Press Club

Morning Notes

Rosslyn at lunchtime (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

County Board’s APS Covid Concern — “Is the Arlington school system inadvertently encouraging parents to not report COVID-like symptoms among students? That’s the concern of a number of County Board members, who say the current testing requirements make it more likely parents will stay mum rather than go to the hassle of getting their children checked out.” [Sun Gazette]

Big Vehicle Fire Shuts Down Route 50 — From Dave Statter on Saturday night: “Some fuzzy traffic-cam video showing a vehicle fire that has all lanes of Route 50 eastbound shut prior to Pershing. @ArlingtonVaFD & @ArlingtonVaPD handling.” [Twitter]

Police Upping Seat Belt Enforcement — “The high-visibility national seat belt campaign, Click It or Ticket, which coincides with the Memorial Day holiday, runs from May 23 through June 6, 2022, and works towards reducing the number of fatalities that occur when drivers and passengers fail to buckle up.” [ACPD]

‘Salt Line’ Makes WaPo Dining Guide — “Well-shucked oysters, fluffy Parker House rolls, a comfortable room staged with nautical mementos: Just about everything that helps pack ’em in at the Salt Line in Navy Yard can be found at its young spinoff in Ballston. Really, the only ingredient missing from the original is a water view, although if you squint from a table inside, you can imagine boats and waves beyond the already-popular outdoor patio.” [Washington Post]

Worries About the Local Water Supply — “A train crash, a power plant discharge, an underwater pipeline rupture — or an act of terrorism — could cripple the drinking water supply of the nation’s capital. And there’s no Plan B. D.C. and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs are dependent on the Potomac River as the main — or sole — source of drinking water.” [WTOP]

Annual Street Sweeping Starting Soon — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “Another round of Arlington street sweeping starts next month. Last year, 9,178 lane miles were cleaned for smoother rides and a healthier Chesapeake watershed.” [Twitter]

Beyer Banned from Russia — From Rep. Don Beyer: “A new Kremlin list of people banned from traveling to Russia just dropped; I am less interested than they might think in traveling to a country that is indiscriminately bombing Ukrainian civilians.” [Twitter]

APS Graduations at Constitution Hall — “Arlington Public Schools plans on having graduation ceremonies for its three main high schools back in their traditional spot – D.A.R. Constitution Hall – for the first time since 2019.” [Sun Gazette]

Lane Closures for Building Demolition — From the City of Falls Church: “From Sun 5/22 thru Thu 5/26, select lanes will be closed 9PM to 5:30AM while the building on the corner of Broad St. and Washington St. is demolished.” [Twitter]

It’s Monday — Partly sunny, with a high near 73 and a slight chance of showers later in the afternoon. [Weather.gov]

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Arlington School Board members clap after approving the final budget for the 2022-23 school year (via Arlington Public Schools)

The Arlington School Board unanimously approved a $749.9 million budget for the 2022-23 school year during its meeting Thursday night.

Revenue for the Fiscal Year 2023 budget includes a $563.8 million ongoing transfer from the county, a one-time transfer of $20.5 million, $3.5 million in carry-over funds from the 2021-22 school year, state and federal funding, and the use of $21.3 million in reserves.

The budget process, Chair Barbara Kanninen noted, went well. It was the first time in four years that the School Board was presented a balanced budget — as opposed to recent years when the superintendent proposed spending more than was anticipated in revenue.

Similar to the county budget, school system funding in the upcoming year emphasizes compensation for staff.

“We want to support our students as much as possible but a big part of that is recruiting and retaining that outstanding staff,” Kanninen said.

The budget will allow the school system to begin implementing its new compensation plan, which will update salary scales, provide consistent step increases and catch up from missed missed step increases in the past. On average, teachers, principals and administrators will see a 6.8% pay increase, while support staff will see an average of a 9.5% increase.

School Board members Mary Kadera and Cristina Diaz-Torres said when they first heard the proposed compensation increases, they thought it would be a “moonshot.”

The budget reduces class size by two students at the elementary level and one student at the high school level, funds additional school-based equity and excellence coordinators and an equity data dashboard, and adds more resources for English learners.

