Newsletter

Morning Notes

Fairfax Connector Offers Metro Alternatives — With Metrorail service limited throughout the rest of the week, Fairfax Connector is reminding commuters that it offers express service to the Pentagon or downtown D.C. from five sites, including the Vienna Metro station on route 698. [Fairfax Connector]

Proposed Redistricting Maps Now Available — “The Board of Supervisors authorized a public hearing on Nov. 9 to consider proposed redistricting plans…There were 64 plans submitted in total by the board-appointed committee established to recommend new maps and the public, and these plans may be reviewed through an online dashboard.” [Fairfax County Government]

International Earthquake Drill Coming Tomorrow — “Every year, ShakeOut Day is the largest earthquake drill ever…What we do to prepare now before the next big earthquake will determine how well we can survive and recover. ShakeOut will occur in houses, workplaces, schools and public spaces at 10:21 a.m. local time on Oct. 21.” [Fairfax County Emergency Information]

County Opens Graham Road “Traffic Garden” — Fairfax County recently introduced a traffic garden near the Graham Road Community Center in West Falls Church to promote traffic safety education. The facility features an intersection with crosswalks and two-way lanes, mimicking real-life street conditions so kids can learn the rules of the road free of hazards. [Fairfax County Health Department]

Wolf Trap Accepting Grant Applications from Local Arts Teachers — “The Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts is accepting applications for this year’s Grants for High School Performing Arts Teachers Program. The grants are available to teachers across the D.C. area. The grant application deadline is Nov. 15, and grantees will be named in December for the 2021-22 school year.” [Patch]

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Morning Notes

Drop in Domestic Violence Cases Could Be Misleading — “Fairfax County Police data obtained by WTOP showed domestic violence decreased by roughly 190 cases each year since 2019. However, Saly Fayez, who oversees its victim services division, said it’s likely because the crime is underreported…Fayez said the pandemic kept victims from reporting, skewed the data, and gave abusers another tool of control.” [WTOP]

Fish Die-Off Reported in Chantilly Area — “We have received reports of a fish die-off in Rocky Run in the Greenbriar area. Fairfax County Stormwater Management the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which investigates such incidents, have been notified. Our thanks to those who have reported the issue to us.” [Fairfax County Park Authority/Twitter]

MCA Wants to Keep McLean Together With Redistricting — “The Greater McLean area should be kept intact when new Fairfax County magisterial districts are redrawn, according to a Sept. 18 letter from the McLean Citizens Association to the 2021 Fairfax County Redistricting Advisory Committee…MCA’s membership area includes not only McLean, but also portions of Tysons, Falls Church and Great Falls.” [Sun Gazette]

Health Department Launches Literacy Initiative — “The Fairfax County Health Department has begun a new initiative to improve health literacy among local African-American, African and Hispanic communities. Named ‘Stronger Partnership, Stronger Community: Using Health Literacy to Increase Resilience (Stronger2),’ the program seeks to improve health outcomes by cultivating an individual’s ability to find, understand and use health information and services in a manner that is culturally and linguistically appropriate.” [FCHD]

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Celebree School of Tysons-Jones Branch owners Brian and Kate Mulcahy hold groundbreaking ceremony at Valo Park in McLean on March 31 (staff photo by Scott Fields)

The first Virginia franchise location of the Celebree School has officially opened in Tysons.

Focusing on early childhood education, the Celebree School of Tysons-Jones Branch serves infants through pre-kindergarten children. It is located on Valo Park’s 16-acre campus at 7950 Jones Branch Drive and operates from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

“Tysons was the perfect community for us to open our first Celebree School. It is a vibrant neighborhood with both a residential and business presence,” Tysons franchisees Kate and Brian Mulcahy said in an email.

“We love that we can support the families who live and work in the area and as McLean natives ourselves we enjoy supporting our hometown. Valo Park provides us with extensive campus for our students to explore with varied natural and artistic elements. The children love visiting the koi ponds, sculptures and plant life all around us. We also love that our school has many unique architectural and design elements that the Valo Park location provides.”

The location — which is open for interested parents to tour — provides full-time programs for infants and toddlers, as well as full and part-time programs for its preschool programs. At this time, a school-age program is not in the franchise’s near-term plans.

