Reston, VA

The deadline is nearing for families to decide how they want their kids to return to Fairfax County public schools this year.

Families have until Wednesday, July 15, to complete a form indicating whether they want their kids to take fully online classes or join a hybrid model combining in-person and online learning.

Families who pick the fully online option would have four days of synchronous learning. The hybrid model would combine two days of learning in schools with asynchronous online learning.

Superintendent Scott Brabrand has said that the school system will consider adding more in-person days — not to exceed four — depending on the demand for the hybrid model.

For families who are having trouble deciding, Brabrand encourages parents to see how their kids react to wearing a face covering for six hours — the amount of time they would need to wear it while at school.

No matter which option parents pick, students will return to the county’s public schools on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Let us know in the poll below what your preference is for students returning to school this fall.

Photo via Element5 Digital/Unsplash

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Several local fireworks and festivities for Independence Day have been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

The Town of Herndon has already called off its fireworks display. Fireworks are still set to take place in D.C., though.

Fairfax County has advice for using fireworks safely and determining which are illegal and legal.

Let us know in the poll below what you plan to do for the Fourth of July.

Photo by Sheri Hooley on Unsplash

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People who have missed hitting the gym for the last few months are seeing options reopen.

Fitness centers are allowed to open indoor spaces at 30% occupancy under Phase Two, which Northern Virginia entered June 12. Several studios in the Reston area started offering outdoor classes earlier this month.

Fairfax County offers indoor and outdoor public swimming only for lap swimming, diving, exercise and instruction. Public pools, including community pools, are not allowed to open for recreational use.

When Virginia enters Phase Three, Gov. Ralph Northam said that pools and gyms may open at 75% capacity. The date for when Virginia will enter that phase has not been announced yet.

Just because pools and gyms can open in limited capacities doesn’t mean that they will. Some gyms, like 24 Hour Fitness in Tysons, won’t reopen at all.

We want to know how you feel about going back to the gym during the pandemic. Let us know in the poll below.

Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash

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COVID-19 prompted restrictions on personal grooming services for two months. Now with Virginia progressing with its phased reopening plan, people can get their hair cut or nails done professionally.

Today, Fairfax County entered the second phase of the reopening plan. Personal grooming services that have reopened are still by appointment-only under the Phase Two guidelines.

Personal care services were first allowed to reopen in the county on May 29. Currently, customers and employees must wear face coverings, and the businesses are limited to 50% capacity.

Let us know in the poll below if you’ve been to a salon, barber, spa, tanning salon and/or tattoo shop since the rollback started on the COVID-19 restrictions. If you have any interesting stories about haircuts at home, let us know in the comments section.

Photo by Mostafa Meraji/Unsplash

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As Northern Virginia reopens under phase one, people are beginning to visit public places like restaurants and shops again.

While Gov. Ralph Northam and health directors in Northern Virginia say that COVID-19 trends are going in the right direction, the Centers for Disease Control and the Virginia Department of Public Health warn that there is still a risk for community transmission of the virus.

For animals, though, the CDC issued a statement saying that the likelihood of catching the disease from a pet is very low. Still, people may feel hesitant to interact with other people or pets.

Currently, county-run dog parks are closed, according to the Fairfax County Park Authority.

As COVID-19 restrictions get rolled back, Reston Now would like to know how our readers feel about bringing fido to the local dog park. Let us know in the poll below and feel free to leave a comment.

Photo by Jonathan Slater on 

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Since emergency orders in Virginia went into effect several weeks ago, most local and county bodies have opted for online meetings.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors dove into its budget for the coming year and courted public comments virtually. Reston Association also transitioned its annual members’ meeting to an online platform, with members given the chance to provide live comments almost seamlessly. After sorting through kinks and technical issues, other bodies and organizations will continue online meetings in the coming weeks.

Do you think the county and other local entities should continue virtual meetings, even after COVID-19 pandemic concerns subside? Some contend that online meetings are easier to attend and result in more streamlined decision-making. Still, online meetings represent an equity barrier for those without access to certain technology and do not allow residents and groups to fully participate in the public engagement process.

Let us know what you think in the poll below.

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Virginia officials are looking to ramp up COVID-19 testing efforts.

Gov. Ralph Northam has said that increasing testing capacity is key to determining when to walk back restrictions on businesses and large gatherings, WTVR in Richmond reported.

The article noted that Northam created a working group to address test backlogs, increase the number of test sites and tackle shortages of equipment needed for tests.

The Fairfax Health District, which includes Fairfax County and its towns and cities, has seen more than 13,000 test results, according to data earlier this week from the Virginia Department of Health.

Fairfax County has a list of resources for people seeking COVID-19 tests.

Let us know in the poll below if you have gotten a COVID-19 test.

If you live in Reston, Herndon or Great Falls and have gotten a test or plan to, please contact us at [email protected] if you are willing to share your experience for an article.

Photo via CDC/Unsplash

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Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Instead of holdings strikes around the globe to advocate for climate change activism, the organization behind Earth Day is urging activists to participate in virtual events.