Adjustments to school bell times, which were also approved at the meeting, are expected to result in nearly $2 million in savings for the school system. The changes reduce the number of school start and end times from eight across APS to five, thus streamlining school bus routes and schedules.

The School Board added to Superintendent Francisco Durán’s proposed budget, including funding for four psychologists and social workers, trauma-informed professional learning, the National Board Certified Teacher program, a partnership coordinator, and a math curriculum supervisor.

A chart noting the School Board’s additions to the superintendent’s proposed budget (via Arlington Public Schools)

Other updates to the budget included $147,871 in funding to open the planetarium in October or November 2022 and hire a director, $391,484 for four high school math coaches and $628,000 for a year of tutoring for grades 6-12.

A few public commenters noted the disparities in minority students’ test scores and the need for more funding to compensate for lost learning during the pandemic.

“We took a first step, we have more steps to go until we see each and every one of our students be successful and right now we have a lot of students that are still having some academic and social emotional needs,” Durán said in response.

The Virginia General Assembly still has not adopted a budget for the Commonwealth, so the School Board will likely have to amend the budget to account for any state revenue changes. If there’s a shortfall, the superintendent proposes to fund them with reserves.

Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)

The School Board also kicked off its Capital Improvement Plan process, as Durán put forward his proposal, which totals $388.23 million between 2023 and 2032.

The CIP will be the first 10-year plan since 2018. The school system has only budgeted three years in advance since, in part due to budgetary uncertainty during the pandemic, but can return to the longer range planning now that APS is in a better place fiscally, Durán said.

All proposed project funding includes money set aside for escalation and inflation, as well as contingency.

While about 45% of the CIP will go toward the Arlington Career Center project, Durán said his proposal incorporates many other improvements. He proposed the larger of the two concept options for the career center, which could accommodate 1,795 students. The center is the county’s only career and technical education center.

“This is a major part of our CIP, certainly, but not the only one,” Durán said.

A pie chart in a slideshow depicts that 45% of the 2023-32 Capital Improvement Plan is budgeted for the Arlington Career Center (via Arlington Public Schools)

His presentation to the board also highlighted kitchen upgrades, security vestibules at schools, athletic field replacements and accessibility enhancements.

The first school renovation would have a target fall 2026 start — but the school system hasn’t determined which school will be upgraded.

In the proposal, new synthetic turf would be installed at Wakefield High School in fiscal year 2023, at Washington-Liberty High and Williamsburg Middle School in fiscal year 2024, and at Greenbrier  Park (Yorktown High School) in fiscal year 2025. Kenmore’s field will also be converted but costs will be shared with the county, Durán said.

An HVAC replacement at Barcroft Elementary School is under design and Randolph Elementary’s roof replacement will go to bid this fall.

Other items included in the proposal were upgrades to finance and HR staff software, known as STARS, replacing lock and key systems, and PA system replacements at six schools.

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Morning Notes

Metro Delays Due to Safety Snafu — “Metro’s Chief Safety Officer reports that nearly half of Metro’s 500 rail operators have lapsed recertification… In consultation with the Board of Directors, Metro management is taking immediate corrective action to remove from service 72 train operators who became out of compliance prior to May 2021. This will result in a temporary reduction in Green and Yellow line service from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes due to an operator shortage.” [WMATA]

APS Changes Bell Schedules — “The School Board in Arlington, Virginia, voted to lengthen the school day by a little less than 10 minutes and to rearrange school start and end times in the first change to the county school system’s bell schedule in more than two decades. At its Thursday meeting, the board unanimously voted in favor of the adjustments.” [WTOP]

Psaki Spat With Arlington GOP — Outgoing White House Press Secretary (and Arlington resident) Jen Psaki “acknowledged that there have been instances in which she shared information with the Secret Service about threats… She said that no one has physically come to her home, but added, ‘There is a circulation of my address among the Arlington Republican Party.’ The Arlington GOP in a statement to The Hill said it ‘has not publicly disseminated any Biden Administration official’s home address.'” [The Hill]

