Fairfax County Public Schools is revising a number of procedures around COVID-19 contact tracing, quarantining, and pausing, even as it maintains that case numbers remain proportionally very low in schools.
School officials are actively exploring their options for expanding student vaccination requirements, including a possible mandate once the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorize it for kids 5 and older, which could happen as early as the end of October.
However, FCPS would have to wait for the Virginia General Assembly to act before it can require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students under state law, which gives authority for determining mandatory school immunizations to the legislature and a state health regulatory board.
“If I had [the power to do this], I’d recommend right now to this board mandatory vaccinations for our students upon full authorization from the FDA,” Superintendent Scott Brabrand said at a school board work session yesterday (Tuesday). “If we have the burden of educating kids, it should be determined by officials closest to schools who should be vaccinated and not vaccinated and not wait for the state to give us permission to do so.”
At the moment, officials said they are in talks with legal counsel about expanding the existing vaccine mandate for high school student athletes to other secondary school extracurricular activities, such as theater programs.
According to Brabrand’s presentation to the school board, 0.33% of staff, students, and visitors — 677 individuals in total — reported testing positive for COVID-19 from Aug. 13 to Sept. 15. Only 24 cases involved transmission within one of the 198 schools and offices in the county, Brabrand said.
Since Aug. 1, 936 cases have been reported to FCPS, according to the school system’s case dashboard. Fairfax County Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu told the Board of Supervisors at a health and human services committee meeting yesterday that the county is seeing 30 to 40 cases among students per day on average, with some days going as high as 50 cases.
While Addo-Ayensu also said the majority of transmission has occurred in the general community, not in schools, each case has a ripple effect as additional staff and students who might have been exposed to the virus have been subjected to isolation, quarantine, or in-person learning pauses.
Between Aug. 13 and Sept. 15, 2,905 students — or 1.6% of the student body — have been paused, meaning they were COVID positive or a potential close contact and had to remain out of school during contact-tracing investigations. Nearly half were elementary school students.
1.8% of staff, or 502 individuals, have been paused as well during that time period.
“We know the impact of the pause…is significant,” Brabrand said. “We are working with health partners and the Fairfax County Health Department to minimize the length of time that students are out, while maintaining a safe environment.”
In addition, the time it takes to complete contact tracing and “close” a case has increased significantly over the last month as more cases have come in, keeping more students out of school longer.
In mid-August, most cases were closed within four days with an average of 2.5 days. Now, in mid-September, the average duration has jumped to nearly 10 days, with 78 cases taking 12 days or longer, according to data provided by FCPS.
To speed up the process, FCPS has instituted several measures, including hiring individuals to help with COVID management and implementing a vaccination verification survey intended to let students who are both asymptomatic and vaccinated return to classes sooner.
Schools no longer need to provide seating charts and other information to the county health department, which has also started notifying families about pauses via both email and phone after communication issues led some students to break COVID-19 protocols.
A number of school board members raised concerns about the extra work this will create for staff and teachers on top of the other challenges that have emerged with the resumption of five days of in-person learning.
Brabrand responded that these processes should hopefully be only temporary as school and health staff work to shorten the length of contact-tracing investigations.
“If we are in the situation we are [currently] in at the end of the calendar year, then we will need to revisit our assumptions about how we are operating as a school district,” he said when asked about calls for more virtual learning. “We are back in-person and we are doing all we can to stay, but we need to see about the results over the last few months to inform additional General Assembly action.”
In terms of vaccination rates, 87% of staff responded a survey from FCPS about their vaccination status. 96.8% of respondents said they are vaccinated.
FCPS is requiring all employees to get vaccinated by late October.
About 83.5% of residents 12 to 17 years old have received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to health department data, but FCPS confirmed to FFXnow that it doesn’t currently have statistics specifically for its students.
FCPS didn’t immediately respond when asked if it plans to survey parents and students like it did for staff.
“Education as we know it will forever change if we can’t get our kids and staff vaccinated,” Brabrand said at the work session.”I strongly believe that vaccination is going to be the way out of this pandemic.”
As more and more drivers shift to sustainable vehicles, a design review board for the Reston Association is looking to formalize requirements for what electric vehicle charging stations must have outside homes and businesses.
Following a public hearing, the board agreed yesterday (Tuesday) to review process and design standards. Interior charging stations, such as those in garages, are immune from the existing and proposed rules.
“Reston Association will more than likely be one of the first associations to have a design guideline that is strictly related to electric vehicle charging stations; so we’re really happy about that,” said Cam Adams, the association’s director of covenants administration.
