Local Teacher Finalist in TV Contest — From Stacey Finkel, Kenmore Middle School PTA President: “Eurith Bowen, Functional Life Skills teacher at Kenmore Middle School, has been named a finalist for LIVE with Kelly and Ryan’s Top Teacher search. Eurith Bowen is a phenomenal educator who teaches from her heart, and has inspired an entire community to embrace students in a very special way. Eurith teaches students who are identified as having disabilities.” [Live with Kelly and Ryan]
Bridge Repair Work Underway — “Work is underway to rehabilitate the North Glebe Road (Route 120) bridge over Pimmit Run, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation… This summer, North Glebe Road between Military Road and Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) will be closed for about nine days to efficiently replace the bridge deck and beams.” [VDOT]
Most Choosing In-Person Learning in Fall — From Superintendent Francisco Durán: “Based on preliminary results from the family selection process, an overwhelming number of families are choosing to return in person in the fall… Previous communications stated that we are planning for both normal capacities as well as developing contingency plans should 3-foot distancing be recommended; however, we want to be transparent that 3-foot distancing is not feasible with the enrollment we are anticipating.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Masks for Youth Sports Questioned — “An Arlington County softball dad created a petition to take on the county’s school system on sports and mask mandates. The school system’s spokesperson sent FOX 5 an emailed response on Tuesday, affirming student athletes will be required to wear masks during competition until the end of the school year… Nearly 300 people have signed the petition made for 500 signatures, calling for the Arlington County Public School’s Superintendent to drop the youth sport mask mandate.” [Fox 5]
Milk Spills into Stream from I-395 — “If you see a white substance in Long Branch Creek, don’t have a cow – it’s just spilled milk, according to the Arlington Fire Department. The department said an incident on Interstate 395 led to a milk truck leaking ‘approximately 50 gallons.’ According to a tweet, that milk has made it into Long Branch Creek near South Troy Street.” [WJLA, Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
More Issues With Vaccination Effort — “Hoagland’s struggle to register for a vaccination started when he did not get a confirmation email back from Arlington County’s Health Department after adding his name to a virtual waitlist. After he got in touch with a representative who was able to confirm his spot in line, Hoagland learned that the county’s system is not able to push confirmation emails to anyone with a Verizon or AOL email account.” [WTOP]
Limited Vaccine Doses Available — “In a conference call with reporters on Saturday afternoon, the Virginia’s vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said after the current stockpile of over 900,000 first-round doses is exhausted, further doses may be slow coming. Avula said the commonwealth has been told by federal administrators that at least until sometime in March, there will be no more than 110,000 new first-round doses available per week for Virginians.” [WTOP, WRIC]
Teacher Vaccination Kicks Off — From County Board member Katie Cristol: “A great image from @Matt4Arlington, as 900 @APSVirginia educators get their first dose today – with 900 more to follow Monday. We are ready to replicate this scale daily for frontline workers and our community members & will keep fighting for as many doses as the state can send.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Car Crashes into Condo Complex — “A car crashed through a brick wall and into the side of the Barkley Condominiums along Columbia Pike today. No word on injuries.” [Twitter]
Injury at Powhatan Skate Park — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “Earlier today we safely removed a patient during a minor technical rescue incident at Powhatan Skate Park. The patient had minor injuries and was transported to a local hospital in stable condition.” [Twitter]
Fundraising Effort Collects $120K — “More than $120,000 was raised in December to fulfill all of the year-end wishes of 24 Arlington-serving nonprofit organizations, part of an effort sponsored by the Arlington Community Foundation.” [InsideNova]
