FCPS Seeks to Let Students “Test to Stay” in Class — Fairfax County Public Schools has requested to participate in a not-yet-announced pilot program that would let students identified as close contacts of someone infected with COVID-19 stay in class if they test negative. The Virginia Department of Health plans to implement the program in January after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the approach. [WTOP]
School Security Officer Arrested for Alleged Assault of Student — A 26-year-old security officer at Stone Middle School in Centreville has been arrested after he allegedly assaulted and restrained a student. The incident occurred around 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 13 and was reported to police by another school employee. No injuries were reported to the school resource officer that responded. [FCPD]
Metro to Buy Electric Buses — In the hopes of achieving zero carbon emissions from its bus fleet by 2045, Metro has issued a request for proposals to purchase 10 electric buses “from multiple manufacturers to test different bus and charging technologies and assess their performance. Metro will also separately buy chargers for the buses and install infrastructure to support the chargers.” [WMATA]
FCPS to Highlight Need for Safe Gun Storage — “Fairfax County Public Schools will notify parents and guardians about Virginia’s new secure firearm storage law, why secure storage is essential, and other ways to prevent gun violence or seek help for a child who could be a threat to themselves or others. The communication will be sent in January and then annually before the start of each school year.” [Karl Frisch]
Lawsuit Accuses FCPD Officers of Sexual Assault and Complicity in Sex Trafficking — “The woman, who is referred to only as Jane Doe because she is a trafficking victim, alleges that the Fairfax County, Virginia, police department, including its former chief Edwin Roessler, knew that some officers were possibly participating in and protecting the ring, but allowed the officers to retire with full pensions rather than prosecute them.” [Reuters]
County Awarded for Mosaic Autonomous Shuttle — “The @fairfaxcounty Relay Shuttle project was presented the Fairfax County TAC Transportation Achievement Award on December 7, 2021. The award is given to the person or group that has made the most significant contribution during the year. The Relay project team accepted the award” [Virginia DRPT/Twitter]
Meet the Tysons Corner Center Santa — Tennessee resident Mike Graham has been serving as Santa at Tysons Corner Center for the past 34 years. He was first sent to the mall by a photo company that was looking for more Santas, and that initial appearance got such “a tremendous response” that the management team asked if he’d like to work with them exclusively. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
McLean 7-Eleven and Merrifield BMW Center Burglarized — Two men entered the 7-Eleven at 8110 Old Dominion Drive around 1:36 a.m. on Dec. 11, implied they had a weapon, and took property. Another commercial burglary was reported on Dec. 12 at the BMW Collison Center at 2730 Dorr Drive after someone forced their way into the business and took property around 10:30 a.m. [FCPD]
Winners of Vienna Holiday Lights Contest Announced — For the 2021 Light Up Vienna contest, first place in the business category as voted on by the town business liaison committee was split between Vienna Rexall Drug Center and Judd Tile. Public voters awarded the People’s Choice prize to Vienna Pet Spaw on Church Street, and 121 Casmar Street SE (also known as Casmar Street Lights) came out on top in the residents category. [Town of Vienna/Facebook]
Fairfax High Students Walk Out in Protest — “Hundreds of students from Fairfax High School…walked out in protest Thursday morning to show their support for a student they say was attacked in an Islamophobic incident. A Change.org petition calling on Fairfax school administrators to do more about the incident, which happened Tuesday, has garnered more than 3,600 signatures.” [WTOP]
Virginia Budget Plan Unveiled — For the 2022-2024 state budget, his final as governor, Gov. Ralph Northam has proposed about $2.1 billion in tax cuts, including an elimination of the 1.5% state grocery tax. Expenditures include pay raises for public school teachers, state employees, and law enforcement and corrections officers, along with $2.8 billion for capital improvement projects. [The Washington Post]
Program Offers Free Lyft Rides Over Holidays — “The SoberRide program offering free Lyft rides to keep would-be drunk drivers off the roads will kick off on Friday, Dec. 17. The nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program holds the SoberRide in partnership with Lyft during the winter holiday season as well as St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Independence Day and Halloween, other high-risk holidays for drunk driving.” [Patch]
Vienna Theatre Company Cancels Shows — “Due to illness, the cast and crew for ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ is regrettably cancelling this weekend’s performances (Dec. 17, Dec. 18 and Dec. 19). All tickets for cancelled shows will be fully refunded. If you have any questions, please call 703-255-6360.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
Planning for a new elementary school in Dunn Loring could begin as soon as the second half of 2022, Fairfax County Public Schools projects in its proposed Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for fiscal years 2023-2024.