The proposed standards will eventually go before the RA Board of Directors for approval. A board operations committee could review the matter in October.
The association has previously noted that such charging stations already require design review board approval. But it has no formal criteria, which was part of the reasoning for creating the standards.
The new measure calls for restricting stations to 6.5 feet in height, limiting a station to have two bollards — those vertical posts used along interstate express lanes — with a same height restriction and prohibiting wooden pedestals as well as cables/cords from extending over paths, among other criteria.
It also calls for several preferences, such as using parking blocks over bollards.
The proposal says projects would require an applicant to obtain neighbors’ signatures. It also says a panel of the design review board would then review applications and apply the guidelines.
Existing stations that received design review board approval would be grandfather in, according to the association.
A local employee was selected as employee of the year during this year’s RAMMYS.
The awards, which are organized by Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington. Fully vaccinated guests attended the in-person ceremony over the weekend at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Ruben Avila of PassionFish in Reston Town Center was named employee of the year by a panel of judges. But more than half to the awards were based on public votes.
The awards honor the accomplishments of organizations and individuals integral to the local foodservice and restaurant community.
A complete list of the winner is available online. Silver Diner, which has a location in Reston, was recognized for being a technology trailblazer.
Fairfax County Public Schools is conducting the first public review of its special education services since 2013 after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted traditional learning with remote classes that disproportionately affected students with disabilities.
Presented to the school board at a work session yesterday (Tuesday), findings from the first year of the review highlight families’ frustrations with the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process and suggest the school system disproportionately disciplines special education students, especially Black and Hispanic children.
Requested by the school board in December 2019 and officially launched on Nov. 10, 2020, the interim report states explicitly that the review “does not address special education programming during COVID-19.”
The contracted firm — the Arlington-headquartered nonprofit American Institutes for Research — said FCPS decided to focus on collecting data for normal school operations.
On the positive side, surveys of both staff and parents found that 87% of the over 18,500 parents who responded “agreed or strongly agreed that they were satisfied with the quality of teaching staff in their child’s school,” frequently noting the caring nature of instructional staff and expressing appreciation for employees.
The review showed that, from 2016-2021, FCPS had about nine or 10 students per special education teacher, a lower ratio than the state average of 15-to-1. The district has also taken steps to improve communication with school staff, including by appointing an assistant ombudsman for special education in 2019, the report said.
While researchers stressed that this is an initial update and the conclusions aren’t final, the report found several areas of concern:
- Families voiced a lack of transparency and accountability about Individualized Education Program goals and progress
- Suspension and expulsion rates were higher for certain races than others
- Parents suggested that the IEP process for getting student input on post-high school transition plans “may be driven by compliance rather than student needs”
- Novice teachers lack preparation to work with students with disabilities, an area that researchers are investigating further
- Staff reported feeling overwhelmed by case management, paperwork, and meeting duties, affecting FCPS’ ability to effectively recruit and retain teachers
- The amount and quality of communication between parents and staff varies by school
- A sampling showed more than a third of IEPs had no written evidence of parent input
“‘It’s so sad.’ That’s what I wrote all over this document,” Mason District Representative Ricardy Anderson said.
In addition to discussing how to address the issues raised by the report, school board member after school board member raised concerns about the review process, urging researchers to be specific in their recommendations by looking at subgroups and other factors. Officials suggested broad takeaways could dilute matters and not help families.
“My fear overall about this is that this is a one-sized-fits-all special ed audit,” Laura Jane Cohen, the board’s Springfield District representative, said.
Researchers responded that they used a random sampling to collect their preliminary findings. They also noted constraints with interviewing kids, while expressing a willingness to consider changes.
The firm said it will go more in-depth during the second year of a $375,000-plus contract issued in October 2020.
FCPS Auditor General Esther Ko reminded the board that it has a fixed contract and the firm will work at no cost for three more months after its second year. If the board wants more changes, though, it could amend the contract or open another bidding process to look at other topics.
The board requested that Ko to evaluate possible changes to the review with American Institutes for Research for its audit committee to go over later.
Currently set to be completed next summer, the review will make recommendations to FCPS for how to improve services for students with disabilities and their families.
