Reston, VA

Thursday Morning Notes

Hunter Mill Road Reopens After Flooding — Hunter Mill Road, which was closed in both directions at Hunter Station Road, is now open. The road closed due to high water late last night. [Fairfax County Police Department]

County Schools Looking for Teachers — Fairfax County Public Schools has begun hiring teachers and other staff for a number of positions. Two job fairs will be held on August 19. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Wiehle Pedestrian Crossing Study Group to Meet Today — The Wiehle Pedestrian Crossing Study Group will meet virtually today via Zoom at 9 p.m. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Thursday Morning Notes

Big Contract for Reston Company — “The General Services Administration (GSA) has awarded Reston-based government technology company Octo Consulting Group an $11.8 million contract to provide framework and architecture services for the GSA’s System for Award Management (SAM).” [Virginia Business Monthly]

Public Art Reston to Host Virtual Talk Today — DeWitt Godfrey will discuss his latest work at Valley & Park, a new townhouse development in Reston. His sculpture is titled ‘Simon,’ and is expected to be installed this month. [Public Art Reston]

Collects for Kids Campaign –The Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools is collecting donations for school supplies. Donations can be made online. [FCPS Foundation]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand says that the decision for a virtual start to school on Sept. 8 was largely motivated by the health risks associated with COVID-19.

In a letter sent to parents Tuesday, Brabrand said that while cases are relatively stable in Fairfax County, precautionary steps are necessary to ensure the safety of staff and students. FCPS initially planned a hybrid approach of in-person and virtual instruction — a decision that was reversed by Brabrand in late July. The Fairfax County School Board approved the change July 22.

“As educators, there is nothing we want more than to have all students back in school. This school year will be a challenge for us all, but we are doing everything possible to ensure a high-quality education through virtual learning to start the year,” Brabrand said.

Brabrand also said staffing challenges complicated the transition to in-person learning, including the limited availability of substitutes and more leave of absence requests by teachers and other staff.

FCPS staff are developing metrics to determine when and if schools can reopen. Factors under consideration include the trajectory of cases, access to testing, and impact on staff and operations. More details are expected in mid-August, he said.

The school system also plans to provide laptops to all students to use for online learning. Schools will provide information on laptop distribution if a student does not already have an FCPS laptop.

Brabrand said his staff is also exploring ways to boost technical support for families and students, including a help desk for parents. All athletic seasons are also delayed until December.

The entire letter, which includes more details on class schedules and a commitment to more communication, is posted online.

Image via Fairfax County Public Schools

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Retail Rents Not Getting Paid“Retail tenants have been hardest hit during the pandemic, across the board and for JBG Smith. The company collected 58% of rent due from those tenants in the second quarter, compared with nearly 99% for office and 98.5% for multifamily… JBG Smith is exploring the possibility of incorporating ghost kitchens, or food preparation facilities for delivery-only meals, to fill some of the void created by empty retail spaces as a temporary measure.” [Washington Business Journal]

Free COVID-19 Testing in Reston TodayThe Fairfax County Health Department and Southgate Community Center are partnering to offer free testing ontoday from 5-8 p.m. at the community center, which is located at 12125 Pinecrest Road. [Virginia Department of Health]

Schools Take Part in Racial Truth and Reconciliation Week — “As part of Virginia’s declaration of August 2-8 as Virginia’s Racial Truth and Reconciliation Week, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) will be participating in activities to help educate citizens about the impact of cultural, historical, and racial inequity.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Photo by Ray Copson

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While Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) will start the school year virtually, county officials want to make sure students will have continued access to free bus passes.

Fairfax County and FCPS teamed up in 2015 to create a pilot program that gives free Fairfax Connector bus passes to middle and high school students.

“Since its inception, nearly two million trips have been taken through the Free Student Bus Pass Program (FSBPP) and as of February 2020, student ridership accounted for approximately 6.5 percent of the total Fairfax Connector ridership,” according to county documents.

More from the county:

Through this innovative program, students can access extracurricular activities, stay after school for support and tutoring, access after school jobs and internships, and visit libraries, museums, and other recreational activities.

The program familiarizes students with public transportation and supports the development of a more multi-modal generation of young adults in the future. This is critical to increasing transit ridership, reducing traffic congestion, and improving mobility around the National Capital Region.