As approved by the Fairfax County School Board back in January, the new school will take over the Dunn Loring Administrative Center at 2334 Gallows Road, which started as an elementary school before being repurposed in 1978. The building is now being used for some special education and parent programs.
The project’s estimated $36.7 million budget is already fully funded by money from 2017 and 2019 school bonds that were originally destined for a new school in Oakton High School area.
Funding for the new school was welcomed by parents at Shrevewood Elementary School, which was at 118% capacity in the 2019-2020 school year. The CIP says its capacity dropped to 99% this year after an enrollment decline and minor facility modifications.
However, the boundaries for the Dunn Loring school have yet to be determined beyond it being “intended to relieve overcrowding in the Dunn Loring/Falls Church/Tysons area,” as stated in the CIP.
“School assignments for the repurposed Dunn Loring Elementary School will be determined as part of any boundary study for the school,” FCPS said in a statement. “The boundary study is currently estimated to begin toward the end of construction in 2026.”
The CIP indicates that planning for Dunn Loring Elementary will begin in fiscal year 2023, which starts on July 1. Permitting could start in FY 2024, followed by construction in FY 2025. The project is expected to be complete in FY 2027.
Other Tysons-area projects addressed by the proposed CIP include:
- Madison High School: a 35,000 square-foot addition, currently under construction and expected to finish by the end of 2022 ($18 million)
- Louise Archer Elementary School: renovation adding over 50,000 square feet to the building. The voter-approved 2021 school bond included funds for construction, which is expected to start this fiscal year and finish in FY 2024. ($39.9 million)
- Cooper Middle School: renovation expanding the building by approximately 65,000 square feet. Construction is underway and set to finish in summer 2023. ($54.4 million)
- Falls Church High School: approximately 126,000 square-foot renovation, in the permitting process with an anticipated construction finish in FY 2026 ($136 million)
FCPS staff will present the proposed CIP to the school board tonight (Thursday). The board will hold a public hearing on Jan. 4 and a work session on Jan. 11, with a final vote scheduled for Feb. 10.
FCPS Superintendent Search Underway — The Fairfax County School Board discussed the process and timeline for hiring a new superintendent to replace Scott Brabrand, who will leave the position on June 30. The Fairfax County Public Schools community will be able to provide input in an emailed survey next week and focus groups scheduled for mid-January. [FCPS]
Vienna Refines Plans for ARPA Funds — “Vienna officials are leaning toward spending millions of dollars on capital-improvement projects to make the most of an infusion of federal COVID-relief funds…Town officials in the next three to six months will need to devise a final plan for the ARPA funds, which must be spent by 2024, Finance Director Marion Serfass told the Vienna Town Council at a Dec. 13 work session.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]
Local Hyatt House Officially Rebrands — “The Hyatt House in the Mosaic District of Merrifield officially changed hands Wednesday and donned its new Archer Hotel Falls Church name. As part of the acquisition, Archer Hotel will be conducting a design overhaul of the former Hyatt House Falls Church/Merrifield, with a spring unveiling of the luxury boutique hotel.” [Patch]
Pickleball Study Formally Endorsed — “The Fairfax County Park Authority Board endorsed the Park Authority Pickleball Study Report at their regular meeting on Dec. 8, 2021. The report will serve as a guiding document for Park Authority pickleball site planning criteria, design and operations of pickleball facilities.” [FCPA]
Annual Hiking Photo Contest to Return — “First Hike Fairfax returns with even more award categories, including a new Best in Show (Pets) award. This year, First Hike Fairfax will be a two-day weekend event (Jan. 1-2, 2022) to help promote social distancing and prevent crowding on the trails on one day.” [FCPA]
Joint Statement Released on Settlement of FCPS Disability Lawsuit — As first reported by The Washington Post in late November, Fairfax County Public Schools has settled a lawsuit over its use of restraint and seclusion on students with disabilities. The students and disability advocacy organizations that filed the case say they hope “this resolution will ensure that no other student will ever have to experience such trauma.” [FCPS]
