she said. Over the next week, she followed her water source — small streams — through neighborhoods and parks.
Many Arlingtonians kept tabs on the saga through Nextdoor, the private neighborhood networking platform. Users reported seeing her in Rivercrest, Bellevue Forest, Woodmont and Gulf Branch, posting updates and photos whenever they saw Hannah.
“Kids just saw her… 11:25 a.m.,” said one Cherrydale resident.
“Just seen passing through our yard at 12:30 heading in the direction of Windy Run,” said a subsequent Nextdoor post.
Goodhart said she spent 13 hours on Friday, Oct. 9, tracking Hannah from sighting to sighting — but the Aussie Cattle Dog mix stayed five minutes ahead of her all day.
Homeward Trails asks neighbors not to try and catch or feed lost dogs. Giving chase scares them and feeding them makes them less likely to go after the food in the traps. People with gates are asked to leave them open so that if dogs wander in, they can be closed inside.
Finally, on Wednesday, Oct. 14, Hannah took the food bait and was captured in another dog foster family’s yard. On Nextdoor, dozens rejoiced at the news that she was rescued.
Goodhart said Homeward Trails is grateful to animal control officers who were “completely tireless in helping us” and to the community, who helped bring Hannah back.
“We seriously could not have asked for a better place for this dog to be lost,” she said. “You never want a dog that’s lost, but the community was incredible.”
Homeward Trails places about 1,000 foster dogs in homes a year. The local organization works with under-resourced shelters in the area, particularly West Virginia.
High school students in Arlington Public Schools say they are getting too many assignments and not enough time to do them during virtual learning.
Students are encouraged to engage in nightly independent reading of their choice. Beyond that, no additional assignments/homework will be required outside of the expectations for asynchronous work that is part of students’ daily class time, or the 30 minutes per subject of asynchronous work assigned for Mondays.
The volume of signatures caught the attention of the school system. The petition was the first time staff were notified that these concerns are shared by more than just a few students, said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.
“We take the feedback we receive via a variety of formats seriously,” he said. “All of our high school principals are aware and are meeting with teachers to examine the number of assignments being given and to reduce them where applicable.”
Principals are working at the subject level with instructional supervisors to come up with solutions that reduce the workload on students, he said.
Bellavia said the homework policy that the petitioners are referencing is not policy, but rather, it is guidance for secondary teachers. According to the guidance, teachers of college-level classes may need to assign more work to cover the breadth of their curricula.
One student told ARLnow that for the most part, the types of assignments and the volume are about the same, with the caveat that some teachers are assigning hours of video content.
“I probably spend… three hours a week watching videos for those classes, and I have three or four classes that assign videos,” he said.
That amounts to three to 12 hours a week of videos. For this student — who is taking all college-level classes and admits that more work comes with the territory — the workload did not motivate him to sign the petition.
“The homework itself doesn’t bother me,” he said. “It’s more that there was a policy made and they’re not following it.”
Despite the breakdown he sees between the school system’s expectations for assignments and the reality of distance learning, he commended his teachers for how they have adapted to online-only learning.
“Students like to give them flak, but from an objective standpoint, they’re doing pretty well,” he said.
Another student said, as a reason for signing the petition, that she has been working “15 hours every single day (8 a.m. 10 p.m.) non-stop ever since the beginning of school.”
She added that there are too many assignments and not enough asynchronous time in which to complete them.
“We shouldn’t be getting that much work especially in a learning environment that we aren’t familiar with,” she said. “It’s not because of poor time management, it’s because of so much work we are getting.”
In the petitions’ comments, parents also threw in their support, saying they have watched their students lose lunch hours to additional instruction and devote entire weekends to homework.
The Virginia Department of Transportation is asking residents to take a short survey that will shape a study of potential improvements to Route 1 between 12th and 23rd Streets S. in Crystal City.
As development activity in Crystal City and Pentagon City continues, VDOT and Arlington County are looking for ways to improve the safety, accessibility and effectiveness of a variety of transportation modes on Route 1 the area. In particular, the study responds to the increased demand for transportation resulting from the construction of Amazon’s HQ2.
“As this area’s commercial and residential densities continue to increase, transportation plans will need to address the wide-ranging needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, motorists, and other users while maximizing the safety, convenience, and sustainability of the system for decades to come,” according to a news release from the VDOT.
The survey asks respondents to explain how they use Route 1 (also known as Richmond Highway), rank improvements by priority, and identify areas with congestion or safety problems. It is available through Nov. 15.
Officials say the study will help identify safety improvements for pedestrians, bicyclists, those using micro-mobility modes such as electric bicycles and scooters, and those taking transit or driving. The study will also examine ways to make transit more accessible, reliable and convenient, as well as options for protecting the environment.