Fairfax County officials are looking to formalize the collaboration so that the program can continue.

The Board of Supervisors is set to vote on Tuesday (July 28) to approve moving forward with a Memorandum of Agreement between the county and FCPS, according to the meeting’s agenda.

Once the agreement is complete, the county will provide free rides on the Fairfax Connector to students with eligible passes and promote the program, while the school system will register, distribute and manage the passes.

In addition to the pilot program with Fairfax Connector, the county also works with the Washington Area Transit Authority (WMATA). In 2018, the county and WMATA expanded the bus pass program to include Justice High School in Falls Church.

Starting with the 2018-2019 school year, students now receive the bus pass in the form of a “specially designed SmarTrip Card,” according to Fairfax County’s website.

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Friday Morning Notes

A Reminder about School-required Immunizations — Immunizations remain mandatory for school enrollment.  The Fairfax County Health Department is offering nine additional community childhood vaccination clinics and has also expanded office hours. [Fairfax County Government]

Columbus Day Renamed to Indigenous Peoples’ Day — “The Fairfax County School Board has voted to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day for the previously approved 2020-21 Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) school year calendar as well as the yet-to-be approved 2021-22 school year calendar. The 2021-22 calendar is scheduled to be adopted in September.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Herndon Company Operates New Satellite Technology — “HawkEye 360, a radio frequency (RF) data analytics company based in Herndon, operates a first-of-its-kind commercial satellite constellation to identify, process and geo-locate a broad set of RF signals especially for defense, security and intelligence missions. John Serafini, chief executive officer, spoke to the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority about HawkEye 360, including the applications of its satellite technology operations, hiring projections, and why Fairfax County is a great place for the company’s headquarters.” [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority]

Transportation Service for Oakton, Vienna, Reston and Herndon Residents Returns — “The Board of Directors of Shepherd’s Center serving Oakton-Vienna-Reston-Herndon (SC) has announced that their face-to-face medical and companion transportation service are now being offered.  Due to virus safety concerns for their clients and volunteers, SC had put that service temporarily on hold. If you are a current client and you live in Oakton, Vienna, Reston or Herndon, SC is available to, once again, provide this invaluable service for seniors.” [Shepherd’s Center]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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The Fairfax County School Board voted to start the school year virtually late today (Tuesday), reversing its previous plans for virtual and in-person instruction.

Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand pitched the proposal at a school board meeting today. The change was primarily motivated by a surge in new coronavirus cases. Brabrand also noted that he was concerned many of the school system’s staff would not return for in-person instruction.

Here’s more from Brabrand’s letter, which was sent to parents and the school community last night:

The online school year will begin, as scheduled, September 8.   Should health conditions improve, we would first bring back students for intervention supports on a limited basis.   Following that, we would work to bring students back to school as soon as possible starting with elementary school students, select PreK-12 special education students and English Learners.

This was not an easy decision, but after reviewing the best available health data and continuing to gather input from teachers, staff, students, and families, we have determined that full-time online instruction is the only safe option at this time.  The pandemic looks much different now than it did even three weeks ago.  Although infection rates in Fairfax County have declined and are relatively stable, 33 percent of our employees live outside the county. The threat posed by the virus does not recognize borders or boundaries. 

We know this is very disappointing news for the families who chose the two-day-a-week in-person learning option in our recent preference questionnaire. We all want in-person learning to resume as quickly as possible. We will reassess health conditions regularly to determine when students can begin in-person instruction, if science and data suggest it is safe to do so.

Initially, parents were instructed to choose between an online-only approach or a mix of virtual and in-person instruction.

Schools are expected to start virtually. After the first quarter, the school system’s leadership will reassess the situation.

“Should health conditions improve, we would first bring back students for intervention support on a limited basis,” according to the presentation.

The Fairfax County Federation of Teachers lauded Brabrand’s proposal and the school board’s decision.

Everyone, but nobody more than our educators, want to open schools and get all kids back as quickly as possible, but we must open schools as safely as possible. Unfortunately, the health crisis doesn’t make in-person classes possible right now,” Tina Williams, the FCFT’s president, wrote in a statement.

Brabrand said the school system is improving its digital learning model.

We will dedicate ourselves to spending the weeks before September 8 preparing resources and help for parents and students.  We will provide additional training for our teachers to better meet the needs of our students and provide distance learning supports and guidance for our families,” he said.

