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1703 N. Beauregard Street (via Google Maps)

Students and parents are facing years upheaval in Alexandria’s West End, as the city’s school system is planning on completely rebuilding two elementary schools within the decade.

Alexandria City Public Schools plans to redesign an office building at 1703 N. Beauregard Street to be used as swing space while George Mason Elementary School (2601 Cameron Mills Road) and Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology (3600 Commonwealth Avenue) are completely rebuilt.

Barring construction holdups, a newly built George Mason could be up and running by fall 2026, staff said in a community meeting on Monday night. That means that, at a minimum, the next two years will be spent planning and retrofitting the office building into a school, with George Mason students to transition to swing space in fall 2024. Cora Kelly students would then move to the swing space in fall 2027, while their new school is under construction, and they would move into a newly built school in fall 2031.

“The most aggressive schedule that we have is showing the fall of 2026 [for George Mason students to return],” Azjargal Bartlett, director of ACPS capital programs, said in a community meeting Monday night. “These are anticipated timelines, and if there is any change to the schedule we’ll communicate that out.”

The property at 1703 N. Beauregard Street is directly across the street from Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School (1701 N. Beauregard Street), which is also a converted office building.

Bartlett said that ACPS is working with the remaining tenants on “mutually beneficial solutions for them to vacate the building prior to the start of the construction,” she said.

The school system is considering staggered dismissal times to minimize traffic between Ferdinand T. Day and the swing space, as well as busing students to the new school.

“We are anticipating that the transportation will be provided to all the students when the building is being used for swing space,” Bartlett said.

Timeline of swing space use for 1703 N. Beauregard Street in the West End. (via ACPS)

So far, $24.5 million has been allocated to the project in the city’s 10-year Capital Improvement Program, with an additional $5 million that is going into the upcoming fiscal year 2024 budget.

Between now and then, a lot of planning and design work with the architect, Perkins Eastman, has to happen, like adding outdoor and playground space at 1703 N. Beauregard.

“We’re still working through that we do not have any options to present at this time,” Bartlett said. “We are in discussions with our design team and once we have more information we’ll provide an update early next year on that design progress for the swing space.”

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The spookiness is returning to Mount Vernon Avenue with the annual Del Ray Halloween Parade on Sunday, October 30.

It’s Visit Del Ray’s 26th year hosting the fun event, which it starts at 2 p.m. at Mount Vernon Avenue and E. Bellefonte Avenue and ends with live music and prizes at the Mount Vernon Recreation Center athletic fields.

The grand marshall of this year’s parade is a student from Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology.

Thousands are expected to attend the event.

Star Trek fans marching in the Del Ray Halloween parade on Sunday, October 24, 2021. (staff photo by James Cullum)

The Del Ray Halloween Parade includes:

  • Stroller and pet costume contests — Participants must register at 1:30 p.m. at the corner of Mt. Vernon and E. Howell Avenues
  • Best Decorated House and Business contests — The nomination deadline is Sunday, October 23, at noon.
  • Scavenger Hunt — Four winners will receive a $50 gift card to their favorite Del Ray business.

Visit Del Ray is also collecting Halloween costumes for kids at the Dunbar Alexandria-Olympic Boys & Girls Club, Community Lodgings, and the Alexandria Domestic Violence program.

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Alexandria nonprofit ALIVE! will conduct six free food distributions throughout the city this month.

No identification is required to pick up the groceries, produce, chicken, eggs and bread.

The food can be found at the following pop-up sites:

  • Friday, March 4, from 4:30 – 6 p.m. — Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center (200 S. Whiting Street)
  • Thursday, March 10, from 4:30 – 6 p.m. — William Ramsay Rec Center (5650 Sanger Avenue)
  • Friday, March 18, from 10:30 – 12:00 p.m. — Old Town Community Church (212 S. Washington Street)
  • Saturday, March 19, from 8:00 – 10:00 a.m. — Fairlington United Methodist Church (3900 King Street)
  • Saturday, March 19, from 10:00 – 12 p.m. — UNCUT Youth (1501 Cameron Street)

There will also be three larger distribution events on Saturday, March 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m:

  • Drive through and walk-up — Cora Kelly Elementary School (3600 Commonwealth Avenue)
  • Drive through — NVCC Alexandria Campus (parking lot B-1 via 500 Dawes Avenue)
  • Walk-up — William Ramsay Recreation Center (5650 Sanger Ave)

ALIVE! has given away millions of pounds of food during the pandemic, and needs donations and volunteers.

