Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Free Vax Shots for Kids Ages 12-15 — “Arlington County will begin to administer free COVID-19 vaccines to children ages 12-15 years of age who live or are schooled in Arlington beginning Saturday, May 15. This follows the expansion of Pfizer’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to children 12 and over… Approximately 8,000 children aged 12-15 live in Arlington. Arlington will offer Saturday through Monday clinics over the next two weekends for children 12-17 years of age to help meet anticipated demand for the vaccine.” [Arlington County]

Blowback Over Summer School Limits — “Arlington school leaders are getting abuse from both ends when it comes to criticism of newly announced summer-school restrictions. A group that has pressed Arlington schools leaders for a faster reopening of classes says new limitations show a continued lack of leadership, while at the same time the Arlington Education Association is blasting school leaders for throwing teachers under the bus on the issue.” [Sun Gazette, NBC 4]

Neighborhood ‘Toolkits’ on Race — “Arlington County today released a set of new tools to help advance racial equity efforts in Arlington. The collection of neighborhood toolkits and data dashboards are products of the County’s Realizing Arlington’s Commitment to Equity (RACE) program… The Toolkits for Conversations on Race & Equity are self-guided programs that can be used to spark conversations with family, friends, and neighbors.” [Arlington County]

Lubber Run Performances Return — “After being closed for the entirety of the summer 2020 season due to the pandemic, the Arlington County government’s Lubber Run Amphitheatre will host free programming in July and August. Performances will be Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 11 a.m. The season opens with blues singer-songwriter Chris Pierce performing on Friday, July 9.” [Sun Gazette]

Beyer Suicide Bill Passes — “You’ve heard of 911 for emergencies and 411 for information. Now the House of Representatives is debating a bill that could educate people about a new number for the National Suicide Hotline, 988. Colleen Creighton at the American Association of Suicidology says a bill introduced by Congressman Don Beyer will help spread the word about the new hotline.” [WVTF, Twitter]

Nearby: New Owner for McLean Shopping Center — “McLean’s Chesterbrook Shopping Center has changed hands for the first time since the early 1980s… ‘Chesterbrook Center is well positioned for significant growth and perfectly aligns with our Northern Virginia strategy,’ Barry Carty, Federal Realty’s senior vice president of East Coast acquisitions, said.” [Tysons Reporter]

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Morning Notes

Summer School Enrollment Limited — “Despite having offered financial incentives to teachers to teach summer school, there are fewer applicants than the number of students who are eligible for summer instruction at the elementary level, making it impossible for APS to offer summer strengthening support to all eligible elementary students.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Car Driven onto W&OD Trail — “We were riding our triple bike and came across someone who had driven onto the W&OD Trail from Park Rd S… it was rather scary that they barely stopped before we passed by.” [Twitter, YouTube]

New Location for Free Covid Tests — From Arlington County: “Our no-cost, no-appointment mobile COVID-19 testing has moved! It’ll be based in the parking lot of Unitarian Universalist Church (4444 Arlington Blvd) through May 28.” [Twitter]

Dems Prepare for Apartment Outreach — “Voters [in multi-unit buildings] may have tipped the outcome of the 2018 County Board race, in which Democrat Matt de Ferranti ousted independent John Vihstadt… This year, races for local and legislative posts are probably not in much doubt across Arlington. But Democrats are hoping to run up the score in the races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in order to offset Republican strongholds downstate.” [Sun Gazette]

Va. GOP Selects Gov. Nominee — “Former private equity chief Glenn Youngkin became the Republican nominee for Virginia governor Monday night after his closest rival, business executive Pete Snyder, conceded while votes were still being tabulated.” [Washington Post, Associated Press]

D.C. Planning Full Reopening — “D.C. plans to lift a slew of coronavirus capacity restrictions starting May 21, with a full reopening to come in June.” [WTOP, PoPville]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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A new ropes course facility is set to open at Upton Hill Regional Park sometime in June, amid an expected spike in park visitor activity.

“It’s going to be the biggest and the best in the mid-Atlantic region,” said Paul Gilbert, the executive director of NOVA Parks, of the new ropes course. NOVA Parks runs Upton Hill, which is located at 6060 Wilson Blvd near Seven Corners.

Climb UPton will have 90 different elements on three different levels, including zip lines and a 50-foot drop. It will be open to those who are 49 inches or taller.

Construction on the course is largely complete but work, subject to changing weather, continues on an administrative building, Gilbert said. Once more work is complete, NOVA Parks will set a user fee and pick an opening date, which the executive director expects will be in mid- to late- June.

