Will kids be in school this summer? - School Board approves return-to-school plan - CVS to begin offering vaccinations in select stores

Construction at Guinea and Little River to begin this spring - Regional leaders jockey for FBI headquarters - Park Authority to replace Smokewood Bridge

Welcome to Braddock Buzz, and congratulations to Bucs and Tom Brady fans. Keep the news, tips, and feedback coming to braddockbuzz@gmail.com, and drop us a note if you’re interested in hearing about advertising opportunities.

Big thanks to our sponsor, Realtor Jennifer Mack, whose column today looks at why it’s a good idea for sellers to start preparing their homes for market as early as possible. Reach out to Jennifer with column ideas—or if you’re considering buying or selling a home—at jennifer@jennifermackproperties.com.


Will kids be in school this summer? FCPS is developing a robust summer learning program and has allocated up to $30 million for the effort, the school system said. The statement came in response to a call from Gov. Ralph Northam for schools across the state to beef up summer school to make up for all the lost learning from the pandemic.

“We have been developing supports for students who need additional instruction and engagement this summer to prepare for their next grade level,” FCPS said. “As we begin to phase in students back to schools on February 16th, we will also be identifying those who will benefit most from summer support.”

The Northam administration is working to secure additional resources for summer programs, possibly including federal relief dollars, according to the Governor’s Office.

-For those who are already making summer vacation plans, Northam framed the new summer programs as being available to “those who choose.”

-Northam also called for all Virginia school systems to offer in-person instruction by March 15, referencing new research from the CDC that says students can return to school safely as long as strong mitigation measures are in place.

-Ahead of Northam’s statement, the Fairfax County School Board had unanimously approved a plan to return all grade levels to classrooms by March 16. The phased plan begins Feb. 16 with select career and special education classes. Students will get two days per week of in-person instruction and two days of virtual instruction—designed to keep schools below 50% capacity to allow for six feet of separation. Students will retain the option to be 100% virtual.

-But what’s the point if students are still learning through a screen? Parents are voicing frustration over the fact that, in some cases, teachers with high-risk medical conditions will continue to teach remotely while a classroom monitor supervises their in-person students, as The Washington Post reports. “Kids are going to be doing the same thing that doesn’t work, only in a new location,” FCPS parent Jenna Hamilton told the Post. “They’re being warehoused in a room to watch their teacher on a screen yet again, with effectively a babysitter sitting there.”

FCPS has so far hired 74% of the 845.7 classroom monitors it needs to oversee classrooms where the teacher is virtual, according to the slide below that Superintendent Scott Brabrand presented to the School Board:

Brabrand’s full return-to-school presentation is available here.


Where am I in the vaccine queue? This is a question we’ve heard repeatedly from our neighbors who feel like their Fairfax County vaccine registrations have gone into a black hole. With the county receiving just 13,000 doses per week for a backlog of 180,000, it’s understandable there would be a long waiting list—but those who’ve registered want assurance they’re at least on the list. Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw addressed this issue in the latest edition of his newsletter:

Unfortunately, the Health Department is unable at this time to inform individuals when they will receive their appointment, nor can they tell someone where they are in the queue. Most of the Health Department’s technological efforts have been focused on distribution and administration of the vaccine. 

However, [Health Director] Dr. [Gloria] Addo-Ayensu did recently describe the dashboard in development which will present a variety of information that when presented together will give people a sense of how quickly they’re moving through and where they might fall in the queue. For example, they are looking at a system that would give the date that those currently being served had registered, along with the number of remaining registrations. 

CVS to begin offering vaccinations in select stores: CVS expects to begin offering vaccinations this week in select stores to eligible populations, according to Walkinshaw’s newsletter. These are being offered through a federal partnership, not through the county Health Department. Those interested will be able to register on the CVS website.

The numbers: Fairfax County has so far administered 120,298 vaccine doses, an increase of 29,453 from last week, and 26,175 residents are now fully vaccinated with two doses, an increase of 11,862, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard. Nearly 10.5% of the county’s 1.1 million people are now vaccinated with at least one dose.

Featured Photo

red cardinal sitting in snowy tree branches
Chapel Square resident Magaly Gomez caught this cardinal enjoying the snow yesterday. It was our second consecutive weekend snowstorm, but with temperatures in the upper 30s and low 40s, this one didn’t stick.


Regional leaders jockey for FBI headquarters: Congress has directed the General Services Administration to resume efforts to relocate the FBI’s dilapidated D.C. headquarters, The Washington Post reports, after the project was put on hold under President Trump. Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. all want the new site, with Virginia leaders touting a spot in Springfield that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors believes would encourage “business development in the surrounding area.”

The Braddock District’s congressman, Democrat Gerry Connolly, noted that the Pentagon, CIA headquarters, and FBI archives and training academy are all located in Virginia. “Only the site in Virginia offers synergies with the FBI itself,” Connolly told the Post. “At the end of the day, this is not about whose turn is it, or who benefits economically. This is about the functionality of the FBI.”