Rosslyn Tunnel Congestion Revisited — “The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) is pressing leadership of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority not to forget about congestion at the Rosslyn tunnel. In a May 6 letter to (outgoing) Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld, NVTC chair Carek Aguirre urged the transit agency to ‘recognize the strategic importance of moving swiftly to design a solution to relieve train congestion’ at the tunnel.” [Sun Gazette]

Wakefield Rowing Storms State Tourney — “At Saturday’s regatta… the Warriors stood just as deep as any other school on the Occoquan River and stepped into the dynasty conversation themselves, with the boys’ and girls’ top varsity eight boats each rowing to titles.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Trucker Protest Returning — “The People’s Convoy is slated to be in D.C. by Tuesday, as they’re currently in Ohio. Further, a convoy leader tonight took to the microphone to try and squash fear over being hit with eggs in the city, saying: ‘I happen to like eggs.'” [Twitter]

DCA Using UV to Zap Covid — “Reagan National and Dulles International airports now have ultraviolet disinfection technology to combat the spread of viruses including Covid… The airports authority’s statement of work specifically called for the technology to disinfect the air in 39 spaces at National and 73 spaces at Dulles, including ticketing and baggage claim areas, security checkpoints, transit platforms and gate hold rooms.” [Washington Business Journal]

Local Real Estate is Really Expensive — “There may be an end in sight at some point for rising single-family home values in Arlington. But so far, it hasn’t been reached. The average sales price of the 100 single-family properties that went to closing in April was $1,348,813. That’s up 14.5 percent from a year before.” [Sun Gazette]

Missing Falls Church Teen — “City of Falls Church Police seek information to help a teen return home. Abigail… is 16 years old and was last seen at her home in the City at about 3 a.m. on Sunday after an argument with family. Abigail is about 5 feet tall, has black brown hair and a nose ring.” [City of Falls Church]

It’s Monday — Rain and storms, some severe, in the afternoon and evening. High of 77 and low of 64. Sunrise at 5:56 am and sunset at 8:16 pm. [Weather.gov]

Photos courtesy Will Wiard, Geoff Collins, Dave Statter and Kelly Harrington

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Covid cases in Arlington as of 5/6/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) Arlington remains on the upslope of what is increasingly looking like the pandemic’s fifth wave.

Thanks to high vaccination rates, this wave is locally more disruptive than deadly, but the county is starting to see a rise in Covid hospitalizations as well.

As of today the seven-day moving average of new daily cases is just shy of 140, up by nearly 50% from the 95 daily cases reported three weeks ago.

Arlington was just joined in the CDC’s “medium” Covid level by neighboring Fairfax County, which is seeing 210 weekly cases per 100,000 residents, compared to Arlington’s 376 weekly cases per 100,000. The City of Alexandria reached the “medium” Covid level on April 20.

Both counties are reporting 3.4 weekly Covid hospitalizations per 100,000 people, according to CDC data. Arlington reported 1.9 weekly hospitalizations per 100,000 people less than four weeks ago.

Arlington’s Covid test positivity rate has been climbing over the past few days and currently stands at 11.2%.

Arlington Public Schools, meanwhile, is reporting 317 student cases over the past week, up from 198 two weeks ago, immediately following spring break. A trio of North Arlington schools — Glebe Elementary, Yorktown High School and Cardinal Elementary — have the highest case total over the past week, with 20-30 cases each. (Kenmore Middle School also reported 20 cases.)

The H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program in Rosslyn this week told families that nearly 20% of its senior class had tested positive for Covid over the course of two days, just ahead of AP exams and prom.

A reader shared the following email with ARLnow.

Dear families of seniors:

We wanted to make you aware that as of today, 18 seniors have reported testing positive for Covid in the last 2 days. This is almost 20% of our senior class.

We are sending emails to the families of students who are identified as close contacts via seating charts but we know that many seniors congregate at lunch, after school and on the weekends.

To mitigate further spread amongst our seniors we would ask you to consider the following strategies:

  • Keep your student home if they are not feeling well (fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches cold symptoms, etc that are not explained by an alternate diagnosis). Even if they are testing negative.
  • Test your student regularly using an at home test.
  • Ask your student to mask to protect themselves and those around them especially if they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive.