Senior Movie Day Returns — Reston Association’s senior movie day returns to Bow Tie Cinema in Reston Town Center today. Doors open at 9:15 a.m. and the movie — Queen Bees — begins at 10 a.m. The event began in 1994 and was paused roughly 18 months ago due to the pandemic. [Reston Today]
Police Chief Issues Alert After Overdoses — The Fairfax County Police Department’s police chief alerted the community yesterday after six people overdosed in one morning in Falls Church. All six adults ranged from 23 to 35 years of age. [Fairfax County Police Department]
County Community Transmission Still High — COVID-19 transmission in the county is still high, although more than 62 percent of the county’s population is fully vaccinated. The county’s health department offered an update to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week. [Fairfax County Government]
An Update on Early Voting — So far, more than 2,600 people have voted in person so far during the first three days of early voting. Three voting sites are open during weekdays in the county. [Fairfax County Government]
The widening of Elden Street from four to six lanes — a roughly $40.6 million project — is expected to begin in late 2022.
The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to widen the street between Herndon and Fairfax County parkways. Along the street, bike lanes are planned from Monroe Street to Herndon Parkway, in addition to cycle tracks from Herndon Parkway to Fairfax County Parkway.
VDOT will also replace culverts over Sugarland Run with a new bridge to improve stream flow and reduce flooding. Overhead utilities along Elden Street will be buried between Monroe Street and Fairfax County Parkway.
Right-of-way acquisition kicked off in 2019 and is expected to wrap up by the end of the fall, according to Murphy.
Construction for the underground utility duct bank will begin in late 2022. But the actual widening, bicycle improvements, and construction of the bridge won’t kick off until early 2025, according to Mike Murphy, a spokesman for VDOT.
“The costs and schedules are estimates and subject to change as the design progresses and schedules are refined,” Murphy wrote in a statement to Reston Now.
Most of East Elden Street is a fore-lane undivided road. Few dedicated left-turn lanes result in major backups and traffic congestion. Changes are expected to improve access to businesses and the future Herndon Metrorail Station.
A host of other pedestrian and road improvements are planned in the Town of Herndon. In May, the town council awarded a contract to the Ashburn Construction Corp. for a new signal and sidewalks at the Elden -Monroe Street intersection.
A local mental health practice is on the move.
Dr. Goldberg & Associates plans to open move into a larger location by Nov. 1, a business representative tells Reston Now.
The mental health and psychological services business has five locations, including one in Reston, McLean and Vienna.
It’s currently housed in a smaller office at 1800 Faraday Drive, Suite 206. The practice’s office manager says the new location — 11495 Sunset Hills Road, Suite 202 — is much larger than the current Reston location.
The practice will have seven treatment rooms. The current location only has one location. The clinic is still waiting for building permits from the county to continue with the renovation project.
More information about the practice is available online.
Photo via Dr. Goldberg & Associates/Facebook
Fairfax County’s new plastic bag tax, set to take effect on Jan. 1, drew both support and opposition from the supermarket industry.
Food Lion and MOM’s Organic Market took opposite stances on the issue before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the change last Tuesday (Sept. 14), imposing a 5-cent tax on each disposable plastic bag provided at grocery stores, convenient stores, and drug stores.
“While Food Lion strongly supports responsible stewardship and waste reduction efforts, complying with a patchwork of varying local single-use bag restrictions in the Commonwealth negatively impacts Food Lion’s ability to serve our customers and implement uniform brand strategies for waste reduction and recycling,” the company said in a letter shared by Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, the only board member who voted against the measure.
Headquartered in Salisbury, N.C., Food Lion has one store in Fairfax County, located in a shopping center in Herndon.
The company’s director of operations, Eric Sword, said in the emailed statement to the county that the business recycled 6,914 tons of plastic in 2020, among other recycling efforts, and it’s working to meet a parent company goal to make all plastic packaging fully reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.
“Food Lion is supportive of broad-based efforts to reduce customer usage of both paper and plastic bags, and the brand continuously works to raise customer awareness of the value of using reusable bags,” the letter said.
However, Sword wrote that he believes the change will shift consumer behavior almost entirely to paper bags, even though the company seeks to encourage reusable bags for customers.
Meanwhile, a MOM’s representative noted during the Sept. 14 public hearing that their business voluntarily banned plastic bags over a decade ago and uses paper and compostable bags.
“We banned plastic bags 15 years ago because it was the right thing to do for the environment and the communities we call home,” Alexandra DySard, the company’s environment and partnership manager, said in video testimony.
The Rockville, Maryland-based supermarket, which has stores in Herndon and the Mosaic District in Merrifield, favors alternatives to a plastic bag that many people might only use for 12 minutes, DySard said.
“Plastic manufacturers are misleading consumers to believe that bags are being upcycled into benches and decks when the truth is the majority of plastic bags are being sent to landfills, incinerators, ending up in our waterways, or being shipped out of sight to third-world countries,” DySard said.