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Morning Notes

Gade Wins Primary, Faces Warner in November Election — “Gade handily defeated Thomas A. Speciale II and Alissa A. Baldwin in Tuesday’s Republican primary with about two-thirds of the votes cast statewide. In the City of Alexandria, Gade received about 63 percent of approximately 2,100 votes cast.” [Alexandria Living]

The Birchmere Reopening in July — “The Birchmere on Mount Vernon Avenue announced that the Billy Price Charm City Rhythm Band will perform July 10… During the public health emergency, there will be a $25 food and beverage minimum and a $5 fee the venue is calling a ‘Covid fee.'” [WTOP]

Two Free Food Distributions Today — “There will be a food distribution this Thursday, 6/25 from 5-6pm at John Adams with ALIVE and World Central Kitchen and this Saturday, 6/27 from 8:30-10:30am at both John Adams and Cora Kelly.” [Facebook]

New Job: DASH Temperature and Wellness Screener — “DASH is looking for temporary Temperature and Wellness Screeners to work full-time and part-time at the Alexandria, VA facility. Medical experience and/or a medical certification is preferred but not required. Temporary assignment will start ASAP with end date depending on business needs related to COVID-19.” [Indeed]

New Job: Police Human Resources and Labor Relations Division Chief — “The Human Resources and Labor Relations Division Chief is responsible for a variety of departmental functions including human resources, budgeting, new police officer training, DCJS mandated training, employee wellness, Peer Support and resiliency programs, and engagement with departmental labor groups.” [City of Alexandria]

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ALIVE! is providing food at a number of free distributions this week, and needs volunteers to help pack groceries for food-insecure homes in Alexandria with COVID-19 positive residents.

“We need volunteers to pack shelf-stable food to distribute to people in quarantine,” ALIVE! Executive Director Jennifer Ayers told ALXnow. “We’re also ready to go with four food distributions this week.”

Volunteers can sign up through Volunteer Alexandria. The packing position is unrelated to the other grocery packing volunteer efforts, and volunteers will have to have their temperatures taken before working, and gloves will be provided.

ALIVE! Meal Distribution This Week

On Thursday, ALIVE! will partner with World Central Kitchen for its weekly food distribution, which will be held at William Ramsay Elementary School at 5 p.m.

In a separate event on Thursday, ALIVE! is partnering with Washington Street United Methodist Church and Royal Restaurant to distribute meals at Charles Houston Recreation Center from 4-6 p.m.

On Saturday, the nonprofit will also conduct drive-thru and walkup distributions from 8:30-10:30 a.m. in the parking lots of Cora Kelly School and John Adams Elementary School. People who walk to the site are asked to observe social distancing.

Last month, ALIVE! distributed more than 98,000 pounds of food, and is also giving food to more than 500 individuals stuck at home, as opposed to an average of about 200 families before the crisis. Additionally, the nonprofit is delivering meals to more than a dozen homeless individuals being housed in hotels in the city.

Just a reminder!

Posted by ALIVE on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Photo via Alive!/Facebook

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An Alexandria man in his 50s has died of COVID-19, and there are now 1,824 cases in the city, an increase of 49 new cases since yesterday, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

There are now 42 deaths in the city related to the virus, and the most recent victims were two Alexandria men and a woman. The number of known cases is expected to rise in the city, as 3,000 tests were administered at Cora Kelly School and Landmark Mall on Monday.

It is not clear how many residents have recovered since the first case was announced on March 11, though Mayor Justin Wilson noted in a town hall last week that hospitalizations have been either level or trending downward.

There have been more than 900 new cases and more than a dozen coronavirus-related deaths in the city this month alone. A large percentage of deaths have occurred at long-term care facilities, and there has been one death of a person in their 20s. There are now 18 reported deaths of residents in their 80s and 14 deaths of residents in their 70s. The most recent death was the seventh person in their 50s to die from the virus.

Hispanic residents make up 17% of the population and are leading with the highest number of cases in the city, with 841 reported cases, six deaths and 75 total hospitalizations.

There have been 7,180 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests administered in the Alexandria so far, and the city’s seven-day positivity rate shows a 20% infection rate of those tested. There have also been 1,124 antibody tests in Alexandria. Across Virginia, there have been 275,074 PCR tests administered with a seven-day positivity rate of 13.9% (and 33,079 antibody tests).

Statewide, there have been 1,281 reported deaths (45 since yesterday), and 1,175 of those deaths are confirmed to have been COVID-19-related, according to VDH. There are now 40,249 cases (38,276 confirmed, 1,973 probable) and 4,385 hospitalizations (including 34 probable cases).

