Press Club

Elementary-school-aged children will soon be able to get the Covid vaccine from Arlington County.

The county’s public health division says it will start offering free jabs to 5-11 year-old children on Saturday. That follows the FDA’s emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for the age group last week.

The shots will be offered by appointment only and supply may be limited early on. According to the county, about 13,000 children ages 5-11 live in Arlington.

The county started offering free vaccine shots to children ages 12-15 in May, after FDA authorization for that age group.

County Board member Katie Cristol called the availability of the vaccine for local 5-11 year-olds good news on social media this afternoon, after it was announced by the county.

Arlington Public Schools has reported 15 positive Covid cases among students over the past seven days, all but one in elementary schools.

Overall, Covid cases have been slowly trending down in Arlington over the past month and a half. Currently about 21 cases per day are being reported in the county, on average, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

More on the new vaccine offering, from an Arlington County press release:

On Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021 Arlington County Public Health will begin offering free COVID-19 vaccines by appointment to children ages 5-11 years old at Walter Reed Community Center and Arlington Mill Community Center. Clinics designated specifically for this age group will be held Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 13 and 14, 2021, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

This follows the expansion of Pfizer’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to children in this age group, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

“The Pfizer vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective in preventing COVID-19 in children. This approval is a critical step towards protecting our kids and keeping other vulnerable community members safe. We encourage all parents to get their children vaccinated when they become eligible,” said Dr. Reuben Varghese, Arlington County Public Health Director.

Find a Vaccine for Your Child

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for 5-11-year-olds will be available at Arlington County Public Health Division clinics and pharmacies, searchable through Vaccines.gov. Your child’s pediatrician may also offer the vaccine.

In the early weeks of distribution, vaccine supply may be limited. As supplies increase, so too will appointment availability.

Arlington County Public Health Division Clinics

Arlington County’s Public Health Division (ACPHD) will be offering COVID-19 vaccine by appointment only at Walter Reed Community Center and Arlington Mill Community Center. Walk-ins will not be accepted. Please note: Children ages 17 and younger must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to receive their free COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Sat. Nov. 6 and Sun. Nov. 7 (9 a.m.-5 p.m.)
  • Mon. Nov. 8 – Fri. Nov. 12 (2 p.m.-7 p.m.)
  • Sat. Nov. 13 and Sun. Nov. 14 (9 a.m.-5 p.m.) Note: These clinics are exclusively for 5-11-year-olds; Vaccine for people ages 12+ will not be offered

Appointments for ACPHD clinics can be made online though the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) — select the option labeled “Schedule a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine appointment (age 5-11).”

Second dose appointments will be scheduled at the time of the first dose. If you need ADA accommodations or require assistance scheduling your appointment with Arlington County Public Health, call 703-228-7999.

Vaccines.gov

  • Schedule an appointmentNOTE: Vaccines.gov is in the process of being updated to include an option for Pfizer (ages 5-11).
  • Text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX) or to 822862 (VACUNA) to find nearby vaccine locations.

Pediatricians

  • Contact your child’s pediatrician to ask if they are offering the vaccine to patients.

Approximately 13,000 children ages 5-11 live in Arlington. Arlington County encourages everyone 5 and older to get a COVID-19 vaccine. For more information, visit the County’s COVID-19 website. Also check out vaccine FAQs.

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Students at the inaugural session of the Dyslexic Edge Academy at Drew Elementary School (Photo courtesy of Krista Gauthier)

(Updated, 2:50 p.m.) A new, free literacy program has come to Drew Elementary School thanks to the local non-profit Sliding Doors, Virginia Tech, and the local NAACP branch.

The Dyslexic Edge Academy launched this week with 11 first graders at Drew Elementary in Green Valley. The goal is to help those students who struggle with reading by focusing on their strengths.

“People with dyslexia tend to gravitate to and be very good in STEM fields; science, technology, engineering and math,” Krista Gauthier, executive director of Merrifield-based Sliding Doors, tells ARLnow.”What we want to do is not only make sure that kids receive the evidence-based instruction that they need, but also play on their strengths. To us, confidence is as important as reading.”

The students meet with instructors after school in a group setting twice a week for 90 minutes. Half of the session is spent with one-on-one tutoring using the Orton-Gillingham approach, which breaks down reading and spelling using multisensory skills like sounds and hand motions. The other half of the session is spent on STEM-related projects.

The STEM activities include everything from kitchen chemistry to rocketry to robotics to coding,” says Gauthier.

