Virginia Adopts First-in-the-Nation Workplace Safety Standards for COVID-19 Pandemic

In the absence of federal guidelines, newly adopted workplace safety rules will help protect Virginia workers from the spread of COVID-19.

Earlier this week, Governor Ralph Northam announced the adoption of statewide emergency workplace safety standards in response to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. These first-in-the-nation safety rules will protect Virginia workers by mandating appropriate personal protective equipment, sanitation, social distancing, infectious disease preparedness and response plans, record keeping, training and hazard communications in workplaces across the Commonwealth. The actions come…

BREAKING: Superintendent to Propose Online-Only Start to School Year

(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) Arlington Public Schools would start the new school year a week later than originally planned, and with full time distance learning, under a new plan being proposed by new Superintendent Francisco Durán.

That’s according to a School Talk email just sent to APS families.

Durán says he will present his proposal to the School Board on Thursday. If approved, it would scrap the previous plan to start the fall with a hybrid model that would have most students in classrooms two days per week, while others could opt for online-only classes.

The hybrid model drew criticism from teachers and parents who said there would be no way to ensure the safety of students and school staff…

COVID-19 Update: Drive-Through Sample Collection Site Open Weekdays

COVID-19 Testing in Arlington

Arlington operates two COVID-19 Sample Collection Sites:

  • Drive-through Site at 1429 N. Quincy Street: Patients must have an existing order for COVID-19 testing from a licensed healthcare provider, but no appointment needed. Weekdays from 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
  • Walk-up Site at the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S Dinwiddie St.) for low-income, uninsured and under-insured residents. Residents must schedule an appointment (call 703-912-0118), but there is no fee, medical consultation or insurance required. Weekdays from 1–5 p.m.

Find publicly-available tests at VDH’s COVID-19 Testing Site page.

Additional locations in the Arlington area with COVID-19 testing include Preston’s Pharmacy,  select CVS Pharmacy stores and Inova Urgent Care – North Arlington.

Arlington Farmers Markets Able to Reopen with Pre-Orders

Arlington’s Farmers Markets can re-open this weekend in a new format – farmers can only offer preordered sales. On Wednesday, the Governor’s Office and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) issued additional guidance to provide a means for farmers markets to continue to operate.

To limit the exposure to Covid-19, vendors are not permitted to display food or on-site shopping. This guidance enables markets to remain open giving Arlingtonians access to fresh, locally-grown food while promoting social distancing.

“We are working hard to develop a new system to do business that supports our community of shoppers and vendors, and still abides by the Governors Executive Order,” said Amy McWilliams, manager of the Pike Park Market on Columbia Pike. “We are still working out how we will be able to take preordered sales and distribute them. We will post everything on our website when we have things in place.”

Arlington has three winter markets to choose from at this time: Arlington Farmers Market, Pike Park Farmers Market and Westover Farmers Market. (And additional markets may be available soon.) Go to each market’s website to find out how you can schedule your order. See a list of all Arlington farmers markets. Markets will limit the number of patrons inside the market to 10 at a time.

Included in the guidance to farmers markets are directives for patrons:

  • Comply with social distancing guidelines. While COVID-19 is not spread by food, patrons and workers must adhere to social distancing to prevent person-to-person spread of the virus.
  • Orders will be boxed. Patrons should avoid touching or inspect their orders on site.

Arlington County is committed to the health and safety of our community and our employees and strongly urges everyone to change their daily behavior to reduce risk from COVID-19, particularly to protect our most vulnerable populations. Public health officials have noted evidence of community transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus in parts of Northern Virginia, and each individual plays a critical part of slowing the spread of the virus.

To keep updated on the status of COVID-19, visit the County’s COVID-19 webpage. Also sign up for Parks and Recreation eNews.

County, APS Supporting Schools’ Families During COVID-19 Shutdown

Arlington Public Schools and Arlington County Government are working together to support families following Governor Ralph Northam’s March 23 announcement that all Virginia public and private schools, K-12, will be closed through the rest of the academic year to protect the health and safety of Virginians and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“These are difficult times for our community, and the Governor’s decision has been devastating to many of our staff, students, and families. However, the safety and well-being of our community is paramount, and APS will continue to find innovative ways to support our students and families during these unprecedented times,” said School Board Chair Tannia Talento. “APS is now developing a plan to continue distance learning for our students beyond April 13. We are in regular communications with the County and are collaborating with County government, particularly on ensuring that students and families in need will have access to food. We are also exploring other ways to jointly support our students and their families through the remainder of the school year and are grateful for the strong partnership we have with the County.”