We would like every senior to be able to take their AP exams on time, go to Prom on May 17, and participate in all of their end of year activities. Please stay healthy!

Thank you,

Casey

Casey Robinson, Principal
H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program

Currently, the APS Covid dashboard is showing 18 cases over the past week for H-B Woodlawn, up from 15 immediately after the above email was sent out.

Asked at the time about the discrepancy, an APS spokesman noted that the dashboard only tracks voluntary parent questionnaires.

“Qualtrics is the questionnaire that is sent via text and email to families daily that asks if a students has symptoms, been in contact with someone or tested positive,” said Frank Bellavia. “We encourage families to fill it out each morning, but they are not required to.”

Bellavia said that APS is encouraging use of masks in schools, though mask wearing remains optional.

“We encourage students and staff to wear masks in schools since cases levels in Arlington are at the ‘medium’ level,” the school spokesman said. “APS also adheres to the recommended quarantine and isolation protocols for staff and students to reduce the spread of COVID. Additional measures include encouraging families to test if their student has symptoms and to sign their students up for weekly screening testing offered weekly in schools. We’ve also provided free at-home COVID tests and provide test-to-stay for students who are not vaccinated.”

Covid cases in Arlington Public Schools as of 5/6/22 (via APS)
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Arlington School Board candidate Brandon Clark (left) and the Clark family (right) (courtesy of Brandon Clark)

A candidate for the Arlington School Board has withdrawn his name from the Democratic endorsement process.

Brandon Clark, a teacher at Gunston Middle School, said he decided to remove himself from consideration this week so he could run independent of party affiliation. He realized the partisan process did not align with his beliefs, he said.

“The more I thought about it, the more I was like, wait, this shouldn’t be part of the process,” he told ARLnow. “Education shouldn’t be a partisan issue.”

The caucus “represents a small microcosm of Arlington County,” Clark said. ‘It’s not up to the Arlington Democrats to decide who the School Board member’s going to be.”

The Arlington County Democratic Committee will now vote in June on whether to endorse Bethany Sutton, the only remaining candidate seeking the party’s endorsement, ACDC Chair Steve Baker said.

Clark had been steered in the direction of going through the Democratic Committee’s voting process when he decided to run in the otherwise nonpartisan election, he said.

“Because as a family, both of us being teachers, we don’t have a lot of disposable income to spend on a campaign, so I was told this is the only way you’re going to win,” he said. “It shouldn’t have this air of like, ‘this is the process where you win the race.’ No, the people need to decide and that happens on Election Day.”

Clark thanked the volunteers who began to lay the groundwork for the four-day caucus that will no longer take place.

James Vell Rives IV is also running without a party affiliation. Rives and Clark are the only two candidates who have qualified to be on the ballot so far, according to the Arlington elections office.

The Democratic endorsement process has been scrutinized for its overrepresentation of white, affluent Arlington residents, and discouraging participation in the general election while potentially making nonpartisan officials beholden to a political party, among other concerns. Calls for reform were ultimately defeated.

Clark said he hadn’t realized there were groups criticizing the caucus until he started going through the process.

“But I’m seeing now why these organizations have the grievances that they do,” he said. “In my opinion, it seems like a very insider kind of process.

This past weekend, before he pulled his name from endorsement consideration, he criticized local Democrats for selling a “Russian named vodka” at their Blue Victory Dinner, saying it “speaks to being out of touch on what our community might regard as tasteless and, although seemingly insignificant to others, [and] represents tacit support for Russia.”

He said as a teacher, he encourages his students to look at all sides of an issue to make well-informed decisions, so he didn’t think it was appropriate to align himself with a political party.

“In the future, I hope this process is more inclusive and more open and that there is a support for individuals who are trying to run,” Clark said.

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Rendering of the proposed Arlington Career Center project (via Arlington Public Schools)

(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) Arlington Career Center plans remain on track after a contentious School Board vote late last week.

