Arlington, VA

(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) For his first budget as Superintendent of Arlington Public Schools, Francisco Durán said he is proposing a conservative budget “that reflects our most urgent needs.”

The 2022 budget for APS, which he presented to members of the School Board on Thursday, comes to $704.4 million in expenditures and $661.9 million in revenue. APS, which has expected budget gaps in years past, is expecting a $42.5 million shortfall for its next fiscal year.

“We are facing very unique challenges as our school division works through the pandemic and what is to come,” Durán said. “Over the past year, we have seen the impact that this has had on our local economy and significant losses in revenue in Arlington.”

The county will be transferring $529.7 million to APS, which is $5.1 million higher than the 2021 fiscal year, according to a county budget presentation document. County Manager Mark Schwartz presented his proposed budget two weeks ago.

Durán said increases in local and state contributions will be lower they have been over the last three years. The county has increased its contributions by an average of $19 million a year, while the state increased its contributions by about $4 million annually, he said.

APS could make up some of the gap with funding from the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, Durán said. The school system is projected to receive $20.5 million in funding from the plan, which House Democrats passed last week and sent to the Senate.

The government will likely require the funds be allocated to health and safety and learning loss, he said.

This is the second consecutive year that APS is not proposing step increases for staff. Last year, the approved $670 million budget included a projected gap of $27 million, which led APS not to include these compensation increases.

Responding to a directive from the School Board to provide compensation for staff at all levels, Durán said he is making a 2% cost of living adjustment.

“A step increase would not provide a compensation increase to 35% of our full-time employees or to 100% of our hourly workers and substitutes,” Durán said. “A cost of living adjustment ensures that everyone will receive something.”

But, he added, “while I do believe there are many steps in the right direction, I want to acknowledge and recognize that it is not enough.”

Salary and benefits costs account for nearly 79% of the total budget and 95% of the school operating fund.

In the official 2022 proposed budget, Durán wrote that the primary drivers of the budget are:

  • $10 million for student enrollment growth, including staffing, opening the neighborhood school at the Key site and moving three other schools
  • $9.5 million to restore funding for one-year reductions used to balance the FY 2021 budget
  • $9.2 million for a 2% cost of living adjustment for all staff
  • $2.2 million for special education needs such as additional interpreters and Pre-K assistants
  • $3.5 million to support network infrastructure and student access to the Internet

The investments in special education and English language services are part of continuing compliance with a settlement with the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

“It seems clear to me that we are putting our emphasis on equity, equity for our students, equity for our staff in terms of the way that the proposed compensation is coming forward, and equity when it comes to our concerns about our students’ social-emotional needs,” School Board Chair Monique O’Grady said during the meeting last Thursday. “Those are major things that have been borne and laid bare because of the pandemic.”

School enrollment in the fall, meanwhile, is expected to rise well above figures from two years prior, after a big pandemic-caused dip this school year. Enrollment now projected to peak and start a slight decline mid-decade, after more than 15 years of growth to date.

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Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Francisco Durán announced return-to-school dates Tuesday afternoon, nearly 11 months since schools first closed at the outset of the pandemic.

Students will start trickling into their buildings by grade level on Tuesday, March 2. By Tuesday, March 16, all students who have chosen to be in-person will be able to go to school twice a week, either Tuesdays and Wednesdays or Thursdays and Fridays.

Teachers and staff, who have been re-entering their classrooms in phases since last week, will return one week before students, Durán said. This month, APS will end or scale back the programs currently providing some students with limited in-classroom instructional supports.

“I am encouraged by recent improvements in the health metrics, with case positivity rates and other indicators currently decreasing in Arlington and neighboring communities,” Durán told APS families via email. “Over the past two weeks, staff have returned to our buildings to prepare for the upcoming transition and to further strengthen our mitigation efforts.”

The superintendent was set to announce these dates during next week’s School Board meeting, but his plan changed last week, in response to a press conference in which Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam urged school systems to reopen by March 15.

More than half of APS staff members have received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to date, according to Durán, with new appointments being added “all the time.” Staff who received the vaccine in mid-January are now scheduling their second dose appointments, he added.

Durán said families will be receiving further communication from APS regarding in-person days, the instructional model, transportation and any changes to teachers or classroom assignments.

He urged the school community to be “vigilant and work together,” after a year marked by protests and counter-protests over the ongoing closure of Arlington schools. Some APS families and many teachers have opposed the reopening of schools until more vaccinations could be administered.