Thousands Donate Child Face Masks to County — “Thank you to the community for coming together to donate child face masks! We have collected 12,065 masks! Thank you to @FairfaxCountyPD for hosting the donations bin and @VolunteerFFX for all your help putting together donations!” [Ready Fairfax/Twitter]
Metro to Testify on Safety Issues in Congress — Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11th) says he will call on Metro’s top leaders to testify at a congressional hearing about the safety issues spotlighted by October’s train derailment, which have kept more than half the transit agency’s fleet out of commission for almost two months now. Connolly, who represents Fairfax County, calls Metro’s failure to report the issues when they were discovered years ago “a mortal sin.” [NBC4]
Fairfax Stands Alone With Court Records Paywall — “While all other Northern Virginia jurisdictions provide free, remote public access to basic docket information for individual criminal and civil cases in circuit court, Fairfax County’s CPAN system costs $150 per quarter, or $600 per year.” [WTOP]
I-495 Lane Closures in Tysons Continue — “Lane closures and ramp closures on I-495 North and I-66 East will be implemented during the overnight hours again this week, December 13-17, as bridge beam installation for a new flyover ramp from I-495 North to I-66 West continues at the I-66/I-495 Interchange as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project.” [VDOT]
Fairfax County Public Schools Reduces Student Quarantine Period — “With FCPS now offering drive-through diagnostic testing at six sites across the county, in addition to the many alternative ways to access COVID-19 testing, FCPS is now providing the option for students who have been exposed to COVID-19 to return to school and in-person activities after seven days.” [FCPS]
Longtime McLean Restaurant Reopens — After 20 years on Old Dominion Drive, the Italian restaurant Pulcinella reopened yesterday (Tuesday) in a new location at 1310 Chain Bridge Road. The shopping center is also expecting to add the Persian-Mediterranean restaurant Divan and a Lidl that will replace the closed Safeway next year. [Patch]
See Construction on Phase II of The Mile — Developer KETTLER has made progress on Brentford at The Mile since breaking ground on the 411-unit apartment building in October 2020. Expected to finish next year, this is the second phase of the 45-acre mixed-use development emerging northwest of Tysons Galleria, with plans for a third phase already in the works. [Tysons Partnership/Twitter]
No Plans to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccine in Schools — “A petition to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for school employees and all eligible students failed this week when the Virginia Department of Health opted to take no action on the request. In a decision posted Monday, the agency stated that it lacked the ‘clear statutory authority’ to mandate the shots for employees.” [Virginia Mercury/Inside NoVA]
(Updated at 9:05 a.m.) Inova Comes to McLean for Blood Drive — The McLean Volunteer Fire Department has teamed up with Inova Blood Donor Services for a blood drive in its lower parking lot at 1455 Laughlin Avenue. Staff will set up the bloodmobile before noon, and the drive will officially run from 1-5:30 p.m. [McLean VFD/Facebook]
FCPS Leads Public School Student Exodus — “For the second straight year, enrollment in Virginia public schools has dropped, with 46,000 fewer students enrolled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data from the Virginia Department of Education, the largest school district in the commonwealth, Fairfax County, saw the largest enrollment dip — more than 10,000 students, or a 5.4% difference between fall 2019 and fall 2021.” [WTOP]
Merrifield Wendy’s to Give Away Free Food — “The first 100 customers at the newly remodeled Wendy’s restaurant in Gate House Plaza in Merrifield on Dec. 4 will get a chance to win free food for a year. Wend American Group…is in the final stages of completing the remodeling of its Wendy’s restaurant at 3040 Gate House Plaza, near the intersection of Gallows Road and Route 50.” [Patch]
FCPS Appoints New Chief Equity Officer — Dr. Nardos King will take over as Fairfax County Public Schools’ interim chief equity officer on Dec. 6, replacing Dr. Lisa Williams until a new superintendent makes a permanent hire. Williams, who has overseen the division’s equity and diversity work since July 2019, is leaving for personal reasons not related to work, FCPS told Tysons Reporter. [FCPS]