As for COVID-19 safety, Gilbert said social distancing is built into the course and equipment will be sanitized between uses.

“The outdoors is your biggest safety feature,” he said.

This new facility will open as NOVA Parks expects an increase in visitors to all its facilities this summer. Gilbert said he expects pools and waterparks — all of which will open Memorial Day — to drive the increase, as they were closed last summer.

“This summer, people are going to be interested in returning to normalcy,” said Gilbert, who is also George Mason University’s Executive-in-Residence for the College of Education and Human Development’s Recreation Management Program.

Adhering to Virginia guidelines for aquatic facilities, Upton Hill’s pool will operate at 75% capacity, and an annual pass will not guarantee admission if capacity has already been reached, according to the park’s Facebook page.

The organization is currently not selling new annual passes due to these restrictions.

“NOVA Parks will continue to evaluate this situation throughout the summer,” according to a Facebook post.

For its beach-themed Ocean Dunes Waterpark, Upton Hill is “hiring and preparing the waterpark for Memorial Day weekend opening,” another Facebook post said.

NOVA Parks is continuing to hire new summer staff for all its facilities to meet the surge in visitors, as capacity restrictions are set to perhaps end by June 15, Gilbert said.

But even with the restrictions, reopening the pools and waterparks could be a boon for the regional parks authority, which took an estimated $5 million hit in user fees in part because aquatic facilities were closed, according to its current budget.

Normally, 300,000 people visit one of NOVA Parks’ five waterparks each year, Gilbert said.

“Over the pandemic, people were already exploring the outdoors in new ways, because so many other things weren’t available,” Gilbert said. “We saw unprecedented use of hiking and biking trails. Now that people have discovered or rediscovered how fun the outdoors can be, I anticipate they will continue to gravitate to parks.”

Trail use increased by four to five times, he said. People also gravitated toward another activity that had been declining in popularity over the years: golf, which is up 30% from pre-pandemic times, he said.

NOVA Parks also leaned on other activities with social distancing potential, such as shooting, boating and swinging baseball bats.

“I think all of those trends are going to continue for some time,” Gilbert said. “People have been reintroduced to outdoor recreation.”

Photo courtesy NOVA Parks

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Morning Notes

Major Courthouse Development Approved — “The Arlington County Board today approved Greystar Real Estate Partners’ plan to redevelop seven parcels that make up the Courthouse Landmark Block with a 423-unit apartment building. The developer has committed to providing extensive community benefits.” [Arlington County]

Zoning Proposal May Face Pushback — “Two potentially conflicting constituencies – advocates of affordable housing and residents of single-family neighborhoods – could end up colliding if Arlington County Board members next month move forward on a recommendation to allow much higher building heights in some transitional areas of the county. The proposal… calls for allowing (though not permitting by right) building heights higher by 60 feet than normally allowed in a number of zoning districts, if the buildings comprise 100-percent affordable housing.” [Sun Gazette]

APS Planning Summer School — “Arlington Public Schools plans to offer in-person and distance learning summer school for students. Summer School will take place from July 6-30 for elementary students and from July 6-Aug. 6 for secondary students.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Man Arrested for Bathroom Peeping — “1700 block of Fort Myer Drive. At approximately 3:25 a.m. on March 18, police were dispatched to the report of a peeping. Upon arrival, it was determined that the male victim was using the restroom when he observed a cell phone placed through the crack of the stall. The victim confronted the known suspect and alerted building security.” [Arlington County]

Arlington Startup Moving to D.C. — “Auto refinancing startup MotoRefi is moving its headquarters from Arlington to D.C. and beefing up its executive team, the company said in an announcement. The company has signed a 22,000-square-foot lease at 1717 Rhode Island Ave. NW, relocating to a larger space as its workforce continues to grow. It plans on opening the new office, in the same building as venture firm Revolution and Uber, later in 2021, it said.” [Washington Business Journal]

Why Elmo is on the County Manager’s Desk — County Board member Katie Cristol, in response to a question about an Elmo toy seen on County Manager Mark Schwartz’s desk during Saturday’s virtual Board meeting: “My Elmo-obsessed kid made an on camera appearance at Thursday’s 4.5 hour work session, and Mark, who is a real sweetheart, brought out his own Elmo on the videoconference, to no end of delight from my two-year old.” [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

No APS Return Dates Yet — “Alexandria City Public Schools this week joined a flood of Northern Virginia school systems in setting firm timelines for reopening classrooms, vowing to welcome all students back for in-person learning by mid-March. But in Arlington, school officials aren’t committing to return dates just yet.” [Washington Post]