“Our ability to continue moving ahead depends on all of us wearing masks, staying home when sick, and following all the other mitigation strategies recommended by Public Health to reduce the spread of the virus,” Durán said.

Durán added that he will share more information at the Feb. 18 School Board meeting.

The back-to-school scheduled announced today is below.

March 2-5:

  • PreK-2nd grade students
  • All students enrolled in Countywide Elementary Special Education Programs (PreK-5th grade – mini MIPA, MIPA, Life Skills, Communications and Deaf and Hard of Hearing – in person four days a week, Tues-Fri)
  • Elementary students enrolled in Interlude

March 9-12:

  • 3rd-5th grade students
  • 6th and 9th grade students
  • All students enrolled in Countywide Secondary Special Education Programs (6th-12th grade – MIPA, Life Skills, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Shriver Program – in person four days a week, Tues-Fri)
  • Secondary students enrolled in Interlude and PEP program

March 16-19:

  • 7th-8th grade students
  • 10th-12th grade students

Special programs will end or be scaled back on the following days:

  • Friday, Feb. 19: five-day instructional learning supports for identified students at four elementary schools will switch to Mondays only.
  • Friday, Feb. 19: the seven meal drop-off locations that are not school-based will cease operating.
  • Friday, Feb. 26: the “work space” program for secondary students will stop running.

Image via APS/Twitter

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Arlington Public Schools has asked nearly 6% of all staff who have reported in-person for work to stay home temporarily because they tested positive for COVID-19.

Among in-person students, the percentage who have been kept out of school after testing positive is 5%.

APS Superintendent Francisco Durán presented data on those excluded from school based on reported positive tests or contact with positive cases during the School Board meeting last night (Thursday). These new data, for the period from Nov. 1, 2020 to Jan. 21, 2021, come after weeks of teachers and staff asking for more transparency regarding coronavirus tests and exclusion rates.

“This year’s exclusion to date for in-person instruction is the most detailed information we can provide,” Durán said.

Durán assured School Board members that APS monitors for high concentrations of cases in a single building, though he declined to reveal building-level data.

APS meets with Arlington County Public Health Division twice weekly to go over case rates and cross-check numbers, APS Emergency Manager Zachary Pope said. Since COVID-19 is spreading through community transmission, he said it is hard to tell if it spreads inside or outside a school.

“The data provided by APS doesn’t answer the burning questions we all have: are our mitigation strategies actually working? Are our rates the same as or higher than community rates?” a Yorktown High School teacher said. “They have obscured the data by lumping together all staff.”

She said she wants APS to find the infection rate among in-person, student-facing staff.

Durán anticipates releasing more granular data after APS rolls out a new app for reporting health metrics. He anticipates it will be ready for teachers next week and for families later on.

Meanwhile, 192 students enrolled in select Career and Technical Education courses will be returning next week. Their teachers are already reporting to the Arlington Career Center building, Durán said.

Students will be split up into multiple groups to keep down the number of students on the bus and in the building, said Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Bridget Loft. All will have access to lunch.

More teachers are expected to return to their buildings for two days next week, but School Board member Reid Goldstein suggested holding off until community health statistics improve and more staff are vaccinated.

“Both those things are likely to be accomplished in likely not much longer,” he said. Nearly 1,800 APS employees received vaccine doses this past holiday weekend.

Goldstein and other School Board members recalled President Joe Biden’s call for unity as APS works to get everyone back in-person, while addressing online and emailed vitriol.

“I’m calling on everyone to stop this uncivil behavior,” he said, of anger on the part of both teachers and parents.

Meanwhile, both sides — parents who want in-person classes to resume, and teachers who want the opposite — have been holding demonstrations and protests.

This Saturday, a number of Arlington parents and students plan to participate in a public, outdoor event organized by Arlington Parents for Education. The group says it will “highlight calls from parents, teachers, concerned community members and most importantly students, in support of a safe-reopening of Arlington Public Schools.”

Last Saturday, about 85 cars, with more than 100 parents, school staff and students, rallied in favor of continued virtual learning. They honked horns and drove around the Washington-Liberty High School parking lot, advocating for improvements to ventilation, vaccinations for staff before they return, transparent infection data from APS, better accommodations for at-risk staff, outdoor-only lunches, and 100% masking indoors.

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Arlington Public Schools is holding off on announcing future dates for returning students to school.

Sending back students and staff together is unsafe, Superintendent Francisco Durán told the School Board during a meeting on Thursday. For now, APS will focus on its timeline for returning staff to their buildings, he said.