TAPS Tapped for Inaugural Events — “The Biden Inaugural Committee has announced participants in the virtual ‘Parade Across America’ for Inauguration Day. Two D.C.-area groups have been picked to take part in the parade, including the Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors, or TAPS, in Arlington, Virginia.” [WTOP]
Reminders: COVID Event, Wednesday Closures — Today at 5:30 p.m., as part of a national event “honoring the lives we have lost to COVID-19,” Arlington is encouraging churches to ring their bells, businesses to light their buildings, and residents to put a lighted candle in a window. Tomorrow, due to Inauguration Day, county government offices and services are closed, and parking enforcement will not be enforced. [ARLnow, Arlington County]
M.J. Stewart Makes Splash in Upset Win — “Former Yorktown HS standout M.J. Stewart was one of NBC’s players of the game in the Cleveland Browns’ playoff upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight.” [Twitter]
National Award for County Naturalist — “Alonso Abugattas, natural resources manager for Arlington County, VA, received a Regional Environmental Champion award at the 2020 Natural Latinos conference.” [Bay Journal]
Cristol to Chair NVTC Again — “Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol will go another round as chair of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) for 2021.” [InsideNova]
McAuliffe Picks Up Local Support — “Four of the seven members of Arlington’s legislative delegation, including all three state senators, have announced their support for Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s bid for governor. McAuliffe ‘has the bold vision and proven track record we need to push Virginia forward,’ said state Sen. Adam Ebbin.” [InsideNova]
Nearby: Fairfax Vaccinating Teachers — “Starting as early as Saturday, Jan. 16, the Fairfax health department has partnered with Inova to vaccinate an estimated 40,000 teachers and staff of public and private schools and childcare programs across the health district.” [InsideNova]
When schools closed in March because of COVID-19, Miller — a Washington-Liberty High School science teacher — made a simple inquiry at the station where he works about recording a few lessons that students can watch at home to keep learning.
The response was a simple, according to Miller: “Go for it.” From that point, Miller set to work on Outside the Classroom, an educational program for kids, from his home in Arlington’s Bluemont neighborhood.
“I did the lessons, that morphed into the idea for the show and now we’re 118 episodes and 116 hours of live television deep into Outside the Classroom,” Miller said.
Miller uses more than 18 years of teaching experience to answer questions and help with homework on the show. Over the course of hosting the program, Miller said he’s received a positive response from viewers.
“Meeting new people, virtually or in person, and learning along with the viewers has been the best part of this experience,” Miller said.
The show features a bevy of guests appearing on it, like coworkers from the station, local teachers and volunteers that have included local parents, Arlington firefighters, and musicians from the National Symphony Orchestra and military bands.
Thanks @ArlingtonVaFD for coming over for @ABC7News' #OutsideTheClassroom.
Today we learned:
– many 1st time cooks due to #COVID19
– fry turkey near a structure
– put frozen turkey into hot oil
– drop turkey into oil
-Temporarily cut fire when lowering Turkey in. pic.twitter.com/XKKFc4o6aZ
— Ryan Miller (@RyanMiller_WX) November 25, 2020
— Ryan Miller (@RyanMiller_WX) November 10, 2020
Each week, Miller comes up with a different theme for the program. He then brainstorms lesson plans and activities with his photographer Rich Guastadisegni, producer Kyle Ridley and meteorologist Rachael Kaye. The goal is to keep kids interested in and learning science while at home.
“I’m very lucky to be able to work, usually from the front or back yard of my house, with the incredibly talented and patient co-workers from the station, as well as my APS teaching colleagues,” Miller said. “Bringing together all of these phenomenal people to cover a range of topics is the most endearing component of all of this adventure.”
The show airs live at 3 p.m. on weekdays can be seen locally on the WJLA 24/7 News cable channel, online at WJLA.com or streamed on Facebook Live.