“The strong partnership between County Government and APS will help us help our Schools families get through this emergency,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said. “Tannia and I are talking daily to make sure our response is as effective and nimble as we can make it, and that we get the help that is needed to the people who need it as quickly as possible. That said, we ask for everyone’s understanding that we are creating new structures and new methods to new problems and will need to make adjustments and improvements as we respond. We appreciate the many volunteer efforts and suggestions we are getting from residents to help us improve.”

APS is providing free grab-n-go breakfast and lunch to kids two-to-18 years old, Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Kenmore Middle School and at Drew, Barrett, Campbell and Randolph elementary schools. Also, on Friday, April 3, APS will provide families who come to one of the sites a week’s worth of meals to ensure they have food during the week of the APS Spring Break (April 6-10). We are currently evaluating plans for food distribution through the remainder of the year.

The Governor also announced the closure of certain non-essential businesses across the Commonwealth and urged all Virginians to avoid non-essential travel outside the home.

“We know that families, businesses, our arts community and our non-profit organizations are all being hit hard. We, and every jurisdiction across the region, are working with the State and Federal governments to make adjustments, to secure resources and support to keep our social safety net intact, and to ensure that when this period passes, Arlington will be able to recover financially. We thank everyone for your support and your patience.” said Garvey.

Garvey noted that County Government continues to provide essential services, even though it has had to take difficult steps, such as shutting down community centers, libraries and most recently, parks, while restricting use of County trails and gardens to groups of fewer than 10 people.

“These steps, although painful, are unavoidable,” Garvey said. “Our only hope of slowing the spread of this virus, our only defense against this pandemic, is everybody’s cooperation and careful, consistent observance of social distancing and personal hygiene. As much as possible, everyone needs to stay home. Staying home is the most important and effective thing everyone can do to slow the spread of the virus.”

Metro Temporarily Shuts Down Potomac Yard Metroway

In addition to a series bus line closures due to coronavirus, Metro is suspending service of Metroway-Potomac Yard — a bus line running between Pentagon City and Braddock Road.

The Metroway runs between Arlington and Alexandria through Crystal City and the Potomac Yard Shopping Center. The move comes after a day after Metro shut down several stations, including the Eisenhower Avenue and Van Dorn stations in Alexandria.

Andrew Kierig, Vice-Chair of the Riders’ Advisory Council, said he was concerned about…

Police ‘Educating’ About Park Closures, While Some Defy Orders

Some people hoping to get out of the house and get some exercise are defying government efforts to maintain social distancing amid the coronavirus outbreak.

On Monday, Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools closed all athletic fields and courts, as well as playgrounds and other outdoor recreational facilities where people congregate.

On Tuesday, people could be seen climbing through a gap in the fence at the popular Washington-Liberty track, in pursuit of maintaining their exercise routines. The two missing bars on the fence appear to have been “kicked in,” a tipster said…

Using Trails and Outdoor Spaces Safely in the Wake of COVID-19

Trails and outdoor spaces are seeing major spikes in usage across the country, as individuals and families look to these assets for daily physical activity and mental respite in the wake of COVID-19. As America’s business, social and cultural hubs shutter their doors to weather the coronavirus pandemic, many public health experts have discussed the importance of being active in the outdoors—as long as we maintain a safe social distance.

Dramatic increases in visitation are being recorded across the United States; an analysis of 31 trail counters for the week of March 16–22 by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) found a nationwide trail usage increase of nearly 200% from that same week in 2019. This surge in trail use is forcing trail managers to take fast action to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among their constituents while encouraging careful and conscientious trail use.

To ensure that people are adhering to social distancing and being safe in the outdoors, some trails and parks are closing, while others are limiting their services. Some are limiting motorized access to entrances and trailheads to minimize crowds. Others are pushing significant public education efforts encouraging people to…