Today, the Board ratified our County Manager’s declaration of a local emergency due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This follows Governor Northam’s declaration of a state of emergency for the Commonwealth and the President’s declaration of a national emergency. Arlington Public Schools have closed until at least April 14th. COVID-19 is serious, but there is no need to panic. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and it is important that we all stay informed and follow the recommendations of our health professionals.
In Arlington, we have been testing people with suspected cases of Coronavirus for about 6 weeks now. As you likely know, we recently confirmed cases in Arlington. It is only a handful now, but we expect the number to go up. Our goal is to slow the spread of the disease. We all need to help in this endeavor. Everyone should maintain “social distancing” which means standing or sitting at least 6 feet away from other people when you are inside or out and about. Frequent hand washing, especially when you arrive back home or enter or leave a building is a must. And, as always, stay home if you feel sick. We are not asking everyone to just stay home. Being outside for walks or cycling (maintaining the 6-foot distance) is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy. Arlington is doing extra cleaning in our facilities and on our ART buses, and we strongly encourage all businesses and organizations to do the same.
The press release we put out this morning has many helpful links and information about all the cancellations. In short, you can expect that any event that brings people together will be canceled, including sports. However, essential services will continue.
Please refer to two pages on the County’s website for detailed information about the virus, including the Situation Report, Tips for Prevention, Getting Tested and more: https://health.arlingtonva.us/covid-19-coronavirus-updates/
As of Monday, March 16th, all Arlington Public Schools will be closed and the current plan is for them to reopen after Spring Break on Monday, April 14th. Between Monday and Spring Break, instruction will be provided by individual schools or online. Please see more details on the APS website.
Beginning Monday, March 16, APS will provide free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches at two school sites – Kenmore Middle School (200 S. Carlin Springs Road) and Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary School (3500 S. 23rd Street).
Meals will be set up on a table outside these buildings for distribution from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Monday-Friday. We will provide one lunch for that day and one breakfast to take home for the following day. These meals will be free for any child aged 2 to 18; the child must be present to receive the meals.
Department of Parks and Recreation
All DPR Activities and Programs are canceled effective immediately until Monday, April 20th. Also, all facility rentals are canceled as of March 16th until further notice. Refunds will be issued for all rentals and activities that are canceled. This weekend’s indoor and outdoor DPR sports leagues will have games (but no fans). Arlington is mindful of the importance of the 60+ Café and is working with participants directly to support those in need.
Update on Libraries
This weekend all Arlington libraries will be closed, and all programs and meeting room reservations are canceled until further notice. Beginning Monday, March 16th, Central Library and the Columbia Pike Branch plan to reopen on their regular schedule for Wi-Fi and public PC use for adults and students. All other Library locations will remain closed. No new holds will be processed, though existing holds at Central and Columbia Pike may be picked up. Holds currently at other locations will remain on the shelves. All exterior branch book drops will be available, and fines and due dates are suspended until further notice. The library online services are available 24/7 with your library card.
As my regular readers know, I do not usually send out multiple newsletters in a short time, however, this is a serious public health situation and it is crucial that we all stay informed in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones and neighbors. I will continue to send updates when there is new information that I think you should know.
I hope you find that these newsletters are helpful.