Two concepts that were presented will move to the schematic design phase after a 3-1 vote at Thursday’s meeting, which also cemented the project in the superintendent’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan, to be presented May 12.

The concepts are a $174.6 million “base” plan with 1,795 seats and a $158.3 million “alternative” plan with 1,345 seats.

Options for new Arlington Career Center (via APS)

The project, which could be the most expensive the school system has undertaken, will provide a new home to the county’s only career and technical education center, while potentially relieving some capacity pressure on Arlington’s comprehensive high schools.

Plans haven’t been solidified for the existing, aging Career Center building.

School Board member Mary Kadera casted the only dissenting vote, wanting to delay the project from moving forward until after the CIP passes.

She pointed to the unknown cost of repurposing or demolishing the existing Career Center and pressed the Board to carefully consider the project’s effect on debt service and ability to fund other projects — concerns also expressed by some nearby residents.

“We owe it to ourselves and the community to make decisions about its future within the context of our overall needs,” she said. “What are the down sides to the delay I requested?”

The layout of the proposed Arlington Career Center project (via Arlington County)

Chair Barbara Kanninen, the most senior member of the School Board, later appeared to admonish Kadera, who is in her first year on the board.

“I want my board colleagues to recognize that when you join the School Board, you’re not a candidate anymore. You’re not a commenter on social media or on ARLnow,” Kanninen said. “You’re heard when you speak and when you take action… And we need to be so aware of that. When we take action, that school communities hear us not supporting them, it’s heartbreaking.”

The Career Project project has been delayed in the past after the board pushed forward with ideas that proved too costly.

“We mustn’t make the same mistake again,” Kadera said.

Kanninen said the project is affordable and will not affect the school system’s other priorities.

“Everything that we had slated… everything we have on our list, infrastructure projects, HVAC, it is all already in this current three-year CIP,” Kanninen said. “We got this project in and there is still debt capacity and there is still $34 million in capital reserves.”

Kanninen added that if a more urgent project was introduced during the CIP process, APS can always adjust.

“The bottom line is we have this doubly verified number, we’ve never had this before, for this Career Center project going into the CIP,” she said. “We are solid with this number. We know what it is. We can work with it.”

Kanninen and the other two “yes” votes on the board — Vice Chair Reid Goldstein was not at the meeting — emphasized their commitment to building a new Career Center.

“For us to suddenly come back now and decide that we’re not going to do that would be irresponsible,” said Cristina Diaz-Torres.

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Morning Notes

Washington Blvd and N. Nelson Street at night (Flickr pool photo by Cyrus W)

APS Looking for New Academic Officer — “The Arlington school system is on the hunt for a new academic chief, after the incumbent in the position was dispatched to serve for a second tour of duty as a middle-school principal. Bridget Loft, the current chief academic officer, on April 28 was appointed principal at Swanson Middle School, a post she held from 2011-17 before moving on to serve as principal at Yorktown High School and then hold the school system’s top academic-focused leadership post.” [Sun Gazette]

Taxes Up By a Sixth in Three Years — “Another year of no reduction in the Arlington real-estate tax rate to offset spiraling assessments means that the typical county homeowner will be paying 17 percent more in taxes to the government compared to three years ago.” [Sun Gazette]

Cristol Weights in on Possible Roe Decision — From Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol: “Anticipating the impending decision to fully overturn Roe vs. Wade didn’t make it any less shocking. The reality that our nation is moving backwards on the fundamental right of women to exist in a democratic society without being forced by the state to give birth is chilling.” [Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Possible light rain in the morning and storms around midday. High of 77 and low of 60. Sunrise at 6:08 am and sunset at 8:05 pm. [Weather.gov]

Flickr pool photo by Cyrus W

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The Arlington School Board during its April 7, 2022 meeting (via Arlington Public Schools)

(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) Arlington’s School Board race is starting to take shape.

With School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen’s seat up for grabs, a few hats have been tossed in the ring so far.

Wednesday marked the end of the filing date for the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s endorsement process, which has a few changes this year in light of calls for a broader reform that were ultimately defeated.