She also noted that D.C. saw a 72% reduction in plastic bags found in streams after its ban took effect in 2010.
FFXnow contacted other grocery chains in the area for comment, including Giant, Safeway, and Harris Teeter, but did not receive responses by press time.
The Board of Supervisors ultimately approved the new tax 9-1, as advocates likened it to a fee that people can avoid and expressed hope that the move will encourage consumers’ environmental stewardship.
“Plastic bag taxes are proven in jurisdictions across the nation,” said Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw, who introduced the measure. “This measure will reduce plastic pollution and the modest funds collected will be reinvested into litter prevention and to providing reusable bags for low-income community members.”
Herrity dissented, saying in newsletters sent to constituents before and after the vote that now is not the time to add another tax.
“Instead of instituting a rigorous education campaign — one that encompasses how to recycle and dispose of multiple forms of trash — the Board is taxing residents into compliance,” Herrity said, suggesting the county needs to “create more ways for people to recycle and more materials to educate them on how they can” do so.
The county hasn’t allocated the future tax revenue to a specific purpose yet, but state law permits it to be used for pollution and litter mitigation, educational programs about reducing waste, and reusable bags for residents who receive federal food assistance benefits.
The tax doesn’t apply to:
- multiple bags sold in packages, such as those for garbage, leaves or pet waste
- plastic bags used solely for certain food products such as ice cream, meat, fish, poultry, produce, unwrapped bulk food items, or perishable food items
- plastic bags with handles designed for multiple reuse
- plastic bags for dry cleaning or prescription drugs
With the board’s vote last week, Fairfax County was the first Northern Virginia locality to institute a plastic bag tax, but neighboring Arlington County and the City of Alexandria quickly followed suit, adopting their own ordinances on Saturday (Sept. 18).
Photo via Google Maps
A pet food store is switching locations after being at Fox Mill Shopping Center for a decade.
Weber’s Pet Supermarket plans to move from 2599 John Milton Drive to 2280 Hunters Wood Plaza in Reston.
“We’re excited about the move, and we’re hoping people follow us,” owner Deb Clark said. “And we hope we’re able to grow in that location.”
The county processed a permit for the new building Aug. 4, but it didn’t appear to be finalized yet as of yesterday (Monday), according to a county database.
Clark said the move was due to the rent, and they’ll move to a smaller footprint but still have a dog wash. The Fox Mill lease ends this month.
The company is putting in shelving with its own crew and making other updates, and they hope to open in early October if possible.
Originally known as the Feed and Grain store, the business launched in 1979, its website notes, and the company has other locations in Fairfax, Chantilly and McLean.
Photo via Google Maps
Vaccine Mandate In Effect for Chamber Events — The Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce is requiring attendees of in-person events to show proof of vaccination. Fully vaccinated attendees will not be required to wear a face mask. While some exceptions may be made, attendees who are not vaccinated can provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of the event. [Reston Patch]
Polo Tennis Court Closed — The tennis court will be closed for refurbishments beginning today. Repairs are expected to take between two and three weeks. [Reston Association]
Local Elementary School Earns High Honors — Sunrise Valley Elementary School has been named the 14th best elementary school in Fairfax County, according to a national ranking. [Reston Patch]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
“I’ve already raised more than that in September alone,” Lang tells Reston Now. “Voters are paying attention and like what they see.”
However, due to Plum’s fundraising efforts earlier in the year, the incumbent far exceeds the challenger in regards to both overall cash raised and ending balances.
Plum has raised about $140,500 during this election cycle, while Lang is about a quarter of that at about $33,400. In terms of ending balances, Plum currently has about $73,000 in his coffers while Lang has about $13,600.
Plum’s highest fundraising months were in April and May while he was in a midst of primary challenge against Mary Barthelson, raising more than $50,000 in those two months alone. He won that race easily with about 77% of the vote.
Digging a bit deeper reveals that Lang’s funds since the beginning of the year have come from a mix of individual contributors and Republican-backed political action committees.
The PACs that have given money to Lang include the 11th Congressional District of VA Republican Committee, Virginia Wins (buoyed by a million dollar donation from Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin), and New Mission Commonwealth, which donates to Republican candidates who are veterans.
This a bit of a contrast to Plum, who mainly has gotten money from assorted companies, corporations, and labor unions as well as individual contributors and political actions committees.
