Newsletter

Morning Notes

Victim of West Falls Church ATM Shooting Dies — “A 73-year-old man has died days after he was shot at an ATM in Falls Church, Virginia, during an attempted robbery, police said days after the attack. The victim was identified as Nelson Alexander, a loving, family-oriented man and involved member of his church who sang in the choir, his loved ones said.” [NBC4]

FCPS Hires Firm for Superintendent Search — The Fairfax County School Board has awarded human resources recruitment firm GR Recruiting a contract to conduct a nationwide search for Superintendent Scott Brabrand’s successor. Fairfax County Public Schools says parents, students, staff, and community members will be involved in the process, with the next superintendent taking over on July 1, 2022. [FCPS]

Another Full I-66 West Closure Coming Tonight — “All lanes of I-66 West approaching Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) will close Monday night, October 25, for continued bridge beam installation at the I-66/I-495 Interchange. Traffic will be detoured using Route 7 and I-495. Multiple lanes of I-495 North approaching I-66 will be closed, along with a full closure of the 495 Express Lanes North and associated ramps at the interchange so that this work may be implemented.” [VDOT]

Nonprofit Opens New Office in Vienna — “A nonprofit organization focused on providing day programs for adults with disabilities held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and talent show on Thursday as it celebrated the opening of its new administrative office in Vienna. The new office for the nonprofit SPARC is at The Church of the Good Shepherd, a United Methodist church located at 2351 Hunter Mill Road in Vienna.” [Patch]

County Board Looks at Waiving EV Permit Fees — “Fairfax County supervisors on Oct. 19 directed the county’s Department of Land Development Services to analyze the possibility of waiving permitting fees associated with installation of electric-vehicle infrastructure. The intention is to reduce barriers to switching to environmentally friendly alternatives, said Chairman Jeff McKay (D).” [Sun Gazette]

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Morning Notes

Wiehle Metro Station to Close This Weekend — “Head Up! This weekend, WMATA is closing the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station for integration of Phase 2 of the Silver Line with the existing Silver Line. During the planned closure, free Metrobus shuttles will go between Wiehle-Reston East & Spring Hill Metrorail Stations” [Fairfax Connector/Twitter]

FCPS Enrollment Still Below Pre-Pandemic Levels — “Fairfax County Public Schools officials reported a total of 178,595 students in classes on Sept. 30…That figure is down from 179,741 recorded in June when the 2020-21 school year ended, and is well down from the 189,010 students counted in class at the start of the 2019-20 school year.” [Sun Gazette]

A Going-Out Guide to Tysons — “This kind of place-making from scratch has become common in the Washington area…but it’s interesting to see it happening in Tysons, once defined as an ‘Edge City’ because, while it was technically located in Washington’s suburbs, large crowds commuted into Tysons in the morning, and left again at night. Now, there might just be more reasons to stay.” [The Washington Post]

How to Celebrate Another COVID Halloween — “While trick-or-treaters under 12 aren’t eligible for vaccine yet, this fun tradition can be done safely if families keep activities outdoors, wear a cloth or surgical mask (don’t rely on a costume mask to protect you), avoid crowded doorsteps, and wash hands before eating candy.” [Fairfax County Health Department]

Local Health Startup Has Big Plans — “Kinometrix Inc., a Fairfax County startup whose software help hospitals prevent patient falls, is making some big changes and kicking off a funding round to expand nationally. The company, originally part of Inova Health System’s accelerator until that program shut down in late 2019, is shooting to raise at least $3 million.” [Washington Business Journal]

Drug Take Back Day Is Tomorrow — The Fairfax County Police Department will collected unused and expired prescription drugs tomorrow (Saturday) for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which comes twice a year. Collection sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the county’s police district stations, including in McLean, and Reston Hospital Center. [Patch]

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Morning Notes

New Early Voting Sites Open Today — “Fairfax County will open an additional 13 early voting sites starting Thursday, Oct. 21. In total, there will be 16 voting locations available across the county until the last day to vote early on Oct. 30 at 5 p.m. Early voting began last month starting with three sites open.” [Fairfax County Government]

Gallows Road Bridge to Be Demolished This Weekend — “Southbound Gallows Road travel lanes will shift to a new Gallows Road bridge over I-66 during the daytime hours on or about Thursday, October 21. Pedestrian access across I-66 will shift to the sidewalk on the east side of Gallows Road, with detours using the crosswalks at Cottage Street and Avenir Place/Bellforest Drive.” [VDOT]