The team leading the study plans to form a task force from representatives of civic associations, Arlington County advisory groups and the National Landing Business Improvement District, the news release said. The task force is anticipated to have five meetings.
More from the press release:
After collecting and analyzing the initial survey data, VDOT is planning a virtual public meeting this winter to share preliminary survey results and latest study information. Draft recommendations for the study will be presented to the public for feedback in spring 2021, and the final study is expected to be complete in summer 2021.
Please note that this study does not include construction funding, but will develop proposed future improvements that VDOT and other agencies will consider and may pursue for funding.
The study was announced a week after the National Landing BID released a report, “Reimagining Route 1,” which envisioned the car-centric highway as a slower, greener, pedestrian-friendly boulevard lined with retail and restaurants.
VDOT is studying the Route 1 overpasses over 12th, 15th and 18th streets, which some have called to be eliminated in favor of more urban intersections at grade.
“Route 1 was originally designed to accommodate the auto-centric development trends of the mid-20th century, when the primary objective was to move cars through the area as quickly as possible,” the BID said in a press release. “The resulting elevated highway, super blocks, and oversized intersections divided the community for decades, inhibiting not only connectivity and access, but also the area’s ability to come together as a singular downtown district.”
We are proud to be a champion of projects that enhance connectivity, like "Reimagine Route 1", which begins the conversation around transforming the highway into a more pedestrian-friendly experience. #reimagineroute1 https://t.co/snrzY90Eza
— NationalLanding (@NationalLanding) October 6, 2020
Depending on local health conditions, Arlington Public Schools students who opt for hybrid instruction could start entering classrooms between the end of October and mid-January.
The staggered return times, along with more details about the school system’s preparations, were announced on Friday during a town hall for parents with Superintendent Francisco Durán and his staff.
Students with disabilities will begin returning on Oct. 29, followed by preschool to fifth-grade students — youngest to oldest — starting in late November and continuing into early December. High-school students taking certain Career and Technical Education courses will also return.
Parents of these students, designated as priority level 2, are being surveyed currently for instruction preferences. All other middle- and high-school students who opt for hybrid instruction comprise Level 3 and are currently expected to return in January.
“We want to be thoughtful of meeting the needs of all of our students who need more support,” Durán said.
During a town hall with teachers earlier last week, Durán told APS staff, including teachers, that balancing their preferences with those of families may mean APS cannot respect the wishes of every family who selects the hybrid option, according to a recording of the meeting, which was provided to ARLnow.
Rather, “with student need as the driver,” those who are falling behind, or have disabilities, those who have difficulty accessing online learning or do not have parents at home will receive the greatest priority in returning to school, he said.
An advocacy group promoting in-person education, Arlington Parents for Education, contends that qualifying for face-to-face education based on need is inconsistent with APS’s mission to provide equal access to public education.
“If APS is going to go down this path of making determinations on behalf of parents which children ‘truly need’ to deserve in-person schooling, then the district should be prepared for and willing to answer questions on the matter,” the group said in a statement. “Based on the volume of questions that were ignored at Friday evening’s town hall, it’s clear Dr. Durán is not being transparent with families, yet again.”
On Friday, parents had a lot of questions, submitted via text, Facebook Live comments and Microsoft Teams chat, ranging from keeping teachers to testing students.
“I recognize how challenging this is for our community, and I know there are many opposing views about how we should proceed,” Durán said.
School officials said parents are concerned with keeping kids with their current teachers, with many wanting to base their survey answers on what their child’s teacher prefers.
“We know there are strong bonds formed, and we will do our very, very best to maintain consistency as best we can with classes and teachers, but we are not going to be able to share what teachers prefer in their survey,” Durán said, asserting that doing so would reveal private health information.
Many others asked about regular COVID-19 testing.
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, K-12 students should not be regularly tested as a condition for students to return, said Zachary Pope, the school system’s emergency manager.
Rather, students will be pre-screened before boarding the bus or outside the classroom when parents drop them off. Guardians need to stay just in case their child is turned away for exhibiting symptoms, Pope said.
Students who experience symptoms at school will be put in seclusion rooms attended by specialized staff until a guardian can come get them. With the pre-screenings, however, Pope said “we hope we won’t have to have them in those rooms at all.”
Facing a shortage of moderately-priced housing options in the “missing middle” between apartment buildings and single-family homes, the County is kicking off a study to figure out whether it should open up some areas zoned only for single-family homes to denser housing types.
But Clement, a perennial candidate for the last decade, said Garvey has given outsized importance to the racial-justice component of this plan to gloss over economic problems. One problem is the possibility that these new housing options may still be out-of-reach for Black residents, according to Clement.