Summer School Appears Likely — “Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday will announce a plan to extend the school year into summer to allow students to catch up. The announcement will come during an 11 a.m. news conference, Northam said during a Thursday morning interview with Washington Post Live. No details have yet been released. ‘We’re working with our teachers, our school boards, our superintendents. It has to be a top priority,’ he said.” [InsideNova]

Karantonis Running for Reelection — “Although his announcement was temporarily derailed by a snafu too common in the Zoom era, Arlington County Board member Takis Karantonis on Feb. 3 formally kicked off his bid for re-election with comments before the Arlington County Democratic Committee.” [InsideNova]

Napoli Salumeria’s D.C. Location Closing — “The restaurant has decided not to renew their lease at their current location, so they are temporarily closing their Columbia Heights doors as they search for a new DC location. In the meantime, guests can still get the full Napoli Pasta Bar menu at Napoli Salumeria in Arlington starting next week (including dine-in). Napoli Pasta Bar will also offer free delivery for DC residents within a certain radius from Napoli Salumeria.” [PoPville]

Marymount Announces Commencement Speakers — “In mid-May, approximately 975 students will receive their degrees over the course of three days during Marymount University’s 70th annual commencement ceremonies. The newest graduates of the mission-based Catholic university will hear from three distinguished commencement speakers – influential Virginian James Dyke, Jr., entrepreneur and philanthropist Sheila Johnson and business leader Donald Graham.” [Marymount University]

Editorial: No Counterbalance Against Tax Increases — “The government’s Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission effectively has been gelded; the Arlington County Civic Federation is trying to keep up but is not the budget-watching powerhouse it once was; the Arlington County Taxpayers Association effectively died with its leader, Tim Wise; and serious budget discussions almost never even come up within the intra-Democratic nomination contests that determine who will hold elected office.” [InsideNova]

Virginia May Abolish Death Penalty — “Virginia is poised to become the first state in the South to abolish the death penalty, a sign of ascendant liberal political power in a state that has executed more people since the 1970s than any other except Texas.” [New York Times]

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With many students struggling with their academic achievement during remote learning and the pandemic, Fairfax County Public Schools has discussed potentially extending the school year into the summer.

The idea of an extended school year, to allow students to catch up on their studies during the summer, has also been raised by Arlington School Board member Tannia Talento.

“Can we make a summer school plan to be proactive versus reactive?” Talento asked, at a recent Board meeting.

Given that vaccines are on the way, and that there appears to be a lower level of infection during warmer-weather months, it seems likely that classes could be held in-person this summer. That may be just what’s needed, at least for some students, after months of virtual classes.

On the other hand, it could be argued that kids most of all just need a break from sitting and staring at screens, something that a summer vacation provides. And the virus will likely still be circulating this summer, despite the vaccines.

Do you think APS should plan to do so?

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Morning Notes

Special County Board Meeting Planned — On Thursday at 6 p.m., the Arlington County Board “will hold a special meeting for a listening session on racial justice, systemic racism and policing. The County Board special meeting will be conducted using electronic means.” [Arlington County]

County Commissions Still Mostly Inactive — “Faced with a growing rebellion over the lack of meetings by Arlington government advisory panels, County Board members and top staff on June 13 offered (slightly defensive) apologies – but not much of a roadmap forward. Board members were responding to a June 9 letter sent to them by 25 chairs of advisory groups, complaining that the local government has been lagging in re-starting meetings that largely have been on hold since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March.” [InsideNova]

Pandemic Affects College Plans — From a 60 Minutes segment on Sunday: “The struggle extends to those already in college who are laboring to pay tuition and are weighed down by debt like 20-year-old Katherine Trejo of Arlington, Virginia. The daughter of a single mom from Bolivia, Katherine was supposed to graduate from George Mason next year. She is the first person in her family to attend college.” [CBS News]

Summer School Registration Underway — “Registration for distance learning secondary summer school is underway. Elementary students who qualify to participate in the Elementary Summer Learning Program will automatically be registered by APS.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Guilty Plea in Case Involving Arlington Company — “A former Arlington business executive pleaded guilty today to embezzling nearly $8 million that was intended to settle claims by children who alleged they were victims of medical malpractice. According to court documents, Joseph E. Gargan, 59, of Round Hill, was the Chief Executive Office of the Pension Company, Inc., an Arlington business that would execute settlement agreements entered into between civil litigants.” [Dept. of Justice]

ARLnow Operating Remotely — Since the first confirmed local coronavirus case in March, ARLnow’s employees have been working from home. We plan to continue working remotely until 2021, and may continue to have most employees work remotely most of the time after that. [Washingtonian]

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The pandemic has claimed another victim: the 2020 Arlington County Fair.