The companies and corporations that have donated to Plum include several that are higher profile. This includes Westrock, America’s second-largest packaging company, waste management company Covanta Energy, Anthem Blue Cross And Blue Shield, and Total Wine & More (owned by Maryland Congressman and Democrat David Trone).
All of these companies have a presence in Virginia.
Additionally, Plum also received money this election cycle from Amazon, which is building a headquarters in nearby Arlington, and a cannabis company called Golden Piedmont Labs from South Boston, Virginia. In April, the General Assembly voted to legalize marijuana possession in Virginia and now are looking to speed up the ability to sell it for recreational purposes.
When asked about these contributions, Plum tells Reston Now that sometimes companies and corporations give without him knowing. But he would never let it factor into his decision-making process.
Additionally in July and August, Plum used a chunk of his considerable campaign chest to donate to other Democrats running in Virginia, including Irene Shin, who is running for the delegate seat in the nearby 86th District, and Wendy Gooditis vying for re-election in the 10th District. He also contributed money to Schuyler VanValkenburg’s campaign in the 72nd District and Chris Hurst’s in the 12th District.
“I can’t signalulary get the job done in Richmond,” he says about why he uses his campaign funds to help other candidates. “We need others who are progressive Democrats and share my values to get things done… it’s certainly worked recently.”
Plum says he plans on sending out more checks in the coming weeks to help other candidates.
Lang’s expenses in July and August were majority for consulting services, advertising, and fundraising event-related items.
The reports that were just filed this past week covered campaign financial information from July and August. The last report for this cycle will cover September and October items and will likely be released after the November election.
Early voting started this past Friday (September 17) and will continue to election day, November 2.
More than four-fifths of adults in the Fairfax Health District have gotten at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, a hard-won milestone achieved after a summer of slowing demand and the arrival of the contagious Delta variant.
According to its vaccine data dashboard, which also includes information from the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, the Fairfax County Health Department has now administered more than 1.5 million vaccine doses since it received its first shipment on Dec. 23, 2020.
Constituting 68.6% of the total population, 811,460 Fairfax Health District residents, including 81.1% of all people 18 and older, have received at least one vaccine dose.
Interest in getting vaccinated appears to have soared in the past week, as more than 18,000 of those first dose were administered since last Monday (Sept. 13), when the county health department reported that 793,392 residents had received at least one shot. In comparison, just 1,457 first-dose recipients were added between Sept. 7 and 13.
The journey to the 80% benchmark was a two-month grind after the Fairfax Health District surpassed the 70% mark in June — more than 10 days ahead of the July 4 date that federal and state officials had targeted for getting vaccine doses to adults.
The milestone comes as the late summer surge fueled by the Delta variant appears to be leveling off, though Fairfax County’s COVID-19 community transmission levels are still considered high based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s established metrics.
With another 151 cases reported today (Monday), the Fairfax Health District has recorded a total of 87,621 novel coronavirus infections, which have resulted in 4,266 hospitalizations and 1,173 deaths.
Fairfax County is averaging 80.3 cases per day for the past week after spiking at an average of 204.6 cases over the previous seven days on Thursday (Sept. 16), which was the first time that the weekly average had climbed over 200 since it sat at 204.7 cases on Feb. 27.
Still, VDH data suggests the county is no longer seeing the clear, steep increase in COVID-19 cases that emerged in August. That trend of a sharp rise in cases, followed by a sudden plateau reflects the trajectory that the Delta variant has taken in other countries like India and the U.K.
However, health experts say vaccinations and mitigation measures, like mask-wearing, remain crucial to curtailing the spread of the virus, particularly with schools in session, the weather cooling, and the holiday season approaching.
In the Fairfax Health District, 736,927 residents — 74% of adults and 62.3% of the overall population — have been fully vaccinated, meaning they’ve received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson inoculation.
Determining who is considered fully vaccinated could soon become more complicated after Food and Drug Administration advisors voted on Friday (Sept. 17) to recommend booster shots for people who are 65 and older or face high risk of severe illness, though the committee did not support broader approval.
The Virginia Department of Health said in a statement that booster shots won’t be available until the FDA updates its authorization and the CDC issues new guidance, which could come later this week.
“VDH will continue its planning efforts with pharmacies, providers, hospitals and other partners as well as efforts to establish other vaccination sites to ensure that once the CDC issues guidance, eligible Virginians will be able to access a booster dose,” state vaccination coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said.
The Fairfax County Health Department says it is awaiting further federal and state guidance on booster shots and will continue limiting third doses of the Pfizer vaccine to immunocompromised people for now.