That could mean making slime, building model rockets, or operating an underwater robot, she says. It’s hoped that field trips to the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and the Smithsonian could be part of the curriculum in the future as well.

While the program is starting with 11 students, the expectation is that it will have 20 students by early next year. The pilot program will run until at least May 2023.

About 20% of the population has some form of dyslexia, according to statistics from the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. Yet, many school systems haven’t adapted to help these students and private tutoring can be prohibitively expensive, explains Symone Walker, co-chair of the Arlington Branch NAACP Education Committee.

She believes this is a big reason why there’s such an opportunity gap at some Arlington schools, including Drew Elementary.

“We really wanted to target a population that has been disproportionately impacted by the achievement gap,” says Walker. “We’re very familiar with how Drew has been historically passed over, looked over in the community, and we wanted to give back where we saw the greatest need.”

Both Walker and Gauthier say that the opportunity and achievement gaps that exist in county schools have a lot to do with reading scores and how schools are teaching literacy.

The Dyslexic Edge Academy will use the multisensory Orton-Gillingham approach to teach reading, as opposed to the balanced literacy approach that’s currently being taught in Arlington public schools.

“When we talk about multisensory, we’re talking about big motions,” says Gauthier. “We actually use something called ‘skywriting,’ which is as the child is actually forming the letter in the air… they’re actually saying the letter, repeating the letter, attaching the sound to the letter.”

What’s more, by bringing cool STEM-related projects into the learning, it helps students gain confidence.

“They really begin to associate something they struggle with, with something they love,” says Gauthier. “It really actually plays into them wanting to read as well.”

As Walker points out, a lot of NASA employees have some form of dyslexia. In fact, that includes more than half of NASA employees, according to the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity.

“We want to produce more Arlingtonians who work for NASA,” she said.

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Morning Notes

Demolition has leveled the former Summers restaurant in Courthouse (staff photo)

Pentagon City Metro Elevator Update — From Arlington Transit: “On Sun., Sept. 19, the bus stop serving ART 42, 74, 84 & 87, Metrobus 7A & 22A, and Fairfax Connector 599 (AM) will temporarily be relocated south on S Hayes St. due construction of Pentagon City Metro second elevator.” [Twitter]

Huffpost Calls Arlington GOP Tweet ‘Racist’ — “In a racist tweet Monday that was promptly ratioed into the shame museum, the Arlington County Republican Committee in Virginia suggested that two Democratic congresswomen of color should retire and go work as lobbyists for the Taliban… ‘This tweet isn’t about race ― it’s about the Squad’s constant support for anti-American sentiment abroad,’ the Arlington GOP tweeted.” [Huffpost]

ACFD Responds to Courthouse Gas Leak — “Arlington County Fire and Rescue crews said a gas leak reported just before 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Courthouse area was fixed about an hour later.” [Patch, Twitter]

Local Nurse Lauded for Covid Candor — “An Arlington woman who continues going above and beyond to help her community throughout the pandemic is being nominated for a community hero award from her fellow neighbors.” [WJLA]

Arlington Students Make ‘Merit’ Semis — “Sixteen high school students from Arlington have been named 2022 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, taking the first step in securing a scholarship in the competitive program.” [Patch, Arlington Public Schools]

Restaurant Recs for Those With Kids — “Going out with kids is complicated enough — finding dishes for picky eaters, hoping they will sit still long enough to finish their food and not terrorize other tables, praying you can relax for five minutes… These restaurants are going out of their way to create a welcoming, inclusive and safe dining environment for families, with outdoor dining and child-pleasing choices.” [Arlington Magazine]

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An apartment complex in Lyon Park recently issued a warning to tenants saying the only place for child’s play is the playground.

A note provided to ARLnow, addressed to the residents of Washington & Lee Apartments (2200 2nd Street N.), said “children are to be playing in the playground and in no other areas,” in bolded, italicized and underlined letters.

They cannot play in “common areas which include… on the grass or trees,” only the area designated as the playground, according to the note.

It’s one of two notes ARLnow has obtained indicating that some apartment communities are cracking down on play in common areas in response to an uptick in complaints from other tenants about noise and property damage.

The note to Washington & Lee tenants (courtesy of anonymous)

The Washington & Lee note was a first for Nicole Merlene, a Tenant-Landlord Commission member and ARLnow opinion columnist. She tells ARLnow it describes a potentially discriminatory practice and reveals the need for Arlington to offer mediation services between tenants and landlords.