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Carrie Beyer and Jeff Flannery considered it their civic duty to get tested for COVID-19 on Memorial Day. Along with thousands of Alexandrians on Monday, the couple took their 18-year-old son to get tested at Cora Kelly School.

“We look at it as our civic duty,” Flannery told ALXnow. “I don’t think we would have come out at all unless Carrie convinced us, because we need to collect the statistics and get an accurate database of what’s going on in the city.”

The tests were conducted at Cora Kelly School and Landmark Mall — and both sites are located in the city’s most high-risk areas in the 22304 and 22305 ZIP codes, which include the West End and Arlandria, Potomac Yard and Potomac West neighborhoods. Today, the Virginia Department of Health announced there were three more COVID-19 deaths and 1,785 cases in the city, an increase of 31 cases since yesterday.

Last week, Governor Ralph Northam announced that the 3,000 tests would be administered in Alexandria on Memorial day, and that state’s most impacted areas will get additional testing throughout the remainder of the month. Northam delayed the first phased opening of Northern Virginia’s economy from May 15 to May 29 after receiving a letter from regional leaders, including Mayor Justin Wilson.

Wilson said that the free testing needs to continue.

“So far in the city, we’ve done just under 6,000 tests since March, and we’re doing about 50% of that one day, which is a significant expansion of our testing capacity,” Wilson told ALXnow. “I think the message that we’ve delivered to the Commonwealth is that this is great, this is wonderful, we need to keep it up.”

Wilson added, “I think we are achieving the 14 days of reducing positivity in the testing that’s occurring. We are experiencing reductions in the hospitalizations and new hospitalizations.”

On Sunday, Wilson signed another letter with his regional counterparts stating that the region has met four out of the six criteria necessary to move into phase 1 on May 29.

Alexandria Health Director Dr. Stephen Haering said that there is a widespread availability of tests in the city for symptomatic individuals. He also said that test statistics only reveal the tip of the iceberg as to the rate of infections in the city.

“What we do know is that of the results that we’ve had where there’s been ethnicity reported, that 47% of all the results in Alexandria have been among those who are Hispanic or Latinx residents,” Haering said. “We continue to have more transmission, and we will throughout every phase of reopening the economy. So, our message has been, even though there was going to be different phases of reopening at different times that we have to all remain vigilant with social distancing and meticulous hand washing.”

Sabine Meade, a sophomore at T.C. Williams High School, got the test with her mother and brother. She said that staying home has been frustrating since she’s sees friends and neighbors ignore safety guidelines.

“Our family has been really strict about social distancing,” she said. “It’s actually been really frustrating to see other people go and hang out with their friends and blow it off as nothing when we’re taking it seriously.”

Vehicle-side COVID-19 testing is available at Inova Primary Care – Old Town by appointment only, and the Alexandria Hospital is preparing for a surge of COVID-19 patients. Neighborhood Health has also pledged to continue free testing in Arlandria.

A huge thanks to city staff, Alexandria Medical Reserve Corps volunteers, Mako Medical staff, and Virginia Army National…

Posted by Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

‪If you are planning to get tested for COVID-19 in Landmark drive-thru, please plan accordingly. It’s well organized. Great to see this many people interested in testing. ‬

Posted by Mo Seifeldein on Monday, May 25, 2020

Staff photos by James Cullum

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Family Recovers From COVID-19 — “In early March, 18-year-old Ana Murphy came down with a sinus infection. But as her symptoms persisted, her parents, Gregg and Monica Murphy, both became ill. It was then that the family began to suspect that this was not a normal seasonal virus.” [Gazette]

Beyer Criticizes Maskless President Trump at Memorial Day Ceremony — “It’s true today and every day: the President should lead by example instead of ignoring health precautions designed to protect the public.” [Twitter]

Pork Barrel BBQ Drops Off 300 Meals at COVID-19 Testing Sites — “This afternoon we dropped off 300 meals at the Landmark & Cora Kelly COVID testing sites. One of our more memorable jobs that’s for sure. THANK YOU to all the emergency responders and volunteers administering tests today, we appreciate you!” [Facebook]

Inova COVID Hospital Fund Gets $100,000 Contribution — “Twig’s contribution to this fund helps Alexandria meet the escalating needs of COVID-19 patients by providing for additional staffing, personal protection equipment for our front line heroes, specialized equipment for the unique needs of COVID-19 patients, increased services for homebound families, and other resources to address the rapidly changing situation.” [Zebra]

Here’s How to Get Rental Assistance in Alexandria — “Applications received through Friday, May 29 will be reviewed as part of the first application cycle, with priority given to applicants in the Tier 1 income range. Applications received after May 29 will be reviewed on a rolling basis contingent on funding availability.” [Facebook]

