Tysons, VA

An overwhelming majority of Fairfax County Public Schools teachers say they are not confident in Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) reopening plan, according to a survey conducted by the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers.

The federation released the results of three surveys Tuesday evening during a press conference. The data paint a stark picture for county teachers, who report fearing for their health and that of family members, working far beyond their contracted hours, and feeling the effects on their mental and physical health.

The message from the Federation of Teachers is clear: Members want the school district to delay reopening until the FCPS plan improves communication, provides specific metrics, and offers every teacher a virtual option, a few hallmarks of the teachers’ 11 requirements for a safe reopening.

“Our position has always been, and continues to be, that we want kids back in school as quickly as possible, but that means as safely as possible,” said Tina Williams, president, Fairfax County Federation of Teachers.

FCPS did not return Tysons Reporter’s request for comment.

The response comes one week after Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand presented his reopening plan to the county school board. Under the proposed plan, about 6,700 students could return to school in October, with more trickling in throughout the year if conditions improve. Members criticized the lack of hard numbers and concrete metrics, especially regarding school closures after outbreaks.

Of the 1,300 teachers who responded, 85.7% are not confident in FCPS reopening plan, and 70% feel unsafe returning, while 21% said they are “unsure.” About 27% said they would consider taking a leave of absence, while 26% were undecided.

Some teachers who are older or have conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus, or who live with family members who are high-risk, said they face an ultimatum to work or leave because their applications for accommodations were denied. Read More

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What factors should businesses consider when making decisions on remote and in-person work during the pandemic? Do employers feel like they will be safe in the office or using public transit?

Tysons Partnership aimed to provide insight into those very questions with a recent survey.

A message from Tysons Partnership President Sol Glasner accompanying the newly released survey results notes that they are meant to “set a baseline of understanding” that the organization plans to track with another survey in roughly six months.

Roughly half of the more than 700 people who responded to the survey live or work in the Tysons area, according to the results.

Drew Sunderland, Tysons Partnership’s marketing director, told Tysons Reporter that the survey indicates a shift from people relying on government and health officials giving guidance on public health precautions to following their own ideas about what’s safe as the pandemic continues.

The survey covered a variety of factors, from working at home to mask mandates to childcare concerns. Here’s an overview of the results.

Transit Concerns

Roughly 23% of the respondents said they rely on public transit to return to in-person work and less than 10% said they feel comfortable riding public transit right now. Overall, half of the respondents said they plan to wait until there’s a vaccine before returning to public transit.

Whether people want their commutes back is a different question. Analysis in the survey notes that many commenters are hopeful for long-term change that reduces or eliminates commuting.

Tysons Partnership says in the survey that WMATA and other public transit agencies should visibly enforce safety measures and test new initiatives like special fare zones to encourage riders back.

Kids and Work

Of the respondents, 30% were parents with kids under the age of 18.

The survey found that those parents are 16% more likely to have issues focusing on work, and the 10% of parents who don’t have any childcare support are twice as likely to want to send their kids back to school.

Several anonymous comments linked the ability to return to in-person work with classroom learning. Currently, Virginia is in Phase Three, which means teleworking is strongly encouraged.

For the respondents working full-time (491), a majority said they are working from home. Roughly 49% said they are happy with remote work, while 33% expressed loneliness. When asked why they would want to return to in-person work, respondents said they miss a variety of social interactions.

Safe at Work?

While 70% of the workers who responded said they trust their employer to provide a safe work environment during the pandemic, the employers had a different response with 25% saying they think they have the resources to make that happen.

In total, 32 businesses responded to the survey — 18 of which are in the Tysons area. They flagged the availability of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies along with access to information about how to create a safe work environment as top concerns.

Roughly 58% of the respondents said they don’t want to return to in-person work unless there is a vaccine or treatment for the virus.

Masks and Preventive Measures 

The analysis for the survey notes that masks were the “hottest” topic in the open-ended comments section.

Several comments included in the report addressed concerns around masks, like one person writing that they did not appreciate face coverings as optional in the workplace and others saying that businesses should require and enforce masks wearing.

“Right now, masks should be MANDATORY for every business worker and every single customer, inside or outside,” one person wrote.

Live, Work, Play

The final section of the survey results touched on respondents’ attitudes, comfort and ideas about a variety of activities. Overall, they were twice as likely to say they would shop at an outdoor rather than an indoor one or take part in “economic activities” that are outside.

Under Phase Three, non-essential retail, parks, restaurants and places of worship are now able to fully open. Some places, like fitness centers and entertainment venues, have capacity restrictions.

Roughly 23% of the respondents identified themselves as essential workers. “Essential workers are twice as comfortable engaging in non-work social and economic activities outside the home,” the analysis noted.

Respondents noted that protective measures drive their interest in participating in activities more than rollbacks of government restrictions.

A full summary of the results can be found online.

Photo by Michelle Goldchain

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A new survey wants to find out how people feel about heading to offices, retailers and entertainment venues during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tysons Partnership created the survey to inform Tysons-area businesses and community organizers as Gov. Ralph Northam rolls back COVID-19 restrictions.

Currently, Virginia is in Phase Three, which means that non-essential retail, parks, restaurants and places of worship can fully open. Some restrictions and guidelines are still in effect — teleworking is strongly encouraged, gatherings are limited to 250 and places like fitness centers and entertainment venues can open with limited capacity.

“I’ve been extraordinarily impressed by how Tysons-based employers pivoted from conventional office work environments to virtual workspaces,” Sol Glasner, Tysons Partnership’s president and CEO, told Tysons Reporter.

Now, the survey will help businesses decide what to do about reopening.

“It’s intended to get at people’s perception and give us some flavor of what they are thinking and [their] level of comfort,” Glasner said.