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An online petition created by two Fairfax County Public Schools graduates is calling on the school system to improve its Black history curricula.

Tyler Hensen and Rachel Murphy, who are both graduates from 2012, launched the change.org petition, which states that the school system’s curricula are insufficient to address “systemic racism.”

Here’s more from the petition, which has gained 804 signatures so far:

FCPS has played an important role in providing a safe and encouraging place for us to grow as students and world citizens. We have each had our lives positively impacted by the care of hardworking teachers and staff who opened our minds to a range of issues, fields, and passions. In a school system that is home to students who speak over 200 languages, FCPS prides itself on the racial and cultural diversity of its students and staff. However, there is a deficiency in our classrooms regarding education on issues of structural, institutional, individual, and systemic racism. Thus, we are calling for action to be made in the existing curricula and culture, for this action to be overseen by a committee that is responsible and responsive to all stakeholders in the County, and a public statement released by the FCPS School Board committing to lasting change.

We know that this proposal is the beginning of an ongoing conversation between our administration, community, and student body. The basis of justice, equity, and change begins with a properly educated and informed generation. We propose a list of tangible actions which are available to be read here.

In a recent statement, FCPS said teachers are working hard to improve the social studies curriculum:

A group of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) teachers have been collaborating with colleagues from five other Virginia school districts to create a social studies curriculum that presents diverse perspectives and challenges students to critically examine materials, events, and institutions for bias, identity, and multiple perspectives.  The new curriculum will be available to students in grades 3, 4, 6, 7, and 11 as soon as this fall.

Beginning in 2018 under the umbrella of the Virginia Inquiry Collaborative, FCPS teachers worked with colleagues from Albemarle County, Virginia Beach City, and Charlottesville, and later Madison County and Powhatan County Schools, to collaborate aroundcurriculum development designed for use across Virginia, beginning with a focus on fourth grade Virginia Studies. 

According to a WUSA 9 report, the students said they believe their understanding of slavery and racism represents a “tremendous deficiency in the understanding that we are then released into the world as young adults with this really deficient understanding of how we are perpetuating a problem.”

They want the new curricula to emphasize the historical impact of Black leaders, writers, artists, and thinkers.

The petition also calls on FCPS to create a committee that oversees the implementation of “anti-racism” into the curricula and culture.

Photo via Sam Balye/Unsplash

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Park Foundation Board Selects New Officers — The Fairfax County Park Foundation Board of Directors has elected new officers to lead its fundraising from through June 22. [Fairfax County Government]

Special Reston Association Meetings Set for July — RA’s Board of Directors will hold special meetings on July 13 and July 23. The first meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and the second meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. Agendas for both online meetings have not been released yet. [Reston Association]

FCPS Extends Enrollment Deadline — “Fairfax County Public Schools has extended the deadline for parents to choose how they want their children to return to school this fall for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. Responses are due no later than Wednesday, July 15.” [FCPS]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Monday Morning Notes

Weather Alert for Today — The work week begins with hot and humid weather.  Afternoon showers and thunderstorms are also expected. Forecasters say some storms could be strong to severe, with damaging. Winds, large hail, and an isolated threat for flooding. [National Weather Service]

COVID-19 Count Begins Climb — “Both Virginia and the Northern Virginia region reported the highest daily number of new coronavirus cases in almost a month on Saturday, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Northern Virginia reported 256 new cases, and statewide 716 new cases were reported. Both numbers were the highest since June 7.” [Inside NOVA]

Virtual Town Hall for Return to School — The Fairfax County Public Schools System is hosting a downhill to discuss return to school options on today (Monday). A meeting in Spanish will be held on Wednesday. [FCPS]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Friday Morning Notes

Comstock Secures New Loan for BLVD — “Comstock Holding Companies’ capital markets group secured a $73 million loan with Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) for the BLVD I luxury apartment tower, which is located at 1908 Reston Metro Plaza. The new 10-year loan replaces a maturing construction loan provided by Citizens Bank.” [Reston Patch]

Herndon Police Department Closed Today — The department’s office will be closed tomorrow in observance of Juneteenth. Officers and dispatchers will remain on duty to serve the community. [Herndon Police Department]