Students with disabilities have been learning inside school buildings since Nov. 4. Shortly after, APS began providing learning supports — but not instruction — to additional elementary students at four schools, and “work space” programs at five high schools.

But before more students return, Durán said it is important that staff have “a buffer so they can prepare, feel confident, air any concerns with us… and acclimate to teaching from their classrooms.”

Further, he said he does not want to make promises he cannot keep regarding getting kids in the building.

“I don’t want to have to give dates that we have to take back,” he said, adding that both Fairfax County and City of Falls Church public schools have had to do just that, as the latest pandemic wave still rages.

The return-to-school schedule for staff is as follows:

  • Week of Jan. 25: preschool through second-grade teachers, and all countywide teachers and staff for elementary special education programs (dates for third through fifth-grade teachers will be announced “at a later date”)
  • Weeks of Jan. 25 and Feb. 1: Central Office staff
  • Week of Feb. 1: secondary teachers, staff, and all countywide teachers and staff for secondary level special education programs

The first in-person School Board meeting is set to be held on Feb. 4. More information on the staff return plans will be released during the Jan. 21 meeting.

Meantime, APS will launch a COVID-19 app that allows employees and families to complete health screening questions about symptoms and exposures in multiple languages.

Temperature checks will still be completed at school, he said.

“The platform will enhance the process for reporting exposures and positive tests, to assist with the speed and efficiency of our contact tracing process,” Durán said.

He also acknowledged the “many, many times” staff requested more granular data on the number and location of cases in school buildings. Previously, staff told ARLnow that they would learn only through word-of-mouth if an outbreak occurred in their building.

Depending on the number of reported cases, COVID-19 statistics will now be broken down by building or facility, or division, he said.

The superintendent also welcomed the news from Gov. Ralph Northam, announced on Wednesday, that K-12 teachers are included in the state’s second phase of the vaccine rollout.

“With the arrival of a vaccine in Arlington, I hope we will be turning a corner in how we manage and get through this pandemic,” the superintendent said.

Some teachers, however, have expressed concern about returning to school buildings.

“APS is not a jail system, but for the teachers who will be forced to come to work without any guarantee of safety, it is not an inappropriate comparison,” one H-B Woodlawn teacher said in an email to ARLnow. “The only reasons school statistics are not
comparable to prison statistics are because of cancellations and virtual options that have allowed teachers and students in APS to stay safe. Undoubtedly, coming back to school will result in higher infection rates in Arlington.”

“I understand there are many pressures for action from conflicting positions, but I implore them to make the choice that errs on the side of safety and a value for life,” the teacher wrote.

Meanwhile, a distance learning task force — focused on improving instruction and social-emotional learning — had its first meeting on Wednesday, Durán said. The force has 65 members, representing teachers, administrators, students and parents.

After its final meeting on Feb. 17, it will recommend specific steps to be taken “immediately,” Durán said.

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Morning Notes

Arlington’s ‘Bachelorette’ Contestant Talks — “For me, I like the hole-in-the wall bars. Just like, a dive bar where I can just like, grab a beer. Like I love drinking Guinness or some sort of Allagash White or something like that. If I were to go to a bar in Arlington to watch a game, I don’t know — maybe like, First Down in Ballston or like Spider Kelly’s.” [Washingtonian]

CaBi Comes to DCA — “The Capital Bikeshare station at National Airport is live! Traveling to the airport just got a whole lot easier.” [Twitter]

National Landing BID Expanding — “The National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) today announced two new executive appointments and three promotions within the organization.” [National Landing BID]

Fmr. Interim Superintendent Leaves APS — Arlington Public Schools staff wished goodbye to Cintia Johnson, the long-time school staffer who recently served as interim superintendent. [@APSVirginia/Twitter]

Chamber Continues Supporting Dillon Rule — “As part of its 2021 package of legislative priorities, the Chamber of Commerce is continuing its position that the ‘Dillon Rule’ needs to be maintained, and urged members of the General Assembly to do nothing that would lessen it. Leadership of the business organization comes and goes and other policy positions evolve over time, but the Chamber’s support for the Dillon Rule has remained steadfast over the decades.” [InsideNova]

Hospital CEO Staying On, For Now — “Virginia Hospital Center is experiencing some leadership changes — and holding off on others. VHC president and CEO Jim Cole, who’s held the position for 25 of his 35 years with the Arlington hospital, has continued and will remain in the top slot for now after announcing a year ago his intention to retire in September 2020.” [Washington Business Journal]