The in-person fair, scheduled from Aug. 12-16, has been canceled and replaced with a “virtual format” that will run from Aug. 14-16.

“Given the current social distancing guidance and the uncertainty of the trajectory of the virus, it is unfeasible for the in-person Fair to move forward as scheduled,” organizer said late Thursday afternoon.

The exact format of the virtual fair was not immediately made clear. Organizers say it will “showcase the best of Arlington and share the spirit of the Fair.” Additional information is expected to be posted online.

The fair — a summer staple for generations of Arlingtonians — is expected to return in its full glory in 2021.

More from a press release:

Due to the current restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Arlington County Fair, scheduled for August 12-16, has been moved to a virtual format, to be held August 14-16.

The decision to cancel the in-person 2020 Arlington County Fair and move online was a very difficult one. A beloved community tradition, the Fair brings five days of pure joy to Arlington each August. However, given the current social distancing guidance and the uncertainty of the trajectory of the virus, it is unfeasible for the in-person Fair to move forward as scheduled.

The Fair Board is in the process of contacting our sponsors, entertainers, vendors, and community groups that are impacted to ensure all parties are aware of the change.

While we are disappointed that we cannot hold the in-person 2020 Fair, it also brings a new opportunity for the Fair to come to you! We have planned three days of virtual programming August 14-16 so we can still showcase the best of Arlington and share the spirit of the Fair. Check the Fair’s Facebook page in July for details and schedule.

The Fair is operated by an all-volunteer non-profit organization, Arlington County Fair, Inc. We rely on income generated by ride ticket sales, vendor fees and sponsorships to hold the Fair each year. While we understand that there are many pressing issues at the moment, we do accept donations year-round and would be grateful for any contributions you may be willing to make to ensure that the Fair remains a mainstay of the Arlington community. Additionally, we are actively recruiting Fair Board Members to assist with the planning of future Fairs. To apply, submit an online application.

We appreciate the continued support of the Arlington community and look forward to the return of the Fair as we know it in 2021.

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Morning Notes

Hope for Arlington Summer Camps — ” As summer is approaching, we know many families are anxiously awaiting information on Summer Camp 2020. While we hope to operate summer camp this year, the ultimate decision will be based on our ability to operate safely within national and state guidelines.” [Dept. of Parks and Recreation]

County Board Primary Cancelled — “The Democratic Primary for County Board, originally scheduled for June 9, 2020 and subsequently delayed until June 23, 2020, will not be held… Accordingly, Libby T. Garvey is the Democratic nominee for County Board in the General Election to be held on November 3, 2020.” [Arlington County]

Call for More Coronavirus Transparency in Va. — “Several Virginia legislators are calling for the release of information regarding specific long-term care facilities, saying the public has a right to know how many residents and staff have tested positive or died at each location… ‘In a situation like this, transparency is very important,’ said Del. Patrick Hope, D-47th District, of Arlington.” [NBC 4]

GGW, Blue Virginia Endorse Takis — “This week, a select group of Arlington Democratic party members will choose a nominee for the county board seat held by Erik Gutshall, who tragically died of brain cancer in April… We recommend eligible party insiders select Takis Karantonis as their first choice and then Nicole Merlene or Chanda Choun as second and/or third choices in the ranked-choice ballot.” [Greater Greater Washington, Blue Virginia]

Parade for McKinley Teacher — “Arlington County students and their parents held a drive-by parade to honor their third-grade teacher at McKinley Elementary School. Almost a dozen cars drove by the home of Amanda Herr, honking their horns and holding signs” [Patch]

Dutch Foundry Working on New Carillon Bells — “It took more than a week for the big bronze bell to cool. Over that time, a glowing crucible full of molten alloy was transformed into a 7,595-pound behemoth nearly six feet in diameter that next year will sing out across Arlington. The big Netherlands Carillon is getting bigger.” [Washington Post]

Bayou Bakery Has Provided Thousands of Free Meals — “Since the beginning of March, Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery in Arlington has been feeding Arlington County kids and their families for free. Chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery enlisted Real Food for Kids to partner with him to serve free, plant-based meals 5 days a week.” [WJLA]

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Citing staffing challenges and future budget cuts, Arlington Public Schools is discontinuing its summer enrichment programs for elementary students this year.

While axing the summer programs — which offered advanced classes on computer programing, math and world geography — APS said it will continue providing make-up classes and resources for students who are falling behind. Outdoor Lab sessions will continue as well.

“We are focusing our resources and staffing to provide makeup and strengthening courses to students who need extra help and additional support,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.