Images via ABC 7
A First for ACFD — “A veteran firefighter in Arlington County, Virginia, is breaking barriers as she rises through the ranks. Tiffanye Wesley is the first African American woman named deputy fire chief in all of Northern Virginia.” [NBC 4]
County Wants Feedback on Camera Policy — ” The Arlington County Police Department, Sheriff’s Office and Fire Marshals’ Office are seeking the public’s input and feedback on draft Digital Evidence Management System policies, regulating digital audio and video recordings captured by body worn cameras, in-car cameras, and interview room cameras.” [Arlington County]
Guilty Plea in Murder Case — “Jose Angel Rodriguez-Cruz, 54, pleaded guilty in Stafford County Circuit Court on Monday morning in the killing of 28-year-old Marta Haydee Rodriguez, who was last seen walking to a bus stop in Arlington, Virginia, in April 1989.” [WTOP, Washington Post]
Vehicle and Business Break-ins — Arlington County police are investigating a pair of business burglaries in the Rosslyn area, and series of vehicle break-ins in the Barcroft neighborhood, according to Monday’s crime report. [ACPD]
Gov. Backs Marijuana Legalization — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced that he will introduce and support legislation to legalize marijuana in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The announcement comes as the Northam Administration prepares to release a report on the impact of legalizing adult-use marijuana.” [Commonwealth of Virginia]
Amazon Order Boosts 23rd Street — “By early May, more than 400 meals a day were leaving the Freddie’s kitchen and reaching firefighters, police, hospitals, and area residents in low-income housing… Due to the size of Amazon’s order, he enlisted a dozen other nearby restaurants. This joint effort ‘breathed life, energy, and activity into the independent restaurants that make up the core of 23rd Street.'” [Amazon]
Reopening Groups Blast Teachers — “Our coalitions of over 5,300 parents, teachers and Northern Virginia residents unite today to express dismay and concern of the latest efforts by a group of Northern Virginia education associations pushing Governor Northam to remove the option for in-person school for all of Virginia’s children.” [Arlington Parents for Education]
Local Districts Pause Reopening — “As COVID-19 cases surge, Fairfax County Public Schools will delay bringing back early HeadStart, pre-K and kindergarten students, plus some students who receive special education services… [and] Falls Church City Public Schools announced Tuesday that they will temporarily ‘pause’ in-person learning for the week of Thanksgiving.” [NBC 4, InsideNova, Washington Post]
Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick
Crystal City Development Approved — “The Arlington County Board today approved JBG Smith’s plan to develop Crystal Gateway, a nine-story office building with ground-floor retail, at 101 12th Street S. in Crystal City. Community benefits associated with the project include the developer conveying 54,500 sq. ft. of land for Gateway Park, which will connect Long Bridge Park to Crystal City.” [Arlington County]
Teacher Groups Banding Together — “Representatives from teacher associations in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Arlington and Manassas Park will host a news conference Monday urging a return to virtual-only learning. In a statement Sunday evening, the Fairfax Education Association said it ‘stands with our colleagues from the Northern Virginia region to ask the Governor to return the Commonwealth to a full Phase II of the reopening plan and to recommend that our schools return to a fully virtual method of instruction.'” [InsideNova]
Feedback Sought for Police Chief Search — “The County Manager has launched a search for a new leader of the Arlington County Police Department. During the first phase of the search, the County is interested in hearing from the community. ‘We value the perspective of every resident and business,’ said County Manager Mark Schwartz… You can offer feedback through December 11.” [Arlington County]
Joint Chiefs Chair’s Wife Saves the Day — “When a bystander collapsed at the Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday, a nurse was nearby and rushed to his aid. She happened to be the wife of the nation’s top military officer, Gen. Mark Milley.” [NBC News]
‘Click It or Ticket’ Starts Today — ” The Thanksgiving celebration is traditionally one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. As the holiday approaches, the Arlington County Police Department is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on a high visibility Click It or Ticket campaign.” [Arlington County]
State Sen. Pushing Pot Legalization — “We’re continuing to build a bipartisan coalition to #legalize responsible adult use of #marijuana in Virginia. I am working hard to ensure that ending the war on drugs is a top priority.” [@AdamEbbin/Twitter, Virginia Mercury]
N. Va. Delivered State for Biden — “Updated counts from the Virginia Department of Elections show that President-elect Joe Biden, a Democrat, defeated Trump by over 520,000 votes in Northern Virginia, defined as the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park… Across the rest of Virginia, Trump, a Republican, defeated Biden by about 70,000 votes, winning 50.2% to Biden’s 47.9%.” [InsideNova]
A 61% majority of Arlington Public Schools teachers prefer to continue distance teaching or telework, according to a survey recently conducted by APS.