‘Section 230’ Explained With ARLnow — So what is Section 230, exactly? Per cybersecurity law professor Jeff Kosseff: “[An] example is that I go to my favorite local news site, @ARLnowDOTcom, and post a terrible, defamatory rumor about my neighbor… Neighbor can sue me, but a suit against ARLnow would fail because ARLnow was not responsible in whole or in part for creating or developing my defamatory post.” [@jkosseff/Twitter]

Nearby: Bethesda Encouraging ‘Streeteries’ — “A fund with $1.25 million from federal aid money might help. The county is considering using that money to give outdoor ‘streeteries’ — blocked-off streets filled with tables and chairs for patrons to eat outdoors — tools to prepare for operating during winter, such as heaters.” [Bethesda Magazine]

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Arlington Public Schools will proceed with all but two winter sports, with some modifications, after talks with staff and neighboring school systems.

Swimming and diving, gymnastics, track and field, basketball, rifle and dance will proceed, but not wrestling — given the close contact that wrestlers engage in — or winter cheer, since competitive cheer can be offered outside later in the year, Superintendent Francisco Durán said in an email to families.

The decision comes after public outcry over the weekend to APS’s decision not to participate, which was announced on Thursday. People pointed to other school systems, which are allowing students to participate in winter sports.

“I have received many emails from students and families regarding my decision not to participate in Season 1 Winter athletic competition, due to current health metrics and safety concerns related to indoor sports,” Durán said.

The decision was discussed in the School Board meeting on Thursday, during which a few parents and School Board Member Tannia Talento asked him to reconsider.

Durán said he decided not to allow APS to participate in sports because it would not align with the return-to-school plan, which has been put on pause until 2021.

But with new modifications, such as a ban on in-person spectators and limited to no use of locker rooms, Durán said winter sports can move forward.

“We are exploring opportunities to livestream some competitions for spectators and will share information once arrangements have been made,” he said.

If community health conditions worsen, APS may modify or suspend athletics activities in consultation with health experts, he said.

“We will continue to monitor health metrics and work with school athletic staff and other school divisions to protect our athletes, coaches, employees, and families,” Durán said.

Tiffany McAvoy, the author of a petition to reverse APS’s decision, urged those who signed to email Durán and the School Board over the weekend.

“We want to fill up their inboxes so we can’t be ignored,” she wrote in her update to the Change.org petition.

In the first day after she created the petition, more than 1,800 people signed, she said in her update. Since then, the total has grown to 2,100 people as of Tuesday afternoon.

Student athletes and families will receive additional guidance closer to the start of the season, which begins Dec. 7.

“Our plans are evolving with the current conditions, and we will be flexible and responsive to the needs of our students whenever possible, assessing all options to safely support our students’ academic successes, mental health, and social-emotional well-being,” Durán said.

The Virginia High School League, a statewide sports league comprising public and private high schools, approved a Championship + 1 schedule in September that would allow students to play 60% of their sport’s regular season schedule, starting in December, with modified regional and state championships.

On Oct. 29, Gov. Ralph Northam signed an executive order that allows the proposed VHSL schedule to begin in December as scheduled. In a statement published by VHSL, Northam said the league been a partner during the pandemic and has drafted thoughtful guidelines for reinstating sports.

File photo

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(Updated at 10:30 p.m.) Most Arlington Public Schools students will not return to classrooms until 2021.

Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán announced today that the planned “Level 2” return for younger and technical education students “will pause through the remainder of this calendar year.” On the other hand, the “Level 1” return for students with disabilities will proceed as planned this coming Wednesday.

The delay follows an increase in local coronavirus cases.

“I have made the decision to pause Level 2, which we had projected to begin November 12,” Durán wrote in an email to APS families. “We continue to see the case incidence rate in our area increasing, not decreasing. Level 2 comprises significantly larger numbers of students and staff. Moving too quickly to Level 2, while case levels are still rising, represents a safety risk and could cause further disruption to schedules.”

Durán said the school system will continue “to solidify staffing plans and capacity for Level 2 students” and will provide regular updates through December.

Arlington Parents for Education, a group advocating for opening schools for in-person learning, said in a statement that “Arlington’s children will feel the effects of this decision for years to come.”

The full email from Durán is below.