“On Earth Day, April 22, 2020, we have two crises: One is the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The other is a slowly building disaster for our climate,” according to the Earth Day website.

Earth Day Live today is offering 24 hours of messages, performances and educational components, including appearances from Zac Efron and Al Gore.

While  Fairfax County’s 2020 Earth Day Festival has been canceled, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate virtually:

Let Reston Now know in the poll below if you plan to join Earth Day events:

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RTC West — the suburban office park formerly known as Reston Executive Center — recently built a new office building and new retail tenants.

JBG Smith, the developer, has plans on the books to add six new buildings with up to 576 apartments at the corner of Sunset Hills Road and Town Center Parkway.

While there’s no sign of construction on the way, Reston Now readers and an inconspicuous lover of Mezzeh have noticed that the surface parking lot is often full — even on off-peak hours.

Others have also reported trouble navigating tight turns and the mix of parallel and perpendicular parking at the office park. The site also has two four-level parking garages.

A spokesperson for the company said JBG Smith has no updates to share about the project. Once built out, the project, which is opposite Reston Gateway, includes a 22-story trophy office building, two residential towers, and a one-story retail pavilion located on a common green.

JBG Smith will also build a new westbound lane on Sunset Hill Road that allows for right-hand turns into RTC West. On-road bicycle lanes to Sunset Hills Road and Town Center Parkway are planned as well. The developer is also pitching in land for a future four-lane underpass beneath the Dulles Toll Road that would extent Town Center Parkway.

While the project is less than a quarter-mile away from the future Reston Town Center Metro Station, we’d love to hear from you on how the parking situation at RTC West is faring.

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Yes, we’re at it again.

Earlier this month, we asked our readers if they’ve noticed more airplane noise in the area. Most of you told us that you have but the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t have an explanation. They say that there have been no changes in flight paths or altitudes in the last year.

During the course of the request for reader feedback, a number of you told us that you’ve noticed more airplane noise in the last few months, especially in South Reston.

While it’s normal to hear sporadic increases in helicopter noise due to police activity or checks by Dominion Energy, there’s a chance there could be more going on.

We’d love to hear more from you on this issue. Let us know what you think in the poll below and feel free to submit what you’re experiencing by emailing [email protected].

Please include a general description of where you live, when and if you started noticing changes, and if you can spot any details about the helicopter.

Photo via FCPD

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People across the U.S. are expected to hit record levels for traveling this holiday season.

According to AAA, 115.6 million people across the U.S. will travel between this Saturday and New Year’s Day — roughly 104 million will drive while around 7 million flying and 4 million taking trains, buses or cruise ships.

For the D.C. area, AAA forecasts the worst travel day will be Thursday (Dec. 26) between 4-6 p.m.

“For the 104.8 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts only marginal delays throughout the holiday week,” according to AAA.

Let us know if and how you plan to travel this holiday season.

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With Cyber Monday behind us, Giving Tuesday is in full swing. During this charitable day of giving, we would love to know how and if you plan to take part.

The movement was created in 2012 to encourage people to give back to their communities after a weekend of consumerism.

Let us know how you plan to participate in the poll below.

Photo via Kat Yukawa/Unsplash

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Nearly half of all adults the United States say they’re trying to trim widening waistlines, but it’s unclear if that happens during annual Thanksgiving feasts.

On Thanksgiving, roughly 45 million turkeys will be consumed this year, according to the National Turkey Foundation.

Do you plan to embrace gluttony during your Thanksgiving meal or will you try to cut back this year? Let us know in the poll below.

Photo via Unplash

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This week, students from Herndon and South Lakes High School are picking up laptops from their respective schools as part of the new county schools initiative “FCPSOn.”

Fairfax County Public Schools plans to issue computers to all high school students in the county through the initiative. It is meant to transform learning for students and educators by providing ““equitable access to meaningful learning experience and technology to support their learning.”

A $50 annual fee is required for the program.

As the initiative rolls out, we’d love to hear your thoughts on what you think of the program in the poll below.

Photo via FCPS/YouTube

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Recently, Reston Town Center shed its iconic logo of the Mercury Fountain in favor of a more modern and simplistic design.

For weeks, Boston Properties and their public relations company TAA PR have been mum about the rebranding effort, as well as the latest on a planned renovation to RTC’s common areas.

In response to multiple requests from Reston Now, company representatives said they have some “exciting news to share” about the future of RTC in the coming weeks. In absence of hard details, Reston Now is turning to its readers to get their thoughts on what they think about the new logo and what message the new design seeks to convey.

RTC’s first logo features a line drawing of the 20-foot Mercury Fountain, which was designed by sculptor Saint Clair Cemin and anchors the pavilion. While the new logo retains the original blue palette, its circular form — with a ‘C’ rested in the center — lends itself to many interpretations.

A new crop of tenants are expected to open up in RTC by 2020, including Jinya Ramen Bar, The Candle Bar and Muse Paint Bar. The company also announced plans to renovate most of its gathering places in over the next several months. 

Until more details are made public, we’d love to know your thoughts about the new logo and the future of RTC in the comments below.

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