Jason and Loren Yates Donate $12K in Face Masks to Local Groups — “The masks were sent to the volunteers in local service organizations including Senior Services of Alexandria delivering Meals on Wheels, ALIVE, Carpenter’s Shelter, Casa Chirilagua, and the Grace Episcopal Food Bank.” [Zebra]

New Job: Alexandria Health Department Communications Officer — “The Communications Officer reports directly to the Population Health Manager, is AHD’s principal communications subject matter expert, and provides oversight of AHD’s internal and external communications. They plan, design, implement, and evaluate AHD public relations, publications, and promotional health and service communications.” [Indeed]

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Three more Alexandrians have died of COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 37, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Two women and one man in their 70s are the latest victims of the virus. Two victims were black/African American and the third victim was Hispanic.

The deaths are the first reported since May 16, and there are now 1,627 cases of the virus, which is an increase of 50 cases since yesterday.

COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing Locations Announced

Landmark Mall (5801 Duke Street) and Cora Kelly School (3600 Commonwealth Avenue) have been chosen as the locations for 3,000 free COVID-19 tests to be administered on May 25 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Residents are encouraged to wear a face mask and walk-up participants should wear sunscreen.

Governor Ralph Northam announced Monday that 3,000 free COVID-19 tests will be administered in the city, and that the state’s most impacted areas will get additional testing throughout the remainder of the month.

There have been 125 cases associated with 11 outbreaks in the city, and 103 of those cases have been health care workers. Nine of the outbreaks occurred at long-term care facilities, and 15 deaths have occurred at such facilities, although that number has not been updated since the city’s release on May 2. The other outbreaks occurred at a “congregate” setting and an educational setting.

large percentage of deaths have occurred at long-term care facilities, and there has been one death of a person in their 20s. There have also been 16 reported deaths of residents in their 80s.

Hispanic residents, which make up 17% of the population, have the highest number of cases in the city, with 767 cases, six deaths and 75 hospitalizations.

The areas of the city with the leading number of cases is the 22304 and 22305 ZIP codes, which include the West End and Arlandria, Potomac Yard and Potomac West neighborhoods. There are 478 cases in 22304, which has an estimated population of 54,003 people, and in 22305 there are 456 cases (with an estimated population of 16,095).

It is also not clear how many people have recovered.

There have been 5,367 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests administered in the city so far, and as of yesterday the city’s seven day average showed a 26.6% infection rate of those tested. There have also been 870 antibody tests in Alexandria.

There have also been 171 hospitalizations of residents, which is an indicator for the city as to whether it is appropriate to reopen the local economy by the governor’s extended May 29 deadline.

Statewide, there have been 1,099 reported deaths, and 1,064 of those deaths are confirmed to have been COVID-19-related, according to VDH. There are now 34,147 cases (32,428 confirmed, 1,709 probable) and 4,093 hospitalizations (including 27 probable cases).

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ALIVE! gave out 90,000 pounds of food to hungry Alexandrians in the month of April, and will conduct it’s next mass food distribution on Saturday, May 30.

“That’s three times our monthly average,” ALIVE! Executive Director Jennifer Ayers told ALXnow.

ALIVE! is also distributing food for COVID-19 positive residents.

“For people who are in mandated quarantine who test positive for COVID and are food insecure, we’re supplying food for them,” Ayers said. “Like today, we provided food for the Alexandria Health Department to deliver to 80 individuals who are COVID positive.”

The “truck-to-trunk” food distribution will be held at ALIVE! from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. in the parking lots of Cora Kelly School and John Adams Elementary School. People who walk to the site are asked to observe social distancing.

ALIVE!, which gave out 13,000 pounds of food at its distribution on April 27, is also giving food to more than 500 individuals stuck at home, as opposed to an average of about 200 families before the crisis. Additionally, the nonprofit is delivering meals to more than 20 homeless individuals being housed in hotels in the city.

Throughout the month, $1 will be donated to ALIVE! with every purchase of a reusable $2.50 community bag at the Giant Food at 3131 Duke Street.

ALIVE! has received a lot from the community since the pandemic struck, including $145,611 from 491 donors in the Spring2ACTion campaign on April 15, and, most recently, $7753.40 from Alexandria Little League. Ayers said that now is the time to donate to the nonprofit.

“People are giving right now, and that’s important,” Ayers said.

Essential Program – Home-Delivered Frozen Meal Program for City Residents 60+ – Alexandria has set up a new…

Posted by ALIVE on Friday, May 8, 2020

Photo via Alive!/Facebook

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