“Our curriculum gives children the opportunity to explore their own interests to develop pre-academic skills and encourages the use of imagination,” the Mulcahys said. “Our use of classroom management philosophy is to empower children so every child can develop confidence in their interactions with others.”

The Celebree School announced on April 21, 2020, that it had signed a franchise agreement with the Mulcahys to open a center in Fairfax or Arlington county. The couple signed a lease agreement with Valo Park on Nov. 10 and held a groundbreaking ceremony for the location on March 31.

Founded in 1994 in Lutherville, Maryland, Celebree School began franchising in 2019 and now has over 40 locations in 12 states that are open or under development, adding franchises in New York, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

“We chose to partner with Celebree because we are excited to deliver the best possible early childhood education to our students,” the Mulcahys said.

“Celebree has a truly unique and specialized approach to early childhood education. As an independently owned and operated Celebree School, we have an opportunity to meet each student where they are as they experience social and emotional growth and gain pre-academic skills.”

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Morning Notes

County Appoints New Parks Director — “The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors affirmed the selection of Jai Cole as Executive Director of the Park Authority [Tuesday]…Cole, a park professional with more than two decades of leadership experience with award-winning recreation and park agencies will begin immediately, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of…Kirk Kincannon earlier this year.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Deadline for COVID-19 Relief Grants Extended — Fairfax County has extended the application deadline for its Active and Thriving Community Grants Program to 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 21. Previously set to close yesterday (Tuesday), the program is intended to help child care providers, community programs, and other small businesses and nonprofits negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. [Fairfax County Government]

Tysons Adapts to Decline in Commuting — With the pandemic keeping many workers at home, local business leaders say a growing emphasis on mixed-use developments like The Boro and Capital One Center will help office-centric Tysons adapt to a world of remote work. Proximity to transit and retail amenities will be key to attracting young employees, ID.me Chief Marketing Officer Jean Rosauer said at last week’s Future of Tysons event. [Bisnow]

Some Teachers Skeptical of Live-Streaming Proposal — “After Fairfax County Public Schools added classroom streaming for students forced to stay home because of COVID-19, some teachers are pushing back…David Walrod, a teacher at FCPS, who also serves as the first Vice President of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, worries that the live streaming will evolve into concurrent learning — which even the superintendent said wasn’t ideal for students.” [WUSA9]

Tysons Security Company Evacuated Clients from Afghanistan — “As U.S. troops began to withdraw from Afghanistan, Tysons-based Global Guardian reached out to its clients there to offer evacuation assistance. On August 5, 10 days before the Afghan government collapsed, the company began evacuating its clients from Kabul and two other cities. By August 18, Global Guardian had successfully evacuated all but one individual, whom it later got out of the country.” [Fairfax County EDA]

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Morning Notes

Tysons Could Get a Rock Climbing Center — An affiliate of the Manassas-based Vertical Rock Climbing & Fitness Center plans to convert the former Hamilton’s Sofa & Leather Gallery at 8461 Leesburg Pike into a rock climbing facility. The 9,220 square-foot space has been leased and is slated to open later this year, but Fairfax County is still processing permit applications to allow the use at that location. [Washington Business Journal]

Tysons Education Nonprofit Honored by General Assembly — Del. Mark Keam (D-35th) presented a signed commendation to the Center for Excellence in Education (7918 Jones Branch Dr.) during the 38-year-old nonprofit’s annual Congressional luncheon on July 15. The State Senate and House of Delegates both approved a proclamation recognizing CEE for promoting science, technology, engineering, and math education with free programs for students and teacher training. [CEE]

Visit Fairfax Joins Regional Sports Tourism Partnership — “The tourism-marketing organizations of Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford counties on Aug. 10 announced the launch of SportsNOVA, a new regional sports-tourism partnership designed to market Northern Virginia as a premier destination for travel-sports events.” [Sun Gazette]

Maryland Beltway Project Contract Approved — The Maryland Board of Public Works voted 2-1 to approve a “predevelopment agreement” with toll lanes operator Transurban and financial firm Macquarie to design express lanes on I-270 and part of the Capital Beltway. The much-debated project is seen as critical to the success of Virginia’s 495 NEXT project in McLean, which got key federal approvals last month. [The Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