“Since I have been on the commission we have not received a complaint of this kind where there is potentially discrimination based on age for activities,” she said.

The note responds to an increase in complaints from tenants about damaged cars from kids playing in the parking lot, a property manager for the complex told ARLnow. In a phone interview, the manager said five complaints have come in the last few months of kids hitting cars with rocks or scratching them up with scooters and bikes. As for the trees and grass, the manager said kids were breaking limbs and digging holes.

“It’s just gotten to the point where the damage and complaints were so bad I’d have to take action,” the manager said. “Because of COVID… [parents] didn’t have adequate care and the children were just left at home on their own.”

The note also bans sidewalk chalk because kids drew on the brick walls, according to the manager. The note said “stricter action will be taken” if the problems continue. In 2014, the same apartments launched a campaign against tenants feeding squirrels.

Merlene said that these kinds of landlord-tenant disputes could be resolved through an out-of-court mediation service — one that Arlington has not had since it was defunded a few years ago, she said.

“This type of out of court service requires both parties to willfully participate, but after conversations with both Alexandria and Fairfax, it is by and large extremely successful at finding a solution when a tenant is the one bringing a grievance,” she said. “The Tenant-Landlord Commission is in the process of looking into ways in which other jurisdictions have successfully provided this service and will recommend a system that works for our community for the Board’s consideration.”

Asked to evaluate the letter, she said commission members are not lawyers or trained in discrimination policy, so commissioners avoid determining if something is illegal. Instead, those with complaints are referred to the county’s Office of Human Rights.

But taking apartmentment owners to court, while a recourse for Arlington tenants, rarely happens.

“Reasons range from fear of potentially losing the case against a big landlord’s lawyer and having to pay their attorney fees, immigration status, cultural barriers, and various other hurdles,” she said.

Complaints of noise and kids’ behavior have also registered with the management office at Union on Queen (1515 N. Queen Street), near Rosslyn.

Tenants received a “friendly reminder” that no residents can hang out in or around the courtyard fountain. It told parents they are responsible if their children play there, according to a screenshot shared with ARLnow.

“Thus far we have seen trash left in the courtyard and in the fountain, and we’ve seen children playing in the courtyard [spraying] water on other resident’s [sic] windows,” the letter said.

The Union on Queen reminder also noted that the office “has received numerous complaints about increased noise levels due to groups being in the courtyard and around the courtyard’s fountain.”

“We will unfortunately have to issue lease violations should the issue persist,” the note said. “Again, we don’t want them to hurt themselves or others in the building. We want all of our residents to be safe and comfortable.”

A note to Union on Queen residents (courtesy of anonymous)

Photo via Google Maps

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A man grabbed an girl’s buttocks while she was walking near Arlington County government headquarters, a block from police headquarters.

The alleged sexual battery happened Monday afternoon on the 2100 block of Clarendon Blvd, according to an Arlington County Police Department crime report.

“It approximately 2:45 p.m., the juvenile victim was walking in the area when the unknown male suspect walked past her and touched her buttocks,” ACPD said.

The suspect remains at large and the investigation is “ongoing,” said police. A vague suspect description notes that the man was dressed in all black and was carrying a black backpack.

Separately, a man was arrested Monday night after police say he exposed himself to a woman along N. Cameron Street in the Halls Hill neighborhood, near Lee Highway.

“At approximately 11:04 p.m. on June 28, police were dispatched to the report of an exposure,” said the crime report. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was walking in the area when she heard the male suspect behind her and turned around to see him with his genitals exposed and attempting to engage with her.”

“Officers canvassed the area and located a suspect matching the description provided by the victim and took him into custody without incident,” the crime report continued.

A 25-year-old man was arrested and charged with indecent exposure and public masturbation.

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Morning Notes

Police Called for Man Spitting on Bus Passengers — An incident on a bus prompted a police response Thursday afternoon. Per ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage: “At approximately 1:38 p.m., police were dispatched to the report of a disorderly subject on a Metro bus in the area of Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street. The suspect left the area prior to police arrival and a search by responding officers returned with negative results… The call for service alleged the subject was acting disorderly and spitting on individuals on the bus.”