Two candidates are seeking the Democratic endorsement in the otherwise non-partisan November school board election. A four-day voting process to determine the endorsee will be held in June.

Bethany Sutton is hoping to get the endorsement over Brandon Clark, the first person to qualify to run for school board through the Voter Registration and Elections Office. And James Vell Rives IV has also qualified for the November ballot.

Sutton is a certified leadership coach, executive search consultant and a former PTA president. She has lived in Arlington for more than 20 years and has a background in governance, strategic planning, staff and leadership development, and nonprofit management, according to her profile in the ACDC announcement of candidates.

Sutton served on Randolph Elementary School’s PTA board for seven years, three of which she was president of the board. Since spring 2020, she has led the Randolph Food Pantry, a community-based volunteer effort to support families affected by the pandemic.

Bethany Sutton, who is running for School Board (via Arlington Democrats)

For her work at Randolph Elementary, she was awarded the APS Honored Citizen Award in 2021 and the Distinguished County Service Award in 2020 from Volunteer Arlington and the Leadership Center for Excellence.

She also serves on the Arlington County Food Security Task Force and is chair of the APS Advisory Council on Teaching and Learning, which she has been on since 2018.

“She has a passion for excellence in student learning and a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” according to the ACDC writeup.

Sutton grew up in the Philadelphia area, attended college at the University of Mary Washington and graduate school at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She also completed a graduate program in leadership coaching at Georgetown University.

Arlington School Board candidate Brandon Clark (left) and the Clark family (right) (courtesy of Brandon Clark)

Clark, a Gunston Middle School teacher, says he wants to bring a needed employee perspective to the school board, while pushing to improve the school system’s communication and engagement efforts.

While Clark is seeking the Democratic endorsement, he expressed displeasure with the party over the weekend. He told ARLnow via email that he left ACDC’s Blue Victory Dinner, held at a Ballston hotel Saturday night, miffed at the choice of vodka offered given the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“I briefly attended an event hosted by Arlington Democrats as a school board candidate… I left early and before the event started, when I saw that Russian named vodka, originally started in Moscow, was being offered for purchase,” he wrote. “I am confused and appalled by this and would like to say that this is an oversight and greater symptom of a larger problem in Arlington politics.”

A day after the initial publication of this article, Clark clarified that the vodka issue was not the only reason he left the event early, while adding that it “speaks to being out of touch on what our community might regard as tasteless and, although seemingly insignificant to others, [and] represents tacit support for Russia.”

Rives, meanwhile, is not seeking the Democratic endorsement, and is running as an independent. He is a psychiatrist and serves as co-chair of Arlington Public Schools’ School Health Advisory Board.

Rives has lived in Fairlington with his wife Carmen since 2003, and their children attend Wakefield High School and Claremont Elementary.

As a physician with a background in mental health, he said he can bring a unique perspective to the board. He particularly wants to help as schools recover from the effects of the pandemic, keeping schools open so students can catch up on lost skills and ensuring the school system retains its teachers.

“Restarting has been bumpy,” he said. “I want to help get back on track.”

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Morning Notes

Blooming trees and the dog park at Gateway Park in Rosslyn (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Animal Shelter at Capacity — “Our dog kennels are at capacity (every single kennel is occupied)… but what about your home? That extra seat on your couch sure would be a lot cuter with a furry friend curled up on it.” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington, Fox 5]

Parents Peeved at Teacher Transfer — From an online petition with nearly 500 signatures: “Dr. Sharon Gaston has worked at Taylor Elementary school for 12 years as the lead reading specialist. For the past 11 years she was appointed under 2 different principals as their designee. This past school year she applied to be the principal and unfortunately was passed over. The new principal… is transferring her to a high school. Why? We want answers.” [Change.org]

APS Announces New Principals — “So happy and proud to announce that Ms. Frances Lee has been appointed as the next principal of Ashlawn Elementary! She is currently assistant principal of Escuela Key.” “At the April 28 School Board meeting, the School Board appointed Ms. Bridget Loft as the new Swanson principal. Her appointment is effective May 3.” [Twitter, Arlington Public Schools]