Local DJ Brings New Restaurant to Tysons Corner — A new Spice Road-inspired restaurant from D.C.-based DJ and music producer Bikram Keith will open at Tysons Corner Center in early November. Located by Nordstrom’s, the 210-seat venue will serve cuisine from the Middle East, Persian Gulf, and Northern India in a 5,000 square-foot dining room, lounge, and patio. [Patch, Northern Virginia Magazine]

FCPS Allows for Limited Snow Days — “FCPS has announced updates to its inclement weather policy for the 2021-22 school year. The first five inclement weather days will be traditional inclement weather days…Once these five days have been taken, FCPS will use the flexibility provided by the General Assembly to have unscheduled virtual learning days, wherever possible, to maintain continuity of learning.” [FCPS]

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Morning Notes

(Updated at 8:40 a.m.) Flood Watch in Effect — Fairfax County is under a Flood Watch into this afternoon, as “significant” rain is expected. Several roads have been closed due to flooding or downed trees, including Potomac River Road at Georgetown Pike, Lawyers Road at Hunter Mill, and Old Courthouse at Besley Road. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, FCPD]

Suspect in Tysons Sexual Assault Charged in New Incident — Fairfax County police have filed new sexual assault charges against a Woodbridge man who was arrested on Sept. 3 in connection with a sexual assault reported at a Tysons hotel in July. Reported on Aug. 26, the second incident involved the man allegedly assaulting a woman he’d arranged to meet at a hotel in the Seven Corners area. [Patch]

FCPS Shares SAT Results — The Class of 2021 performed above the national average on the SAT with just a 4.4% drop in participation, compared to a 31.4% global decline, despite the challenges of conducting standardized testing during the pandemic, Fairfax County Public Schools reported yesterday (Wednesday). Results from the College Board showed that Asian and white students recorded higher average scores than their Black and Hispanic counterparts. [WTOP]

Area Officials Consider Prioritizing Equity in Planning — The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments board will vote on Oct. 13 on a regional transportation and land use plan that would prioritize low-income residents and communities of color when allocating funds for affordable housing, transportation, and other projects. Planners say the move would help address disparities in health outcomes and access to transit and other services. [The Washington Post]

Tysons Media Company Has Suitors — “Tegna Inc. (NYSE: TGNA), the Tysons-based operator of dozens of U.S. television stations, said Tuesday it has recently received multiple acquisition proposals — a new round of overtures after offers last year were pulled as the Covid-19 pandemic was taking hold. According to reports, media mogul Byron Allen is teaming with alternative investment firm Ares Management Corp. (NYSE: ARES) on a bid, while private equity giant Apollo Global Management Inc. (NYSE: APO) and Standard General LP are joining on another.” [Washington Business Journal]

Regional Park Authority Founders Celebrated — The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority recently lauded the achievements of its founders, including conservationist Ira Gabrielson, who gave land to Fairfax County that became Oakton’s Gabrielson Gardens Park. Started 62 years ago, NOVA Parks has preserved more than 12,000 acres of land and oversees attractions like the Washington & Old Dominion Regional Trail. [Sun Gazette]

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Morning Notes

(Updated at 9:55 a.m.) Former Container Store Gets New Name — The former Container Store at 8508 Leesburg Pike has been dubbed The PARC (People, Art, Recreation, and Community) as Fairfax County, the Tysons Partnership, and Celebrate Fairfax Inc. turn the vacant site into a community events venue. Determined by a social media poll, the name was announced on Friday (Sept. 17) at Celebrate Fairfax’s Tysons Block Party. [Celebrate Fairfax/Twitter]

County to Use Mobile COVID-19 Testing Lab — “The Fairfax County Health Department is deploying its mobile laboratory to provide COVID-19 testing in several locations starting Tuesday, Sept. 21. These mobile testing opportunities are for individuals who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to COVID-19.” [FCHD]

Tysons Corner Nordstrom Robbed — A man entered the Nordstrom in Tysons Corner Center (8075 Tyson Corner Center) at 5:22 p.m. on Sept. 11 and took merchandise while assaulting an employee. Three days later, the store was robbed again at 11:17 a.m. by a man who took merchandise and implied he had a weapon as he exited the store. No injuries were reported in either incident. [FCPD]

See New Scotts Run Fire StationFairfax County leaders celebrated the opening of the new Scotts Run Fire Station 44 at 1766 Old Meadow Lane with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday (Sept. 18). Community members can get a glimpse inside the station, which became operational on Aug. 14, with a virtual tour led by Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Lt. Payne. [FCFRD/YouTube]

Police Officers Recognized at Cultural Festival — “Yesterday, our officers participated in the Korean American Festival, KORUS, at Tysons Corner Center. Several of our Korean American officers were recognized for their contributions to our community.” [FCPD/Twitter]