Fairfax County Urges Adolescents to Get Vaccinated — The health department will host three COVID-19 vaccine clinics at public schools this week in an effort to vaccinate more people aged 12-17. The Pfizer vaccine, the only one authorized for that age group, takes five weeks to take full effect, so students have to get their first dose by July 19 to be fully vaccinated when the school year starts on Aug. 23. [Fairfax County Health Department]

Madison HS Baseball Player Drafted by MLB — The Chicago Cubs chose James Madison High School graduate James Triantos with the 56th pick of Major League Baseball’s 2021 draft, which started Sunday (July 11). Drafted as a shortstop, Triantos ended his tenure with the Warhawks in June by throwing six perfect innings and scoring the two runs the team needed to win its first state title since 2015. [James Madison HS/Twitter]

Fairfax County Students Build Houses — “Each year, 15-20 Fairfax County high-schoolers hang drywall, use power tools, and learn technical and life skills that come with building a home. None has proved as challenging as the 2020-2021 covid-wrought academic year.” [The Washington Post]

Wolf Trap Welcomes First Go-Go Band — When it takes the stage on Sunday (July 18), Trouble Funk will officially be the first go-go band to ever play at Wolf Trap National Park’s Filene Center, according to frontman “Big Tony” Fisher. The band has been making music for over 45 years and will perform with guests Sugar Bear and DJ Kool. [WTOP]

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Morning Notes

Summer School Delayed for Special Education Students — The families of roughly 1,200 students with special needs were informed last Wednesday (June 23) that their summer school that was supposed to start Monday (June 28) has instead been delayed to the end of July. Fairfax County Public Schools has only been able to hire 75% of the teachers needed to run the special education program. [The Washington Post]

Vienna Hires New Spokesperson — The Town of Vienna has hired Karen Acar Thayer as its new public information officer, effective yesterday (Monday). Responsible for the town’s communications, marketing, and outreach efforts, Thayer’s past experience includes work as a promotional services manager for the Fairfax County Park Authority and as communications director for Falls Church City Public Schools. [Town of Vienna]

Mary Riley Styles Public Library Anticipates August Reopening — The Mary Riley Styles Public Library expects to have an official ribbon cutting for its newly renovated building in early to mid-August with a grand opening celebration to follow in September or October. Construction has been ongoing since early 2020 and includes the addition of more than 6,000 square feet of space. [Falls Church News-Press]

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Transgender Bathroom Case — “The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a Virginia school board’s appeal to reinstate its transgender bathroom ban, handing a victory to transgender rights groups and a former high school student who fought in court for six years to overturn the ban.” [Associated Press/WTOP]

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Morning Notes

Inova Will Require COVID-19 Vaccinations for Workers — “Inova Health System is requiring all employees to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, making the Falls Church-based nonprofit the latest in the region to employ such a mandate. Inova, which counts 18,000 employees across the organization, notified staff last week of the requirement, which goes into effect Sept. 1.” [Washington Business Journal]

McLean Swimmer Qualifies for Summer Olympics in Tokyo — “After coming up short at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in 2012 and 2016, McLean native Andrew Seliskar has made the Olympic Team. The 24-year-old placed fourth in the 200-meter freestyle at Trials, earning a spot on the 4×200 meter freestyle relay team.” [WJLA-ABC7 News]

New Tysons Child Care Center Now Enrolling — After breaking ground on its new early childhood education center on Jones Branch Drive in March, Celebree School has opened enrollment for kids from infants through pre-kindergarten. The private school is also currently looking to hire teachers in preparation for its anticipated opening later this summer. [Celebree School]

Wolf Trap Announces More Summer Shows — “On Tuesday, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts announced the following new concerts: The Avett Brothers, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue with Michael Franti & Spearhead, A Tribute to Marvin Gaye featuring Raheem DeVaughn and Friends, and ABBA the Concert. The shows are part of the Filene Center’s 5oth anniversary season.” [Patch]

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After getting into a new groove of providing four days of in-person learning, Fairfax County Public Schools has officially announced its plans for the fall.

The school system will offer all students five days of in-person learning in the fall and a limited virtual program for students with documented health needs.

Roughly 109,000 students and staff have returned to school buildings this school year. According to the school division, nearly 85,400 students attend in-person instruction, and more than 80% of those go at least four days a week.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 transmission rates remain less than 1% — even after schools reduced social distancing to three feet.