“The County has been very successful in persuading people it is a social-justice and racial issue, but the people that they are addressing are not aware of the dynamics of the real-estate market,” Clement said.
In the mid-20th century, Arlington began zoning most of the county for single-family homes and forbade the construction of more compact dwellings, which were more commonly inhabited by the county’s Black population because fewer could afford detached homes. There were also deed covenants that explicitly prevented non-whites from buying homes, even if they could afford them.
Today, 75% of the county is zoned for single-family homes. Given the median income earned by Black Arlingtonians, homes in all but a few neighborhoods are out of reach for most.
“What we’ve got now is the result of very intentional systemic racism,” Garvey said of local housing patterns. “Whether this study is going to fix it or not is hard to say. I don’t think we’re saying that.”
Clement agreed that the effects of Arlington’s exclusionary housing policies in the 20th century remain. She said what is disingenuous is framing duplexes, townhouses or other small-scale, multi-family housing as a way to correct Arlington’s racist past, when some data suggest these new options could be unaffordable due to the county’s inflated land values.
“Due to ever increasing land values no one earning less than area median income will afford the housing built on densified lots,” Clement wrote. “In addition many moderate income residents, including people of color, will be forced to sell when real estate assessments escalate in their up-zoned neighborhoods.”
Garvey did not refute the possibility that the study could find that these alternatives would not necessarily be more affordable, but said it is “way too early” to draw conclusions from a study in its infancy.
“The only thing we’ve said is that we have a real issue with sufficient diversity of housing to meet a lot of needs,” she said.
Clement argues that the current unaffordable housing landscape in Arlington is because the county allowed affordable homes to be torn down and replaced with more expensive housing. Renovating existing structures would be a better solution, she said.
This spring, the County Board voted to eliminate a tax credit to landlords who renovate their buildings. Senior Housing Planner Russell Danao-Schroeder said the program had outlived its usefulness: Only large developers were availing themselves of the credit to keep their buildings at the top of the market.
The future is uncertain for the boutique barre fitness studio LavaBarre in Rosslyn.
The gym at 1510 Clarendon Blvd announced on Instagram earlier this week that it would no longer be providing in-person classes at the studio. On Thursday, the studio’s storefront appeared closed and empty, with a lock on the door.
The founders of LavaBarre did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The fitness studio reopened at reduced capacity on June 26, after shutting down when the state went into lockdown in response to the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, we must again take a step back from in studio classes,” this week’s social media post said.
Although the brick-and-mortar location is empty, the post invited members to contact the gym about in-person indoor 0r outdoor classes, as well as Zoom classes, “during this closure.”
View this post on Instagram
We first shared our LavaCode with you on August 17th, 2012. We are sharing it with you again because over 8 years later, we hold each of these truths dear to our hearts. On March 17th 2020, we were forced to shut the doors to LavaBarre due to the pandemic and we reopened them to you with reduced capacity and increased precautions on Friday, June 26th. Unfortunately we must again take a step back from in studio classes. Please DM @laurenelizabethprice if you are interested in taking in person indoor or outdoor barre or zoom classes during this closure.
LavaBarre offers high-intensity workouts that blend ballet, interval training, cardio, pilates and the use of props.
In the last five years, gyms offering ballet-inspired barre classes have proliferated in Arlington. Among them are Xtend Barre, Neighborhood Barre, Pure Barre, and Barre3 in Clarendon, as well as a Pure Barre in Pentagon City.
The Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation is asking residents if they would attend indoor programs and classes this winter.
In an email sent yesterday, the parks department announced that as staff prepare for winter, they are exploring opportunities for safe indoor classes and programs.
The survey asks whether residents are comfortable attending or sending children to indoor programming, or whether they would rather stick with virtual activities.
“It’s really to take folks’ temperature,” spokeswoman Susan Kalish said.
Whether the department hosts programs this winter is “not up to us — it’s up to the guidelines,” she said, referencing state health guidelines.
One guideline in Phase 3 of Gov. Ralph Northam’s Forward Virginia plan, initiated in August, tells establishments to keep 10 feet of distance between attendees when exercise activities, singing or cheering are involved. In all other settings, the minimum distance required is six feet.
Program sizes will be smaller and in some cases, due to constraints, particular classes may not be viable, Kalish said.
Community centers will have one-way entrances and exits, be reconfigured and cleaned more frequently, the email said.
Options for physical activities range from gymnastics to therapeutic adapted services, and other suggested topics for programming include history, music, science and discovery, languages and nature.
The parks department continues to offer virtual programs for people of all ages, abilities and interests. For now, the department said outdoor spaces are open and it continues to run “Programs in the Park (while the weather is good).”