Parents in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties plan to hold a rally tomorrow to call for Fairfax County Public Schools to offer in-person learning this fall.
Earlier this week, the Fairfax County School Board approved a fully virtual start, reversing plans to offer parents the option to pick either fully online or a hybrid of in-person and online learning.
According to posts in the public Facebook group behind the event, the rally is scheduled to take place outside FCPS’s administrative office at 8115 Gatehouse Road from 10 a.m.-noon.
People are asked to wear masks and social distance at the event, according to the posts.
The posts also say that the event is not political. “We come from all different beliefs but when it comes to our children, we want schools to be open and safely!” one commenter wrote in the group.
While the event page for the rally does not specify what the supporters want in-person learning to look like in the fall, the Facebook group has a message saying: “This is a group for those interested in kids going to school five days a week. Not interested? Prob [Probably] not your group.”
The school system has faced pressure from the Trump administration. A few weeks ago, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and President Donald Trump said that schools must open in the fall, with Devos singling out FCPS as a “disaster” in early July. Yesterday, Trump said that schools may need to delay opening due to another surge of cases.
As a surge of coronavirus cases continues in Virginia and teachers’ unions raised safety concerns over in-person learning, FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand said that he was worried about staff feeling comfortable returning for instruction in the classroom.
Juneteenth Rally in Vienna — “A rally will take place outside the First Baptist Church of Vienna Friday evening on Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.” [Tysons Reporter]
ICYMI — Government offices in Fairfax County and the City of Falls Church are closed today due to Juneteenth. [Tysons Reporter]
List of LGBTQ+ Books — Fairfax County’s public libraries have a variety of LGBTQ+ books for tweens available in the digital collection. [Fairfax County]
Library Parking Plans Move Forward — “Vienna Town Council members on June 15 approved an agreement with the Fairfax County government for the design and construction of a parking structure at the soon-to-be-renovated Patrick Henry Library.” [Inside NoVa]
“Many of us have been inundated by the news. We’ve watched the reports. We are in mourning,” Vernon Walton, the senior pastor at the church, said in a video. “We are upset as we’ve watched the death of George Floyd, as we watched the family of Breonna Taylor mourn, as we’ve watched the family of Ahmaud Arbery mourn. We mourn with them.”
Participants are asked to social distance, wear masks and bring signs. The “Juneteenth Rally of Remembrance” will offer time for prayer and protest to celebrate Black lives, according to the event description.
“Come expecting to be empowered by the fellowship by the brothers and sisters of our community,” Walton said in the video. “You don’t want to miss this experience.”
The rally is set to take place in the parking lot at 450 Orchard Street NW from 6-8 p.m.
MCA Backs Building Changes for CityLine — “McLean Citizens Association (MCA) board members on June 3 unanimously backed a resolution supporting CityLine Partners LLC’s proposed development amendments to build one building instead of two at a site in [Tysons].” [Inside NoVa]
Fairfax Officer Arrested After Tasing Black Man — “The actions of a Fairfax County police officer who used a Taser to subdue an African American man on Friday were “horrible” and “disgusting,” Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. says… The officer, Tyler Timberlake, has been charged with three counts of assault and battery and faces up to 36 months in prison if convicted.” [Inside NoVa]
ICYMI: Hundreds Gathered at Falls Church Protest — “Hundreds of people filled Cherry Hill Park on Sunday afternoon for the ‘Falls Church Justice for Black Lives Rally.'” [Tysons Reporter]
High Demand for Libraries’ Curbside Pick-Up — “Across the entire Fairfax County library system, customers demonstrated their hunger for the library’s services by checking out 11,000 items from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, the first day of curbside service. For comparison, on the last Monday prior to branch closures in March, when libraries were operating at full capacity, there were about 12,500 checkouts between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.” [Vienna Patch]
— Town of Vienna, VA (@TownofViennaVA) June 5, 2020
Hundreds of people filled Cherry Hill Park on Sunday afternoon for the “Falls Church Justice for Black Lives Rally.”
Today’s event served as a gathering to give local leaders a platform, including Edwin Henderson II, the founder of the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation; Sasha Whitney, a cycling instructor; the city’s mayor; Fairfax NAACP’s President Sean Perryman; and City of Alexandria Councilmember John Chapman.
“Black lives matter when they lose their life,” Perryman said. “They have to matter all the time.”
Mindful of COVID-19, the participants spaced out on the grass with their kids and dogs as songs like “They Don’t Care About Us” by Michael Jackson and “Unity” by Queen Latifah blasted on speakers. Most wore face coverings.
The rally kicked off around 1 p.m. with the participants dancing to DJ Casper’s “Cha Cha Slide” before the organizers, Tara Guido and Loreto Jacqueline, gave brief speeches and then asked for a moment of silence for violence toward Black Americans.
The crowd erupted in clapping and cheering when Mayor David Tarter said that Gov. Ralph Northam recently announced that a Robert E. Lee monument will get taken down.
Tarter also pointed out the diversity of the participants. “We’re all here to raise our voices and say this country belongs to all of us,” he said.
Tarter ended his speech, urging people to head to the polls: “If you’re angry, vote in November.” Around the park, people could scan flyers with QR codes to help them register to vote via vote411.org.
— Catherine D Moran (@c_douglasmoran) June 8, 2020
Many of the messages centered around actions for long-term change.
Henderson II, with the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, told people to oppose mandatory sentencing and for-profit prisons and push for election reforms. (For people looking for more events to attend to honor Floyd, Henderson noted that the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation will unveil a banner in honor of Floyd near the Target (500 S. Washington Street) at 4 p.m. on Monday, June 8).
Perryman stressed the need for policy changes with the City Council, Board of Supervisors and local police departments and urged people to join advocacy groups. “This is a sustained fight,” he said.
Chapman, with the Alexandria City Council, echoed Perryman’s call for new policies. “We all know what we need to do,” Chapman said.
One message in particular — written on several signs — has an immediate impact: “Silence is violence.”
Participants at the rally who spoke to Tysons Reporter said that they are tired of police brutality and racism.
Khadimatu said she decided to come to the rally to represent her family back in Senegal. “There’s a movement that’s defending us,” Khadimatu said. “I hope this is what is going to cause change.”
Khadimatu said she came to the rally with her mom’s best friend, Corey, who heard about the event from her friend who lives in Falls Church. Corey said that she didn’t want to go to the protests in D.C. due to concerns about being in close proximity to a lot more people.
Matt Guey-Lee also said he was a “little nervous” about going to D.C. due to “safety issues.”
After hearing about the event on Facebook, Guey-Lee and the organizers got in touch so that he could bring a canopy for the rally. He said he was heartened to see that other people donated snacks and water for the event.
Guey-Lee said he felt strongly about coming to the rally and speaking out against racism, because he says every voice nudges another one.
“If a million people do just a little bit, it’s really, really loud,” he said.