Vienna Police Doubles Fundraising Goal for Prostate Cancer Awareness — “The last picture of the no shave November! 30 days ago our officers put down their razors until we reach our $3K goal. Today we can happily report that their efforts generated $6,594 in donations for @ZEROCancer THANK YOU to everyone that donate! Time to shave!” [Vienna Police Department/Twitter]
FCPS Settles Lawsuit Over Treatment of Students with Disabilities — “Three disability rights organizations…and the families of six students with disabilities had sued in 2019, alleging that students with disabilities in Fairfax schools experienced discrimination, trauma and physical harm through the excessive and improper use of seclusion and physical restraint. As part of the agreement reached Tuesday [Nov. 23], Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) will ban all seclusion practices and curtail its use of physical restraint by the next academic year.” [The Washington Post]
Black Friday Shoppers Return to Tysons Corner — Traffic and sales at Tysons Corner Center were roughly on par with 2019 for Black Friday, according to a senior marketing manager for the mall. She said the return of pre-pandemic crowds wasn’t surprising, since the shopping center has seen a steady increase in traffic over the past three weeks. [WTOP]
Fire and Rescue Department Offers Hanukkah Safety Tips — “Hanukkah starts this evening [Sunday] and runs through December 6. It is a joyous time, so please ensure you and your loved ones stay safe as the holiday season is the peak time of year for home candle fires. Get in S.T.E.P. (Safety Takes Every Person) With FCFRD This Holiday Season and candle with care!” [FCFRD]
McLean Rotary Club Recognizes Front-Line Service Workers — “Under the leadership of president John McEvilly, the Rotary Club of McLean has initiated a new program — ‘Dignity of Work’ Award. According to former McLean Rotary President Lynn Heinrichs, who chairs the initiative, the award ‘is designed to recognize and promote the great people working in the McLean community.'” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]
Retirement Puts Vienna Tree Assessments on Hold — “Due to staffing shortages stemming from a retirement, the Town is temporarily unable to conduct tree assessments on private property. Tree assessments on private property are expected to resume in March 2022 after appropriate staffing levels have been restored.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
Lorton Pharmacy Gave Adult-Sized COVID-19 Vaccine Dose to Kids — The Fairfax County Health Department advises families whose children got the vaccine between Nov. 2 and 10 from the KC Pharmacy in Lorton to monitor for side effects and talk to a health care provider. The pharmacy is under investigation by the Virginia Board of Pharmacy and has been removed from the state and federal vaccination programs. [FCHD]
Sexual Assault Lawsuit Against FCPS Proceeds — A federal appeals court ruled in favor of a girl who filed a Title IX lawsuit against Fairfax County Public Schools over its handling of sexual harassment and rape allegations from when she was a student at Rachel Carson Middle School from October 2011 until February 2012. The lawsuit is one of two facing FCPS, which also has three outstanding federal investigations. [Inside NoVA]
NoVA Public Health Officials Urge Caution During Holidays — “Although Northern Virginia localities have some of the highest vaccination rates in the state, there is still substantial transmission of COVID-19 in the community, and we must remain vigilant to protect those who are not eligible for vaccination and those at higher risk for serious illness.” [VDH]
Public Meeting on McLean Sidewalk Project Tonight — “The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) will hold a virtual community meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, at 7 p.m., to present updates on the Chesterbrook Road Walkway Project from Maddux Lane to North 41st Street. The project is intended to provide a continuous pedestrian facility along the south side of the roadway from Maddux Lane to 41st Street.” [FCDOT]
Local Restaurants Generate Heat — “Tysons restaurants, Wren and Leila were recently featured in ‘The 16 Hottest New Restaurants Around D.C.,’ according to @Eater_DC. Both restaurants offer a variety of eclectic cuisine and specialty cocktails, perfect for any occasion.” [Tysons Partnership/Twitter]