Arlington Company Is Among Fastest-Growing — Ballston-based Hungry is the fastest-growing technology firm in the D.C. area and the 18th fastest growing tech company in the nation, according to a new list from Deloitte. Another Ballston tech company, Evolent Health, ranked No. 402 in the U.S. [Deloitte]

NAACP Statement on H-B Incident — “We are pleased that the principal took swift action to notify families and meet with affected students and that the Superintendent followed up with a letter to APS families with an honest depiction that did not minimize the significance or harm it caused. This act of racial violence is the latest and most egregious in a progressive pattern of racist incidents occurring within our schools.” [Press Release]

Grant to Help Local Tourism Recover — “Arlington Convention and Visitors Service has received $10,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Recovery Marketing Leverage Program, designed to help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging limited local marketing dollars through a local match of state grant funds.” [Arlington County]

ACFD Hosting Kids’ Bedtime Stories — “We are extremely excited to host our 4th Virtual Bedtime Story/ Fire Engine Tour! Spots are limited and previous events have maxed out quickly. If you are interested in joining please email [email protected] Can’t wait to see you Monday night.” [@ArlingtonVaFD/Twitter]

More County Website Problems — Arlington County’s website again suffered technical difficulties yesterday afternoon. The issues were resolved within a few hours. [@ArlingtonVA/Twitter]

Gondolas Gaining in Popularity — “Air gondolas — ski-lift-type conveyances that have become common sights in South American cities like Medellín, Mexico City and La Paz — could one day dot the U.S. urban landscape, some transportation planners say.” [Axios]

Nearby: Car Plows Into CD Cellar — The CD Cellar store in Falls Church was damaged after a car came crashing through one of the front windows earlier this week. “Someone thought we were a drive-thru record store,” CD Cellar quipped on social media. [Facebook]

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Like many community members in Arlington, Amanda and Michael Sutton were concerned that the pandemic could lead to a wider education gap between those with resources at home and those without. So they decided to do something about it.

The Suttons have so far raised more than $6,400 via an online fundraising campaign called “My Job Bags.”

“A child’s ‘job’ is to imagine, create, learn and play,” the couple said on the GoFundMe page, which is nearing its $7,000 goal. “We’re working to assemble bags for children in need and to provide them with supplies to learn and be creative while at home. We’re accepting monetary donations as well as donations of the supplies below that will be included in the bags. All money collected will be used to purchase supplies and the bags will be assembled and distributed by volunteers.”

Amanda said she was among those trying to find ways to help out, knowing that many families were losing their jobs and students relied on the public schools for food and support. Other restaurants and teachers stepped up to help cover food needs, but there were other needs that were going unmet.

“We initially looked at ways we could help to provide food, in addition to financial support — and luckily, we found there are many organizations out there to help,” Amanda said. “Then as I was perusing Amazon for more homeschooling activities for my three sons, I couldn’t help but think of all the local families who are unable to do that. With all schools being closed, students are now forced to stay at home without basic school supplies, books and toys.”

That’s when Amanda and Michael came up with the My Job Bags campaign, thinking that children should be focused on playing, creating, imagining and learning.

“The hope was that during this scary and unprecedented time, students may have some comfort in knowing they can still continue their ‘job,'” Amanda said. “We brainstormed what to put in the bags — our goal was to include items that help keep a child entertained for long periods of time, have endless options for play, and enhance imagination and creativity.”

Among the additions to the bags was a jump rope, based on the suggestion of a local PE teacher. In total, Amanda said the contents of My Job Bags are:

  • crayons
  • markers
  • pencils
  • pencil sharpeners
  • dry erase board with marker and eraser
  • construction paper
  • spiral notebook
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • jump rope
  • bag of Legos
  • book

“I then spent some time researching the cost of these items — and was ultimately able to get the price down to about $7.00 per bag thanks to bulk ordering,” Amanda said. “Once our idea was solidified, my husband and I decided to begin by donating about 250 bags. However, we knew the need was much greater in the community which prompted us to create the GoFundMe campaign.”

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A pair of local nonprofits have joined with Amazon to help families in Arlington’s affordable housing get access to science, technology, engineering and math resources during the pandemic.

Rosie Riveters, an Arlington-based non-profit that focuses on getting girls between 4-14 years old interested in STEM, partnered with Arlington Housing Corporation (AHC) Inc. — a local affordable housing nonprofit — and Amazon to deliver STEM kits to some families. These are kits put together by Rosie Riveters and include the materials for six different projects, access to online lessons, and additional materials like notebooks, pencils and rulers.

Rosie Riveters said Amazon donated gift cards and the supplies to assemble the kits, as well as helped to deliver them to AHC.