APS Community,

With in-person learning for Level 1 beginning on Wednesday and with November 12 fast approaching, I am providing my weekly Return-to-School Plan update today instead of tomorrow.

Last week we received interim guidance for schools from the Virginia Department of Education and Virginia Department Health. We will be making modifications to the APS COVID-19 Dashboard this week to reflect the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention primary and secondary indicators for schools. Our dashboard reporting will continue to show the regional weekly transmission information from the Virginia Department of Health in addition to these core indicators.

Based on our review of the updated guidance and latest health metrics, we are proceeding with Return-to-School Level 1 beginning on November 4. We are prepared to provide in-person learning support to the 236 students in Level 1, using every recommended health and safety protocol to make this transition safely. Schools have communicated details regarding this transition to Level 1 families, and transportation information for Level 1 students is available in ParentVUE.

I have made the decision to pause Level 2, which we had projected to begin November 12. We continue to see the case incidence rate in our area increasing, not decreasing. Level 2 comprises significantly larger numbers of students and staff. Moving too quickly to Level 2, while case levels are still rising, represents a safety risk and could cause further disruption to schedules.

We will pause through the remainder of this calendar year. This decision allows us to carefully monitor the effective implementation of all CDC mitigation strategies, while continuing to solidify staffing plans and capacity for Level 2 students. I will provide continuous updates on our planning and progress through my regular weekly messages and in our School Board Monitoring Reports on November 5, November 17, December 3, and December 17.

As we plan for in-person learning, we continue to strengthen our distance learning offering. Teachers, students, and classes have established meaningful routines together during the first quarter of the school year, and our teachers and staff are working harder than ever to provide a quality distance learning experience. We remain committed to providing all students the best educational experience possible, with the academic and social-emotional support they need to learn and grow during these challenging times.

Thank you for continuing to work collaboratively with us to support all students, by sharing your questions, comments, and ideas.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
​​​​​​​Superintendent

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While students with disabilities are still set to return to classrooms next week, further return-to-school phases are now on hold.

Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán made the announcement in an email to families Tuesday evening.

“Currently, the health and safety metrics are not where they need to be to proceed with Level 2, Phase 1 Return on Nov. 12 for PreK, Kindergarten, and Career & Technical Education (CTE) students,” Durán wrote. “Compared to Level 1 [for students with disabilities], Level 2 brings a significantly larger group of staff and students into our buildings and classrooms, and that is why the metrics are set to a more rigorous standard.”

“To begin phasing in Level 2 students, we need to see further improvement in the metrics,” Durán continued. “We will continue to monitor the data at the end of this week and, in consultation with Public Health, will make a final determination about next steps for Level 2 by next week.”

Among the key metrics that APS is monitoring to determine when to advance to Level 2 of the return-to-school plan and beyond are the county’s rate of increase of coronavirus cases and teacher preferences for whether to return to in-person instruction.

The Case Incidence Rate per 100,000 people currently stands at 9.4, and advancing to Level 2 calls for it to be between 5-6. The latest teacher survey found that only 39% want to return, compared to the 70% or greater set as the criteria for Level 2.

(Level 2 includes PreK-5 and Career and Technical Education students. The criteria for Level 3, which would bring all other students who opt in back to classrooms two days per week, includes a Case Incidence Rate between 4-5 and a teacher preference for in-person instruction above 95%.)

The rate of new coronavirus cases in Arlington has been fluctuating over the past couple of weeks, at a higher level than September, but the county has not seen the kind of surge currently taking place elsewhere in the country.

Students with disabilities are still set to return a week from Wednesday, Durán said.

“Based on my review of the data and in consultation with Public Health, the current health and operational conditions allow for us to provide in-person learning support for Level 1 students with disabilities, beginning on November 4,” the superintendent wrote.

The full letter is below.

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Depending on local health conditions, Arlington Public Schools students who opt for hybrid instruction could start entering classrooms between the end of October and mid-January.

The staggered return times, along with more details about the school system’s preparations, were announced on Friday during a town hall for parents with Superintendent Francisco Durán and his staff.

Students with disabilities will begin returning on Oct. 29, followed by preschool to fifth-grade students — youngest to oldest — starting in late November and continuing into early December. High-school students taking certain Career and Technical Education courses will also return.

Parents of these students, designated as priority level 2, are being surveyed currently for instruction preferences. All other middle- and high-school students who opt for hybrid instruction comprise Level 3 and are currently expected to return in January.

“We want to be thoughtful of meeting the needs of all of our students who need more support,” Durán said.