School Boundary Policy Meeting Tonight — Consultants hired by Fairfax County Public Schools will share information about their review of the district’s boundary policy at a virtual public meeting at 7 p.m. today (Monday). Requested by the school board in 2019, the review focuses on what factors should be considered when making boundary changes, rather than the boundaries for specific schools. Register online to get the meeting link. [Dranesville District School Board Member Elaine Tholen]

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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

Rainbows appear over Tysons after a recent storm (photo by ERTRIPP9/Twitter)

FCPS Looks to Tighten COVID-19 Protocols — Missed emails have led some Fairfax County Public School students to show up for class when they’re supposed to stay home after coming into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The school system is working with county health officials to speed up the complicated contact-tracing process. [Reston Now]

Abortion and Taxes Take Center Stage at Tysons Forum — Nearly 300 people gathered at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons to hear all six major-party candidates for statewide offices. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe warned that the abortion restrictions approved in Texas on Wednesday (Sept. 1) could come to Virginia if his opponent is elected, while Republican Glenn Youngkin detailed his recently announced tax cuts plan. [Associated Press]

Falls Church Sets Opening Date for Renovated Library — The Mary Riley Styles Public Library will reopen next Friday (Sept. 10) after a year-long renovation that expanded the facility by 6,000 square feet, reconfigured the layout, and updated its amenities and infrastructure. City officials and library staff will mark the opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, with a public grand opening celebration to come later in the fall. [City of Falls Church]

Caliburger Food Truck Coming to The Boro — “Southern California burger joint @caliburgerdc is coming to #TheBoroTysons next year! In the meantime, get a preview of their sunny SoCal style from the CaliBurger Food Truck on Sat evenings from 6:30-8:30pm (beginning 9/4), & lunch on Wednesdays from 11:30am-2pm (starting 9/8).” [The Boro/Twitter]

Photo by ERTRIPP9/Twitter

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Morning Notes

Prepare for Remnants of Hurricane IdaTropical Depression Ida is expected to hit the D.C. area today (Wednesday). A Flash Flood Watch will take effect this morning, and Gov. Ralph Northam has already declared a state of emergency. Fairfax County says to avoid flooded streets, remove valuables from basements, and ensure storm drains and gutters aren’t clogged, and Falls Church City residents can borrow sandbags until 3 p.m. [Fairfax County Emergency Information]

County Grants Program Now Accepting Applicants — Fairfax County’s new Active and Thriving Community Grants Program opened its application portal yesterday (Tuesday) and will accept applicants until 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 14. Approved on July 27, the program will allocate $10 million in federal relief money to select small businesses and nonprofits negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. [Fairfax County Government]

FCPS Ready to Help Afghan Refugee Students — “[Annandale resident] Tahir is awaiting the arrival of his wife and other children, who were among thousands of Afghans who fled after the Taliban takeover earlier this month…When his family arrives, one of his priorities will be enrolling the children in school. A spokesperson for Fairfax County Public Schools said faculty and staff are already helping Afghan refugees enroll their children and providing them with additional support to help students adjust to their new environment.” [Inside NoVA]

Longtime Falls Church Crossing Guard Retires — “It was almost like any other day as Audrey Luthman greeted students heading to school Tuesday morning. She’s helped Falls Church students cross the roads safely since 1971, but her work has come to an end…City of Falls Church officials and families gathered Tuesday morning to celebrate Luthman’s 50 years of service and retirement.” [Patch]

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The Fairfax County School Board (via FCPS)

Fairfax County Public Schools will provide additional compensation for select staff members, particularly bus drivers and special education teachers, and bolster its mental health services, thanks to a new round of federal COVID-19 relief.

The ESSER III (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) spending plan approved by the Fairfax County School Board on Thursday (Aug. 26) devotes $188.6 million to various expenses tied to keeping schools open and safe during the ongoing pandemic.

The funds will last for three years and came from the American Rescue Plan Act that Congress passed in March.

“We believe our ESSER 3 plan addresses key areas to support schools as they return to in-person instruction from the pandemic as well as increase our focus on serving students and staff in our school division with an equity lens,” Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in a statement for the board’s meeting last week.

The school board approved the measure almost unanimously. Braddock District Representative Megan McLaughlin abstained, restating concerns that the spending plan doesn’t contain the level of detail she wanted to ensure adequate oversight.