An initial 15 kits were given out in the first round, with 30 more planned to be delivered over the next few weeks, Rosie Riveters told ARLnow, adding that the boxes are delivered with Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) distributions.

Eight boxes were also sent to community center participants and the supplies for 60 more boxes will be delivered over the next few days and distributed to other program partners.

“Rosie Riveters is proud to work with Amazon and AHC Inc. to bring fun and engaging STEM kits and essential learning materials to children in need,” said Brittany Greer, Executive Director of Rosie Riveters, in a statement. “Now more than ever enrichment opportunities like these are vitally important. We can not thank Amazon enough for helping to provide the resources and logistics needed to allow Rosie Riveters to continue our mission to engage and inspire girls aged 4-14 in STEM.”

Photo courtesy Rosie Riveters

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A new Arlington Public Schools policy now requires adults to chaperone younger students at high school games.

The new policy was announced in an email to parents last week, and applies to students in 8th Grade or below looking to attending after-school sporting events. It also requires students to show their school IDs to staff at the games.

“We are asking that any students in 8th grade or younger be accompanied by an adult for admission to any Arlington high school sporting event,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow.

From the APS email to families:

Based on growing attendance at our games as student enrollment has increased, APS is taking precautions to ensure that all spectators have a safe, enjoyable experience at all high school athletic events. Moving forward, any students in 8th grade or younger must be accompanied by an adult for admission to any Arlington high school sporting event. The adult accompanying the student or a group of students needs to be in attendance as a point of contact for the duration of the event. This allows APS staff to respond appropriately if issues arise among younger students who are unfamiliar to high school staff, and can help ensure a safe environment for students and families who are there to enjoy the game.

Families with questions are asked to reach out to their Director of Student Activities at Wakefield, Washington-Liberty or Yorktown high schools.

“As a school division, we take great pride in our school spirit and encourage student and fan participation,” the APS email shared with ARLnow reads. “We also expect our students and fans to use sound judgement and demonstrate appropriate behavior that presents a positive viewing experience for all.”

The new policy comes about a month after the school began requiring all visitors to show identification and log their visit in a database.

Photo via @WakeAthletics/Twitter

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Children’s bounce gym Jumping Joeys is eying a mid-fall opening at its new Clarendon location.

The company, which has an existing location in Falls Church and formerly operated a gym across from Washington-Liberty High School, is coming to the former Washington Sports Club space at 2800 Clarendon Blvd.

In a Facebook post late last month, Jumping Joeys said it hopes “to start having parties at the beginning of November” at its new location. The extent of the construction progress inside, however, is unclear due to window coverings.

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As Amazon continues to hire for its HQ2, the company is also working through plans to include a new daycare facility inside its planned permanent office campus in Pentagon City.

The 12,000 square-foot child care center would be located on the ground floor and face the interior public plaza. A spokesperson for Amazon told ARLnow that the proposed daycare would be operated by a third party company.

Lack of accessible daycare is the center of a fight in Seattle, where a group called “Momazonians” are arguing the company needs to do more to provide accessible child care, though a spokesperson the Amazon noted that the company does have a daycare facility for both Amazon employees and the nearby community in one of their headquarters buildings.

In Arlington, the company is in a tug-of-war with planners over whether the daycare should count towards the headquarters’ total density. The daycare is one of several types of space that the company is requesting not be included in calculations of gross floor area. Because the proposed complex exceeds the allowable density under zoning for the site, excluding certain types of space from the floor area calculation would cut down on the community benefits Amazon would need to provide in exchange for the added density.

Many of these areas, like mechanical shafts and below-grade storage, are excluded by default as they do not contribute to the bulk and height of the building and are not rentable floor space. But child care facilities typically are not considered one of those excluded types of density.

“Staff has not supported exclusions from density for uses such as child care,” the staff report said. “Staff is currently analyzing the applicant’s requests.”

At a meeting last week, the proposed exclusion of the child care facility from the building’s bonus density drew some criticism from Site Plan Review Committee members, who pointed to the example of the formerly Ballston-based National Science Foundation, which they said was granted a density exclusion for a child development center only to later convert the space to another use.

But Arlington has been in the middle of a push to create more daycare options, including consideration of zoning changes aimed at eliminating barriers to child care.

The spokesperson for Amazon said the company is planning to include the daycare at HQ2 regardless of whether the county approves the density exemption.

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