School Board Considers New Religious Holidays for Calendar — “The Fairfax County School Board is considering a 2021-22 Standard School Year Calendar that was developed with a focus on instruction and learning for students and includes four religious observance holidays.  Two options for the 2021-22 school year were presented to the Board at its business meeting on June 18.” [Fairfax County School Board]

Photo by Ray Copson

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Herndon Police Department on Policing — In a statement, Chief Maggie DeBoard reaffirmed her commitment to remain accountable to the community. “We reaffirm to each other and the community our duty to intervene when our actions are contrary to the safe and equitable treatment of all individuals,” she wrote. [Herndon Police Department]

Capital One Supports FCPS Distance Learning — The company donated $90,000 to the Fairfax County Public Schools system to support the purchase of MiFi units for students without internet connection at home. [FCPS]

Local News Now Operating Remotely — Since the first confirmed local coronavirus case in March, Local News Now’s employees have been working from home. We plan to continue working remotely until 2021, and may continue to have most employees work remotely most of the time after that. [Washingtonian]

FCPS to Host Town Hall Tonight — A town hall to discuss return to school plans, family surveys, health resources, and other issues is set for 6:30 p.m. today (Tuesday). People can email questions via [email protected] or by calling 1-800-231-6359. [FCPS]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Monday Morning Notes

Return to School Public Hearing — The Fairfax County School Board is holding a public hearing on plans to return to school for the next academic year. The virtual meeting is set for Thursday, June 18 at 6:30 p.m. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Herndon Police Department is Hiring — The local police department is seeking certified police officers to join the department as a lieutenant. [Herndon Police Department]

Current COVID-19 Hospitalizations Dip — “Fewer than 1,000 Virginians are now hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19, and the number of cases continued to slow both statewide and in Northern Virginia, according to reports Saturday morning. The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported only 959 coronavirus patients in state hospitals, the lowest number since the organization began providing data in early April… Only 342 of those patients were in Northern Virginia, down from a high of 818 on April 30.” [InsideNova]

Reston Association Updates Pool Information — A release posted by the association mistakenly included information that children under eight would not be allowed admission to four pools opening later this month. The press release has been updated. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Friday Morning Notes

Northern Virginia Enters Phase Two — “Eating inside a restaurant, going back to the gym and in-person worship services: Starting Friday, all of these activities will be allowed for residents of Northern Virginia as the region enters phase two of reopening. Businesses and houses of worship will have to adhere to safety standards and capacity limits to lessen the threat that customers could spread coronavirus. Virginia advises that you’re still safer at home.” [NBC4]

The Return to School — Fairfax County Public Schools’ Superintendent Scott Brabrand says that he plans to present the school system’s plan to the school board on Monday. Schools are expected to offer a mix of in-person and online learning. [FCPS]

Deadline for Boat Permits Nears — The registration and renewal deadline for permanent mooring permits is June 30. Reston Association will conduct annual boat monitoring and inspections after June 30. [Reston Association]

Members Sought for Covenants Committee — RA is also seeking members to fill three seats on the committee for a three-year term. The committee administers the use and maintenance of covenants in Reston’s deed. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Northern Virginia Unemployment Rate Hits 10 Percent — “A total of 163,158 Northern Virginia residents were unemployed and looking for work during the month, the Virginia Employment reported Wednesday.  That number is based on a survey of households and is different from the number of unemployment claims reported weekly. Over 220,000 regional residents have filed first-time claims for unemployment since the pandemic began in mid-March, but nearly 45% of those have also returned to work.” [Inside NOVA]

IRivet Designs App to Make Employees Feel Safe — “The 12-year-old company, which often builds apps for its clients, has developed a platform to help other businesses transition back to work. MyHealthyWork is a web and mobile application that tracks employees’ self-reported health information, whereabouts and interactions. The product, now a week into its beta phase, is slated to launch by mid-June.” [Washington Business Journal]

County to Offer Free Vaccine Clinics — The county is hosting seven vaccination clinics throughout the health district. Vaccines for children will be offered free of charge. Health officials worry that routine immunization services are being delayed due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements. [Fairfax County Government]

Free Online Summer Arts Program — “Fairfax County Public Schools will offer a free online arts enrichment program for current K-12 students over for five weeks from July 6 to August 7.  A variety of classes will be offered in art, music, theater, and dance.” [FCPS]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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