Almost 4,300 employees, or 63% of APS staff, completed the survey. Teachers and assistants had the highest participation rates, 87% and 86% respectively, and while teachers had a stronger preference for distance learning over in-person teaching, assistants were split 50-50.
Those results were compiled and presented to the Arlington School Board by Superintendent Francisco Durán during the school board meeting on Thursday night.
Administrators say the information will be used to match teaching and learning preferences as the school system slowly brings back students, prioritizing students with disabilities and younger students who struggle more often with distance learning. Overall, 55% of all APS staff prefer telework to in-person work due to ongoing concerns of contracting the coronavirus.
During the meeting, Arlington School Board Vice Chair Barbara Kanninen asked Durán what will be done with the results, as there will potentially be more in-person students than staff to teach them.
“It continues to be that teacher preferences are not a match to family preferences,” Kanninen said. “More families are wanting to return to hybrid than there are teachers. What happens with that mismatch?”
Durán said staff in the human resources department, as well as supervisors and principals, will be talking to those who prefer not to return, but do not qualify for accommodations that would keep them fully remote.
“We’ll be working with those staff around what are their needs to make sure they feel safe,” Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Staff Dan Redding said.
Durán told board members that the figures in the presentation will not correspond to the final number of staff inside school buildings as APS continues to reopen.
Among other employee categories, those in food service, transportation and maintenance said they would prefer to report for work in-person.
Surveys were also sent out to select families who could be coming back this November, and those surveys were extended through Friday due to the APS internet outage on Wednesday. The school system will rely on this information to map out bus routes, since there is not much available room on reduced-capacity buses, Durán said.
The Arlington Education Association, which represents Arlington teachers, was not available to comment.
Western Smoke Causing Hazy Skies — “The local National Weather Service office pointed out today in its technical discussion that the smoke is caught in the jet stream and moving overhead around 20,000 to 25,000 feet high. Smoke from the historic fires out West now covers much of the country, and it is expected to continue to be an issue in the days ahead.” [Washington Post, Twitter]
Board Approves Road Project — “Arlington County Board members on Sept. 12 approved a contract worth up to $805,000 for improvements to the intersection of 18th Street North with North Glebe Road and North Wakefield Street, aimed at providing a better walking and biking experience for children and others headed to Glebe Elementary School.” [InsideNova. Arlington County]
Ret. Deputy Seeking Answer to 9/11 Mystery — “Nineteen years after the 9/11 attack at the Pentagon, a retired Arlington Sheriff’s deputy still doesn’t know if the badly injured man he pulled from the burning building survived. He doesn’t know his family or even his name — and Art Castellano still cries about it whenever something reminds him of that day. Now, WUSA9 is trying to help reunite the two men.” [WUSA 9]
Teacher Seeking Desk Donations — “Students across Northern Virginia are turning homes into classrooms, so Arlington art teacher Jeff Wilson decided to rally the community to help. Wilson posted a request online for people to donate their old desks to help students who are learning from home.” [WJLA]
Local Business Legend Dies — “Russell A. Hitt, who helped transform the family business into one of the nation’s largest and most successful general contracting firms, died Sunday at his Falls Church residence. The 85-year-old Arlington native is survived by his wife of 66 years, Joan; four children and 15 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, many of whom now work at Hitt Contracting Inc.” [Washington Business Journal]
No, the FBI Didn’t Conduct a Raid in Rosslyn — “The FBI’s Washington field office says it did not raid the home of Arlington conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman, despite a Washington Post story that apparently took Burkman’s word that his home had been tossed by federal agents.” [Washingtonian, Daily Beast, Washington Post]
(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) An increasingly vocal group of parents and teachers are calling on Arlington Public Schools to scrap plans to have most students return to classrooms twice per week.