Construction at Guinea and Little River to begin this spring: VDOT will begin construction this spring on a state-funded $366,000 project to improve traffic flow and safety at the intersection of Guinea Road and Little River Turnpike. According to a project website that went live last week, VDOT is seeking to:

  • create a free-flow right-turn lane from northbound Guinea Road to eastbound Little River Turnpike

  • add a pedestrian island at the southern end of the intersection

  • create a new through/right-turn lane via restriping on eastbound Little River Turnpike between Guinea Road and Old Hickory Road

A virtual community meeting on the project will be held March 1.

Park Authority to replace Smokewood Bridge: Construction will begin by the end of this month to replace a damaged pedestrian bridge in Smokewood Park in the Olde Creek section of the Braddock District. The current bridge is steel; the new one will be fiberglass. “Once the contractor mobilizes to the site, this work will take approximately one week to complete,” the Park Authority said in a statement. “As a safety precaution, a portion of the trail in Smokewood Park will be closed to users during construction.”


Girl Scouts organize kindness walk in Truro: Two local Girl Scouts sent us the following message seeking to raise awareness about a kindness walk scheduled for March 13 in the Truro neighborhood:

Hello Reader,

We are two Girl Scouts in Troop 147. Together, we are working on our Silver Award, the second-highest award a Girl Scout can earn.

Our project is about spreading kindness and hope throughout these trying times. We will be hosting a kindness walk, building a buddy bench, and collecting art supplies for UMFS, a family services program in Virginia. We chose to work with UMFS because there are many children who do not have the opportunities that we have. We hope you will help us. 

On March 13th, we will be hosting a kindness walk starting at the Truro Clubhouse. It will be about 2 miles, (3K), starting at 9 a.m., with registration beginning at 8:45.

Due to Covid-19, we have safety rules. You must wear a mask at all times and stay six feet away from everyone. Registration will be out in the parking lots. You will be given a timeslot, five minutes apart from the person in front of you. 

For an earlier time slot, you should register online, by March 10th so we can assign time slots. The fee for the walk is for every 3 people who participate, you are to bring 1 item of art supplies. If the amount of people you have is not a factor of 3, please round up to the nearest factor. The art supplies must be unused or in good condition.

Dogs are allowed, but we are not responsible for them.

To register online, use the link below. More information about the walk is in the registration form.

For any questions, you can email us at thesilverlining.project2020@gmail.com.

Link: https://forms.gle/GYwuktFxa3qHLKUt9  

For more information about UMFS: https://www.umfs.org/ 

Thank You! Stay safe!

News in Brief

  • The Virginia General Assembly is poised to end the death penalty and legalize marijuana—a major move leftward for a state that was once the seat of the Confederate government, The Washington Post reports.

  • The NRA is suing Fairfax County for banning firearms on public trails and in parks, saying the ban limits people’s ability to practice self-defense, WDVM reports.

  • The Planning Commission is considering new rules for flagpoles, including a 25-foot height limit for single-family dwellings, the Annandale Blog reports.

  • The Board of Zoning Appeals has two openings. Interested applicants can find more information here.


  • Thursday, Feb. 11, 7 p.m.: A community meeting will be held on the Long Branch Central Watershed Management Area Project. County officials will provide an update, solicit input about the watershed condition, discuss the work plan to be developed this spring, and introduce some of the project partners. Meeting link here.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m.: The Planning Commission votes on the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance Modernization Project, or zMOD. Details here.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 16, 7 p.m.: The Braddock District Land Use and Environment Committee holds its February meeting. Dial-in instruction will be posted on the Braddock District website.

Real Estate

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Jennifer Mack column: Start early to prepare your home for market

Getting a home ready for market is a complicated process that people tend to approach differently based on their personality types. I’ve gotten calls from sellers four or five years in advance of listing—and others have called me ready to list the following week.

I personally think it’s prudent to contact a real estate agent well in advance of your anticipated listing date. A good agent will strategize with you and serve as a partner to plan for the best outcome given your needs. 

One of my main goals when consulting with sellers is to minimize the amount they have to spend to get their home ready for market—and this is much easier when you have time to plan, especially since some vendors will charge more for rush jobs. Also, depending on the weather, certain outside painting and landscaping jobs can't be done in the winter. 

When clients plan to list in the fall or winter, I love to take advance exterior photos in the spring or summer when plants are in bloom and the grass is green and lush. This is especially true for homes with swimming pools or spas. The photographer can always return later, closer to the listing date, to take the interior photos. When snow falls, I love to get winter exterior pictures of houses so a buyer can visualize what the house will look like during the holidays and after a big snow.

The process of decluttering a home can take longer than many people think, especially if some items are to be sold or donated. I advise clients to take it room by room in order to not be overwhelmed. Have a donation box out at all times and take it whenever it gets full. You will thank yourself later if you start this early, and things will be more likely to go to a good new home rather than end up in the landfill.

If you have questions about the process, don't hesitate to reach out for a free and no obligation consultation. Also, I will be hosting a free seller seminar on Monday, March 1, at 7 p.m.—send me a note if you would like to attend! 

Jennifer Mack has more than 15 years of experience in the real estate industry, with her team servicing Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. Contact her at jennifer@jennifermackproperties.com or by calling 703-672-0038.

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