“We are excited to welcome all students and staff back to our buildings for the in-person experiences that we all missed this fall,” FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand said. “We are encouraged and hopeful that learning in the fall will look as close to normal as possible.”

Families who intend to send their kids back for five days of in-person instruction this fall will not have to do anything. Those who want to use next year’s virtual option need to apply by May 21 and include a certification of need penned by a licensed medical professional.

The virtual option is an accommodation for the pandemic and will likely not be offered beyond the 2021-22 school year, according to FCPS.

“While we are busy planning for the fall, we do recognize that some students, in very limited circumstances, may have a documented health or medical need for virtual instruction,” Brabrand said. “Today’s announcement will help ensure that we are able to continue to serve all.”

A new law requires Virginia’s school divisions to provide five days of in-person learning to families who want it this fall. No school districts are not obligated to provide a virtual option.

FCPS joins several neighboring jurisdictions in offering an in-house virtual program to students, including Arlington Public Schools, Alexandria City Public Schools, and Loudoun County Public Schools.

Unlike FCPS, which sees virtual learning as a COVID-19 measure, APS intends to one day permanently incorporate this option into its offerings.

The FCPS Virtual Program will be primarily taught by county teachers and accommodate students with special education needs and those who require English language learning services, but not all specialized programs or courses will be available.

Some courses will instead be offered through the statewide Virtual Virginia platform. FCPS officials initially proposed supporting students who need to remain online by continuing to utilize concurrent learning, where teachers provide instruction to in-person and virtual students simultaneously, but the school board decisively rejected the idea, citing teachers’ frustration with the additional workload.

School officials will decide case-by-case whether virtual students can participate in activities or athletics.

“We will see you in August,” Brabrand said.

Image via FCPS/Twitter

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Visitors at the Plum Center for Lifelong Learning and Fairfax County Adult High School must scan a QR code to take a survey for contact tracing purposes upon entering the building (Staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

More than 20 schools have expressed interest in learning more about a statewide pilot to conduct on-site COVID-19 screening and testing for students and staff, Fairfax County Public Schools officials reported yesterday (Tuesday).

FCPS Department of Special Services Assistant Superintendent Michelle Boyd told the school board during a work session that administrators will meet with staff at 21 schools on Thursday (April 22) to share more details about the Virginia Department of Health programs and determine which schools will ultimately participate.

In response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent guidance for kindergarten through 12th grade schools, VDH is working with the Virginia Department of Education to launch two pilot programs this month: one will provide schools with free antigen testing supplies that can return results within 15 minutes, and the other will support regular screenings to identify potential infections.

According to VDH, the diagnostic testing pilot is primarily intended to diagnose COVID-19 in teachers, staff, and students who are participating in-person instruction or are close contacts with someone who has been diagnosed and begin exhibiting symptoms.

The screening testing pilot, on the other hand, involves regularly screening a broad group of individuals to detect an infection before it spreads or become symptomatic. FCPS says it would conduct this pilot just with students, since staff have been able to get vaccinated.

Schools have the option to participate in one of the pilot programs, both of them, or neither. The pilots will launch this month and conclude on June 30.

“Our purpose for implementing these pilots this year is to gain information about what would be needed to stand it up next year, so this is really to get us prepared,” Boyd said.

In addition to participating in the pilot programs, FCPS is “actively pursuing” partners in the hopes of setting up targeted COVID-19 vaccine clinics for students that would be similar to the ones arranged with Inova for teachers and staff.

Since Fairfax County entered Phase 2 on Sunday (April 18), students 16 and older can now register for the vaccine, and FCPS is encouraging everyone who is eligible to find an appointment, according to a presentation that Superintendent Scott Brabrand delivered to the school board.

“We know that’s going to be critically important to returning to five days of instruction,” Boyd said of students getting vaccinated.

According to a report prepared for the school board, there were 470 reported COVID-19 cases among FCPS students and staff currently participating in in-person learning between Jan. 26 and April 13, but only 29 of those cases involved transmission within schools.

Four of the five outbreaks in that time period stemmed from athletic activities. Since school sports restarted in December, FCPS has documented 270 COVID-19 cases, including 61 cases likely spread through schools, and 16 outbreaks across 12 schools, all in basketball, wrestling, and football programs.

To date, there have been 1,397 reported cases among FCPS staff, students, and visitors since Sept. 8. Read More

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