In the meantime, the county is also preparing for another game-changing development: the availability of vaccinations for children.
Pfizer reported this morning that initial results from clinical trials suggest its vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11. While emergency authorization for that age group isn’t expected to come until later this fall, Fairfax County Public Schools already has plans to work with a third-party company that will help administer the shots to kids once they’re eligible.
The county health department says it is working with the school system and medical providers to prepare to expand vaccinations to children.
“We are in close communication with schools, daycares, and pre-schools — as well as our private medical providers — across Fairfax County about COVID planning and are actively working to prepare and develop options for vaccinating younger children when the vaccine becomes authorized for the 5-11 age group,” FCHD spokesperson Lucy Caldwell said in a statement.
Monday, September 20
- Technology Help (4-6 p.m.) — Volunteers at Reston Regional Library are available to answer questions about technology. Half-hour slots are open for reservations.
Tuesday, September 21
- (un)disclosed — It’s the last day to enjoy this exhibit, which features the work of Judith Pratt. Visitors can drop by until 5 p.m. at the Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art.
Thursday, September 23
- Putting the Animals to Bed (6:30 p.m.) — Learn how Frying Pan Farm Park staff put the animals to bed. Bring a flashlight or lantern for this twilight tour. The cost is $10 per person.
- Girl Power Book Club (7-8 p.m.) — The book club is celebrating its third anniversary this month by returning to in-person meetings. Middle-grade and young adult readers are invited. This month’s book is The Dire Days of Willoweep Manor.
Friday, September 24
- Friday Night Live! (6:30 p.m.) — This free outdoor concert series returns this Friday. This week’s show features Screaming Monkeys.
Saturday, September 25
- Reston Multicultural Festival — The annual festival is back at Lake Anne Plaza after a hiatus last year. The festival will include entertainment, shopping, and food.
- Storytime (11 a.m.) –Laura Renauld reads from her Woodland Friends series at Scrawl Books in Reston Town Center.
Sunday, September 26
- NatureFest (1-5 p.m.) — This family friend event features animals, plans and insects that live in Runnymede Park. Attendees can move between different natural stations. Free parking is available at the Herndon Police Department.
- Talladega Nights (7 p.m.) — Enjoy a free screening and popcorn at Reston Metro Plaza. The movie starts at sundown.
Reston Association is turning to the public to guide the future of the Shadowood Recreation Area.
The area, which is on Springwood Drive, houses an aging 20-meter pool that has been closed for two years. The 15-question survey asks residents about future plans for the aging facility. Options include renovation, replacing with a different recreational amenity, or reopening as is.
Shadowood is among four pools — including Golf Course Island, Newbridge and Tall Oaks — that are on the bill for repurposing due to low usage. Staff made the suggestion in May.
In-person open houses are planned at the closed pool on Sept. 25 at 11 a.m. and Sept. 26 at 1 p.m. A virtual meeting via Zoom is also planned on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. The survey will remain open through Nov. 1.
Suggested new uses for the pool include a park with a picnic area, playground, basketball court, sand volleyball, and a pavilion and grill.
RA is poised to spend around $40 million to run, maintain and address capital improvement needs on its 15 pools and more than 50 tennis courts.
The discussion follows a long-anticipated evaluation of RA’s recreational facilities. The study by the Recreational Facility Work Group found a major increase in funding is needed to address capital improvement work at decades-old facilities.
In an email, Mike Leone, RA’s spokesman, told Reston Now that RA’s Board of Directors will meet with the workgroup to review survey findings and other community feedback.
While no firm timeline has been set, the feedback will guide the development of next year’s capital and operating budgets.
“The board is interested in learning what members would like to see happen with the pool and that recreation area,” Leone said.
Pool usage has dropped by over 37 percent over the last decade, according to the workgroup. Over the last ten years, it has cost around $9.6 million to maintain and operate four of the now-closed pools with the least frequent usage as of 2019.
County to Deploy Mobile COVID-19 Testing — The county is deploying a mobile lab to provide testing in several locations beginning tomorrow. Individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms can get tested. Sites selected to boost access to testing in areas with a higher number of cases. [Fairfax County Government]
Volunteers Needed for Multicultural Festival — Reston Community Center is looking for volunteers to help set up the Set. 24 event, along with parking attendants, activity assistants, and survey takers. [Reston Association]
Fairfax County Police Chief Tap Executive Deputy — Brian Reilly, formerly of the Prince George’s County Police Department is officially Fairfax County’s executive deputy police. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Photo via vantagheill/Flickr