The current APS “hybrid” plan calls for two cohorts of students each going into school two days per week, while wearing masks and practicing physical distancing. It also allows parents and students to opt for online-only learning.
Nearly 2,000 people have signed an online petition that instead pushes for a “#OneAPS” model that starts all students with online-only classes in the fall and eventually allows a return to school for teachers and students who opt to do so.
“This will keep APS as one, united school system; protect the health and safety of students, teachers and staff; will not force teachers into options that might precipitate mass resignation; and support our most vulnerable learners,” says the petition, an excerpt of which is below.
Under the #OneAPS model:
- APS will create a robust online learning platform and provide training for how to teach virtually. (See this article and Driver #3.)
- All students begin school online and receive synchronous (live) online instruction four days a week (Tuesday through Friday) after Labor Day. The delayed start allows for intensive teacher training.
- Mondays remain planning days for teachers, intervention days for small groups and asynchronous (independent) learning days for the majority of students.
- When public health officials deem conditions safe to reopen, survey teachers to see who is comfortable returning to school for in-person support. NO teacher will be forced into this option.
- Depending on the number of teachers available for in-person support, calculate the number of seats available. Allot those seats to our most vulnerable students
Other groups of teachers and parents have been organizing in opposition to a return to classrooms in the fall, similarly citing health and safety concerns.
One group — which is”advocating for a full distance learning model until Arlington County sees 14 days with no COVID-19 cases” — is planning a protest of Thursday night’s School Board meeting.
A Twitter account called “APS 14 Days No New Cases,” meanwhile, has been posting what it says are pleas from school staff not to reopen Arlington schools in the fall.
“I worry about the mental health of our students when they know that they, their peers, their teachers, and their families are get infected, sick, and possibly dying.” #14daysnonewcases #RefuseToReturn #ReopeningAPS @APSVirginia @APSVaSchoolBd
— APS 14 Days No New Cases (@14_aps) July 10, 2020
“I just updated my life insurance policy in preparation to return to school in the fall. This is not my typical back to school shopping.” #refusetoreturn #14daysnonewcases #apsisawesome @APSVirginia @APSVaSchoolBd @ARLnowDOTcom @SuptDuran @ArlingtonVA
— APS 14 Days No New Cases (@14_aps) July 9, 2020
On the opposite side of the spectrum from the #OneAPS petition, a new group called “Arlington Parents for Education” has been formed to oppose the hybrid plan and push for five-day-per-week, in-person classes. The group argues that not returning to in-person schooling on a full-time basis disproportionately hurts low-income and single-parent households, and carries “economic and educational performance” risks.
A recent unscientific poll conducted by ARLnow found that a plurality of respondents — just below 40% — support the APS hybrid plan, with the rest nearly split between those favoring five-day-per-week classes and online-only classes.
(The “APS 14 Days” account, mention above, criticized ARLnow for conducting the poll. “Shame on you for farming the reopening crisis for clicks,” the anonymous account tweeted.)
A recent Arlington Public Schools survey found that only 7% of school staff were comfortable, with no reservations, about returning to school on a normal schedule, while 39% were “not comfortable at all” and 54% were either “comfortable with concerns” or “somewhat comfortable.”
The top concern of APS staff, according to the survey, is “public health regulations not being followed.”
Among other major D.C. area school systems, Montgomery County public schools are expected to start the school year fully online, while Fairfax County public schools are planning a hybrid model but facing teacher pushback.
Monday afternoon, after the initial publication of this article, the Arlington Education Association, which represents Arlington teachers, issued a statement calling for remote learning to start the school year.
The Arlington Education Association Executive Board believes re-opening Arlington Public Schools this fall puts students, educators, and staff, at an exponential risk of COVID-19 that can lead to illnesses and death. We believe, this fall, all learning should continue online from home. This is the only way to keep all educators and students safe and healthy.
According to the recommended guidelines from the CDC and plans chosen by Arlington Public Schools the plans will not protect the health and safety of all students and staff. While the plans sound good, they and have not been proven safe and there are too many unknowns.