The decision is not sitting well with some parents.

“Arlington Public Schools [is gutting its] summer enrichment program with little advance notice leaving parents in the lurch,” one parent said in an email to ARLnow.

In a letter to families, below, Interim Superintendent Cintia Johnson said the Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation’s summer programs may pick up some of the slack created by the APS decision.

Dear APS Staff and Families,

As you begin to make plans for this summer, I am writing to share updates to the APS Summer School Program for 2020. This year, in order to make the best use of available staff and resources, and to serve the students of greatest need, we will no longer be able to offer elementary summer enrichment programs, including: Global Village Summit, Fun with Coding, Math Academy and Summer Laureate. Outdoor Lab sessions will continue for elementary and middle school students.

We came to this decision based on increased challenges in staffing summer school strengthening, as well as anticipated budget reductions for the 2020-21 school year. While this was not an easy decision, these changes allow us to sustain our high-quality summer strengthening program and provide excellent teachers and staff to serve students with the greatest need.

We are working closely with the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to identify similar offerings and will communicate comparable camp providers through a follow-up School Talk message in early February, prior to the DPR summer camp registration. Arlington County offers fee reductions for eligible students, making these options comparable in price to APS offerings. Please note:

  • DPR summer camp registration begins on February 12 at 7 a.m. Lots of fun and enriching experiences for your student, with reduce fees as needed.
  • Don’t wait to sign up for a camp until you hear if your student is referred to APS summer school.  Spots fill quickly.  Students who are referred to APS Summer School and must cancel a camp in conflict with APS Summer School can notify DPR by Monday, March 16 to get a full refund. All other cancelations follow DPR Cancelation Policy.

The APS Summer Strengthening Program, which runs July 6-31, will continue to be offered for elementary students who meet specific eligibility requirements established by the Department of Teaching and Learning. Enrollment is by teacher and principal recommendation only for students who are at least one grade-level below in reading and/or math. Eligible students will be notified during Parent-Teacher conferences on March 5-6. A letter will also be mailed to families indicating student eligibility.

Lastly, the make-up and strengthening fee for all programs, PreK-12, will be $150. Students who currently receive free or reduced-price meals will continue to pay $56 for summer classes, and students who receive Extended School Year services, may attend free of charge. The 2020 Secondary Enrichment fees and New Work for Credit fees will remain the same as in 2019.

These changes were presented by APS staff and approved by the School Board at the December 19 meeting. The full presentation is available online on BoardDocs.

I hope that this notice helps you plan accordingly. I also encourage you to participate in the APS Summer Activities Fair on Friday, February 7. This is a great way to learn about the many academic and arts programs, sports camps and other offerings available for the summer. Additional resources are provided below. Please contact the Summer School Office by phone at 703-228-7645 or by email at  [email protected], if you need additional assistance.

Sincerely,

Cintia Johnson
Interim Superintendent

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Morning Notes

Talento Selected as School Board Chair — “The Arlington School Board held its annual organizational meeting for the 2019-20 school year and elected Tannia Talento as Chair and Monique O’Grady as Vice Chair. The terms for the new Chair and Vice Chair begin immediately and will continue until June 30, 2020.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Which Amazon Units Are Coming to HQ2 — “We’re still a pretty long way from knowing what the estimated 25,000 workers at Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters will do, but a top company executive has named three units that will be represented in Arlington: Alexa, Amazon Web Services and Amazon’s consumer division.” [Washington Business Journal]

Private Sector Job Growth in Arlington — Arlington County’s private employment grew by nearly 20,000 jobs, or about 17%, between 2010 and 2018, according to the D.C. Policy Center. [Twitter]

Arlington Winners at the RAMMYs — Ambar in Clarendon captured the Service Program of the Year award at the 2019 RAMMYs over the weekend. The distinction of Chef of the Year at the D.C. area restaurant industry award show, meanwhile, went to Kyle Bailey of The Salt Line, which is opening a location in Ballston. [Washington Business Journal]

APS Testing New Visitor System — “Summertime will bring a security pilot program to a number of Arlington’s public schools, with a full roll-out of the initiative slated throughout the system in the fall. The new visitor-management system to be tested at five sites during the summer will require visitors, volunteers and contractors to provide specific photo identification, and their identities will then be checked against state and federal sex-offender registries.” [InsideNova]

ACFD Holds ‘Camp Heat’ — “Camp Heat, put on by the Arlington County Fire Department, concluded Friday night. During this week-long immersion into firefighting, campers learned everything from running hoses to breaking down doors to working on water rescue techniques. All the campers are young women, 15 to 18 years old.” [WJLA]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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