The multi-year funding covers:

  • Nearly $55 million for academic intervention
  • $46 million to pay special education teachers more for increased workloads connected with the pandemic and individualized education plans
  • $23 million for social and emotional learning needs of students
  • Nearly $14 million for after-school programming and transportation
  • $10 million for cafeteria, classroom, and outdoor monitors
  • $9 million for cybersecurity
  • $3 million to increase bus drivers’ starting pay from $19.58 per hour to $22.91

The academic and social and emotional learning categories encompass everything from tutoring support for before and after school programs to mental health materials, technical education, and transportation to school programs on Saturdays.

“Each school will receive funding allocations as well as stipends for academics and wellness,” FCPS said in a news release on Friday (Aug. 27). “The academic and wellness allocations are to be used to directly support students. The amount each school receives is based on its project enrollment and need.”

For academic and wellness-related items, which make up 82% of the allocations, elementary schools are expected to receive about $50,000 to $189,000, middle schools will get $69,000 to $298,000, and high schools can count on around $105,000 to $368,000.

Schools will get similar amounts to address social and emotional learning needs, resulting in about $37 per student.

The plan was designed to give schools flexibility in how they spend their money, while also establishing checks and balances for approving and overseeing the money, according to FCPS.

“All schools will create a plan that outlines how they will use their ESSER III funding to support students’ academics and wellness, and they will post information about their plan on the school website,” FCPS said.

The plan also calls on FCPS to fast track the addition of 10 positions for its English Language Learner programs, which already include 887 positions, 98% of which are teachers, Brabrand noted.

According to the state, $124 million was available as of April 30 for Fairfax County, and the remaining third will become available after FCPS submits a plan to the state due on Wednesday (Sept. 1).

The Commonwealth required school districts to post their plans for using the money within 90 days of receiving the funds. Districts were also required to gather public input, which FCPS did with a hearing on June 7.

The ESSER plan is separate from the year-end budget review that the school board approved during the same meeting on Thursday, which included one-time bonuses for FCPS staff.

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(Updated at 12:45 p.m.) All high school students will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to participate in school sports, Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand announced this morning (Monday).

The requirement will apply to students who plan to get involved in Virginia High School League winter and spring sports this school year, along with activities like dance team and out-of-season workouts that require a physical, but it will take effect on Nov. 8, prior to the postseason for fall sports like football and field hockey.

An FCPS spokesperson says the Nov. 8 date was chosen, because that’s when the school system will start having indoor sports.

“As FCPS students return to our school buildings, our priority must be on our academic programming,” the spokesperson said. “Our data is showing that a significant number of our cases stem from athletics and a disproportionate number of students are having their learning impacted. Therefore, we have made the decision to mandate vaccinations for students who wish to partake in a number of close contact athletic disciplines. By taking this step, we hope to limit the number of students who are being instructed to remain out of school buildings.”

The announcement comes one week after FCPS started its 2021-2022 academic year and 10 days after the district issued a vaccination mandate for employees that’s expected to take effect in October.

As recently as last Tuesday (Aug. 24), school officials had expressed uncertainty about the legality of requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for students.

“As I understand it, that’s not something we’re able to do yet in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Brabrand said at a school board work session. “…I do think, just like the staff vaccination mandate, we need to, as this pandemic evolves, continue to go back and return to these kinds of issues that can really help make our schools safe for in-person instruction now and forever.”

Mount Vernon District School Board Representative Karen Corbett-Sanders, who served on a state task force that looked at the issue, confirmed that Virginia law requires any vaccination requirements for students come from the Virginia Department of Health, which would refer the mandate to the General Assembly.

“The legislature is not meeting again until January, but this may be an area where this board, as we look at our legislative priorities, would urge that,” Corbett-Sanders said.

However, in that same meeting, some board members raised concerns about students missing class time due to sports-related COVID-19 cases and the amount of time that health officials needed to conduct contact tracing, since there was no system in place to quickly determine who had already been vaccinated.

FCPS says vaccinations can be mandated for student athletes without state approval, because sports aren’t required activities and students don’t earn grades or credit for participating in them.

According to the FCPS case dashboard, 234 people, including 164 students and 69 staff members, have reported testing positive for COVID-19 to the school system this month as of Friday (Aug. 27).

Most cases appear to be occurring in elementary schools, but Brabrand says the majority of instances where high school students need to pause instruction have been the result of exposure during athletic activities.

“While we know this is a difficult decision for some families, it is an essential step that we must take to limit the duration of a pause, getting students back to the classroom and their activities sooner, but still safely,” Brabrand said, noting that FCPS will work with the Fairfax County Health Department to ensure students have access to the vaccine before the mandate takes effect.

Brabrand’s full message to the FCPS community can be found below: Read More

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