One part of the survey asks respondents to say when they would feel comfortable in various scenarios, like picking up food, shopping at indoor and outdoor malls and flying on a plane.

The survey, which is currently available online, takes five minutes to complete. Glasner said that Tysons Partnership is looking to end the survey next week and hopefully have results available to share in late July.

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The City of Falls Church wants to know how people who live or work in the city get around the area.

The city has two surveys available — one for residents and one for workers — to gather transportation data.

The surveys will be open until the end of July, Deputy City Manager Cindy Mester told Tysons Reporter. After the surveys close, the results will get analyzed and then posted online.

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Whether you have opinions on development, the environment or any other local issue, Fairfax County wants to know what you think the county should look like in the years to come.

The county has put together a short survey to gather public feedback on its new strategic planning process. It asks the public to rank their priorities and describe their vision for the county’s future.

The goal of the strategic plan is to put the county’s various individual plans — on topics ranging from health and human services to economic success, into one aligned — coordinated project.

The strategic planning process will take place for most of the year. The first phase of the process — developing an initial work plan — was completed in January. The community engagement phase is scheduled to run through March and will involve sifting through feedback to identify 7-10 public priorities, which will divided among teams that will work on the priorities throughout April.

A series of public meetings will also allow locals to voice their feelings about priorities for Fairfax County. One meeting is planned for Tuesday, Feb. 26 at the Little River Glen Senior Center (4001 Barker Court) south of Vienna. Another is planned for March 6 at the James Lee Community Center (2855 Annandale Road) in Falls Church.

Photo via Twitter

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Vienna may have its share of controversies, but overall, local residents are apparently pretty big fans of the town.

Last October, the town participated in the National Citizen Survey, a survey aimed at helping local governments understand their citizens’ perspective on their community.

The town received a relatively high amount of feedback, with 695 residents or 45 percent of those surveyed answering.

“Responding residents rated Vienna as excellent or good as a place to raise children (98%), as a place to live (96%), and for quality of life (94%),” according to a Town of Vienna press release. “Nine in 10 Vienna residents would recommend living in the community to someone who asked.”

The survey is conducted by the National Research Center (NRC). In 65 of the 126 categories, local residents rated Vienna higher than residents in comparable communities rated theirs. The highest rated category was for safety-related services.

The four areas Vienna ranked lower than comparable communities were for traffic flow, ease of travel by car, affordable housing, and the number of residents who work in Vienna.

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The following article excerpt is from our content sharing partner, FairfaxNews.com.

Virginia voters are in a positive mood and are feeling good about Amazon HQ2, the Equal Rights Amendment, sports betting and casinos, according to the latest poll by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. They also want their share of the state’s windfall from tax reform.

By more than two to one, Virginia voters approve of the deal that will bring part of Amazon’s east coast headquarters to Virginia. Overall, 68% approve and 30% disapprove.

Voters support legalizing sports betting (63%) and casinos (58%) and want any related tax revenue to support education and the general fund. But 43% worry that legalization will promote gambling addiction.

Read more at FairfaxNews.com

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Fairfax startups are economically strong but disproportionately tied to the public sector, even compared to other nearby jurisdictions, according to the 2017 Startup Census.

Adam Zuckerman, founder of census creator Fosterly, spoke to the Fairfax County Economic Advisory Commission meeting earlier this month to offer a recap of Fairfax’s role in the survey of local startups.

In total, 48 companies from Fairfax participated in the survey, while 377 businesses from around the region were surveyed in total.

Some findings:

  • The Fairfax startups that participated in the survey generated $28 million dollars in revenue in 2017 and projected 194 percent growth in 2018.
  • Startups throughout Northern Virginia generated $108 million in revenue and projected 166 percent growth.
  • Throughout the entire region, startups generated $193 million in revenue and projected 217 percent growth overall.
  • Fairfax County is home to about 12.5 percent of startups in the D.C. area.

According to the survey, startups in Fairfax also derived less of their revenue from consumers or private businesses than the regional average.

  • Fairfax startups derived 66 percent of their revenue from private sector customers.
  • Regional startups  averaged 89 percent revenue from private customers.

“If you look towards the larger set, only 11 percent of revenue in the overall set came from the public sector,” said Zuckerman. “So Fairfax County companies have a disproportionate amount of public sector revenue than the larger ecosystem.”

Ryan Touhill, chief of staff for the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, said in the survey analysis that the regional shift away from a reliance on the public sector is a positive trend for local economic diversification.

For Fairfax, Zuckerman said this public sector reliance for startups that are generally less than five years old is unusual because most public sector deals require a track record that startups generally don’t have. Most startups, Zuckerman said, start off working in the private sector before dipping their toes into the public sector when the product is proven.

The survey also found that the top five industries in Fairfax for startups were technology and services, computer software, real estate, financial services, and management and consulting.

There was one unfortunate item of news about one company in particular: Fosterly, the company running the census. Unless another organization takes over the mantle, Zuckerman says this year’s census will be the last.

“We’re not doing it again this year,” said Zuckerman. “We’re going to be talking to a few entities to see if they want to continue the census… but the resources weren’t there.”

Photo via Fosterly

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Morning Notes

Weather-Related Road Closures — Amid windy weather, several roads are closed around the area due to downed trees. [FCPD]

Bank to Hold McLean Grand Opening — MVB Bank is planning a grand opening for its new banking center at 1313 Dolley Madison Blvd., Suite 100, McLean. The location opened in early September. [Virginia Business]

Vienna Conducting Resident Survey — “The Vienna town government is in the process of taking the pulse of town residents through a new survey, which is being sent to 1,600 randomly selected households.” [InsideNova]

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