During a town hall with teachers earlier last week, Durán told APS staff, including teachers, that balancing their preferences with those of families may mean APS cannot respect the wishes of every family who selects the hybrid option, according to a recording of the meeting, which was provided to ARLnow.

Rather, “with student need as the driver,” those who are falling behind, or have disabilities, those who have difficulty accessing online learning or do not have parents at home will receive the greatest priority in returning to school, he said.

An advocacy group promoting in-person education, Arlington Parents for Education, contends that qualifying for face-to-face education based on need is inconsistent with APS’s mission to provide equal access to public education.

“If APS is going to go down this path of making determinations on behalf of parents which children ‘truly need’ to deserve in-person schooling, then the district should be prepared for and willing to answer questions on the matter,” the group said in a statement. “Based on the volume of questions that were ignored at Friday evening’s town hall, it’s clear Dr. Durán is not being transparent with families, yet again.”

On Friday, parents had a lot of questions, submitted via text, Facebook Live comments and Microsoft Teams chat, ranging from keeping teachers to testing students.

“I recognize how challenging this is for our community, and I know there are many opposing views about how we should proceed,” Durán said.

School officials said parents are concerned with keeping kids with their current teachers, with many wanting to base their survey answers on what their child’s teacher prefers.

“We know there are strong bonds formed, and we will do our very, very best to maintain consistency as best we can with classes and teachers, but we are not going to be able to share what teachers prefer in their survey,” Durán said, asserting that doing so would reveal private health information.

Many others asked about regular COVID-19 testing.

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, K-12 students should not be regularly tested as a condition for students to return, said Zachary Pope, the school system’s emergency manager.

Rather, students will be pre-screened before boarding the bus or outside the classroom when parents drop them off.  Guardians need to stay just in case their child is turned away for exhibiting symptoms, Pope said.

Students who experience symptoms at school will be put in seclusion rooms attended by specialized staff until a guardian can come get them. With the pre-screenings, however, Pope said “we hope we won’t have to have them in those rooms at all.”

Other safety measures include improvements to ventilation and social-distancing on buses. Walk zones have been expanded to keep down bus ridership to 11 students per trip and to mitigate car traffic.

 

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Morning Notes

Big Jump in Local Home Sales — “The red-hot summer real-estate market that evolved out of the springtime COVID crisis showed no signs of abating in September across Arlington. If anything, the market last month doubled down – literally. Home sales across the county totaled 274, up 44.2 percent from the 190 transactions recorded in September 2019.” [InsideNova]

Dems Protest Outside Trump HQ — Democrats protested outside of Trump reelection HQ in Rosslyn yesterday morning, criticizing the president for not agreeing to a virtual debate with Joe Biden. They came with signs and a large “Baby Trump” balloon. [Twitter]

Photos: Outdoor Coworking Space in Rosslyn — “Like dining out and birthday parties, coworking is now an outdoor activity thanks to the pandemic. At least it is in Rosslyn. Today, the new O2 pop-up (short for Outdoor Office) opens in Gateway Park by the Key Bridge.” [Washingtonian]

Amazon Employees to Keep Teleworking — “Amazon.com Inc.’s corporate offices may not return to pre-pandemic staffing levels until the middle of next year, with some managers telling their teams that they can continue to work from home until summer 2021.” [Washington Business Journal]

Tonight: Town Hall with APS Superintendent — “Dr. Durán will be hosting a community virtual Town Hall on Friday, October 16, from 5-6 p.m., to address the Return to School Plan. The Superintendent will address questions already received and take questions during the live event using Microsoft Teams or Facebook Live.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Ballston Private School Tackles Racism — “The Sycamore School (TSS), an independent nonprofit school serving 5th-12th grades, has invested in a year-long contract with nationally regarded educator and trainer Dr. Deborah Stroman as part of their continuing commitment to address issues of systemic racism.” [Press Release]

ART Bus Ridership Down — “For the fiscal year ending June 30, the ART system – funded by the Arlington government but operated by a private contractor – reported an average daily bus boarding total of 8,224, down 12.8 percent from the 9,434 reported for the previous fiscal year.” [InsideNova]

ABC Stores Are Doing Just Fine — “From March to September, [liquor sales in Northern Virginia] were up almost 17 percent over the year before: an average of nearly $37 million per month. March remains the month with the highest dollar amount of liquor sales in NoVa, at $39.3 million. July wasn’t far behind, with $38.5 million.” [Washingtonian]

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