AEA further urges APS to look at professional development for all educators, to provide a consistent platform for virtual teaching and learning. Professional development is needed immediately, and instructional assistants must be included as it will be their responsibility to reinforce lessons and skills taught by teachers.
APS families have until next Monday, July 20 to select either the hybrid option or the distance learning-only option for the return to school on Aug. 31.
‘BLM’ on Fairlington Bridge Restored — Residents of the Fairlington area used ties to restore a Black Lives Matters message on the bridge over I-395 over the weekend. The letters “BLM” had previously been placed on the bridge’s fence but later removed by an unknown party. Also this weekend, below the BLM letters someone scrawled “Trump 2020,” but that was later covered and “Black Lives Matter” written over it in chalk. [Twitter]
ACPD Details De-Escalation Training — “In response to community questions, ACPD has created this fact sheet highlighting how we train officers to de-escalate incidents and safely resolve situations.” [Twitter]
Update to Jim Pebley Obit — Per an email from former county treasurer Frank O’Leary: “You will be pleased to hear that, due to the actions of former commanders of our County’s namesake ship, it appears that Commander Pebley’s ashes will be spread at sea by the USS ARLINGTON. This is a singular honor and reflects the high respect the Navy feels for Jim. Nothing less than he deserves. There is an old adage, ‘The Navy takes care of its own.’ Perhaps, the same can be said of Arlington.”
Candidates on the Arts — “Arlington County voters will go to the polls on July 7 to determine who will fill the County Board seat of the late Erik Gutshall. In order to help voters understand each candidate’s stand on the importance of arts and culture in the County, Embracing Arlington Arts sent out a questionnaire for the three candidates to complete covering several issues pertaining to the arts in Arlington.” [Press Release, Embracing Arlington Arts]
TTT Now Serving Unlimited Weekend Brunch — “There’s a new all-you-can eat brunch in town. TTT in Clarendon, which stands for Tacos, Tortas and Tequila, has joined its Street Guys Hospitality brethren, including beloved Ambar, in offering unlimited eats on weekend mornings.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Reminder: Metro Stations Back Open — “Metro plans to reopen the Clarendon and Virginia Square Metro stations in Arlington, starting Sunday.” [ARLnow]
Nearby: Fairfax Teachers Revolt — “A day after one of the nation’s largest school systems announced its proposal for fall learning, teachers within Fairfax County Public Schools rose in revolt and refused to teach in-person, as the plan demands, until officials revise their strategy.” [Washington Post]
A Wakefield High School teacher has been honored by a national organization for her role in promoting news literacy among her social studies students.
Every year since 2016, the nonprofit News Literacy Project (NLP) has selected one journalist and one student for their role in promoting news literacy and understanding. This year, for the first time, the organization has selected an educator — Patricia Hunt — as well.
“Patricia has set the gold standard as the first recipient of our educator of the year award,” said Alan Miller, NLP founder and CEO. “She’s… developed engaging activities to enhance her students’ ability to learn and apply news literacy skills, and her passion for improving the well-being of her students is contagious and inspiring. We are so proud to give her this award and spotlight her as a champion for news literacy education.”
Hunt said in a video that her goal as a social studies teacher is to help prepare her students to verify their sources and become informed voters.
“I started teaching in 1993,” Hunt said. “There were no cell phones, no internet. And today, the amount of information students have at their fingertips is quite daunting. Students struggle with being able to discern what is credible and what is entertainment or an ad. My goal as a social studies teacher is to get students to be skeptical of what has been laid down as the truth.”
Hunt said students leave her classroom questioning each other, questioning her, and able to engage with the news in a meaningful way.
“Preparing my students to be voters is why I’m there,” Hunt said.
Hunts efforts were also featured in an NPR article about combating fake news in the classroom.
“My goal as an educator is to give students the tools that they need to become lifelong learners,” Hunt said in a statement. “My hope would be for them to continue listening to the news, to continue checking their news feed against other news feeds, to stop and pause before sharing.”
Photo via YouTube