New Japanese Eatery at Mall Food Court — “Sarku Japan… The largest and most successful Japanese Quick Service Restaurant chain in the US is coming! Come celebrate the grand opening of Sarku Japan at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. Sample their famous signature chicken teriyaki at the food court.” [Twitter]

Arlington Man Sentenced for Bias Attack — “A man from Arlington, Virginia, was found guilty and sentenced Friday for a hate crime attack on two Latino construction workers back in 2019. A judge sentenced Kurt Madsen, 53, to 540 days — nearly a year and a half — in jail, but suspended his term to time served as long as he completes two years of probation. Before his trial, Madsen spent 160 days in jail.” [WTOP, U.S. DOJ]

Police Memorial Ceremony Planned — “The annual Arlington County Peace Officers Memorial Day Ceremony will be held on Tuesday, May 10 at 8 a.m. at the Arlington County Justice Center, 1425 North Courthouse Road… The public is invited; the event also will be live streamed through the county government’s Facebook page.” [Sun Gazette]

Metro Starting to Buy Electric Buses — “New details of Metro’s Zero-Emission Bus Transition Plan, presented at this week’s meeting of the Board of Directors, outlines how the agency will transition to a zero-emission bus fleet including testing and evaluation, infrastructure and facility upgrades, and procurement efforts.” [WMATA]

It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 76 and low of 61. Sunrise at 6:10 am and sunset at 8:03 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Capitals practice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex (via Monumental Sports and Entertainment)

Oakridge Elementary will get to cheer on the Washington Capitals heading into the playoffs.

More than 280 third through fifth grade students will participate in a pep rally at the Arlington Ridge school tomorrow (Friday), just days before teams begin facing off for the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The event, dubbed “Soar to the Playoffs,” is being organized by the Caps and sponsored by Boeing, which has its D.C. headquarters in nearby Crystal City. The event will run from noon to 1 p.m. and feature street hockey, as well as an appearance from Caps mascot Slapshot.

As the season winds down and playoff matchups are firming up, there’s news swirling around Alexander Ovechkin’s injury and ability to start in the playoffs. He sat out of Tuesday’s game against the New York Islanders. The team is set to play the Islanders again tonight at 7 p.m. on Long Island.

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Covid case rate in Arlington on 4/26/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

Arlington saw a slight dip in Covid cases mid-month, during the Arlington Public Schools spring break, but cases are back on a relatively slow upward trajectory this week.

After the seven-day moving average broke the 100 daily case mark last week, that same figure stands at 110 cases per day today, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

Arlington Public Schools, meanwhile, has reported 195 student cases over the past week, including 23 at Jamestown Elementary alone. The North Arlington school has the highest seven-day case total of any Arlington public school, after Yorktown High School and its 14 reported cases.

Jamestown informed families about 17 new cases in an email yesterday.

Arlington County remains in the CDC’s “Medium” Covid level classification due to the volume of cases, but reported hospitalizations remain low.

In his weekly public Facebook post on Friday, Virginia Hospital Center ER chief Mike Silverman said the hospital is not seeing a notable increase in severe disease from Covid infections.

Although COVID numbers are continuing to increase in the community, we have seen a leveling off of COVID in both the emergency department and the hospital. Although new diagnoses of cases has increased the last several weeks in the ER, it never reached a critically high level. This week, the numbers actually dropped a touch as did the percent positivity rate in the emergency department as well. The hospital just has a handful of patients who are COVID-positive. I think we are seeing the clear benefits of vaccinations and boosters.

However, we have seen an increase in the community rate in Arlington County and this rate is slightly above 10%. This represents a pretty high transmission level in the community. Fortunately, patients are not getting sick and requiring hospitalization but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to be cautious in our interactions. And while some people may expect that getting COVID is inevitable, I think we still have a lot to understand about the long-term consequences of COVID.

The wider Arlington community’s Covid test positivity rate, meanwhile, has started declining. It currently stands at 10.8%, down from a recent peak of 12.4% three days ago, according to VDH.

Covid test positivity rate in Arlington on 4/26/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)
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